The Two Horseman & Other Characters With Jonathan Tumbel

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Jonathan Tumbel, a young Australian photographer, shares two visual essays with Gobe taken in Indonesia.

Jonathan Tumbel is a young creative from Sydney who’s photographs coloured my screen recently. A series of photographs taken in Indonesia that conveyed an intriguing relationship between subject and photographer. I got in touch with Jonathan for the 411 and learned that the photographs were taken on a film set that Jonathan travelled to Indonesia to intern as an on-set photographer.

Travelling by car from Jakarta through Jawa Timur (Central Java) Jonathan made use of breaks from the set to capture the local community where the film set had set up. The resulting portraits and landscapes are honest and engaging. This was in early 2018. Jonathan went back to Indonesia later in the year and took another wondrous series of portraits. Shooting medium format this time Jonathan’s soft eye focused on characters by the water and paints a moment of stillness in the passing of their days. An essay that shares a moment in the lives of those who live by the water and what it shares with them.

The two stories share similarities and differences, a film set and the enchanting every day, both evocative of the characters in the frame.

A young photographer to keep an eye on, we had a chat to learn a little more about the talent behind the lens.  Thank you for your time Jonathan.

Jonathan Tumbel
Jonathan Tumbel

Gobe:

In your words, please tell us how you make a living?

Jonathan:

I work part-time at a warehouse for a furniture wholesaler in Smithfield.

Gobe:

What gets you up in the morning? And what’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Jonathan:

Being blessed to be able to wake up every morning and to go out there and do your thing and see what the world has to offer. But what gets me up in the morning is my alarm, so the first thing I do is turn off my alarm and find my hair tie haha.

Jonathan Tumbel

“I did some research on some film photographers and then I knew it was something that I wanted to pursue. I think from then on I just wanted to take photos of everything and anything… A lot has changed since then.”

Gobe:

At what age did you start photographing and what was it that sparked this passion?

Jonathan:

Around 20 or 21 but it wasn’t consistent, it was on and off. I was more into my art back then. I went through a phase of doing a lot of art, mostly doing acrylic paintings and digital paintings. I didn’t really get into photography ’cause cameras were expensive and I couldn’t afford one or maybe I just didn’t want to spend big dollars on a camera. But I always enjoy a good photograph when I see one online or at the galleries/exhibitions. I remember a friend of mine bought a 35mm camera from an op shop and it was cheap back then, so I did my research on analog cameras and films and my mind was blown away with some of the images certain camera/film makes. I also did some research on some film photographers and then I knew it was something that I wanted to pursue. I think from then on I just wanted to take photos of everything and anything… A lot has changed since then. I’m hoping this year will ignite my photography career. I’m really going to try and focus on my photography more and hopefully get somewhere with it.

“The feeling of capturing what you imagined or better than what you imagined or something totally different than what you imagined but it still turned out good!…that’s the best feeling.”

Gobe:

What is it about making photographs that you love the most?

Jonathan:

The feeling of capturing what you imagined or better than what you imagined or something totally different than what you imagined but it still turned out good!…that’s the best feeling.

Gobe:

Why Indonesia?

Jonathan:

It’s my Motherland :)

Jonathan Tumbel
Jonathan Tumbel

“I’ve always had a deep connection to my heritage (Indonesian). But when I went back to Bali recently, it was strange …in a good way.”

Gobe:

What is the most unique and interesting situation photography has landed you in, so far?

Jonathan:

Interning as a photographer for an Indonesian film in Indonesia. One of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had. The film industry in Indonesia is crazy. Watching the people doing what they do is crazy and I have so much respect for them.

Jonathan Tumbel

Gobe:

What was inspirational to you about them?

Jonathan:

Just how hard way they work and they always have a smile on their face even during the most stressful times. And all of them are doing what they love so that’s why now I’m just trying to go all out on my photography this year.

Jonathan Tumbel
Jonathan Tumbel

Gobe:

Did your feeling change about Indonesia on these trips?

Jonathan:

No not really because I’ve always had a deep connection to my heritage (Indonesian). But when I went back to Bali recently, it was strange… in a good way. Every time I went to the beach around Sanur and further up, I felt so at ease and just carefree. I don’t know if it was the breeze, the sea, the people or all of that combined. It was just a good feeling.

Jonathan Tumbel

Gobe:

Who or what are some of your inspirations, photographers or otherwise.

Jonathan:

A lot of things inspire me, whether it’s the people I’m surrounded by or an artwork that I really admire. Todd Hido was probably one of the first photographers that got me going. His photos are beyond. I don’t even know how to describe some of his photographs, they’re that bloody good. Every time I feel unmotivated I just read his book. But what has inspired me recently is Tom Craigs latest editorial shoot for Vogue Japan. It’s ridiculously good. There’s a photograph he took where he combined fashion and reportage/street and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

Gobe:

What cameras and gear do you most enjoy using at the moment?

Jonathan:

I’ve been using my Fuji 645 heaps recently, it’s a cheaper version of the Mamiya 7 (which I’ll get one day). I also have a Mamiya RZ67 that comes out of its cage every now and then, but that’s a beast to carry around.

Gobe:

What is your favourite photobook?

Jonathan:

The one and only photography book I have in my room, Todd Hido on Landscapes, Interiors and Some Nudes. There’s probably some really good ones out there that I might really like but I don’t really go out there and buy books. But I really should and I might start doing that this year…

Jonathan Tumbel

Gobe:

What’s your favourite shot so far? And what’s the story behind it?

Jonathan:

Probably the Two Horsemen.  It was early in the morning and it was a bit foggy and I saw them arriving on set and I just went in front of them and took a photo before they started shooting. The guys weren’t in the film, it was just their horses.

Gobe:

Would you say your process is more documentation through your eyes, or a curated and staged story told through your photographs?

Jonathan:

A bit of both. When I took the portraits in Bali, I’d ask my subject if would be able to take a photo of them. If they say yes, I straight away whip out my camera and start clicking. Sometimes I’ll have a chat with them for a while and take photos in the middle of our conversation. I do give directions at times, just depends on my subject.

Gobe:

Can you tell us about a film/book/album that you’ve come across recently that left a lasting impression with you?

Jonathan:

Nothing recently, I can’t really think of anything, to be honest. But the last album I listened to that was on repeat was probably Jay Rock — Redemption or Kamasi Washington — Heaven on Earth.

Jonathan Tumbel
Jonathan Tumbel

Gobe:

Where is a destination you would love to travel to with your camera?

Jonathan:

Thats a really really tough question. Theres so many places i want to go and take photos. I seriously cant give you a straight answer… I’d like to go somewhere with a lot of culture but Im thinking of heading to either South America or Nepal and Vietnam this year so that will be something I am looking forward to.

Gobe:

If you couldn’t be a photographer, what would you be?

Jonathan:

Maybe doing something in a creative field like product design, graphic design or architecture. Although recently I’ve had an interest in becoming a youth worker or a primary school teacher. I also want to travel abroad and help kids or a community who are in need.

Jonathan TumbelJonathan Tumbel

Thank you Jonathan Tumbel.

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Jonathan Tumbel