Tales of a Photographer in Desert Point, Welcome to the Lombok Lightroom

Professional photographer Aaron Harris tried himself at shooting the legendary surf spot Desert Point, also known as Bangko Bangko in Lombok, Indonesia. Read his story below.

Desert Point Photograph
Desert Point photographed by Aaron Harris
After 20 years of being a professional photographer land-locked in North America, I’ve shot more than my fair share of professional sports. Sadly, I’d never aimed a lens at surfing until I arrived in Bali in April 2016, so I really knew little to nothing about surfing. That said, I probably still know little to nothing about surfing.
Desert Point Lombok
Desert Point photographed by Aaron Harris
It sounded like some mythical, must-surf once in your life, “tube-riding bliss” on “one of the world’s most magical waves.”
The reason I wanted to shoot at Desert Point was based on what I’d read; I would be shooting high calibre surfers on a beautiful and unforgiving wave. It sounded like some mythical, must-surf once in your life, “tube-riding bliss” on “one of the world’s most magical waves.”
Desert Point Lombok
Desert Point photographed by Aaron Harris
I’m also pretty sure I read somewhere that there’s enough skin on that merciless reef to make a few new humans. Knowing all this, and that surfers flocked there on rare days, it’s just something I wanted to shoot for myself.
Desert_Point_Photograph
Desert Point aka Bangko Bangko – Photographed by Aaron Harris
Another reason I wanted to shoot there is because I follow the local shooter, Putu Juliartha on Instagram. He clearly knows that place inside out and produces brilliant images out of there.
Desert Point Photograph
Desert Point – Photographed by Aaron Harris
I arrived a day before the swell, managed to get the beach hut with the best view just before van-loads of surfers started to show up. There was a pretty great crew of guys there from California, the Billabong team and of course the awesome locals like Putu and his friend Budi.
Desert Point Lombok
Desert Point photographed by Aaron Harris
Bangko-Bangko was a bit more remote than I had expected……. it felt a little like being on the moon, except with a really awesome wave. It’s just a perfect place to shoot surfing and was much better than I had hoped for.
Desert Point Photograph Lombok
Desert Point – Photographed by Aaron Harris
I love shooting Uluwatu, but Desert Point offered me something entirely new that I’d never seen before. Shooting these guys getting consistently barrelled wave after wave was berserk, and that’s exactly why I was there. Each wave seemed rare and precious and not a single barrel was left empty.
Dessert_Point
Desert Point, Bangko Bangko – Photograph by Aaron Harris
I can’t rememberer the last time I enjoyed shooting anything that much, and while the sun dropped and the tide went out, it just got better and better. I was laughing at how things were getting a little hectic trying to follow one guy through the tube and then swing the lens back around in time to catch the next guy take the drop. As the sun dropped in what seemed like fast motion, I was trying to bag as many of them as possible and having a little trouble keeping up.
Desert Point Lombok
Sunset session at Desert Point, by Aaron Harris
It was also an unexpected bonus to be able to safely walk out so far at low tide to shoot even tighter, not something I can do at Uluwatu and still get the right angle on the wave. The position of the sun in relation to the wave and the background are perfect for anything from a 200-500mm shot, so it’s easy to see why the expression ‘Lombok Lightroom’ exists.
Anyway, it was pretty great doing an edit after dinner with a bunch of the guys crowded around asking if I’d email them a few frames. They gave me what I was looking for out there, so I was happy to give them back.
Desert Point Lombok
Last barrel for the day, photographed by Aaron Harris
Thanks to Putu and Casey (and his crew) for being good souls and helping me out.
Written by Aaron Harris

Indo Surf Crew

Made up of surfers, photographers, film-makers and writers. Indo Surf Crew creates surf content in Indonesia while raising awareness on how to protect Indonesian beautiful surf playground and culture. Our aim is to give a voice to the local Indonesian surf communities, its surfers, and organisations with sustainable eco project that will help preserve the authenticity of Indonesian surf spots.

2 comments

  • Aaron….I am one of your dad’s closest friend…..if you recall you got me the photo of the Junior Hockey team in Lahr, Germany that was in McLeans. Your photos and work here are outstanding, very, very well done! However, I did notice a flaw in the picture of that gorgeous peasant lady. That would not happen if you had a talented assistant—–I am available. All joking aside, extremely excellent work. You are a very talented man.
    Dennis Jobe, CD

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