Tjokorda Bagus Dwi Santana is an emerging photographer from Ubud Palace whose works were recently exhibited for the first time, at the Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas & Spa owned by his Australian mother Jero Asri and father Tjokorda Raka Kerthayasa. The 26-year-old shared his day with The Bali Times Arga Sagitarini

My day starts at 8am, but I’ll get up at 7 if I have to go out and take photographs. Straight away I have breakfast, either at my place in Renon or at the palace. I like nasi campur (mixed rice) or spicy lawar (spicy jackfruit with meat) – I like spicy food. Afterwards I have a shower and get ready for the day.

Right now I’m starting a new business, a restaurant. A friend of mine is a good chef and I want to start a business with him. We’re looking for the right location, as well as the equipment and calculating how much it’s all going to cost.

Mornings are a good time to take photographs, because of the light. Afternoon light is good, too. The theme that runs through my photography is life. I took my first photograph when I was 17 years old and on a family holiday in Europe. People said my pictures were good and suggested I study photography. I was already interested in photography, and hearing people’s opinions about my photographs increased my desire to become a photographer.

My family, especially my father, is my biggest supporter. There was a time when I wasn’t sure about what I was doing, about whether I should continue with my dream of becoming a photographer, and my father helped me to go on: he told me I was a good photographer and that he was proud of me, seeing my talent grow. My father and an uncle are painters, and are happy to see me also involved in the arts, with photography. Ubud Palace is the center of the arts; most people from the palace are artistic. As part of Ubud Palace, I express my artistic nature in photography.

I held my first exhibition at the Ibah, with some other artists from the palace. I wasn’t sure about taking part at first, but my father and uncle convinced me and now that it’s over I’m optimistic and have a lot of dreams: I’d like to have my own solo exhibition some day; I’d like to have a good business in Bali, because Bali is my home and I want to stay here.

I’m proud to be Balinese. We have our own culture and traditions. Not everyone can be Balinese; they have to have a Balinese blood relation – in my case, my father. My mother is Australian. Being a young royal and part of Ubud Place is a lot of fun for me. People appreciate me more, especially the Balinese.

I’ve spent most of my time in Australia, though, from elementary school to university, so people don’t really know me in Bali. When I go to temple to pray, locals call me a tourist, and I feel angry. I don’t want them to treat me as a tourist. I want them to treat me as a Balinese, or at least a part of Bali. I don’t like to be called a tourist, and when people know my status, they don’t call me a tourist again. My father’s family is from the Ubud Kingdom. They have always helped people to build temples, schools, hospitals and a lot of people come to the palace to meet my father and ask for help. My father loves the people and tries to help as much as he can. I’d like to do that some day. Some people only ask for more and more and that annoys me, but I think that if the Gods give you the ability to help others, that’s what you’ve got to do – and that’s why so many people appreciate what the palace does.

I think I want to continue what my father is doing now, helping people. Right now he’s a candidate for the regent of Gianyar and I really hope he wins the election. Being a regent would be good for him; he’s a nice man, and not corrupt.

In the afternoons, I go to the Tohpati Shooting Range in Denpasar to shoot weapons for a couple of hours – it’s good to focus my mind, which is good for photography. Afterwards I’ll go to the gym and then head out for a few drinks with some friends. Midnight is when my day ends, when I fall into bed.

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