Any seasoned photographer knows the challenge in finding camera accessories that are both stylish and functional. This is especially true when it comes to camera straps, which can either make your day of adventuring a breeze, or incredibly uncomfortable and frustrating. I’ve recently been able to try the luxury camera straps from a new Bali-based brand, Asri, and I can honestly say that I think they’ve found the perfect balance with their stunning and uber-functional products.
THE VISION AND MISSION BEHIND "ASRI"
Asri — an Indonesian word meaning a place or environment with lush greenery and natural elements, evoking a certain kind of “beautiful” that pleases the eye, calms the senses, and inspires creativity — was founded by Bali-based American photographer and filmmaker, Cameron Vaughne. After watching the devastation that the COVID-19 pandemic caused to the tourism-reliant island, Cameron and his wife Kelsey decided to find a way to work directly with local craftsmen to create something that can connect other photographers around the world to the beauty of Bali.
Every Asri camera strap is hand-crafted by local artisans in Indonesia and tells a story, reflecting the beauty and legends of the island. The straps feature places in Bali that inspire Cameron’s creativity, and the creativity of so many others who flock to Bali each year to try to capture the beauty of the Island of the Gods through their lenses.
As part of Asri’s mission to support and stay connected with the locals in Bali, 10% of each strap will be given back to the local communities who uphold and inspire each of the Asri collections.
PRODUCTS: THE AGUNG COLLECTION
The inaugural design — The Agung Collection — is inspired by perhaps Bali’s most powerful legend and most ominous landmark. Towering over 3,000 meters, this highly active volcano has erupted several times over the past few years, sending ash and lava into the sky, grounding flights, causing local evacuations, and sending off a ripple of earthquakes for weeks and even months.
Mount Agung is a formidable resident on the island, and yet is one of the most sacred and revered natural landmarks in Indonesia. The local Balinese that despite the damage and destruction Agung causes, the eruptions are signs from God of rebirth all over the island. Taken from the Asri website:
Three months prior to the eruption of 1963, one of the most devastating eruptions in Indonesias’ history, a light appeared in the sky, accompanied by a deep, rumbling sound that resembled that of a dragon, and stretched all the way from Lempuyang Village to Mount Agung. Over the next three months, the same voice would appear at exactly midnight, with the trail of the dragon lighting up the sky. It is believed that this is the voice of Nagabasuki - the powerful God that lives within Agung, warning the people that the time for rebirth is coming, and that the island must be cleansed once again.
It was this sense of gratitude and optimism in the face of destruction that inspired The Agung Collection, birthed in a year of immense hardship. Mount Agung can be seen imprinted on the leather camera straps, with the Nagabasuki dragon God coiled around the peak of the volcano as it erupts. This strap is available in three colors: tan, dark brown, and black (I have the black — trust me it's beautiful!). Asri also gives back 10% to local communities in the region of Karagasem, where Agung sits.
More Bali-inspired Asri collections are in the works, and you can be sure they will each have just as powerful a story, and as beautiful a depiction as The Agung Collection.
MATERIALS, FEATURES, AND FUNCTIONALITY
Nothing was overlooking with on these Asri straps, with meaningful aesthetic details, impressive functionality designed for adventure photographers, and commitment to social and environmental sustainability.
Every Asri camera strap is constructed from the highest quality local cow hide, after being carefully looked over by Cameron and the local artists. Bali is well known for its leather artistry, and designers and retailers around the world look to the island for some of the best quality workmanship in the world.
However, even in Bali, fast-fashion has spread like wildfire, replacing quality leather artisans with factory-produced products. But the quality and unique skills of the leather artisans in Bali remind truly unrivaled, and is a precious piece of Balinese history and culture worth preserving. Asri ensures that these artisans are provided with sustainable income and can work from the comfort of their own homes.
Asri works with a local stamp-maker, Pak Ali, alongside a local design artist, I Komang Wirinata, to add the designs to each leather strap. After the design is perfected, Pak Ali hand-carves a unique iron stamp which is then burned into the leather strap.
Every strap also receives its own unique style number (no two straps are identical!) located on one of the pieces of iron hardware on the strap, as well as the geo-coordinates of each location engraved on the adjustable metal slide.
To be honest, leather camera straps tend to have a reputation for looking stylish but losing the functionality of lighter weight, easier-to-use nylon straps. It was Cameron’s mission to combine both, making the first leather camera strap that is truly designed with the professional storyteller in mind.
The straps have a hyper-smooth, adjustable slide that makes it easy to lengthen or shorten the strap in a few quick seconds.
Additionally (perhaps my favorite feature), the straps have dual point, quick-release iron clips which eliminate the hassle of connecting and removing the equipment from your camera. The clips are sturdy and secure, but again make it an absolute breeze to remove the camera strap in an instant for those situations where you need more freedom to get the shot.
As an alternative to the iron clips, there are also two leather connectors that are designed to fit any camera, with optional O-ring adaptors. You get four of these leather connectors with your purchase and they are also incredibly durable and easy to use.
WHERE TO BUY
Each strap is hand-made to order, and can be purchased on the Find Your Asri website. The Agung Collection straps are priced at $134.99, but future prices will vary depending on the designs of different collections.
It’s the perfect gift for a photography-loving friend, with such a powerful, meaningful, and fascinating story in addition to the beautiful strap itself.
You’ll know your purchase directly supports local artisans, is produced in a slow and sustainable way (so much better than mass-production!) with the highest quality materials, and gives back to communities in Bali struggling the most this year.
You’ll also rest assured that Cameron painstakingly designed these straps to sacrifice nothing in their aesthetic elements and functionality, which is really a dream for the creative photographers of the world. Rejoice, photographers — the perfect camera strap has finally arrived!
Be sure to follow the Asri Instagram account (@findyourasri) for beautiful imagery and visual story-telling, updates on new products and collections, and discounts!
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