An analog camera and a digital pocket camera were provisions for Christianto Harsadi on a study tour in 2008. This man, who is familiarly called Anto, was still in the 3rd grade of junior high school at that time.
His classmates asked Anto to take a picture/photo. In order for Anto to be included in the group photo, he took turns taking photos with a friend. As a result, they argued that Anto's photo was not good.
"They said my first photo was not as good as the second photo of that friend. There, I was determined to make good photos," said Anto.
The words of his friends disturbed Anto and made him want to learn to take pictures even more. This incident was also the first moment for Anto to get to know photography. He wanted to take better shots.
Anto is getting serious about photography. In 2013, he became a student at Dian Nuswantoro University of Semarang, majoring in Visual Communication Design. He also took a photography class held at his campus.
"I started buying my dream DSLR camera and started pursuing the world of photography until now," said Anto.
During college, he used a Canon 1100D camera. He hopes to become a professional photographer armed with the DSLR camera.
Anton continued to learn, until in 2016, he took part in Photo Face-Off, an Asian-wide photography competition between amateur and professional photographers. It was a program hosted by the History Channel. Anton participated in the third season of Photo Face-Off that year.
This competition challenged amateur photographers against professional photographers. To determine the winner, participants had to do 15 challenges which were divided into three rounds.
Photo Face-Off season three was attended by a total of 13 amateur photographers from several countries in Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
Anto also wanted to prove that his photographing ability was not inferior to the world's top professional photographers.
This competition is a memorable moment for him. Anton is deaf. She became the first and only participant with disabilities in the Photo Face-Off program.
"I was chosen as the first and only disability contestant in history," said Anton.
One of the shots is a photo of a bird in the grass. He took the space to the left for a picture of a brown bird, while the rest of the space looked fresh green grass.
He captured the moment while walking to Plaza Senayan, Jakarta. On the pedestrian side, there were plants and grass. At that time, the sparrows were on the plant.
"I immediately took pictures from a distance using a telephoto lens," explained Anton.
In addition to the competition, Anton also served as the official photographer for the 2018 Asian Para Games with a team of deaf photographers consisting of 5 people.
The 2018 Asian Para Games is an Asian sporting event at which Indonesia was appointed as the host.
“I took the opportunity to be part of the once-in-a-lifetime Asian Para Games photographer. A very rare and very memorable moment," he said.
Everyday, Anton is busy taking pictures and editing photos. He also likes traveling and taking pictures of places and objects that he finds interesting.
Currently, Anto decided to leave his birthplace in Semarang, and live in Jakarta. As a freelance photographer, he also provides event, pre-wedding, wedding, product, and portrait documentation services. The photo genre he chooses also depends on the experience and abilities he has.
However, his career was not always smooth. The Covid-19 pandemic has reduced demand. Events and jobs were cancelled. If in a month Anto used to get 1-2 job offers, during the pandemic he had no orders at all.
“The pandemic has had a huge impact on photographers. I've heard a lot from them, I've also experienced it myself,” said Anton.
Indonesia is in the 18th position with the most cases of Covid-19 infection in the world. The government implemented the Enforcement of Micro-scale Community Activity Restrictions (PPKM) for months. One of the rules is to limit artistic, social and cultural activities that can cause crowds.
In addition to the pandemic, the challenge he is currently facing in the world of photography is digital content competition. Now, everyone can become a photographer, only with a cellphone camera.
The challenge is even greater when social media creates its own inequality. Influencers with hundreds of millions of followers have fantastic rate cards, while content writers, copywriters, designers, and photographers often have minimal wages.
“In general, the challenges for professional photographers to cellphone users vary by genre. But again, photography skills and content needs are different for each individual," said Anto.
He gave an example of taking picture of a food with a cell phone. Common people will just take a picture as long as it is good for them. But in the world of professional photography, there is a technicality of taking food photos and the message that will be conveyed from each photo.
On the other hand, digital content currently available on social media is not all disability-friendly. Including photo contents. Very little photo contents provide descriptions for the visually impaired.
“If images such as designs, photos, paintings and others are posted on social media, can the visually impaired know the description of the images? Of course, they can't because of the features in the device they have," he explained.
Anton himself experienced difficulties. He said that not all contents can be enjoyed by the deaf.
"For the deaf, for example, video content, although subtitle access is available, not all videos have that access," added Anto.
In this age of technological sophistication, access to digital content is everyone's right. So, making works that can be accessed by everyone is distinctive for the digital world.