Introducing Sharon Joetama: Celebrating Indonesian Talents – 17. August ’20

Counting down to Indonesia’s 75th Independence Day we would like to introduce you to an inspirational, professional, local female photographer, Sharon Joetama.

Our great admiration and respect for her work and her heartwarming determination series. Click here to check it out. She’s kindly shared a snippet of her incredible journey and a little piece of her mind with us, and allowed us to pass it along.

About Sharon Joetama

Growing up in a third world country, I witnessed how diverse economics affected people’s lives- there are extreme privilege and extreme poverty. This sparked a deep sense of curiosity within me and guided my visual perspective.

My photography celebrates what makes us human, what makes us interesting by capturing lives in a tapestry of images unique to them


Have you had professional photography training before? Where?

I graduated honors with an MFA in Photography and Imaging from Art Center College of design with a distinction from the Dean. My training is however not limited to my college education, I am also an alumni of Panna Mentorship Program in Indonesia, Eddie Adams Workshop in New York, and Young Photographers Alliances in Los Angeles.

How would you describe your photography style?

    I photograph with emotion and heart, hence a lot of my style tend to be more moody and compassionate towards the people, product or environment that I photograph. In short, I shoot with a documentary style often but always focus on reflecting the mood of whatever I photograph.

Where is your favorite photo location in Indonesia? 

    I love going to new neighbourhoods and finding out about the uniqueness of life, it fascinates me to see the similarity and the simplicity of the life that we live. But I do believe location doesn’t matter as long as you can find people that would open up to your sincerity of curiosity. Hence right now, my backyard is my favorite location. And if I cannot photograph people’s life then I photograph trees, insects, or whatever that inspires me and sparks my curiosity. Stories are everywhere, you just have to take the time to stop, look, and listen.

Why did you name the series “determination”?

    The girl behind this image is a girl whom I admire. Although she came from a family that went bankrupt, she never gave up in her studies. Through YCAB (Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa) she continued her studies. Due to her strong determination in learning, she became the finalist in a national competition, which then led her to be awarded free ballet lessons by YCAB. The lessons which she could not afford otherwise. This shows how someone like Finlandia, will not give up or blame her circumstances, but she learns to adapt and continue to pursue her dream and passion.

What makes a good picture stand out from the average?

    A bad image can stand out as much as a good image. A successful image however to me is an image that is remembered or that reminds the audience of something, a memory, a feeling, an opinion. As a photographer, we are trained not only in the technical side of how to use a camera, the harder training is how to create or capture a moment that will speak its message and move someone’s heart. For me, the message is often about life, about mood, about a reminder of things that we should remember and appreciate.

Through the whole album which is your favorite picture and why? 

    My favorite photograph changes depending on my situation. Like how you seek different quotes to remind you for different things; i.e comfort, encouragement, or words to live by. I look at photographs the same way like how a quote or phrase may be important to you. And for my situation right now, my favorite image is when Finland prepares herself and looks at the mirror as she’s about to go to school. It’s a time of reflection and a reminder of who you are, where you’re at right now and where you are going next. Plus, I love the composition a lot, not to praise myself :p I wonder which one is your favorite and what it means to you, please feel free to share it and dm me on Instagram @sharon.joetama

What does “merdeka” mean to you?

    Merdeka reminds me of the unification and celebration of our diversity. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, the Javanese word which translates Unity in Diversity. So, let us remind ourselves, yes we often have to follow the trend and style of the current culture, but never forget who we are, and let’s celebrate and maintain our differences instead of diluting it all into one. Be smart and selective of what influence we should take on and what influence we should reject, because Indonesians are unique, Indonesians are beautiful, and Indonesia is special to me and to you.

Any new things going on for you? 

    Back from the US, I am now starting up my own creative agency in which we aim to elevate the value of creative and its quality, expand the use of it in the NonProfit sector and create a mentorship for those who really wants to enter into the creative world. If these values align with you, feel free to reach out to me, because I always believe in supporting one another, as how others have supported me. Aside from this, I have also been teaching graphic design and photography classes through MyEduSolve. Seeing how there are many people all over Indonesia who’s passionate to learn is what sparks me to start the creative agency I’m building now.

To those who’s read, we hope this inspires you and spark your creative mind.

To dear Sharon, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

Sharon Joetama

Photographer & Educator

Instagram: @sharon.joetama