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Traditional Balinese Costume & Photoshoot | Ummi Goes Where?

As mentioned in this other article from one of my earlier trips to Bali, I have always been fascinated by the Balinese culture because:

  1. It’s interesting to see a Hindu island in the middle of a Muslim country with the world’s largest Muslim population!
  2. It’s a unique culture that you can’t find outside of Bali (unlike the Indian or Chinese culture, for example, that is widespread all over the world).
  3. It has some resemblance to my own (Malay) culture.
So, it is always a pleasure to immerse myself in the local arts and traditions every time I visit this Indonesian island.
 
On my most recent trip, I found an experience that allows you to have a professional photo shoot in traditional Balinese costume (with full makeup, hairdo, and accessories!)
 
Balinese traditional costume photoshoot
 

How to Book

Booking can be done on Airbnb app/website*. If you don’t have an account yet, you can register through this link here to get a special discount on your first booking.

*Update: It is temporarily unlisted during Covid. You can try contacting the photographer personally on her Instagram.

What to Expect

This experience takes place in the capital city, Denpasar. You will meet your photographer and stylists at Ayuning Bali Busana boutique, which is easily reachable by Gojek/Grab/Grab Bike. The boutique caters to both locals and foreigners, providing costume rental, makeup, and hairstyling services.

During off-peak seasons, they’re only available by appointment, so make sure you have a booking before turning up. I arrived more than an hour early for my 2 p.m. appointment, so I had to wander around first because they were not yet open.

Ayuning bali busana
Credit: Ayuning Bali Busana
 

The Makeover

At about half past one, the stylists arrived and warmly welcomed me in. First, I had to choose my outfit from the array of kebaya tops they had on display. It was a hard decision to make because there were so many beautiful ones with different designs, colors, and materials.
 
After a while of not being able to make up my mind, Sagung, the head stylist helped me choose one that best complemented my skin tone. We went with bright orange. I thought I was more of a white-lace kind of girl, but in the end I was happy with the choice she made.
 
Balinese traditional costume photoshoot
Traditional Balinese costume.
 
The kebaya was paired with a green batik skirt called ‘kamben’ and a sash around my waist. Inside the kebaya, I had to wear a skin-colored lace-up-back corset. It was my first time wearing a bustier/corset, and it made me stand (and sit) a little straighter. No more slouching!
 
Then, they started to give me a makeover — with one person doing my hair and the other doing my makeup. By this time, the photographer had arrived and advised the duo on what color would look best on camera. If the makeup wasn’t on point, then a lot of editing would need to be done post-shoot.
 
Personally, I thought it looked a little too white-washed. I would have preferred a foundation shade that was closer to my natural tan, but I decided to leave it to the experts.
 
As the final touch, they put on me a set of traditional Balinese accessories, which included earrings, bangles, rings, a brooch, and decorative hairpins.
 
For your information, this Airbnb experience is also suitable for men or couples. For men, the outfit consists of a batik shirt, a kamben with an overlay called the ‘saput’, a sash, and a headgear called the ‘udeng’.
 

The Photo Shoot

Once the photographer and stylists were happy with the finished look, I slipped on my flip-flops and off we went to the Bali Relics Museum just across the road. Built in the early 1930s, the museum provided the perfect backdrop for our shoot. In fact, during our visit, there were three other groups who were also doing photo shoots there.

With Mega Gumelar
With my photographer

My photographer is Mega Gumelar, a photography student from Jakarta. But don’t let her young age or the fact that she is a student fool you — Mega is a total pro with more than 5 years of experience in the field, from global photography campaigns, branded content, to portrait and fashion photography. She also has some modeling experience under her belt. So, don’t worry if you feel like you’re not photogenic enough or don’t know what to do with your hands — she will guide you through it.

Balinese traditional costume photoshootMoving around in the traditional outfit was no easy feat — I had to walk and stand and sit like a lady. But I was glad that at least I had my flip-flops with me. It would have looked awkward to wear the kebaya with my usual choice of footwear (hiking boots).

During the session, Mega took the time to explain a little about Balinese culture and history. According to her, the kind of outfit I was wearing was called ‘Adat Lengkap’ –often worn for special ceremonies and events.

Balinese people would also wear this type of attire (minus the jewelry and elaborate hairdo) every Thursday to go to work and to school. This is not a very strange concept for me because in my own country, people are also encouraged to wear traditional costumes every Friday, but goodness, how do the women survive in these stiff corsets all day long?!

I was relieved when Mega announced that she had got all the shots she needed. After that, we walked back to the boutique and enjoyed a delightful glass of ‘cendol’ along the way.

With Mega Gumelar at Ayuning Bali Busana
When the photographer is prettier than the 'model'
With Sagung at Ayuning Bali Busana
With Sagung, the stylist at Ayuning Bali Busana

The edited photos were e-mailed to me on the same day. If the photo shoot was great, the end result was even better! I liked that the color of my kebaya fit in seamlessly with the backdrop.

In addition, Mega did an excellent job with the tones and overall mood of the photos. My skin didn’t appear as white as I had initially feared. And I think I totally look like a Balinese in these photos:

The Verdict

Photography services for travelers aren’t a new thing. I’ve seen them many times, especially in popular destinations like Paris, Rome, and Istanbul.

It is a huge hit for influencers and solo travelers, because you know, it’s not easy to take photos of yourself when you’re traveling alone. Besides, some places are just too pretty for my (lack of) photography skills to do them any justice.

But although I was tempted to use those services before, I had to refrain myself because I never had any nice dress with me. I also don’t bring makeup when I travel.

So, the fact that this photo shoot in Bali took care of all that was the clincher for me.

Balinese traditional costume photoshoot

If you’re used to Indonesian prices, you may find this photo shoot to be a bit on the pricey side. But I can assure you that it’s all worth it.

You’ll be given top-notch service by the makeup artist and hairstylist at the boutique. And most importantly, you’re paying for the expertise of Mega the photographer who not only takes stunning shots from all the right angles, but also helps you with poses, and edits the photos afterwards.

In short, she does everything in her power to ensure that you take home only the best souvenirs to cherish for a lifetime.

Despite my lack of confidence in front of the camera, Mega made me feel comfortable throughout the session. We met as strangers and parted as friends. I wouldn’t hesitate to book her again for another shoot.

Have you ever hired a photographer when you travel? Share your experience in the comment section below!

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Photoshoot in Traditional Balinese Costume | Ummi Goes Where?

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38 Comments

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    • ummi

      Thanks, Edahyu. Muzium ni memang cantik, dan popular sebagai tempat photoshoot. Masa saya pergi tu pun ada lagi beberapa group lain yg tgh buat pre-wedding photoshoot. Dekat pula tu dengan butik Ayuning Bali Busana.

    • ummi

      Yes, Bella. There are actually many photography packages around the world aimed at travelers. Some people may think it’s narcissistic to hire a photographer to take your travel photos, but to each their own. And this one in particular was really worth my money.

  2. bae Roslan

    tak pernah hire photographer and i tak taktau pulak airbnb ada such service kan. best jugak ni. next time viait bali again nak try la. cantik2 gambar..

    • ummi

      Hi, Bae. Selain daripada penginapan, Airbnb ni juga sebenarnya ada banyak aktiviti atau ‘experience’ yang kita boleh join. Nanti saya akan tulis satu artikel tentang ni. Kalau Bae berminat, boleh la register Airbnb guna link di atas dan bookmark dulu experience ni. Nanti bila ke Bali, boleh cuba.

    • ummi

      Terima kasih, Kak Eiza. Betul tu, hasil kerja Mega memang mantap. Dan kita sebagai wanita seharusnya sentiasa memberi sokongan antara satu sama lain. 🙂

    • ummi

      Cantik kan pakaian tradisional Bali ni, Min? Lebih kurang serupa dengan kebaya kita di Malaysia, tapi tak sama. Kalau Min berminat nak buat photoshoot ni di Bali, boleh la simpan details photographer ni dulu ya.

  3. Kitkat Nelfei

    Interesting bah.. can try their photography services next time.. Didn’t know this service exist tho.. normally we had the one that took your photo and print it instantly only.. so gorgeous bah all the photo you shared.. nice one..

    • ummi

      Thank you, Kitkat. Ya I think I have also come across something similar where they put you in the costume, put on makeup, then take one or two photos to be printed instantly. That would probably be cheaper. But if you want good quality photos, I highly recommend this one 🙂

  4. Ruby

    Cantiknya sesi penggambaran ni. Lokasi kat mana tu ? Pernah pi Bali, jalan-jalan kat sawah dan pantai. Kalau ada batu camtu kat bahagian mana eh kak. Rasa nak pi Bali next year. Hehe. Semuanya sesuai la dari pakaian, mekap dan style. Gambar cun!

    • ummi

      Terima kasih, Ruby! Muzium ni nama dia Bali Relics Museum, kat Denpasar, ibu kota Bali. Boleh pergi naik Grab/ojek. Tapi rasanya kalau nak cari senibina batu2 macam ni, ada je kat mana2. Cari la kat temple ke. Kadang2, hotel dan rumah orang pun ada buat stail macam ni. Ataupun kalau berminat nak buat photoshoot ni dengan Mega, boleh la hubungi dia sendiri 🙂

    • ummi

      Haha, ya can. Try la. Right now the package is not listed on Airbnb. But you can try asking the photographer directly on her ig or Tiktok. She’s quite viral on tiktok.

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  6. MagicandBliss

    I had no idea that the traditional attire of Bali is well, so stylish and elegant and woah! they wear a bindi (forehead sticker) too, similar to what married women wear in India. Needless to say, you look really pretty in the attire 🙂

    • ummi

      Thank you, MagicandBliss! Yes, the Balinese are mostly Hindu. This is one of the things that fascinate me about Balinese culture. In my own country, most Hindus are of Indian descent; it’s pretty rare to see a Southeast Asian face with a bindi — except in Bali. 😀

  7. ildiko

    Loved this post! First of all, you look gorgeous and the outfit and camera angles were perfect. Next, I have heard of people hiring photographers during their travels, but I would never have considered doing that. You may have changed my mind. This experience seems so fun and lovely. What great memories you take home with you and an awesome way to learn of another culture.

    • ummi

      Thank you, Ildiko! In the beginning, I also had some reservations about hiring a photographer abroad. In my opinion, it was only for serious social media influencers and definitely not for me. But after seeing the resulting photos, I changed my mind about it, because those photos can make great souvenirs for ourselves, regardless of whether we choose to share them on social media or not. And especially this one in Bali, where you also get to put on their traditional costumes, hairstyle, and makeup. 🙂

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