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Bali Photography Association Raise Concerns Over Foreigners Offering Photo Services And Breaking Visa Rules

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The Bali Photography Association has raised concerns that foreigners on the island are offering a range of photography and videography, likely without the correct work permits. The Bali Photography Association (Hipdi Bali) have taken to social media and spoken with local reporters regarding their observations and the impact these kinds of illegal operations are having on legitimate local photography services.

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The Chairman of Hidpi Bali, Gusde, told reporters that he had found several social media accounts of foreigners offering documentation services, photography, and videography experiences in Bali. He is convinced that these individuals are working and operating businesses without the correct visa, and in many cases, without registering a business in Indonesia. He explained, “They are actually not open for business, but that does not mean they don’t exist. This is what we are currently exploring, whether they are on vacation while working.”

He explained that there are a number of scenarios at play but that if these individuals are in Bali on tourist visas then, then offering photography services in Indonesia is illegal. He added, “this [issue] must be raised so that the government is also aware that their activities have violated the rules and disrupted the activities of fellow photographers whose home base is in Bali”.

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Gusde shared a screenshot of a conversation he had online with one of the suspected illegal photographers. In the exchange, Gusde asks if the foreigner has the correct visa, to which the foreigner replies, “I have because I work in local production, but as I know, it’s not necessary.” The screenshot has been shared to the @hipdi_bali Instagram account with the caption, “Are they even legal? Indirectly career as a guide then switch to selling photography and videography services. Is it really that easy? Please no visa abuse in Bali”.

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The post has attracted dozens of comments with many people tagging Immigration, Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno, and social justice activist Niluh Djelantik. One commenter wrote, “Many like this, with all kinds of disguises, there are even disguised selling photos with the excuse of donation,” while another said, “The average photographer and model have an agency that is Indonesian too…Oh yes, tattoo artists and yoga spiritual teachers roaming around on Instagram too”.


When asked about whether foreign photographers were undermining the prices of local creatives, Gusde said it was beside the point. He explained, “It’s not a matter of price. It’s a matter of taking our chances and a matter of the permits they violated. In my opinion, this undermines the state apparatus and existing regulations; they should be able to respect that.”

The Head of the Bali Provincial Tourism Office, Tjok Bagus Pemayun, has been alerted to the issue. He says that he will bring the situation to the attention of immigration authorities and ensure that this kind behavior is not allowed to continue. He told reporters, “If the visa is only for a vacation and he takes a job, of course, this is not permissible. According to the rules, it’s not permissible for tourists to go on vacation and take jobs as photographers.”


He added that there are visa categories that allow for documentary making, film, and media, but that a tourism or digital nomad visa is not it. He said that documentary photographers must convey the information they find and their work to the relevant authorities. “They are the ones who work in the field and have direct contact with the world of documentation itself. We hope they will continue to convey all the information that is based on data in the field.”


Pemayum concluded that although it is not the Tourism Office’s place to deal directly with foreigners who are potentially doing illegal activities in Bali, as a government authority, they can help coordinate and facilitate conversations and transfer of information so that ‘the Bali tourism ecosystem continues to be good in the future’.

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Friday 3rd of February 2023

There is no legal way to work as a photographer in Indonesia. No matter the visa or KITAS, officially you can't call yourself photographer here. Keeping this in mind is rule #1

I completely see where the government is coming from, they want their local photographers to get the gigs. Many local photographers are very skilled and do well but there's not enough of those considering the demand - thinking about fashion, very specific areas where english is a must like branding, even Yoga photography can't be done by just about anyone with a camera.

So long story short, western people should at least have a KITAS and make an effort to pay taxes if they wanna work as a photographer here in Indonesia.


Thursday 9th of March 2023

@Ulrike, agree. But apparently making this effort is not enough anymore these days. Most of the fashion photographers don’t even work with brands in Bali, never shoot any weddings, events, or anything for what local photographers can be used and simply use the beautiful locations to cater to their own clientele from overseas. Which is not the target market for most Bali photographers. It’s weird that you can get an entertainment kitas for a karaoke guide but there isn’t one for a photographer. It’s almost like someone explicitly left out that category for whatever reason.


Saturday 4th of February 2023

@Ulrike, Agree totally.

Wayan Bo

Thursday 2nd of February 2023

Because of domestic laws some tourists feel safer if photos are taken by cosmopolitan foreigners. Especially photos of sprees and narcotic consumption.


Thursday 2nd of February 2023

The Balinese are screwed. They let in 35,000 russians to live here permanently and of course they will do whatever they have to for survival. There will be 100,000 russians living here in five years and they will control the island. The balinese will work for them for slave wages.


Monday 6th of February 2023

@Gede Baron, It's quite obvious they don't respect your culture and have no intention of assimilating. It's simply too easy here to pay off one of your leaders and get whatever they want. Perhaps a 'Puputan' will be necessary in the near future to oppose their rule?


Sunday 5th of February 2023

@Wayan Bo, get educated about Russian History, have you never heard of the SOVIET UNION? They do have a history of forced Occupation. Acquaint yourself with facts.


Sunday 5th of February 2023

@Raymond, Russians have never been known to uphold the law, even in their own country. Bali is just a playground for them and they'll do as they please. Beware, the Russian. MAFIA is establishing a foothold on Bali and the government is either too stupid to see it or they are being paid off. I think the latter is more likely. 🤔


Sunday 5th of February 2023

@Wayan Bo, What's That got to do with this?

Gede Baron

Friday 3rd of February 2023

@Raymond, if they want live here, the must be follow our rule


Thursday 2nd of February 2023

I can see where this is heading: The locals likely will argue for a ban on foreigners using drones so this can be commercialized and monopolized by the locals.

It is already very strict rules for flying drones in Bali and a drone must be registered and a fee paid before use! Criminal penalties for intentionally failing to register a drone can result in fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years!

As we already knows rules for thee (tourists) not me (locals)!


Thursday 2nd of February 2023

Restrictions, restrictions, restrictions, soon there will be sooo many restrictions that nobody will want to come to Bali.