Risna: New Perspectives

Lensational
Jun 7, 2015 · 4 min read

“The best way to overcome one’s sadness is to laugh”

I am Risna Okvitasari, nicknamed Sinna, from Indonesia. Since 2003, I have been working in Hong Kong as a domestic helper. While most people think that I am only good at cleaning, cooking and ironing — jobs of a domestic helper — I believe I can be a professional photographer and writer one day.

My journey in photography is inspired by my passion for writing. They are both about expressing your feelings and thoughts. I always liked writing in primary school, but I had to stop my education in order to earn money for my family back in Ponorogo, East Java.

I started to write again when I came to Hong Kong, in 2003. I had no friends — that’s why I ‘spoke’ to my diary. From writing in my own diary I started to send my work to Indonesian newspapers in Hong Kong.

After 4 years of relentless writing, my first story got published.

When I am alone, I play with my shadows to seek for what I want — love.

When I am alone, I play with my shadows to seek for what I want — love.

I want to transform any sad, grim stories through humour. The best way to overcome one’s sadness is to laugh — at least, this was how I overcame the first few years being a domestic helper in Hong Kong, without my family and friends.

Sadness does not make me cry. But it does make me think, and push me to write more.

This is my own hand — I painted it yellow and took a photo against the black background. This was during the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong. Then I edited the picture and just played around with colours. I like red because it is the colour of Indonesia.

It was also the turning point that became my introduction to photography. Whenever I posted an article up on my blog, I needed a picture as an illustration.

That was when I started taking pictures.

I saved up for 2 years to buy my first DSLR. Every month, I earn around HKD 3,500 — which is only one-third of an average person’s salary in Hong Kong. I send most of my salary to support my family back in Indonesia.

One thing I miss most about Indonesia is the nature. So I took a photo of the flowers and then edited it with the silhouette of the boy I take care of at my employer’s home. He is my flower boy.

One thing I miss most about Indonesia is the nature. So I took a photo of the flowers and then edited it with the silhouette of the boy I take care of at my employer’s home. He is my flower boy.

So for my photography, I like to challenge stereotypes and provide new perspectives to see things.

Half a year ago, I became obsessed with black and white photography because it makes the complex world around me –being in a buzzling, busy city like Hong Kong — so much simpler.

I also became bolder in my photography. Once I put my DSLR in the fridge and set it on timer so I could take a selfie with an interesting angle!

Pink, colour of love. Love its colour, love its moment, love its culture, its place.

HK is a place where the modern and the traditional blend perfectly. I love HK. Do you?

Even though I am only a domestic helper, I hope I can use my talent to become a professional photographer, and to inspire many more women in Indonesia to do the same.


Risna Okvitasari, 30, moved to Hong Kong at the age of 18 in 2003. She enjoys hiking, photography and writing, and blogs at ceritanekad.blogspot.com.

Photography for Social Change

How can marginalised women be empowered through…

Lensational

Written by

A non-profit.org training a new generation of female photographers from the margins. Driving diverse, female-centric, ethical photography.

Photography for Social Change

How can marginalised women be empowered through photography? A collection of stories from the global social enterprise Lensational

Lensational

Written by

A non-profit.org training a new generation of female photographers from the margins. Driving diverse, female-centric, ethical photography.

Photography for Social Change

How can marginalised women be empowered through photography? A collection of stories from the global social enterprise Lensational

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