A Special Visual Storyteller/Creative Artist Interview with Agan Harahap

In part one of my two parts special series, I wrote about my visual storytelling journey through 150 Years of Visual Stores: Living Pictures – Photography in Southeast Asia. For my part two special series coverage, I am chatting with Agan Harahap, one of the four notable photographers from the Southeast Asia region, that is featured on National Gallery Singapore Instagram page, part of the Living Pictures – Photography in Southeast Asia exhibition showcase. Here is my special visual storyteller/creative artist interview with Agan Harahap!

Photographer/Creative profile questions

1) Can you give us a short introduction on yourself and your creative fields of expertise?

Hello, my name is Agan Harahap. Photographer and artist based in Jogja, Indonesia. My base artistic expertise is photography and digital manipulation. And recently I’m using AI for my latest artworks.

© Agan Harahap. Courtesy of the artist.

2) What is the inspiration and the stories behind your creative work?

I always get my inspiration from my timeline in social media. Mostly is about politic, religion and history. I offer some silly solution for many problems that appear in society.

3) Do you have a piece of creative artwork or photograph that means a lot to you? Can you share more about this artwork?

The artwork that means a lot for me is my series ‘Mardijker Photo Studio’. I’m talking about nation identity and cultural originality and it’s connections with our society today.

4) Can you share about your journey as a creative/artist? What were some of the challenges, difficulties and setbacks that you faced in your creative journey? 

Well, it’s start in early 2000s at the beginning of digital transitions from manual. When suddenly we can almost create anything with digital software. At that time I already work as a photographer in music magazine. And I always challenged my self to dig more about other possibilities with digital photography. Asking my self is photography still can believed as a medium that can represent the reality. 

Salvador dali & basquiat pic: Agan Harahap. . 2021. Archival pigment print on paper, 29.5 × 40 cm. © Agan Harahap. Courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Gallery.

5) I read that you started off as an illustrator and digital imaging artist, what are the stories behind these experiences and how did you transition to photography?

As a graphic designer student, I have also learn photography. At that time, I don’t like photography because its expensive and don’t make sense to me. Because at that time I think photography is only for the people who cannot make a proper drawing or painting to express their ideas. And photography is their solution to cover up their inability to make art. Hahaha. But I have to pass the photography test in my study. So I learn how to manipulate photo with digital software. And I pass the test with success. And after graduate, I worked as a freelance illustrator and then become a digital imaging artist in some photography company before I become photographer in Trax Magazine. A music based magazine in Jakarta from 2006 – 2012. 

Generative AI Interview Questions

6) A topic of intense discussion currently is Artificial Intelligence (AI), what are your personal views and thoughts on AI? What is the potential positive and negative impact on the creative industry?

Based on my experienced in early 2000s when digital suddenly takeover many part in creative industry, So for me this is the new era when we have to preparing our self to this new kind of technology. For me, the main impact is the people’s way of thinking and behavior about things will change. And it will become a problem for people who cannot adapt their selves to this AI. So, like it or not, after more than 2 years we stayed at home because of covid, now suddenly we have to face this kind of technology and we have to adapt and adjust our self with it.

Kurt cobain & david bowie pic: Agan Harahap. . 2021. Archival pigment print on paper, 26.5 × 40 cm. © Agan Harahap, courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Gallery.

7) Do you think Generative AI can actually help us creatives, artists and photographers in ways that we may not see due to our personal bias or blind spots? Or do you think the onslaught of Generative AI will be detrimental for creatives? 

Before AI can help us in creativity, we first have to adapt and adjust ourself. Because at first, we have to positioning ourself between this new technology and our personal and social interest. For me, it’s quite similar like digital photography at the beginning, at the first we may think ‘Oh, with this tools, we don’t need dark room process anymore and we can save more time to create photography. But in the reality, there are many other problems arise due to this digital technology. Like for example, people start to questioning the reality behind photography ect. And after social media era, there is much more problems. We can see the rapid change in many aspects of our live. And that’s exactly will going to happen in our society with this AI technology.

Generative AI will be detrimental for creatives? It’s depend on how you adapt yourself. 

8) Which segments of the creative and arts industry would be most impacted by Generative AI? Artists? Photographers? Filmmakers?


9) Is Generative AI is going to take away the livelihood of the art and creative industries? What are your personal thoughts and views on this point?

At the beginning, the answer is yes. But along with that, the emergence of AI technology, it will open up many new opportunities that may have never been thought of.

10) How do you envision the future for creatives in a new digital and social media world, powered by AI?

Hahaha I can’t imagine it yet. But I believe, sooner or later this AI will change people’s mindset and behavior.

Freddie mercury & jimmy hendrix pic: Agan Harahap. . 2021. Archival pigment print on paper, 38.5 × 60 cm. © Agan Harahap, courtesy of the artist and Mizuma Gallery.

Thank you Agan!  

I would like to say a big thank you to Agan Harahap for putting aside his precious time and agreeing to be interviewed for my article! From a fellow photographer/visual storyteller myself to another fellow photographer/visual storyteller, it’s always an interesting, enriching and enlightening experience to hear about creative/artist/photographer different perspectives, ideas and views, on photography and creative industries, their stories and journeys. 

Agan’s views and perspectives on generative AI would be part of my ongoing TGH Technology AI research/learning series, with an upcoming special article coverage on the impacts of AI on photography and creative industries that would be published on my TGH Photography and Travel portal/blog. 

This special interview with Agan also marks the start of my new personal project series that I mentioned earlier in my earlier article “Reflecting H1 2023 & Q2 2023 (Photography and Travel)”, on interviewing and featuring creatives from various disciplines.

When you visit Singapore, let’s catch up and have a chat over coffee over everything and anything about photography!

Have you visit Living Pictures – Photography in Southeast Asia exhibition?

Have you visit Living Pictures – Photography in Southeast Asia exhibition? If you haven’t visit this amazing photography exhibition, you have to plan a visit to National Gallery Singapore and check out this exhibition! 

The exhibition size, magnitude, and diversity of photography works on display, some 300 of them would blow you away, ranging from colonial archival images, studio portraits, and documentary photography to photo albums, social media photos and modern photography in both offline and online formats.

Living Pictures – Photography in Southeast Asia at National Gallery Singapore

Date and Time 

  • 2nd December 2022 to 20th August 2023
  • 10am to 7pm daily


  • City Hall Wing, Level 3, Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery 

Admission Fees: (General Admission)

  • Free for Singaporeans and PRs


  • $20 
  • Non-Singaporeans/PRs aged 13 to 59


  • $15 
  • Non-Singaporeans/PRs seniors (aged 65 & above) and children (aged 7 to 12)
  • Overseas students and teachers

*I would like to thank National Gallery Singapore and Ogilvy for liaising and facilitating the interview with Agan Harahap.*  

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