Got featured in Manila Bulletin's Picture Perfect section. Thankful for the opportunity and to all the clients who trusted me.
1. What mainly attracts you to photography? Share your beginnings and most significant experience as a lensman.
Come to think of it, there was really no defining moment that made me realize that I love photography. I think, it just came gradually and naturally for me. What I did love is traveling to all sorts of places in the country. I liked exploring local hidden gems and learning about different ways of life. At first, I would take photos just for the fun of it but then later on, when something catches my attention, getting my camera and capturing that moment would feel like reflex.
My first ever camera was the Canon 40D with its kit lens. I decided to enroll at the Federation of Philippine Photographer’s Foundation (FPPF) in Intramuros, I think more than 10 years ago. I would regularly join monthly photo competitions and tag along my photographer friends to different events and photowalks.
Unfortunately, when my daughter got sick, I needed to sell my camera to pay for her hospital bills. It’s really true that photography is an expensive hobby, because after that it took me a while to buy a new one, my Lumix LX5, which is a bit more basic than the first camera. I continued my liking for photography, I would shoot landscapes, cityscapes, street and many more. And when I was hired for sideline gigs I would borrow cameras and equipments from my friends. I didn’t really care much about the pay because I was happy with what I was doing, and more so my clients were happy with my photos. That’s why when I garnered more knowledge and training on photography - especially from the professors of FPPF - together with a photography friend, we decided to open a photography club in our company, which we called Ronald McDonald Photography Club. It was a great experience for me because it was not only our boss who supported our club, but we were even recognized across different countries.
It took me a decade to realize that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So, I quit my corporate job to pursue my passion.
2. What field of photography do you specialize in? What is your favorite subject/theme? Why?
I specialize in travel and lifestyle photography. When I was a kid, we lived in Misamis Oriental but we would always travel to Cebu to visit our relatives there. I think that was how I knew my way around riding boats, commuting, and talking with people of different backgrounds and personalities. Over the years, I have come to realize that that’s why I love shooting travel and people.
In recent years, I have engaged in other fields like product and food, not for the purpose of specializing in them but mainly to know the proper process behind them. I have also constantly delved in video as a challenge and a reminder to myself that I have so much more to learn in my craft.
3. What's an effective photograph? How important is the photographer’s mood in coming out with good pictures?
An effective photograph for me is something that makes you want to see it again and again because of its beauty - not only visually per se, but more on your attraction to its emotions. Something that makes you think you are part of that photograph.
In addition, I think composition is also important for a photograph to be effective. What I’ve learned in one photo club is to not take a photo just for the sake of sharing it to other people. There should be a story behind it, something that speaks to the viewer. And usually that story can be influenced by the photographer himself. If you’re not in the mood, shooting photos can be very trying and the end result may just seem unnatural and staged. When I felt so lazy while shooting the sunrise, I wasn’t able to get good shots. When I felt depressed, all I wanted to shoot were black and white photos.
4. Describe the mood of your shots. Do you have preferences in pictures, like you prefer black and white over color, or film-based from digital?
Mostly the mood of my shots are warm tones. I have a profound love in shooting sunrises, sunsets and subjects that have nice colors, textures and lighting. In all of my travels, I would always check in advance the sunrise and sunset times. I would also always scout great areas where I can shoot. Those are my definitions of ‘pamamasyal’. When I was younger I traveled as a turista; but now I always talk with the locals, I explore holes in the wall and I acknowledge the story that’s there.
I prefer digital since that’s where I started, but I have never lost the respect for film.
5. Are you affiliated with any photo organization? Do you join photo contests? What's the best recognition you have received so far as a photographer?
Recently, I haven’t been active in any photo organizations except for social media groups where I would usually share my photos. When I get a chance to join a photo contest, I make sure that the photo I submit is worth it. There was one time that I won the grand prize for a simple photo contest of an airline company. I was also lucky enough to win as first runner up in one aerial photo contest that received quite a number of submissions. And the latest (and most exciting) for me was when I was one of the finalists in the national photo competition of Wrangler where I had the chance to choose any local destination to shoot. I may not have won the grand prize but it was definitely an unforgettable experience - I was able to meet new friends, I got to do my best and I learned a few more trades as a photographer.
These recognitions definitely made me happy and reassured me in so many ways. But I think what topped all of these - and probably the best one for me - was when my daughter, out of nowhere, carefully reached for my camera, asked me how to turn it on, and began clicking away.
6. Summarize your accomplishments as a photographer. What is your ultimate goal as a visual artist?
I think my ultimate goal as a visual artist is to be able to capture the beauty of the different places in my bucket list. That’s what really drives me and makes me excited; why I want to succeed as a travel and lifestyle photographer and have the opportunity to share my craft not only here in the Philippines but also in other countries.
Where I am now, I am just thankful for every chance I get to travel for work. I think that’s one accomplishment that I will never take for granted - doing something I love while discovering new places in this big world.
7. What's the best thing about being a photographer? What are your basic and most important principles as a lensman?
I think the best thing about being a photographer is being able to do things out of my comfort zone - traveling to different places, experiencing diverse cultures in and out of the country and just doing things for the first time. Those places that I only see in post cards before, I get to experience in real life now.
The most basic and most important principle as a lensman, I think, especially in today’s digital age, is to never sell yourself short and never be discouraged simply because you don’t have the fanciest equipment. Always remember that the camera is just an instrument, a tool to help you share to others what you have seen and experienced. In the end, the story and the talent will always be coming from you.
8. Finally, if you are to show your deepest views on photography, what is photography to you?
Photography for me is to freeze a fraction of a second of the time and capture exactly what exists in that moment - that moment that made you look, made you click that shutter at that instant. And when you have that memory embedded to a single photo, you simply have the urge to share it so that others can experience that same story, that same emotion.