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Mentawai Expeditions: Still Photography

The Mentawai are comfortable with amateur photography, but do not like visitors who point cameras without appropriate greetings and/or permission. Please be polite and ask first or, better yet, have your guide do so. In villages or on the trail, people may demand tobacco or money, an unfortunate practice begun by visitors led by insensitive and unethical mainland guides. To avoid encouraging this, we prefer that you take photos only of the clans with whom youíll be staying; the culture and lifestyle they share with you will provide numerous exciting photo opportunities. Always ask your guide first or wait to be invited to take pictures and be very discreet with your flash.

Equipment:

Protect ALL your equipment well from the heavy rain and constant humidity of Siberutís rainforest and/or a possible fall into water. Silica gel in drybags or Pelican waterproof cases should offer sufficient protection while you trek; remember to get your camera out only long enough to take photos. Bring as many batteries as youíll need (and some extras) and sufficient film in various speeds from ISO 64 to 800 to accommodate dramatically changing lighting conditions.

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Documentaries:

Mentawai people see a big difference between tourists who take snapshots for memories and professionals who might sell or publish their work, thus exploiting the Mentawai and their culture (again). They can quickly pick out a serious amateur or professional photographer by the kind of camera equipment used and the number of photos taken.

Past media trespasses have made it nearly impossible to organize a documentary on your own. If youíd like to produce professional photographic work on the Mentawai, please ask about our custom media documentary tours. The Mentawai now know the value of their culture to the outside world and will expect to be paid accordingly; we have the trust of the most traditional Mentawai and will pre-arrange financial, material and service compensations that do not impact them negatively. Let us help you ensure the success of your documentary while aiding the Mentawai people!

 

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