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Behind the Lens in the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia

As a photographer traveling the world covering a multitude of subjects, it’s fair to say that I’ve seen a lot.  But of those places, Indonesia is one of my favorites, especially with my cameras. My cameras live inside my Pacsafe bags begging to be out in the water as much as I do. The country is full of smiling faces and beautiful places!


This assignment was a boat trip on the Indies Trader three yacht with eight surfers, searching for the perfect wave over a course of 12 days. We all traveled over 50 hours from Florida to surf some of the best wave spots in the world along the Mentawai chain of islands off the coast of Sumatra Indonesia. It’s not that easy to get to, especially from Florida.


Everyday we woke up long before sunrise to have our morning meeting, deciding where to surf that morning. By sunrise, we were on the water.  I decided that based on the conditions where I will be shooting from that day.

Shooting depends on the quality and size of the waves along with the weather conditions. My hope when doing these kinds of assignments, is that I can swim with my cameras, as that is my favorite thing to do. With a wide angle lens, sunny clear waters is best for swimming . Oftentimes, I hit the reef, get caught inside and everything else you can imagine while out in large surf with my Canon cameras and Aquatech housings.  I also shoot from a channel in a small boat or even swim to the beach with my gear in drybags to shoot from land.

Preparation before my trips is key. I try to keep in top physical shape to keep up with the athletes I shoot. Being healthy from the start of a trip along with eating safe food will keep myself from possibly getting sick. The problem is – everywhere I go, I love eating the local dishes! On this trip we had our own chef cooking top notch food leaving us with nothing to worry about. And while my exposure to the local culture is not as frequent, I did try to swim to the islands and communicate with the locals whenever I got a chance.


We got amazing waves on this trip but also had some cloudy rainy days. But with down time comes free time, for me. This trip I brought along my Ukulele and what a blast! I often listen to music when shooting from land or the boat.



Some facts on this trip:
– I shot 12,653 images over the course of 16 days.
– Brought just 6 shirts (which I gave 3 to locals) and 3 boardshorts.  (the rest is all gear)
– We broke only 1 board on the trip
– Saw 3 sea turtles and 3 sharks
– Didn’t wear shoes for 12 days
– Used a entire bottle of SunBum pro sunscreen and Mango lip block



Pacsafe gear used:
–  Toursafe EXP34
–  Toursafe AT21
–  Camsafe V11
–  Carrysafe 150 sling strap
–  50RFID bifold wallet
–  Cashsafe travel belt

You can follow my images I take on my Instagram @benjhicks or Facebook.com/benhicksphotos


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