When and how did you get into photography?
In college I had always wanted to do photography but back then it was way too expensive to have photography as a hobby what with shooting in film. However, an aunt gave me a Canon point-and-shoot camera as a college graduation gift. Back in the day, shooting in film was painstaking especially because my resources were very limited. The anticipation was killing me as I would have to wait until the entire spool of 36 shots was exposed, which would take weeks, before I’d finally see the results. My nephews and nieces were my poor guinea pigs. My very first spool had this picture of Regor, my nephew, that nailed everything from composition to lighting. That very same picture was a revelation of sorts. I knew then that I had an eye for what looks artistically photogenic. That was my epiphany.
Among photography greats who do you look up to for inspiration and what is it about their work that you admire most?
Steve McCurry is one heck of an image-maker whose evocative photojournalistic portfolio serves as a guiding force in my work. His “Afghan Girl” is such a powerful piece of photographic genius that I consider it an icon of modern art. Henri Cartier-Bresson is another master of photography whose technique in “real life reportage” is something that, I personally think, makes his pictures pulsate with life and dynamism. I am very passionate about his work. Another titan in the world of art is of course the love of my life as a photographer; who else but Richard Avedon. He is a genuine virtuoso behind the lens. His work, without a doubt, speaks the language of artistry, style, culture and beauty. He had a distinct way of capturing the enigma of his subjects. I could go on and on and on about him. He was a gift to the world of photography.
What do you like to take photographs of?
Anything that presents as a photo opportunity is for me a good subject. When I see something that I emotionally gravitate to as an artist, that particular object of interest in that point of time is my most favorite subject. I don’t want to get stuck doing the same thing all over again. I can’t be doing studio portraits or weddings forever. Variety is the spice of life, so to speak. I want to create a portfolio that represents different aspects of life: fashion, architecture, street life, travel, religion, nature, social issues, the beautiful, the ugly, vibrant colors, monochrome; practically anything that embodies the diversity of this world.
Any formal training in this field?
How I wish I could say yes but there was none. I just trust what my brain processes as my eyes see something worth capturing at any given moment. I am no technical guru, although it would greatly help, but somehow I am happy and content with how I peruse my compositional skills.
If given the chance to work for a publication, say, National Geographic, what particular assignment would you like to pursue and why?
Poverty. It is a very disturbing subject, poignant and compelling. It would create a powerful collage of the tenacity of the human spirit. It’s a dream project for me to travel around the world and create a powerful visual narrative of the most dire situations involving poverty; and in doing so, bring awareness to the forefront.
Do you Photoshop?
Photoshop is a great tool and yes I do but VERY MINIMAL. I do “burning” (to darken highlights) or “dodging” (to brighten shadows) but not to the extent where I dramatically adjust the dynamic tonal range of my image making it very different from when I actually saw the subject. I also enhance the saturation but only to a realistic degree so I can present my work to resemble as closely as possible to the actuality of the subject. I do convert some of my color photographs to monochrome as I see fit. My goal is not to deceive my viewers with editing tools but for them to see the world through my eyes. I also crop of course. I hardly do high dynamic range images (HDRI) and if I did I would indicate it. I don’t add objects to my work. If there’s a moon in my image it’s because there was an actual moon when I took the photograph. Period.
What equipments are staple in your photo shoot?
A camera and a lens, obviously. I don’t believe that one has to have an armada of gadgets to get excellent pictures. Although, if you could afford it why not. I personally just happen to have one camera and 3 lenses and I am happy with what I have for now. I will surely get some more stuff when the need for them arises. And by the way, if you care to know, I am married to Canon. And I do borrow from friends too.
What other creative pursuits are you interested in?
I love writing, filmmaking, interior designing, art installations and anything to do with fashion.