Indonesia Street Photography with Mohamad Setiawan

Monk in Indonesia reading a book in a temple. Photographer Mohamad Setiawan tells the story

Mohamad Setiawan on Indonesia Street Photography

An Interview with a local street Photographer

Welcome, this is Indonesia Street Photography with Mohamad Setiawan. He’s a lover of both Portrait and street photography. His work can be seen on his Facebook account, or in some of the street photography groups. Let’s have a chat with him and hear some of his stories and see what he’s been working on.


We welcome you here. Thank you for being here with us Mohamad. First off can you tell us a little bit about how you got into photography and the style of photography that you prefer?

“For me photography’s been ingrained in me since I was a student. Mostly because of the influence of my parents. Since childhood I’ve seen the photographic works of my father through printed album and collections on his camera. Basically I just love portrait photography, in time I  also began to enjoy street photography.”

About your street photography, where do you usually shoot and what do you look for when you’re shooting?

“Indonesia is the largest archipelagic country in the world with the third largest population in the world. Certainly there are very many spots for street photography. I read a lot of quotes from photographers of the world, among them Henri Cartier Bresson. I believe his quotes: “Think about the pictures before and after, never during. The secret is to take your time. You must not go too fast. The subject must forget about you. Then, however, you must be very quick.” There’s even Thomas Liuthard’s quotes.

In street photography there are certainly a lot of things or events that are very unpredictable, and last only a matter of seconds. Therefore I try not to force myself to define the object, as well as I train my self for speed, sensitivity, decisiveness, composition and intuition. The last word “intuition” for me is this “Everything I shoot is to try to make difference with some value.””

What kind of challenges arise when you’re out there? How do you meet those challenges?

“In street photography subjects are many and diverse, the challenge is how and where I can capture the scene that goes by rapidly and has a certain value. Each photographer has their own standard of value, therefore, be yourself through your own intuition, each person is certainly different to everyone. Follow your heart and don’t forget bring your brain as well.”

Favourite shots and story:

Could you share with us your all time favourite shot? How do you capture it, and what’s the story behind the photograph?

“These are some of my favourite  photographs….I met coincidently  the old man in a mosque at Surakarta. Middle Jawa- Indonesia name, Masjid Ageng Surakarta. He accepted me to take his picture without a word…and he followed my direction without any comments….he posed for me very well around the Mosque….it was amazing and I feel blessed. I felt free when taking pictures of him…. Something that I learned is how to persuade the subject firmly. First make an introduction about myself, then ask for permission. I often ask permission when I’m not aiming for true candid photographs of people”

Street photography by Mohamad Setiawan of a monk working on a book in Indonesia

Photograph of Indonesia monk reading outdoors on a porch

Indoor street photograph of an indonesian monk in White reading a book on a window sill

We also really enjoy some of your other photographs could you tell us about the story of these a little bit?

Homeless man in Indonesia walks down quiet streets that are filled with blown away newspaper pages

“I asked permission very quickly to take this man’s photo and got the shot right away. Remember don’t give the person a lot of time to think about it. Remember HCB’s quote. The newspapers spreaded on the ground are mess after muslim people pray together in the open ground after Eid Mubarak pray time. …it was amazing and and seemed very dramatic to my eyes….fortunately the old beggar passed in front of me, so very quickly I asked him to pose for a while…. I had only a second to capture the shot here.”

“This man walking on the bridge in Kediri, East Jawa, Indonesia ,  was a concept picture  with the purpose that …everybody, even old, should be optimistic, heading towards the bright future in front of us. Sometimes not always an easy to accomplish!”


Thank you Mohamad for joining us to share you Indonesia street photography, we really enjoyed speaking with you and also  enjoy the pictures and stories you shared with us. We look forward to seeing much more Indonesia street photography from you in the near future.

Share your thoughts with us and Mohamed below in the comment section! Feel free to ask any questions as well. If you have interesting stories you’d like to share with us, we warmly invite you to do so through our contact page. You can see more of Mohamad’s work on his Facebook account.

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