Going Outside to Play

Although Indonesia was quite a beautiful place, it was also incredibly poor. Every country has its Hans Rosling (see his amazing TED video here) predictable bell curve of wealth distribution, and Indonesia has so many people in it (almost as many people as the US), that a lot of people end up over on the left-hand side of the curve.

While walking around one of the cities there, I went off-track and ended up in a small settlement underneath a bridge. This family had set up here, found old couches and bits of refuse to build their home. This little girl was outside playing, arranging scraps of trash on the ground in interesting patterns.

I stopped and talked to the family for a short time. They were nice and didn’t mind me taking photos. The mom seemed a little suspicious but then calmed down when she saw I was good with kids. The dad did not speak a lot of English, and I indicated to him that his house looked pretty sturdy compared to some of the others. He pointed to one across the river, which you can see in the upper part of the photo, an, in broken words, said that part of it had recently washed away. The dad was pretty happy with what he had built. He motioned to the little fence and then motioned to his little girl.

Going Outside to Play

  • casusan

    Wonderful candid shot….heartbreaking story though….know his little girl was cute. That’s the good thing about you Trey – so willing to explore.

  • Out of all the pictures you’ve posted, this one moves me the most Trey. I’ve been incredibly blessed and sometimes I lose sight of it. I’m feeling very humbled right about now.

  • Ryan

    It wasn’t until I read your blog post till i went searching for the little girl in the photo… she seemed to blend in so well! Then suddenly… as soon as I did, she almost became ethereal and radiated in the image. I don’t know how I missed it before. Amazing.

  • I keep looking at this picture, Trey, and thinking, But for the Grace of God, so go I. It is truly humbling to feel how blessed most of us are in this country. Yes, we have our poor, too. That wealth curve is so unfair to so many hard working people. Thanks for reminding us in this picture of how blessed we really are. Great capture of what life could be like, and is like for those folks who are making the best of life they can and proud of what they have accomplished. It’s all a matter of prospective. Good thing you are good with kids, that seems to get you into the good graces of many people.

  • David

    Well, done! This shot is very much in contrast to what you usually shoot; while a lot of the time you tend to shoot gorgeous landscapes and magnificent buildings, this shot I think speaks much more to what the human experience is like for the majority of the world. Personally, this is probably my favorite of all the pictures I’ve looked at on your blog. I’d really like to see you explore this type of photography a bit more–we all know you can take amazing landscape and architectural shots, how about some more like this? Just a thought 😉 Keep up the good work!

  • Great story, my roommate is from Indonesia (hasn’t even lived in the states a year yet) and he tells me about the corruption and poverty there. As for the image itself; if you post a snapshot like this again I’m de-bookmarking your blog, ha. You have a good eye for composition but perhaps there was a mosquito in it during this shot. I like the background and the way you’ve cropped the environment well enough, but we can’t see the child enough to connect to the image meaningfully. It seems you intended the image to be about the child, but that didn’t come through.

  • Susan B

    Hi Trey. I really like your blog, very inspiring! I just wanted to let you know that when I subscribed using google reader, the title of the blog came across as “(title unknown)”, so that’s how it shows up in google reader every day. I’ll keep reading of course, but thought you might want to let your webmaster know.
    Thanks for the outstanding site!

  • Thats crazy that is all they have and I am sure they are enjoying life just as much as we are.. makes us realize how spoiled we are and that we should be happy with what we have.

  • Thanks all!

    Don’t worry Jared… we’ll get things back up to your refined standards soon enough 🙂

    (I liked how the girl blended in and got lost in the mix)

  • Haha, sorry! I didn’t mean to come off elitist. I’m used to my photo professors going off on me when they don’t like something 😛

  • It never ceases to amaze me when traveling in the poorer parts of Jakarta or other areas of Indonesia (I have lived here for 15 years), how happy all the people are despite their living conditions. Indonesians are perhaps the friendliest, happiest people you will ever meet.



  • John Bjorndal

    This is probably one of my favorite photo’s I have seen on here. Granted its hard to choose cause there are so many favorites.

  • abuaysha

    Thanks, mate. That’s a relieve

  • abuaysha

    Indeed yes, in Indonesia, there are lots of poverty-induced beauty waiting to be captured with (digital) camera. But it’s OK if the picture above is considered for some a masterpiece. It’s a window to look further to see people that are not so lucky as you are. And eventually: get broadening mind.

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