×
Bali Paradise

Island of the Gods

There is always a dark side to paradise. The Mediterranean through the long hot summer was full of jellyfish. The tranquillity of the Garden of Eden was wrecked by the hiss of the snake.

Bali has always been an exception to the rule. Twenty years ago, women worked topless in the fields. There was an air of openness and tolerance. But the bombings at Jimbaran and Kuta that killed more than 200 that awful night in 2002 changed all that.

The island itself remains an idyllic backdrop for a photographer, and when the American gallery owner Roy and his Balinese wife Wayan invited Petter Hegre to visit, he had no idea that the fanatics were planning another attack.

Day One

Day One

The Indonesian island of Bali is voted year after year the most enchanting travel destination in the world by readers of all major travel magazines. Sadly, for me and for millions of others, and particularly for the Balinese people, that image has become tarnished. Since April 1999 in Indonesia there have been 50 bombings by fanatics targeting mainly western tourists.

When I arrived there with Luba we decided focus on photography and put the politics of fanaticism out of our minds. We stayed at the fabulous Royal Pita Maha Hotel, a trace of lost paradise owned by the Royal Family of Ubud. Of course, no one knew that travel for me is work and my work is to find and photograph the most beautiful girls in the world.

What first struck both Luba and I was the spirituality of Bali. Most Balinese are Hindu and have profound respect for nature; everything they do, painting, fishing, working in the fields, is an act of worship. In their faces the people have a look of complete peace which comes, I'm sure, from the depths of their belief and by forgiving the fanatics bent on changing their lives.

We couldn't help but feel relaxed among such people and in our own special way that first day we explored the resort, taking a few sneaky shots whenever we could and knowing that they weren't the sort of photographs that the administration would choose for their catalogues.

The Royal Pita Maha with its tropical gardens and shady groves is a former palace and inside its walls Bali for us was still paradise. We were aware that the changes in the law in Indonesia made nude photography a criminal offence and, unlike our resort hotel, Bali prisons are not recommended. This was a real undercover shoot – exciting, but dangerous.

Travel Day Tags

Photos | Day One Click an Image to Enlarge

NB! Please note that images and films presented here are not representative of the technical quality
of Hegre-Art.com. Travel photos and film clips are made with a "point and shoot" compact camera only.
Photo 1 of Bali Paradise, Day One Photo 2 of Bali Paradise, Day One Photo 3 of Bali Paradise, Day One Photo 4 of Bali Paradise, Day One Photo 5 of Bali Paradise, Day One Photo 6 of Bali Paradise, Day One Photo 7 of Bali Paradise, Day One Photo 8 of Bali Paradise, Day One Photo 9 of Bali Paradise, Day One
Day Two

Day Two

We had a couple of scouts in Bali looking for models before I arrived, no easy task in a country trying to balance religious traditions and the modern world of free markets and freedom of expression. On the way in from the airport, one of the guys pointed at an advertising hoarding showing a striking Balinese girl embracing a Samsung television. 'See girl? She come to casting tomorrow.' Wow! This guy had done a good job.

The girl turned out to be Putu, a traditional Balinese beauty who is dating a member of the Royal Family and is already a celebrity in Indonesia. We had picked four girls from the online casting, two didn't work out, but with Putu, we also had Diah, two models who should by now be familiar with Hegre members, see Diah http://www.hegre-art.com/model/diah.html and Putu http://www.hegre-art.com/model/putu.html.

Putu is Hindu and Diah is Muslim, two open, friendly girls from the two major religions on Bali and proof if needed that we are all the same under the skin –and in this case, in the flash. Neither Putu nor Diah had posed nude before, but they were thoroughly briefed before the shoot. We did a few test shots and when it came to getting undressed, they were remarkably relaxed and didn't cause any scenes. On the contrary, they obviously enjoyed the sense of liberation and even empowerment nude modelling gives girls when they are really into it. Diah was going to be dancing at a Muslim festival the following day and, naturally, I asked her to bring some of her dancing gear for the shoot.

Travel Day Tags

Photos | Day Two Click an Image to Enlarge

NB! Please note that images and films presented here are not representative of the technical quality
of Hegre-Art.com. Travel photos and film clips are made with a "point and shoot" compact camera only.
Photo 1 of Bali Paradise, Day Two Photo 2 of Bali Paradise, Day Two Photo 3 of Bali Paradise, Day Two Photo 4 of Bali Paradise, Day Two Photo 5 of Bali Paradise, Day Two Photo 6 of Bali Paradise, Day Two Photo 7 of Bali Paradise, Day Two Photo 8 of Bali Paradise, Day Two
Day Three

Day Three

I immediately understood why Putu was the hottest model on Bali and was on billboards across the island promoting numerous products. Tall, slim and graceful, she slipped out of her clothes and started modelling naked like she had never done anything else in her life. With the sound track of the jungle and the little rivers flowing around our villa, this nude beauty stretched out in front of me with offerings of flower decorations to nature and I had the feeling that in my photography I was doing exactly the same thing, that my shots of Putu were a celebration of nature.

That's how I see my work. And Putu as well. Modelling is condemned these days in Bali as the work of prostitutes, the oldest profession, and Putu had a genuine desire to change that perception. It all backfired for both of us and, if I'd had any idea what the after effects of my trip were going to be, we probably would not have made the trip in the first place.

Shortly after we started publishing the photos in November, Putu, Diah and my scouts were rounded up by the police and taken in for interrogation. At hegre-art our servers experienced such extreme traffic we had to block all ips from the region. I had dozens of journalists contacting me from the local news media and my images were downloaded and published on Indonesian sites. Now, almost one year later, the situation has calmed down, but I was informed that Luba and I are now "red flagged" by immigration and that we could never return to the island again...

Travel Day Tags

Photos | Day Three Click an Image to Enlarge

NB! Please note that images and films presented here are not representative of the technical quality
of Hegre-Art.com. Travel photos and film clips are made with a "point and shoot" compact camera only.
Photo 1 of Bali Paradise, Day Three Photo 2 of Bali Paradise, Day Three Photo 3 of Bali Paradise, Day Three Photo 4 of Bali Paradise, Day Three Photo 5 of Bali Paradise, Day Three Photo 6 of Bali Paradise, Day Three Photo 7 of Bali Paradise, Day Three Photo 8 of Bali Paradise, Day Three Photo 9 of Bali Paradise, Day Three Photo 10 of Bali Paradise, Day Three Photo 11 of Bali Paradise, Day Three
Day Four

Day Four

After a full day shooting, Luba and I next day decided to take a break. We took a cab to Kuta Beach, famous for its surfers and long sunsets, but a suicide bomb two weeks earlier had killed 20 people and apart from the girls selling sarongs and wood carvings we practically had the beach to ourselves.

We could sense the depression amongst the sellers and the frustration of the restaurant owners with nothing but empty chairs.

But Bali can't stop itself being paradise and Kuta that day was probably the safest spot in Indonesia. We had an unforgettable meal of grilled chilli crab, and set off from the beach without any plan but to see as much of the picturesque island as possible.

Travel Day Tags

Photos | Day Four Click an Image to Enlarge

NB! Please note that images and films presented here are not representative of the technical quality
of Hegre-Art.com. Travel photos and film clips are made with a "point and shoot" compact camera only.
Photo 1 of Bali Paradise, Day Four Photo 2 of Bali Paradise, Day Four Photo 3 of Bali Paradise, Day Four Photo 4 of Bali Paradise, Day Four Photo 5 of Bali Paradise, Day Four Photo 6 of Bali Paradise, Day Four Photo 7 of Bali Paradise, Day Four Photo 8 of Bali Paradise, Day Four
Day Five

Day Five

With the sun rising on a clear blue sky it was a great relief to see Diah show up on our doorstep at the Royal Pitu Maha. It was our last day in Bali – perhaps forever with those red flags on Luba and I at immigration, and I couldn't remember ever staying anywhere quite so fantastic. The people are friendly and open. I had talked a lot about my work as a photographer and the locals had told me that it was only in the last decade that nudity had started to be condemned.

I had gone to bed the night before wondering if Diah had got cold feet, or if her friends had talked her out of the shoot, but there she was with her big smile and the princess crown she had been wearing at the Muslim ceremony the day before. It turned out to be an unforgettable session. To see Diah dancing isn't something you want to miss. Go to - http://www.hegre-art.com/movies/DiahRythmofBali.html

This is rare footage and I don't believe will you find anywhere else in the world a young Balinese dancer performing naked with a local drummer keeping the rhythm beating on a wooden table.

If Putu was relaxed posing, Diah was even more enthusiastic and really got into the role as the nude diva of Bali. She strutted around naked and I could sense her feeling of liberty, she liked being naked in front of the camera but she was also rebelling against the new puritanism forced upon the people.

So, a big thank you to Diah and Putu for being such great representatives of the new generation of young people growing up on Bali. Hopefully they can bring back some of the naturalness and simplicity that has resigned on Bali for centuries.

Luba and Petter

Travel Day Tags

Photos | Day Five Click an Image to Enlarge

NB! Please note that images and films presented here are not representative of the technical quality
of Hegre-Art.com. Travel photos and film clips are made with a "point and shoot" compact camera only.
Photo 1 of Bali Paradise, Day Five Photo 2 of Bali Paradise, Day Five Photo 3 of Bali Paradise, Day Five Photo 4 of Bali Paradise, Day Five Photo 5 of Bali Paradise, Day Five Photo 6 of Bali Paradise, Day Five Photo 7 of Bali Paradise, Day Five Photo 8 of Bali Paradise, Day Five Photo 9 of Bali Paradise, Day Five

Comments

Bali
Really excellent high-end photos of Bali villa and beautiful models. Great choice of location. I once saw Bin Laden tee shirts for sale in the outdoor markets, though. Thanks for such an exotic effort, you are really the best photographer of the genre out there today.
I just LOOOOOVE and ADOOOORE Diah! She is a GODDESS!!! I would like to fall on my knees before her and worship her!!! She is so sweet and innocent, I would do anything for this girl!
More of this sexy girl!
photos
Bali may be the one paradise in the world, because Gods must be very good
more Indonesian cuties' close-ups
Amazing pics..!! Please shoot more close-ups of Indonesian cuties..!!
there are amny more exotic islands & beaches in Indonesia, not only Bali.
Please dont just cover thebeaches & scenery of Bali Island. In Indonesia, there are many many more beautiful & exotic islands with amazing panoramas like Toba Lake in North Sumatra, Bunaken Beach in Manado, Ennu Beach in Palu, Togian Beach in Sulawesi Tengah, and many more around Indonesia. Great to see & watch Indonesian models in your photos-art. Regards, Adrie Teteregoh, Palu
William
To william, How do you know if they are Hindu? Everybody can use Putu as name. They are fake balinese, immoral girls. I am dissapointed with your corection. Diah is Moslem, she is from Banyuwangi also the girl known as Putu on the photo exactly nit a balinese girl. She is Javanese. They are all muslem. Everybody know that in Bali.
Bali
just wanna told you that bali is not a country but its part of Indonesia,if you guys have visited bali next time,let me know so ican give you free travel to excellent place for background image. Send my regards to PUTU and DIAH, ITS VERY NICE TO SEE INDONESIAN GIRLS ON YOUR ART PHOTO your sincerely Capt.Dalian Nasution,SE
very goooooooooood
Correction
just wanna told u peter, that Bali isn't a country, it's an island, part of Indonesia, Most of balinese are Hindu not Muslim. The hat that Diah wearing is Hindu's, it is wear by balinese girls to ceremonies, dancing. It's not a muslim hat at all>Diah's dancing is also bali dancing,not else, please don't write things that u don't know exactly as this can cause misperception.thank you
All the beauty of the world
I was in Bali in summer of 2005. These wonderful pictures with this trpical garden remember me a lot of souvenirs from this delicious country. And Luba est tellement jolie que sa silhouette épouse ce paysage de rêve et se fond en lui, comme Eve au premier temps de l'Eden...Bali, spirit of Eden (it's also a great LP of Talk Talk, écoutez le) Thanks. Fred
James - screen problem
Try pressing F11 key!
When are you going to have more sets with Putu?
Luba in Bali
wow, amazing fotos. luba looks amazing again and again. looking forward to some beach fotos too please or under some nature waterfalls in the ubud area. Tony
man..u should shoot a lot more upskirt and "fly on the wall" type images like the last image in day two :)
Day One - Bali
The pictures are beautiful; however, when I enlarge, I cannot see the full picture because they are bigger than my screen.
beautiful
wow! a month in that villa would be niiiiiiice!!!! love the statue!!!