The PWB School: Sumatra workshop is hosted in partnership with the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) to make this dream trip come to life. You will have the exclusive chance to see how palm oil impacts people on the local and global level, how reforestation is being accomplished, and how everyday heroes are rescuing critically-endangered orangutans in need. Go trekking in the jungle and encounter orangutans and spend time riverside with critically endangered elephants and see the effects of eco-tourism up-close. Proceeds go directly to conservation of pristine rainforest in Sumatra, home to critically-endangered Sumatran orangutan, rhino, elephant and tiger.
Participants will come away with beautiful additions to their portfolios, a PWB certificate and a chance to be featured in the PWB Magazine.
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Entrance fees not listed
International air (also applies to trans-border flights)
Applicable tourist visas
Incidentals (e.g. souvenirs, snacks, etc.)
Tips or gratuities
Meals not mentioned
Optional tours or optional admissions
Trekking and camera permits for Gunung Leuser National Park
Workshops and guidance
One night cabin stay in restoration site
All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
Accommodations: Shared hotels and cabin (Single Room supplement: $550 USD)
Most meals are included. Please budget $100-300 USD for meals that are not included.
Transportation: Private vehicle, boat, ferry
Staff & experts: PWB staff, Workshop instructor, Local OIC staff
My bags are packed! Sign me up!
Note: This itinerary is subject to change. Details will be finalized and shared with participants in advance of the departure date.
Fly into Medan and meet anytime during the day. Meet at the hotel and have dinner together to taste some local Indonesian cuisine and get to know all our fellow travelers.
Medan. Orientation at the Orangutan Information Centre. Spend some time with the passionate team members of the Orangutan Information Centre as they provide an overview of their mission, their work, and their motivations. This will surely be an inspirational kick-off and introduction to the rest of your experience in Sumatra.
Participants will also travel to the Medan Zoo, to witness first-hand the challenges facing endangered species who are captured in human-animal interactions.
Ethics of Photodocumentary: We will discuss the ethics of being a documentary photographer through contemporary and historic examples. We will talk about permission/consent, editing, safety, journalistic integrity, responsibility, framing, narratives, your power/role as a photographer, and how photography can and has impacted social change.
Introduce a Sumatra Conservation Story: We will introduce the NGO we are working with in Sumatra (Orangutan Information Centre & Sumatra Wildlife Sanctuary), and give background of the animals we will photograph and the team working to save them. On this project we have teamed up with a conservationist recognized for his efforts by National Geographic.
Medan. Participants will spend the day exploring Medan and seeking out street art that is part of the internationally-renowned Splash and Burn awareness campaign. Tackling issues such as the transboundary haze, deforestation, human and animal displacement, murals/sculptures and interventions have been appearing throughout cities and the vast natural landscape of Sumatra.
Participants will also hone their street photography skills as part of their first PWB School assignment.
Travel by private bus to Bukit Lawang for four nights with three days of trekking. This is where we will see and photograph the critically endangered Orangutan. Having three full days of trekking to see these amazing animals that share 97 percent of our DNA in the wild will leave you breathless. Having the opportunity to photograph a critically endangered animal in the wild is an experience that will leave you changed!
Art of Storytelling: Through discussion, we will identify and unveil the elements and ingredients that make a powerful story. In your first storytelling assignment, you will get hands-on, guided practice in telling a story with your images.
Power of Voice: We will work on bringing your own narrative and emotions into your work. Make your photos speak and say what you feel.
Learn how to tell stories by the way you move your viewer throughout your frame. Use of light, colour, shapes, multi-level photojournalism will all be shown as ways to use a single image to tell more of a story and to trap the viewers eyes,
Drive by private bus to a site where OIC is funding the education of children in small villages so they may pursue alternative livelihoods to palm oil in the future.
Participants will learn to take stunning landscape images with or without a tripod. We will also learn how to take beautiful "long exposures" of water and clouds to get a flowy, dreamy effect with or without the use of filters.
Through guided practice and a fun and challenging exercise, participants will learn how to bring portraiture to the next step.
Through discussion and examples, we will encourage you to venture into social change and impact territory with your photography.
We’ll spend some time together going over photo management, backups, and editing for impact.
Back to Medan to unwind before going to the restoration site.
Share your stories with the group, followed by a night of desserts and coffee at a Sumatran Coffee House.
Time to put all the skills you have learned to the test in one last assignment! Throughout the evening you will have the chance to meet with your workshop instructor to have one-on-one feedback on your editing and selection process.
Put all that you have learned and shot to the test! Each workshop attendee will have 10 minutes to get up share their images and stories from the trip.
Together there will be a discussion for each presentation on how to share images for impact and change.
Restoration site camping trip: The NGO we are working with in Sumatra is the world’s first to successfully turn a palm oil plantation back into forest. Ride by private bus to the edge of palm oil plantations where you will continue on by motorbike to get to the reforestation site. The night will be spent on a platform in the middle of the forest (no running water and sleeping is on mats under mosquito netting). You will learn about the team that has worked together to make a forest and be given the opportunity to plant a tree in your name or a loved one's name. It is a beautiful and unique experience witnessing a young forest being created.
Return to Medan to present the final assignment to the team of the Orangutan Information Centre and for a final meal with the group.
Depart Medan at any time.
Ready to go to Sumatra?
Danielle Khan Da Silva is the Founder and CEO of PWB. Her mixed ancestry derives from Central/South Asia, Europe and Micronesia. She is an internationally-acclaimed and award-winning photographer/director, as well as a conservationist, scholar and activist. She is also Co-Founder of the Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary and was the founding Co-Chair of the Dandelion Initiative.
Danielle is most passionate about using storytelling to connect people to the earth and to each other, believing that the challenges we face are intersectional and that we can not address one problem without addressing a myriad others. She has earned a Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Conservation Biology, Psychology and Global Studies from the University of Western Ontario, as well as an MSc. in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics.
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*Or until full. Max 8 participants.