Bali Deep Culture Photography Tours
Balifornian Photography Tours are dedicated to providing a deep cultural submersion, professional guidance and instruction, and personal enrichment. Not only will you be exposed to exquisite natural beauty and ancient culture unlike any other on the planet, you will be lead by experienced guides in well-appointed accommodations. This unique tour is far from a generic tourist trip to a paradise island. Each location has been carefully selected for its photographic challenges and rewards. It has taken decades of experience to create this tour and we welcome you to join us for eight days in Bali’s fascinating and vibrant culture, its majestic natural landscape and the warmth and generosity of its people. It's a perfect way to document the experience of a lifetime.
*In addition to the Bali portion of the tour, we offer pre- and post-tour extensions. Additional tour locations include Borneo, Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Borobudur/Yogjakarta, Java, Lombok/Gili Islands, and a boat tour featuring Komodo, Flores and other islands along the way. These additions will remain flexible, as usually it is only a handful of participants so we can schedule the destinations and times according to your interest. Please scroll down for more information and additional links.
Scroll down for more information the following...
What makes Balifornian Photo Tours unique? ~ Who leads the tours? ~ Tour Highlights
Itinerary ~ What’s included? ~ Price ~ Pre and Post Tour Extensions ~ Testimonials
What makes Balifornian Photo Tours unique and special?
Our photo tours are designed by photographers for photographers.
After decades of exploration including numerous photography expiditions, we have been able to condense only the very best locations at the best times to provide you with a rich array of photographic opportunities. We encourage you to research each destination and compare it with the destinations of other tours to really see what you will be shooting. Please see our photo galleries to see dozens of examples of what you will be photographing. Scroll down to the Testimonials section to see what other participants have to say about our photo tours.
Because we live here in Bali and we love what we do, we are able to charge dramatically less for our services and tours. Other Photo Tours led by professionals are easily 20-30% more expensive and often times you get less than that what we offer. We urge you to compare and do your due diligence. We are happy to answer any questions you might have. We guarantee no one can match our value.
We go to extraordinary sites that most other tours miss.
We have been leading tours to Indonesia for years and specialize in “non-tourist” tours. We know how to avoid crowds and get the best unobstructed perspectives.
The benefits of our Balinese lineage and local relationships are the access to private ceremonies, Royal Palaces, communities, and other locations that the public would not be able to enter or participate.
Work with experienced local experts.
We are an experienced group with strong connections to the local communities and art education. We have decades of experience with locations, seasons, people as well as the current twists and turns that inevitably creep up in each new adventure.
Please see the Who leads the Bali Photo Tours? section below for more information and Scroll down to the Testimonials section to see what other participants have to say about our photo tours.
Work on photographic skills, composition, elements of design, and postproduction.
We don't just take you to unique and stunning sites; we discuss the art of photography and what to do with your striking images after the shutter is clicked to get the most out of each exposure. Hone your photography skills along side seasoned photograhers and educators while capturing the natural wonders of the paradise island of Bali.
Evening strategy sessions and workshops.
The tour involves evening instruction sessions, critiques, tips and tricks, and detailed previews of how to approach shooting the following day. Topics covered include what to expect, the various perspectives to consider, what gear, filters and such may be helpful, the history and significance of the locations and your questions will be answered as well. A slideshow will be presented to illustrate the locations, vantage points, and other considerations. The evening sessions will also include lessons on post-production, color correction, image editing, and more. We will also workshop and critique any images you choose. Various topics and techniques will be presented each night. We also make the most of our travel time by further discussing these topics while en route to our next destination.
Exposure and submersion in some of the world’s most unique cultures is coupled with lectures and stories to help you gain a deeper understanding of the places you will visit and the people you will meet. Many other photography tours are referred to as ‘Zoo Tours’ as the busses stop; tourists with cameras get off, click away and return to the bus for the next destination. Balifornian Photo Tours are the antithesis of these types of pre-packaged generic trips. We believe the more you understand about what you are photographing, the more expressive and profound your artwork will be.
We keep our groups small so we can work with each photographer independently and customize the experiences to fulfill each participant’s passions and unique interests. This allows all skill levels to benefit and to assure you shoot what you want.
Every opportunity is used to lesson our impact and carbon footprint of our tours and we strive to contribute positively to all host communities we visit. All Balifornian tours have a sustainable and charitable component. Bringing donations to impoverished villages is a highlight for many participants as it creates a special bond between cultures and leaves a tangible impression for both parties. We work with local charities and offer excursions to provide additional assistance for those who need it most.
Your experience is not limited to the time you are on the tour. We work with all participants before the tour to help fine tune gear, equipment, knowledge, etc. so you are more prepared upon arrival. We can help coordinate renting equipment, what to pack (and what to leave behind). We are travel professionals and provide heaps of information, checklists, packing lists, technical information, and more to help you develop your photographic as well as travel skills that you can use in future trips as well.
Not only will you deepen your photographic skills and knowledge, you will do it in one of the most astonishingly picturesque locations on earth. There is good reason why Bali wins “The Island of The Year Award” almost every year. Indonesia offers some of the world’s most stunning landscapes, biologically diverse ecosystems, ancient cultures untouched by modern assimilation, distinct and numerous endemic flora and fauna.
We feel travel is more than simply vacationing, but an opportunity to discover new cultures and ways of life. These adventures in learning and understanding bridge the gap between ethnic diversity, religions and indigenous ways of life to increase respect and tolerance for all mankind and take a step toward the betterment of our planet. And ultimately enrich your own life in the process. This is a transformational experience as evidenced by the testimonials we continue to receive.
Fortunately, part of immersing yourself in the culture involves partaking in the regional food. It just so happens that the food of Indonesia is delicious. We know many great spots and you will be provided with the tastiest, healthiest and cleanest authentic food available on the island. Cooking classes are also available for those that want to explore the cuisine at a deeper level. You will be given a choice of dining experiences so you can choose what is most appealing to your specific tastes. Unlike most tours that stop at mediocre restaurants and receive a kickback, we provide you with reviews and details of the local establishments and let you make your own decisions. Bali also offers world-class international cuisine as well including the best Italian food I have had since living in Italy!
Our photo tours use deluxe air-conditioned vehicles with a private driver and we stay in well-appointed accommodations. Optional spa visits and other creature comforts are offered throughout your journey.
We encourage you to check around for other tours and prices as you will not find this level of deep exposure, professional instruction and comfortable accommodations.
Who leads the Bali photography tours?
We are well-respected leaders in the cultural tour industry of Indonesia. In fact you will find many imitators that try to use our good name and reputation. Just be sure you are dealing with the original Balifornian Tours and you will be assured the highest quality and service during your tour. Please Scroll down to the Testimonials section to see what past participants have to say about us and our photo tours.
Michael Doliveck, an Art and Photography Professor for over 17 years, has been coming to Bali for over two decades. He is an award-winning photographer and educator and loves to share his passion for Indonesia and it’s many hidden wonders. He has written numerous articles on Bali’s culture, art, mysticism, healing and more.
Maryam Putu Doliveck is from The Balinese Royal Family of Karangasm and was raised learning the traditional dances, arts and the culture of Bali. Her deep connection to the island and its people will enrich your experience on the island and provide meaningful touchstones into the culture and locations. Putu’s relations help ensure that each tour takes advantage of religious and cultural current events such as ceremonies, palace visits, and other little known experiences not available on other tours.
Kadek Darsana was raised to be the spiritual leader of his village and has an unparalleled connection to the island in ways that continually amaze us. He serves many roles from local liaison, driver, and spiritual specialist. His knowledge of Sekala (what you see on the island such as colorful ceremonies, rituals, traditional dances) and Niskala (the unseen, the occult and magic that underscores Balinese daily life) will add exponentially to your experience. Also, he knows all the tricks and short cuts on the island to make the most of your valuable time and make your trip as hassle free as possible.
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Bali Photography Tour Highlights
Ubud, Bali's Cultural Epicenter
The Sacred Monkey Forest
Sweeping Verdant Rice terraces
Uluwatu Temple and Surf Photography
Partake in Traditional Ceremonies
Birds, Reptiles and other Wildlife
Local Markets and Art Villages
Traditional Dance Performances
Sanur Beach Sunrise with Holy Mt. Agung as the backdrop
The Mother Temple, Pura Besakih and Tanah Lot Temple
Exclusive Palace Tours
Delicious Meals and Indulgent Accommodations
Optional extensions and pretrip destinations- Borneo, Toraja, Borobudur/Yogja, Lombok/Gilis, Komodo and more
Bali Photography Tour Itinerary
There are additional activities that are not listed here as attempts to copy our tours are common, although our service, attention to detail and overall experience can not be matched.
Day 1- Those participants ending their pre-tour excursion and those arriving from their home countries will be met at the airport by our staff and chauffeured to Ubud, Bali’s cultural center. We will stay at a luxury resort just outside of the city set in lush rice fields. You may choose to have a variety of massage and spa treatments at the hotels private spa and relax at the pool with a refreshing tropical drink. A welcome dinner awaits you to be introduced to like-minded artists and travelers for the start of a transformative experience of a lifetime. Evening program, tour introduction and photo lecture. Please bring 5-10 photos from your portfolio so we can learn each other’s style and preferences. We will discuss the following day’s shoot and how best to prepare. Shuttles are provided for those wanting a bit of nightlife in town or choose to just relax at the hotel.
Day 2- Morning yoga or a sunrise bike photo tour followed by breakfast. Head into Ubud- we will spend the morning in The Sacred Monkey Forest of Ubud. A spectacular location for images not only of monkeys but intricately carved moss covered bridges and sculptures, water spouts, a rushing river, the temple itself and even a monkey cemetery. The light filtering through the trees here provides a mystical emerald basking glow.
Afternoon- Free time in Ubud. Optional massage at the exceptional Ubud body Works, visit art museums such as The Neka Art Museum or Don Antonio Blanco Museum. Check out Galleries, shops, cafes, Lunch at Ibu Oka for her world famous suckling pig, or Sari Organic. A pleasant 20-minute hike along the aqueduct through scenic rice fields provides photo opportunities of traditional farmers of rice, ducks and more. Then arrive at charming Sari Organic Restaurant, which supports local farmers and uses organic produce to create delicious meals with 360-degree views of the paddy fields and wildlife. Several other lunch options will be available including ultra-healthy and delicious Clear Cafe.
Plenty of photographic opportunities await you in this lively art filled town.
Late afternoon we head back towards our hotel to nearby Petulu Village where the spectacular sight of thousands of herons returning home each evening to perch amongst the rice fields. The awe-inspiring event is considered a gift of the Gods by the local people. Three types of herons participate in the daily pilgrimage; the large pristine White Egret, the slightly smaller brown-necked Cattle Egret and the Javan Pond Heron identified by a black spot on its neck.
It is also possible to see other unique bird species such as the Java Kingfisher, Scarlet Headed Flower Pecker, Bar-Winged Prinia and the Black Winged Starling.
You may choose to go back to the hotel, upload images, relax by the pool and have dinner in the hotel restaurant.
It is also possible to return to Ubud for dinner and even an optional Traditional Dance Performance. The hotel runs shuttles to and from Ubud (10 minute drive) every hour and we will have our personal van as well so you can come and go as you please.
The temple sits on Lake Beratan and there maybe time to take a canoe ride on the lake for added perspectives of the temples.
We then visit the fruit and flowers market at Candi Kuning Village. The market sells spices, orchids, roses, and exotic fruits like durian, dragon fruit, snake fruit as well as souvenirs. The area is especially known for its delicious corn so be sure to give it a try.
We then head to Jati Luwih’s sculpted rice terraces. The contoured verdant slopes in this tiny village have been designated as an UNESCO World Heritage site. We will have lunch overlooking the rice fields to see how the changing light alters the perspective and feel of the panoramic landscape.
Possible Additional locations: Tirtha Empul and Tampaksiring,
We can choose to head to the holiest natural springs in Bali, Tampak Siring, an extremely photogenic location for all types of photography including long exposures and intimate portraiture.
Depending on how we are doing on time, we may be able to catch the serene evening light of the pictorial Ceking Rice terraces.
Day 4- Morning yoga or a sunrise bike tour followed by breakfast. Off to Bali Bird and Reptile Park to shoot the rare and iconic Bali Starling along with 250 exotic species of birds including the most comprehensive collection of the highly prized Bird of Paradise, 2000 tropical plants, and even the famed Komodo Dragon.
Possible Additional locations: Mas Woodcarving Village, Goa Gajah Elephant Temple and Cave. Goa Gajah was built in 11 century by the king of Udayana. The imposing and dramatic stone carved Boma entranceway to the cave leads to the temple interior where there is a sacred place for meditation.
Then a free evening to explore Ubud and its amazing culinary treats and nightlife. Recommendations will be provided for all interests and palates.
Day 5- Morning yoga or a sunrise photo bike tour followed by breakfast. A special tour of Putu’s family’s palace, Taman Ujung Water Palace of the King of Karangasem featuring meticulously manicured gardens, eloborate architecture, holy springs, the Royal residence, ancient ruins and magnificent views of the ocean. A true photographers dream.
We then head to the quaint fishermen’s village of Amed. We will check into our bungalows on the beach and you can enjoy snorkeling right in front of your room, watch the sunset over holy Mt Agung Volcano from the beach, relax at the pool, or have a look in town offering a plethora of photographic options. Dinner in Amed.
Day 6 is a big one. We travel to Bali’s holiest site, The Mother Temple, Pura Besakih. http://www.balifornian.com/blog/2012/4/29/the-sacred-rituals-of-besakih-and-the-gods-came-down-to-bali.html
Besakih Temple is located on the slopes of Mount Agung Volcano. It is the biggest and most revered Hindu temple in Bali with it’s iconic stone stair stepped gate offering majestic views. Great possibilities to document Balinese Hindu religious ceremonies.
Possible Additional locations: There are many options for additional stops. The weather, pace and personal preferences will dictate which ones we choose.
Kerta Gosa- Encircled with fishponds and tropical plantations, this ancient example of early Royal Balinese architecture features Kamasan Wayang style painting on its ceilings depicting scenes of punishment and reward in the afterlife. This is considered the “Mother Art of Bali” and it is referred to as The Balinese Sistine chapel.
Goa Lawah Bat Cave Temple- A small but important temple built in 1007, and yes, it has bats, lots and lots of bats. It offers sweeping views of the ocean and nearby islands.
Tenganan – The Bali Aga are known as the original Balinese people and predate Hinduism in Bali. They are a unique ethnic group that lived on the island of Bali before modern civilization. These original inhabitants of Bali fled imperialistic invaders, eventually finding refuge in the solitude of Bali's remote mountains. Today, only two villages remain, which until recently, were firmly and purposefully shut off from the rest of the world. The main temple in the village dates back to the 10 century AD (833 Caka) but the village itself is said to be much older than the temple. See more here…
Bukit Jambul – Offers views of the Indian Ocean, rice fields and valleys that funnel cool breezes.
Kusamba Beach- A beautiful beach with lines of decorated fishing outriggers offsetting the black sand and crashing waves.
Late afternoon/Evening in one of our favorite towns, Sanur. We will check into our villas and if you are not too tired from the day The Pasar Senggol Night Market provides numerous photo opportunities. You can choose to eat there or delight in the world-class restaurants available on the main strip. I recommend the famous crispy duck at Warung Pregina. Dozens of additional mouth watering options will be provided. Sanur is a food lover’s paradise. Enjoy the nightlife or head back to your private villa. In room massages also avalible.
Day 7- Sunrise on the beach of Sanur with photo opportunities of colorful boats, fisherman, children playing in the waves, jetties with gazebos jutting out into the ocean and more all with grand Mount Agung Volcano as the backdrop.
Lunch on the beach or at your choice of restaurant in town
Then we head to one of the crown jewels of Bali, Pura Tanah Lot. This temple is perched on a rocky outcrop in the ocean. The area is known for breath taking views and there are numerous vantage points for capturing the temple and surrounding area.
Uluwatu. The holy temple sits atop dramatic cliffs with sheer drops down to the ocean. Uluwatu is home to some of the best surf in Bali so you can capture some professional level surfing as well. Monkeys also call Uluwatu home and provide for some fun foreground subject matter to play against the majestic temple and cliffs as the golden sunrise colors the background. We will witness the traditional
Sunset Kecak Dance at Uluwatu and then a farewell seafood feast on the sands of Jimbaran Beach, complete with live music, dancing and more.
Day 8- breakfast and morning activities as time allows before heading to the airport for home or your Post-Trip Excursion
What’s included in the tours?
Several meals- Breakfast is included each day at all hotels but if we are on sunrise shoots we may miss it. Some lunches and dinners are included including a wonderful seafood feast on the beach with live music, dancing, etc.
We have learned not to include all meals as there are so many excellent restaurants and we want you to be able to choose exactly what you like. We will always provide detailed options so you can choose what is best for your taste buds and your wallet. This also helps us keep the tour price low.
All admission and entrance fees for group activities
Ground transportation in deluxe air-conditioned SUV or van
Guide and instruction
Visa on arrival ($25/person)
Airport departure fee ($16/person)
What’s the price of the tour?
8 days, 7 nights in Bali- $2150 per person based on double occupancy and $2550 for single occupancy. Once the deposit is paid, you will be supplied with pre-trip materials including packing lists, visa and health information, travel insurance options, and much more.
Note by clicking the Buy Now button below you will be prompted to pay the $500 deposit only. The balance will be due 45 days prior to departure. The deposit is refundable up to 45 days prior to departure with a $95 cancellation fee.
We suggest not puchasing your airline ticket until you have confirmation that you are on the tour.
Who can come on the tour?
Because of the tours small size, all photographic skill levels are welcome and can benefit from the instruction, critiques, locations, and from the group’s shared love of photography. Participants should be
Can non-photographers come as well? Absolutely. We will be going to incredibly interesting and beautiful locations and learning about a unique and profound culture. Participants who do not wish to take photos are welcome with the understanding that we may remain at a particular location until the conditions favor photography.
Please note: This is an aggressive itinerary and contains many location options for a given day. We may not be able to do all of the activities listed as we will choose which are best for that day. The itinerary will be flexible to allow for weather, lighting conditions, special events, ceremonies, personal preferences and other scenarios that may be out of our control. Every tour is customizable and your input will help make many of the decisions.
Pre and Post Tour Extensions Include:
Java Tour including Borobodur, Yogjakarta, Prambanan Hindu Temple
Lombok/Gili Islands- http://www.balifornian.com/lombok-tour/
Boat tour featuring Komodo, Flores and other islands along the way. http://www.balifornian.com/komodo-dragon-photo-safari/
Contact us today to reserve your spot!
Balifornian Photography Tour Testimonials
Dont take our word for it. Just read what our past tour participants have to say...
Not only is Michael an excellent and respectful photography instructor, he is perhaps, one of the best teachers, of any subject, I have ever had. I realize that I was only on his photography tour to Bali and Lombok for 12 days but I feel like I have a PHD in Balinese Culture AND photography now!
David. Florida, USA
I am a well traveled photographer and I embarked on this adventure thinking it would be a fun and interesting getaway as I have been to Bali before and always wanted to return. I did not expect to learn a great deal as I already knew about Bali culture when I fell in love with it a decade ago during my first visit. But I was absolutely blown away. I realized that my first visit hardly touched the surface. Maryam and Michael's combine knowledge of the culture and the 'secret Bali' they were able to share with us was one of the most profound and enlightening events of my lifetime. I was also impressed with Michael's approach to sharing his vast photography and art experience. My photos have improved greatly and the artwork I created while in Bali is the best work I have ever done. I see it hanging in my home each day and am reminded of the beautiful Balinese people and the spellbinding landscapes in which they are blessed to live.
F.C. California, USA
Maryam, or Putu as we learned to lovingly call her, is about as sweet as one person can get. I can not explain the feeling and benefits of traveling alongside an actual Balinese Princess! She was able to share so much intimate knowledge of the complex Balinese culture and history. And her being from the Royal Family gave us unique perspectives and access we would have otherwise never been able to experience.
Janice. California, USA
More testimonials for our tours can be found here
Contact us today to reserve your spot on this Deep Culture Photography Tour Intensive!