Jakarta. From a number of roles he plays in life — an economist, a writer, a husband and a father — Junanto Herdiawan, or Iwan as he is usually called, is proud to be a Flying Traveler. His first introduction to the world of levitation photography was in Tokyo, after he met with Natsumi Hayashi, the pioneer of the genre. Today, wherever he goes, Iwan takes a photo of himself levitating before iconic landmarks and shares his journey in his latest book, “Flying Traveler.”
“When I was working and living in Tokyo, Japan, I saw her advertising board in an art show. She was flying. I was captivated and tried to know more about the photo. I found out that she published a book called ‘Today’s Levitation.’ It was basically a blog turned into a book. She posted every day in her blog Yowayowacamera.com. Afterwards, I began my own levitation. It was in 2012,” Iwan recalls.
Sharing Iwan’s fascination of levitation is Anggun Adi, founder of the Levitation Hore community. He felt that the genre could tell more stories that the usual cheerful pose.
“As a photographer, the fun [in doing levitation photography] is when I can capture the natural expression and pose of the model as if he or she really flies midair,” Anggun says.
Meanwhile, Iwan fell in love with levitation photography because of its strong positioning and the philosophy behind it. Philosophically, levitation means going against gravitation, he says.
As Hayashi explains: “Slowly, our routines become sort of a gravity trap. Levitation photography invites us to go out of our routines and break our boundaries.”
And that is what Iwan does.
He took part in a workshop to share his levitation stories and invite more people to break their boundaries by experimenting with levitation and traveling. Together with Anggun and his Levitation Hore community, they traveled to Kediri and several other cities in East Java to teach the younger generation how to levitate.
“It doesn’t take too long to learn. You also don’t need to slot a special time just to get the levitation shot. After a continuous practice, it will only become habitual,” Iwan continues, “It is important to notice that there’s no trick at all. I really fly. Everyone can fly.”
This statement gets a nod from members of Levitation Hore community. Established in December 2011, the members’ first activity was levitating around Thamrin and the Taman Suropati area, both in Central Jakarta. They became interested in the technique and agreed to build a web community together. Their story can be read on their website.
As for Iwan, he prefers to publish his photos through Instragram, where he has more than 38,000 followers. Buzzfeed features him in their list of 21 most creative accounts on Instagram in 2012.
“My posts have also been published in a Columbian magazine, El Tiempo. I got selected as the most creative Instagram [account] in a Shanghai-based magazine called City Zine,” he said.
Besides Instagram, his flying technique can be found at the back of his book.
“It is purely physical technique, without any camera trick or photoshop. For a levitation of 180 degrees, what you need to do is push your body upwards. In midair, straighten up your body with both your hands aligned with your body — and, click! You’re flying.”
“You can use any type of camera with burst mode. You can still use an ordinary camera without burst mode, but you’ll probably need several takes. I wrote in my book that Natsumi Hayashi needs to jump 200 to 300 times to get a perfect shot before she switched to using the Canon EOS 5D and Mark 2,” Iwan explains.
Anggun adds: “As long as the camera is capable to record with high shutter speed — minimum 1/250.”
Asked whether the hobby takes away from his travels, Iwan responds: “Taking a levitation photograph is the pleasure itself. It is not a jump shot. You can see it from your posture if you levitate or if you jump. That’s why members of our community always say, ‘We levitate, we don’t jump.’ ”
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