Born to an Indonesian diplomat father and a Turkish mother, Rio’s multicultural background has influenced his unique perspective and artistic vision. His captivating photographs have been exhibited in solo shows across Bali, Jakarta, Madrid, Miyazaki, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Sydney, while his works grace private collections worldwide, including in London, Rome, Boston, Washington, and Tokyo. Rio’s work has been featured in magazines, documentaries, and more than 20 large format photographic books.
Throughout his career, Rio has focused on exploring the interaction between indigenous communities and their environment. This passion has taken him on extensive journeys across the Indonesian archipelago and Asia, documenting both remote tribal cultures and the bustling urban landscapes of Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Ladakh, and Mongolia.
Rio’s photography journey began in the late 1970s when he worked as a photographer, writer, and associate editor for various Indonesian media outlets. Since then, he has contributed to numerous regional and international magazines such as Asiaweek, Geo, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Times, Time, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. His large format photo books, including “River of Gems, a Borneo Journal” (with text by Lorne Blair) and “Bali Style,” have showcased his talent and deep connection with his subjects.
His blog posts on the Huffington Post and ubudnowandthen.com, dedicated to his beloved home in Ubud, have provided insights into a wide range of topics. Additionally, he has played an active role in moderating panel sessions and conducting public interviews at the renowned Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.
Among Rio’s notable works is his book “Memories of the Sacred,” a retrospective portfolio of Bali spanning over 35 years, featuring insightful text by Diana Darling. Another significant contribution is “Popo Danes – Bali Inspired,” a book exploring architecture launched in 2019 by Rizzoli.
Continuing to push the boundaries of his craft, Rio Helmi is involved in ongoing projects that include capturing urban-scapes from various cities, documenting the lives of Javanese migrant workers in Bali, and embarking on a new series of aerial photographs showcasing Bali from above. His unwavering dedication to his artistry and his profound connection with his subjects continue to captivate audiences around the world.