Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Into the night








I love shooting at night.

It's not always spooky, like in your photograph. Sometimes, I find night stories that are full of life -- where light (as sparse as it may be) illuminates, reveals conditions and commonalities, and shines from within the faces that I encounter. The night helps cloak my presence, and I just go with the flow, not thinking or planning, but allowing intuition to take over.

As you've reminded me before, the photo editor in me should be more deliberate about what shots I need to take and consider a shot list. Yet, there are instances when I don't think about lists or other specifics. I immerse myself in the moment and approach photography in as uncomplicated a way as I can. There are certainly different ways to create images -- what works for some may not work for others -- and I'm still too new at this to have a definitive approach. Nevertheless, there's much to be said about intuition and allowing one's natural curiosity and emotional response lead the way. At least, sometimes.


*Photos taken in the Aeta community of Manabayukan, Capas, Tarlac. At night, the residents typically use candles, except for a few lights strung along the street and attached to small generators. With no TV or internet available, children continue to play outside under these lights. Parents and elders also come out to observe the children and gather later on for a bonfire and other social activities. From January 28-29, 2012, a cultural regeneration was held in this community and was attended by Aeta children from this area and other villages.

Monday, February 27, 2012

wearing different hats

angel statue behind sm north

Sometimes when I take photos, I compose my shot with an extra space here and there, the graphic designer in me setting it up for some title, a body of text, or an author's byline to be added later. But there is also the editor in me, telling the photographer in me to get all the angles and shots possible: wide shot, mid shot, middle close up, close up, and the extreme close up. I want as many choices possible. And a safety here and there, too.

Taking this shot, I thought I had it all covered. When I saw your two shots though, I knew you had the best shot of all when, upon taking a picture of a stoic angel, you managed to put some humanity in it.

I get dibs on the spooky shot though.


*Angel statue on one of those streets behind SM North

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

By your side

The angel and the tricycle driver

We were driving down our usual route when you convinced me to stop by this spot. We each took out our cameras and came up with our own interpretation of this scene -- an angel statue outside a Quezon City shop. You went near the statue while I stayed across the street to capture the tricycle passing by. I suppose it's my street photographer side coming out, while your appreciation for details and graphic design required a closer look. Naturally, we have a different approach to photography, a different style and way of seeing things. Even if we disagree at times, we still maintain a respect for each other's views and work. We share what inspires us and whatever new things we learn.

And just like you are with me, wherever we may be, I'll stay by your side as your look-out and partner while you take that photograph.


Monday, February 20, 2012

everyday-with-you day

sm parking lot exit

And a happy everyday-with-you day, dear.

Does that make sense?

So says the person who sits in the passenger seat when you drive in the highways of life. Also when you park in the parking lots of life.


*SM Parking lot spiral exit thingee

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The moment

In the late afternoon

Regardless of the quality of light and shadows, regardless of graphic design, composition, etc. -- there's something about human emotions expressed within a moment which I never tire of capturing. Call it sentimentality, being old-fashioned, or perhaps my simple understanding of what still matters. As challenging as love can sometimes be, to see it shining in a person's eyes and smile -- for even a second or two -- is enough to bring a smile to my face.

Happy V-day, dear.


Monday, February 13, 2012

shoot the shadows

MRT Ayala Station

There is a chicken/egg kind of question to what you said there. Are you shooting the ones illuminated by light, or the ones hidden by shadows?

There are times when shadows reveal things, too. And in those instances, this quote from Luis Carlo Baretto comes to mind:

"Forget about the light and try to photograph the shadow.”


*MRT-Ayala Station

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Light and discovery


For sure, I need more pins, Jordan. And a thicker skin.

Achuete in pottery

Despite any bubbles bursting, if there's one thing that keeps me fascinated with photography, it's my love for light and discovery. Like this unplanned still of achuete in pottery, which I photographed at my uncle's house in 2010. Here, I happened to notice an intense, isolated shaft of light falling onto this scene. By experimenting with the camera settings, I tried to make the most of how the light brought out the colors and textures of the achuete flowers and the clay pot. And I had to be quick, as that late afternoon light was fleeting and gone within minutes.

This was a revelation for me, as I realized that in photography, moments have to be seized, images created, and opportunities recognized. Usually all at once. As the creative process has become a mode of discovery -- not only about what is around me, but also about myself -- I've come to appreciate and look deeper into photography as visual storytelling. And for every story told, I still look forward to that special light and discovery.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012



Ah, bubbles. In the same way we love making them, we love bursting them, too. Sometimes, a bubble would burst on its own even. Regardless of the circumstances, always empower yourself with pins.


*Pincushion with various pins

Monday, February 6, 2012

Inside and outside the bubble

Smoking in solitude

I love the photos of lanterns and balloons in your last post. I’m reminded of this photo that I took in early 2010, during our first time to visit and photograph the Chinese New Year celebrations in Binondo. In retrospect, I consider this as my first time to do “street photography” -- even though I had never heard of street photography, let alone contemplated what it is or isn’t, or was told of its so-called rules. I was just going on instinct, capturing what looked visually interesting to me, and shooting with an almost childlike curiosity, without any preconceived notions. I really was quite naive about what I was doing. I only knew that I liked taking photographs.

This was the period of time when I was learning the manual settings of our new Canon G11 compact camera. The G11’s features allowed me to experiment with photography and go beyond mere snapshots -- to actually think a bit more about how I was taking pictures. Of course, I had taken snapshots for many years using other cameras, mostly automatic film cameras, and had the chance to use a darkroom a few times in high school. Although I valued my photos as souvenirs of places I had been to and people I had met, I didn’t take my photography seriously, especially as I found it too expensive a hobby to ever maintain. I had taken some good photos off and on during those years, but they were just that -- personal momentos that I would rarely share with other people.

As I told someone recently, for most of my life, photography was something so far away from my consciousness, that it still surprises me that I’m actually now taking pictures and being considered (by some folks) as a “photographer”. Over the last 2 years, I’ve come to realize that the moments when I take pictures, when I create images, have become very real and important to me -- much more so than the other aspects of the photography world, which I slowly (and at times, reluctantly) get to know.

I’ve come to appreciate that it is both a privilege and a responsibility to be a photographer, to tell stories, and bear witness to life as it unfolds, even small moments such as in this image. Although most of the time, the only reward I get is the enjoyment of creating images, I hope to continue growing as a photographer and perhaps even make others think and feel a little with the images that I make.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

of balloons, kittehs, and chinese lanterns

What struck me while visiting Chinatown during the eve of the Chinese New Year was how the traditional Chinese lanterns weren't that prominent. Rather, it was the balloons of suspiciously-not-properly-licensed-to-use characters being sold in the streets.

balloon seller at chinatown

They were like floating entities above the throng of humanity.

hello kitty above the crowd

But I did get my Chinese lantern fix that night. I found it along this street while getting down the Carriedo LRT station. This street, with its simple rows of Chinese lanterns, was to me, the Chinese New Year version of a solemn Christmas.

chinese lanterns

And going to Chinatown, you'd get the commercialized one.