As a preface to our review, we are photographers looking to build our portfolio and our travels are dictated by landscape photo opportunities in various countries. With that said, we typically identify which shots we are aiming for prior to planning out a trip. We reached out to David outlining exactly which landscape photos we were looking to take. While we knew where and when (sunrise/sunset) to take the photos, we wanted to hire someone that is familiar with the area as some locations may require a quick hike or is located on private property. Any photographers know spending the extra minutes to figure a location out once you arrive is crucial and it can mean a lost opportunity in getting the best light.
We sent to David a list of all of the landscape photo locations for sunrise and sunset and well as opened up the opportunity to photograph cultural-based subjects during the day. After some back and forth, David provided back to us a very detailed itinerary outlining exactly what to expect every single day, the time, etc. As a person that is considered a "planner" (me), this was exactly the type of information I was looking for and the level of detail. Additionally, we absolutely loved the ability to adjust the entire itinerary - to as much or as little as we preferred. Lastly, any changes we wanted to make, David was sure to insert his opinions and warnings in case anything created conflict. This entire process of creating the itinerary was invaluable!
Unfortunately, David was not available for the days we requested but he did refer me over to Nyoman (using the finalized itinerary we agreed on) who is a local photographer and guide that work under the same team as David. While we never got to experience what it was like to tour with David, I have nothing but praise for Nyoman and this goes back to my concerns over figuring things out once you get to the exact photo locations. There are several examples but one of the highlights is when we wanted to take sunrise photos at the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple. Prior to arriving for sunrise, I had no idea they open at 6:30am. During our visit, sunrise was 6:15am which means just getting in at 6:30am would result in a lost opportunity as the beautiful sky prior to sunrise would already be gone. We were already there at 5:30 am. Fortunately, there was a 24-hour guard and Nyoman was able to speak to them directly and they let us in! If we were there without Nyoman, I am certain we would not have been able to get in.
Overall, our experience with Nyoman was one of the best. He was not only very accommodating, but it's nice to have a guide that understands photography. The most unique aspect of our tour was not photo-based and it was actually a very pleasant surprise. During our first day and after our first cultural-based photo session, Nyoman invited us over to his house where his wife cooked us a traditional Balinese lunch; we felt so honored in having to see where he was raised, meet his wife, and experience their food. And during this meal, they had dancers perform in their garden providing us with even more opportunities to take photos.
For any other photographers on the fence about which photo guide to go with, please consider David and/or his team (Nyoman). I know there are other photo guides out there (that are quite famous on Instagram) but they do not provide you the ability to adjust and dictate the flow of your itinerary, they charge 4 to 5 times more and those guides most likely are not even permanent residents or locals of Indonesia. With that said, if you go with David and/or his team, you are not only going to get one of the best photo tours experiences (and I've been on a lot throughout the world), but the money you pay goes back to the people that live there - not just there to "set up shop".