In early May this year, a group of designers led by designer Yudika Nababan, username RGORG, held a Meetup in Malabar, Indonesia.

They escaped to the beautiful countryside to explore their shared interests of design and photography. Working to shoot their images together, they came up with a stunning set of photographs using light to paint the lush landscape – creating an ethereal view of the world.

I got the chance to interview Yudika about the experience, and he shares it with us here:


Looks like you guys are pretty close, can you tell me about how you got started as a group?

It all started around almost 6 years ago, when I was growing tired of my job as studio head at an advertising agency in Jakarta. I decided to start running a graphic design course, where I could teach the creative design process without being limited by the wishes of the client.

One day, I was talking to one of my students, who mentioned that he had just won a logo contest on a website, called 99designs. I found that 99designs could be a place for my students to develop their design skills: analyzing the brief, competing fairly, practicing how to handle clients. It does not require CV or educational background of graphic design to compete, so it is very good for my students as the majority of them are not working in the field of design, but are interested in learning to become a graphic designer.

I won a contest, and it was not easy even for me at that time, even though I had nearly 12 years experience as a graphic designer and as a teacher of design. My win was followed also by the wins of my students and partners.

So in 2008 our group grew to 10 people who used 99designs in their day-to-day activities. Most of these are my students who just graduated from vocational school where I taught. They use it to finance their studies, pay for their vehicles, equip their computers and to help their family. Now we have a solid community with 13 designers who actively use the site.


How did you find out you all had a shared interest in common – photography?

I learned photography while studying visual communication at the Jakarta Institute of Art in 1991, when it was still using analog cameras. Working as a freelance designer on 99designs gave me the chance to pursue my hobby.

So in 2011 I decided to buy a DSLR camera and relearn photography and found that there is a relationship between the designing and photographing: concept, composition, color and artistry. I asked a few members of the group to join me with whatever camera they have, and created a fun activity for a short escape from the routine design, but still creative and aesthetic.

Today almost all the members have a camera, and we have a studio with photographic equipment. We’ve selectively already started working on the documentation for the ceremony and wedding photos.


Tell us about the location – where were you guys and how did you choose that location? What makes that place special?

Malabar, South Bandung – West Java. This was the second time we visited! The first was in June 2012 with our friend and fellow astrophotographer Adi W Boediman.

There we can forget about the hot weather in Jakarta, as well as the chaos and constant traffic jams. In Malabar we can breathe fresh air, so cold it almost reached 7 degrees Celsius (45 Fahrenheit) in the evening.

And most of all, we can shoot insect macro photos, we can shoot landscapes at sunrise and sunset. And the most amazing to us, we see thousands of stars and the Milky Way clearly at night and could photograph it with a long exposure photography, of course.


Who came up with the idea to paint in light?

The initial plan was a group photo with the background of stars, the Milky Way and Meetup banners. But then the fog came and covered the view of the sky. Ziky, one of our members then propose to experiment ‘paint light photography’, while waiting for the fog to disappear. We wrote down the things we associated with 99designs, and got a great shot.


Is there a message that you guys could send other designers who are inspired by you and your group?

My message is to act as if 99designs is your serious job. Like working in an office, you always have to be disciplined, creative, and appreciate the work of others. But do not be too serious, take a break and enough free time to do fun activities, especially those that are still related to art and creativity.

Photos courtesy of Ziky Prayudha and Adi W. Boediman. Big thanks to both these photographers and Yudika, and to the rest of the members of their group: erge99, tquoon, Ideoplosan, iuvenum, Prosperus, AmoAmo, and gamul.

Want to run your own Meetup? Get more information at our Meetup Facebook Group or