Sunda Kelapa is an old port of Jakarta since 13th century and it is still active till now. This harbour filled with Pinisi boats (wikipedia for pinisi), and that is the main reason why this harbour is a great place to be photographed.
Truth to be told, Sunda Kelapa could be my most favourite place to shoot street scene in Jakarta city. Uniques scene, unique activity, and friendliness of people make me always feel joy to have “vacation” there.
Sunda Kelapa is part of Jakarta’s history and now famous as one of “must visit” traditional tourist place as well. Due to that reason many person who work there do not mind with camera’s presence. We can see some people with camera walk around, even at daily working days. Some are street photographers, some are landscapers, some are casual tourist who want to documenting their holiday there.
Most ships ported really close to “bay”, which is means we can get close to ships while standing on the ground and no need to worry our camera get wet. Feel free to ask ship owner if you want to go inside ship’s room and see more about Pinisi boats.
Expect plenty of local workers, either ship workers, harbour workers, or any traditional food sellers there.
Generally they are friendly to approach and do not mind their photograph taken. However, this place is still an active industrial place, avoid asking photograph to busy workers and keep aware your surrounding from any active heavy equipments.
When I did a little street portrait projects about harbour workers, I also able to had a nice chit-chat with them. If you love to documenting human life and have interest with their story, feel free to start conversation with them. So far my experience showed me they love to talk about their life story to strangers without problem.
If you never been here before, then the “main attraction” is about children play freestyle jump. Generally they show up at working days, afternoon time (after 2 pm), when they just went home from school. Most of them live nearby and came to harbour by swim (!) because their homes right beside harbour.
They do freestyle jump for fun, and I think many ship owners do not mind to let them go on top of their ships and do their action. However, if they see you photograph them, then they may ask you a free drink (that we can buy at local seller there). Do not worry, it is so cheap, only around USD 0.4 per bottle.
Definitely a joy to do hunting technique here because most of workers did not care about camera presence, even if we got closer to photograph them in candid moment.
So far I never encountered any negative reactions, and actually, sometime some of them gave little smile or greet me when they realise I captured their activities (I will smile back or have short conversation with them in return).
Most of the time I use fishing technique here is only to capture freestyle jump moments. Wait till they do their action and snap it! If you want to have better chance to freeze “unique jump style” use continuos shoot mode from your camera. Due to friendliness of people there, I like to do more hunting technique or shoot street portrait.
Additional note: Salat al-Eid event
This special event happens two times in a year. It is about special prayer offered to commemorate Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha (source: Wikipedia). Hundreds or even thousands of Moslem people gather here to pray together. An unique event that indeed worth to be captured!
Always remember that this is a religion event, shoot with more respect and do not disturb them when they are in the middle of praying process. Extra tips: Better to do “hunting technique” after the event has finished. People will more relax and easier to “approach” to photograph with.
That is all about my thought for shooting in Sunda Kelapa Harbour. Definitely a super recommended place if we want to take shots in unique scene (instead of regular street in city).
Also a nice place if you want to start learn street photography due to unique actions and friendliness of people there. Remember to always treat your subjects nicely, and most of the time (if not always) they will do the same to you 🙂
Keep shooting and stay inspired,