Q : How did your love story with photography start?
JK : It was in 2010 when my brother bought an entry-level DSLR camera. I had a chance to use it for some time. I started capturing anything inside our house, flowers, then animals at the backyard, people, et cetera. Later on I also would bring the camera to work and started shooting street and cityscapes at night. I'm really interested to capture long exposure shots mostly in the streets of Manila. My love for photography also flourished when I got a chance to join a photography club in Bulacan back then, and now in Focus Bulacan. Joining this group which shares the same passion as I have inspired me to be a better photographer and motivated me to practice and improve.
Q : Does your profession heavily influence your style or dictate what you mostly shoot?
JK : Yes, I can apply various architectural design principles, like the balance, proportion, perspective, emphasis, movement, pattern, repetition, rhythm, variety, harmony, and unity, which actually are alike to photography principles. My composition in shooting is sometimes influenced by my attention to details like when I am designing a building or a house. My choice in subjects is also sometimes dictated by my architecture profession like shooting notable structures, cityscapes, and historical buildings and sites.
Q : How would you describe your photography style?
JK : I have no specific style in photography, I just always capture what interests me. I really like doing long exposure photography because it includes effort comparable to when I am designing or building a house. It includes a process, patience, and attention to details.
Q : What camera gear do you shoot with most of the time?
JK : I used my brother’s Canon 1000D with kit lens for around five years. Then on 2015, I finally bought my own entry-level Fujifilm X-series mirrorless camera.
Q : Any particular photo that’s your ultimate favorite or one that you’re most proud of?
JK : It was my entry for Halamanan Festival back in January 2014 where I got first place in Focus Bulacan’s photo contest. (Photo is included in gallery below)
Q : Are there photographers you look up to?
JK : Sir Jay Salvador of Focus Bulacan. I’ve got a chance to work with him on our Focus Portrait Project. I admired his creativity and dedication in photography. He is very passionate in his photography.
Q : In terms of architectural design, what do you think is the most photogenic structure or landmark in the Philippines?
JK : Maybe the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan, which features different heritage structures. These houses come from different sites in the Philippines.
Q : What would be your dream destination to shoot?
JK : The Fallingwater or the Kaufmann Residence, an iconic house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Pennsylvania, USA. But as of now I am thinking of shooting different historic buildings and sites around the Philippines, then around the world.
Q : What‘s the most unforgettable photography experience you’ve had?
JK : The first time I shot fireworks at the Philippine International Pyromusical Competition in MOA. I was not really prepared that time and I didn’t know how to shoot fireworks. And I was so pressured because I don’t really know if I will focus on watching the fireworks or capture it with my camera.
Q : What do you still want to improve or achieve in your photography?
JK : I want to improve in long exposure and architectural photography. Those two are my main interests.
Q : Do you think photography plays a vital role in architecture?
JK : Yes! In terms of architecture, it allows everyone to see architecture from everywhere through photographs. It also opens doors for us to see how structures looked like in the past. I am also thinking of taking photos of my projects and make a compilation so that I can look back on it when I become old even show my grandchildren.
Q : Would you say your background in architecture gives you an edge in shooting photos?
JK : Yes, since architecture has various common principles which I can apply to photography.
Jan Kevin's other favorites (Click thumbnails to view in full)
Q : What tip could you give newbies?
JK : Know what you want. Maximize what you have. Just keep on shooting. As much as possible, always bring your camera with you.
Q : What’s your message to Focus followers and fellow members?
JK : I am very grateful to all the members of this group because they served as my inspiration in photography. And I admire each and every one of them. Let us all continue striving to be better and let other people see the world differently using our cameras!Long live Focus Bulacan!
Artists find inspiration even in mundane circumstances. Where some people otherwise would not see anything worth noting, some photographers have a keen eye for details and visualization, enough to create something out of seemingly nothing. Traveling to work and back home are routine activity for almost everyone. But it's not routine to find interesting images from the daily commute, and what we're featuring this month is a series of photos that many folks don't pay much attention to. For our featured photographer, the world of commuters is a source of candid scenes and interactions. It's also a good opportunity to shoot and keep her creative juices flowing. Not to mention a resourceful way of alleviating traffic-related stress.
Francesca Bengco, who commutes daily from Balagtas, Bulacan to Pasig and back because of her work as a multimedia artist, is our featured Focus photographer of the month.
Q : How and when did your love affair with photography start?
F : Photography is about capturing moments of your life. An image that can make a moment last forever. I was in high school when I literally couldn't go out without a camera with me. I was always taking pictures of my classmates, together with Marlo (Bien, a fellow Focus member). However, my love for photography fully bloomed when I became a mom. The need for me to capture my daughter's precious firsts came in so strong. Her first smile, first crawl, first steps, first walk. From day one until now, I've never stopped capturing all her precious moments. And I really don't mind if I take one scene with 50 shots for as long as I take the right picture, the right emotion at the right time. Ganoon yata talaga 'pag minamahal mo na ang photography. Marunong at matiyaga ka nang maghintay. Maghintay sa tamang emosyon, sa tamang pagkakataon, para sa tamang imaheng inaasam mo.
Q : Were there frustrations at the beginning?
F : Frustrations... believe it or not, none! The first time I got a grip of a DSLR, I automatically became a hobbyist. That was just it. A hobby, pang-selfie at pang-pamilya lang talaga! However, my former school (STI Balagtas) made me realize that I can make a career out of photography. In my first month's stint as a photo hobbyist, my professor asked me to compete in STI's Shutters Best on-the-spot photography contest and viola! I won 3rd place! That served as a springboard to other projects and events. I made a niche by word of mouth and many trusted my work and what I offer. Thank you, King Art's Photobooth, for the solid trust that you have given me! That paved the way for me to become an event photographer.
Q : Now that you’ve been shooting for years, what genre or niche do you really want to specialize in?
F : I've been shooting for 3 years na! Ang bilis! Events, babies, food, and fashion interest me, but the genre that I really want to pursue is street photography while traveling.
Q : Is there an aspect about photography that you feel you have to address and improve?
F : Every aspect about photography should be continuously improving.
Q : Any photographer you look up to?
F : Gerald Gloton. There's a story behind every photograph. Galing lang ni beshie!
Q : Okay, so let's get to these photos we're featuring. What made you do a commuter photo series?
F : Basically my 3-hour travel time from home to work and vice versa, and the painful truth of traffic jam everyday! So para maiwasan ko ang mai-stress, I started taking pictures of my fellow commuters na alam kong parehas kami ng mga nararamdaman, hahaha! You will be amazed of the stories one can do on the streets. As for me, it shows on my pictures. It is indeed interesting!
Q : What is most challenging in shooting the commuter series?
F : Being a commuter is a challenge in itself. Once you are on the road, your safety is always on the line or at risk. Lalo na sa EDSA! Hahaha! Hindi mo pwedeng ilabas nang ilabas 'yung mga expensive gadgets mo while commuting as they pose temptation to thieves and snatchers! And I don't want to gamble my life on that! I only use my mobile phone to take the pictures, and I only take 3 to 5 pictures per scene. I can't stay long in one place as I might get too much attention. If I can't get a good shot on my subject, then I won't push it too much. I'll just have to try other subjects. Then my travel continues.
Q : Any similar idea for a future project or series?
F : I'm interested in doing a series on people who works the nightshift...like those in the market, fastfood, call centers, construction, and the likes. I want to know how they make it through the night. How they make the night their day. I want to capture all that through my lens. It will be fascinating indeed.
Q : Regarding photography.. if you knew then what you know now, you would…..?
F : Maybe I would have started making a series about my daughter since her 1st adorable week up to now.
Q : Which subject brings the most joy for you?
F : I actually love taking photos of toddlers where I can hear people at my back trying hard cheering, making funny faces, telling jokes or kahit ano gagawin nila para lang mapangiti si baby. I really love that scene, that bonding with my clients! Hahahaha!
Q : What photo are you most proud of?
F : Picture of Bangui Windmills in Ilocos (photo included in thumbnail gallery below) where you can see people enjoying their vacation na parang chini-cheer sila ng mga giant windmills na "kalimutan n'yo muna ang problema, i-enjoy n'yo lang 'yan!" People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be themselves.
Q : Who is your dream model?
F : Dream couples, maybe. Same-sex couples, proud couples! Syempre number 1 na d'yan 'yung dalawang bestfriend kong gays! Ramdam na ramdam kasi 'yung love eh, 'yung gaano sila katapang ipagmalaki sa lahat na mahal na mahal nila ang isa't-isa. Awwwww. Ang sweeet 'di ba?
Q : Where is your dream photography destination?
F : Brazil!!! Street, murals, festivals, football, and how they simply live like us Filipinos. They all make Brazil my dream photography destination.
Q : 10 years from now, what would you like to achieve as a photographer?
F : Teach my daughter to also be a photographer, time to take photos of me naman! Hahaha. Just kidding. Gusto kong ma-achieve as a photographer ay sana makapag-picture ako ng isang pangyayari na puwedeng makapagpabago o makatulong sa buhay ng ibang tao.
Q : What advice would you give photography newbies?
F : As they say, the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
Other photos from Francesca's Commuters series (Click thumbnails to view in full)
Q : Message you'd like to share to Focus followers and fellow Focus members?
F : Thank you for inspiring, teaching and proving to me that photography is not just about taking photos. You made me realize that this is such a colorful, fun spectrum and such a broad avenue to journey on! Maraming salamat po!
Q : Last question before we let you go. We know you're also creative with words, especially with so-called "hugot". What's your photography hugot?
F : Sa photography, hindi pala sapat 'yung na-develop na, kailangan pala alagaan at bantayan din kasi kapag hindi, nagfe-fade at nasisira din pala yung rela... 'yung picture.
Francesca's Further Favorites (Click thumbnails to view photos in full)
Photography is a creative process involving decisions, all based on individual preferences. It could start from choosing which brand and model of camera to buy and use. Which lens to attach to your camera. Where to point your camera in a 360-degree view of possibilities. Where to shoot : do you explore new locations, or shoot in familiar surroundings? Would you avoid people in your photos, or include them in your frame?
Our photography comes down to what we choose. In Francesca Bengco's case, she decides to document her daily experiences, and bring out the interesting in what most people would find as boring. Her photos are proof that a different perspective could make our view of life more colorful... even if her Commuters series is all black-and-white.
Celine Villafuerte is one of the youngest Focus Bulacan members, but in terms of exposure to the arts, her experience is immense. Taking it one step further by pursuing Fine Arts in college, she is now on her path to becoming a full-time media artist, and along the way she added photography to her body of work. With dreams of someday being an inspiration to other people through her creations, she is constantly exploring fields she could learn. Don't let the carefree demeanor fool you : she is determined to make it to the top.
Celine Villafuerte is the featured Focus photographer of the month.
Q : You’re a visual artist. How did your love for the arts develop?
C : When I was in high school I really didn’t know what course would suit me but then I had this friend who had a digital camera always with her and she loved taking stolen pictures of random people. Seeing her everyday taking pictures gave me an idea to become a photographer. I hesitated before because taking fine arts wasn’t in my plans at all, but I took it anyways to learn further about art and photography. Through the years in fine arts I've learned to love different kinds of art, from traditional painting to media art like photography.
Q : So how did you start branching out to photography? What for you is the main difference in creating art with your brush and creating it with a camera?
C : I started shooting with Focus Bulacan. Joining this group gave me more knowledge about the differences of traditional art and media art. Traditional and media art are mostly the same but different in execution. A traditional art like painting requires a long amount of time and effort to produce an image, unlike in photography, where producing an image is just one click away, which is why I prefer photography. For me they are both art but with different process of expressing moods and stuff.
Q : Tell us the start of your Focus story.
C : My elder sister met members of Focus Bulacan, then she introduced me to the group since she saw potential in me in the field of photography. She urged me to join the group, hoping for me to develop and learn more. The Macro PhotoMeet in March 2015, that was the first activity I attended.
Q : Which is more difficult, interpreting a concept into a painting, or into a photo? Why?
C : For me interpreting a concept is very difficult because it should be unique, attractive, and original. I tried interpreting concepts in both painting and photography, I can't really say which is more difficult because they're both really challenging.
Q : What’s your proudest moment as a photographer? And what photo are you most proud of?
C : Winning or simply joining competitions and exhibits are proud moments for me. I know I'm not yet professional-caliber, but my photographs have the potential to be part of exhibits or win competitions. Among my photographs, my favorites are mostly related to manipulation or post-processing because I have the chance to use both of my skills in taking pictures and editing.
Q : What’s the next step for you as a visual artist? What do you want to learn or explore?
C : The next step for me as a visual artist is to develop my skills regarding editing and to widen my knowledge in interpreting my concepts for me to further achieve greater heights, and to inspire other people with my photographs.
Q : What’s your most unforgettable shoot?
C : It was our group's photowalk in Binondo back in August 21, 2015. That was my first time to join an actual photowalk in Manila, together with so many random people. A lot of things happened that day, I learned a lot, got to know other photographers, and I also developed creating ideas for my shots.
Q : How do you see yourself as a visual artist ten years from now?
C : Ten years from now, I could be one of those famous photographers with multiple solo exhibits. I'm also hoping that someday I will inspire other people with my skills, experience, and especially with my photographs.
Celine's Favorite Photos (Click thumbnails to view in full)
Q : What's your message to those who would like to pursue photography as their field of art?
C : To those who love taking pictures, I ask you to keep doing what you love, try and try until you succeed in it. It would be a great help if you join workshops or join a legitimate group regarding photography so you can learn ideas that are very useful.
Q : What would you like to say to your fellow Focus photographers?
C : To my fellow Focus Bulacan members, staying strong is a must. Thanks to all of you because if it wasn’t for you guys, my journey being a photographer would be less fun.
Her journey is far from complete. Who knows if she's even halfway or even a quarter? What Celine is sure of is that as long as she's alive, she'll live and breathe art and photography. The brush, the camera, and the colors of life will always be her preferred tools of expression. The coming years will be her canvas, which she would love to fill with magnificent artwork for all of us to see.
There's always something new to look forward to. And in our case, twice a year, we welcome new members to our family. Glad you're now on board, Batch July 2017!
Batch July 2017 is the smallest in terms of number but certainly not in terms of talent and experience. One is a passionate newbie who's eager to expand her knowledge and skills in photography. The other is a seasoned photography professional with 9 years and counting of industry experience.
Cheers and congratulations, Batch July 2017 :
Welcome to Focus Bulacan! Enjoy your stay and let's do our part in helping each other grow both as photographers and individuals. We're excited to have you with us. See you soon!
He was a rock band member before he got sucked into the world of photography. He used to always hold guitars, not cameras. His love for adventure led him to taking pictures and from there, things started to fall into place. His profession (he's a licensed architect) then paved the way for him to seriously pursue the hobby, and photography is a big part of his life now more than he could have imagined. A design supervisor at a Bulacan-based architectural firm, he uses photography to aid his analysis of designs and as a way to relax from the stress of work. The past year has been life-changing for him : getting married and starting a family. Through it all, photography played a part, and we shall find out exactly what it was.
Mark Anthony de Leon is our featured Focus photographer of the month.
Q : How did you get hooked to photography?
Mark : I wasn't much of a photography enthusiast. I only had my action camera back then. Since I love to travel and do most of outdoor adventures, I find my action cam handy and useful on my travels. It all started there, then my friends and colleagues saw photos from my travels and since then I was appointed to do photo documentation of our events in UAP (United Architects of the Philippines) which I'm a member of. The need of a DSLR was there in front of me. At first I was hesitant to buy one, that’s why I planned to just borrow from a friend but it was too bothersome to do so I bought one instead, a day before the event. Having done that, I started learning how to use the DSLR and started to love photography. Never regretted the day I bought my own gear. I am happy with my decision to have my own DSLR because if you have your own, you will be more motivated to learn new things because you have ample time to practice and play with your gear.
Q : What was the most challenging aspect of photography when you were just starting out? Did you have frustrations?
M : The most challenging aspect for me were the basics, especially knowing all the functions of my DSLR. As I mentioned earlier, I had no knowledge or background in photography that’s why it was the most challenging part for me. To know how to explore more with the basics of photography. At first I was only shooting in full auto mode, haha. It was the easiest way to take decent photos, hahaha, at least sharp, at hindi blurred.
Q : Your photos consist mostly of concerts and travel. Which of the two you like better and why?
M : Concert and travel are on equal scale for me. If you won’t mind me sharing, I was a member of a band during my high school and college days that’s why I love taking photos of gigs and bands. It rekindles memories of me when I was on stage playing back then. Rakista kasi ako dati, hahaha. On the other hand, I also love travel photography because I want to capture sceneries and landscapes, places that catch my interest like unusual structures and great architectural designs. And of course who doesn’t want to capture great memories and experiences with your friends and loved ones, things that you can treasure thru photography?
(For this feature we are only featuring Mark's travel photos - Ed.)
Q : What genre would you still like to try?
M : I would love to try capturing the Milky Way. I do research and watch videos on how to do it and yet I still haven’t tried it. Aww.
Q : You’re an architect. Has photography been useful in your profession? Do you plan to specialize in architectural photography in the future?
M : Yes indeed, photography has been useful in my work. When I see very innovative and inspirational architectural designs, I capture it, from there I can constructively criticize it, think what is good or bad and which aspects need improvements. From there I can come up with new ideas. I already do architectural photography when I travel. I don’t have any specialization in photography, I just shoot whatever catches and strikes my interest. So I shoot whichever genre, as long as I am enjoying it.
Q : You’re a new dad. Have you done a photoshoot with your daughter?
M : Yes, almost every day with my phone camera. I love to see her cute little smile.
Q : Which places do you dream to go to and shoot?
M : Since my wife also loves to travel, we are planning go out of town or out of country especially now we are three, but for now we are focused on our little girl. Anywhere with them.
Q : You met your wife thru photography. Was it love at first sight?
M : I don’t believe in love at first sight. I believe in love at second sight. So I look at her again and again..hehe. We met in Focus Bulacan's activities then began to know each other, like each other and fall in love with each other.
Q : In photography terms, na-develop?
M : A bit na-develop din siguro. Pero I think we were meant to be kaya di ko na siya pinakawalan, haha. We have the same interests like photography, travel, et cetera. Nakita ko rin sa kanya 'yung mga tipo ko sa isang girl, and when I met her nasabi ko sa sarili ko, "bakit ngayon ko lang siya nakilala?" Hehe, cheesy.
Q : Who is the better photographer, you or your wife?
M : I think I am better but she is more better, haha. Sometimes I ask for her comments on my photos.
Q : What advice would you give to photography newbies?
M : All professional photographers begin as newbies. You never know some day you can also be a professional. Just continue what you are doing, as long as you love and enjoy it. Keep on shooting.
Q : What's your message to fellow Focus members and Focus followers.
M : To Focus members, thank you for all the tips and guidance every time we have photomeets or activities. I always learn techniques and tips on shooting. Keep sharing your skills to other members and Focus followers.
Much as he would have liked to masterplan it like what he does for a living, Mark has learned that some of the most beautiful things in life happen not in the way we plan them or expect them to. When things are meant to be, they have a way of making designs on their own. Life has a blueprint of its own.
And yes, there's more fun (and love) in Focus Bulacan.
It is said that photography is a universal language. A picture paints a thousand words and could communicate to all people who see it. The viewer could either instantly comprehend or take a few moments before the photo's meaning sinks in. Then there are images that would baffle the mind and instead tap into the viewer's feelings. Their mood. The vibe. Their imagination. Such is the approach taken by Shauang Bote whenever she's using her camera.
She's an avid fan of art and works well with numbers (at a government office's auditing department), but her focus on photography is truly intriguing : the eerie, the surreal, the moody, and sometimes downright dark or depressing. Not intentional, she says, but just a product of her creative process. Let's find out more about the story behind the photos of our featured Focus photographer of the month, Sherwin "Shauang" Bote.
Q : You seem to be the type of person who is into different kinds of art. Why the camera, among all things?
S : Fan ako ng mga kung anu-anong art, whether painting, sculpture, poetry, and music. As for me kung bakit camera... kasi, real-time. Nahuhuli agad 'yung moment. 'Di gaya ng painting na would take you hours to finish, sa camera lalo ngayon, instant na. Kita agad.
Q : So how did you start your photography journey?
S : Highschool pa lang, gusto ko na ang photography, kaso wala akong gear. Nanghihiram lang ako ng camera na de-film pa. Noong nagka-work na ako, nakabili ako ng mumurahing digicam. That was 2010, I think. Doon lalo nabuo 'yung kagustuhan ko na maging photographer. Then later on nagkaroon na ako ng maayos na camera, ayun! Full-blast addiction na ang nangyari, hehe!
Q : How would you describe your style?
S : Hindi ko alam kung ano ang style ko sa photography, hindi ko rin sure kung saang genre siya naka-classify. I just shoot what interests me.
Q : Your photos strongly convey mood. Is that intentional on your part or does it just show because of your preferences?
S : I guess it just shows, kasi minsan pag tina-try ko na ayusin 'yung scene to make it moody or eerie, hindi siya nagiging ganun ka-compelling. Kaya I base my photos on how I feel about the place or how I would react kung ako 'yung nasa lugar na 'yun. It has to have that emotional connection between me and the scene.
Q : Kindly name one icon you look up to in each branch of art you’re hooked to.
S : Uy, icons! Sa music that would be Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, aggressive yet emotional. Sa cinema naman it would be Tim Burton, eccentric and complex. In photography, I'm a fan of Alex Webb, how he takes street photos using color, lights, and may mood din.
Q : How do you usually compose your shots? Do you have something specific you find in a scene?
S : Usually 'pag may nakita akong dark alley or kalsada na may isang poste lang na bukas, 'yun 'yung gustong-gusto ko. Mas gumagana imagination ko sa mga ganoong eksena, hehe.
Q : What has been the most unforgettable shoot you’ve had?
S : That would be the Holy Week photomeet of Focus Bulacan back in 2016, sa Kapitangan. 'Yung element ng mga tao, 'yung scenario, 'yung hirap ng theme na film-style, no preview sa LCD at 24 shots lang ang pwede gamitin, plus ang weather that day na sobrang init. Napakahirap. Pero binalikan ulit namin this year, hahaha! Never again?!
Q : And what’s the photo you’re most proud of?
S : I'm most proud of the Masked Girl photo that I took last year. Kasi na-include siya sa isang photo exhibit this year which is really unexpected. I'm so overwhelmed na makasama sa lineup next to de-kalibreng street photographers. 'Di ko akalain 'yun. (Photo is shown above.)
Q : Frustrations or difficulties so far in photography?
S: Difficulty siguro is 'yung time. Minsan kasi nawawalan talaga ng oras na mag-shoot, kahit gusto mo lumabas at mag-photowalk, hindi magawa kasi you have something to attend to, like work, before anything else.
Q : What’s your dream shoot?
S : Dream shoot, hmmm... 'yung tipong eksena sa movie na Silent Hill, haha! Eerie 'yung feeling ng paligid tapos creepy 'yung mga tao, haha! That would be nice.
Q : If you can compare your photography to a rock band, which rock band is it?
S : I think Nirvana. Kinda heavy na a bit grim na medyo fiery na mellow at the same time, hehe.
Q : Okay, this is easier : which song would best sum up your photography story so far?
S : Siguro "Drive" by Incubus. Unang line pa lang, "sometimes I feel the feel of the uncertainty, stinging clear". Takot ako na mag-shoot at ipakita sa iba 'yung photos ko kasi hindi siya kagaya ng sa karamihan. Pero ngayon unti-unti I'm learning to embrace that fear na parang kahit hindi n'yo ma-gets ang photo ko, okay lang basta gusto ko 'to gawin, and thus the line, "lately I'm beginning to find that when I drive myself, my light is found."
Q : What has been the most fun part of being a Focus Bulacan member?
S : Sa akin, 'yung exhibit is the most fun. Kasi we get to showcase our photos for the people to see.. 'yun 'yung venue na nakikita 'yung actual photos, hindi lang sa monitor. Plus doon din nagkakasama-sama ang mga members nang halos buong araw kaya riot sa saya!
Q : A message to Focus Bulacan followers or those who would like to join the group or start in photography.
S : Sa mga photography enthusiasts, keep on shooting and sali kayo sa mga groups such as Focus Bulacan, it can help you a lot, hindi lang madadagdagan ang knowledge n'yo about photography in general but you'll also gain friends in the long run.
Q : Message to fellow Focus members.
S : Sa mga ka-Focus... shoot lang tayo nang shoot. Bigyan natin ng oras 'yung passion natin for photography, after all eto 'yung dahilan bakit nabuo ang group. Sipagan natin para lahat tayo mag-grow bilang photographers and as individuals as well. Salamat, Focus Bulacan! And sa family ko sa support. Shout-out sa mga photowalk buddies.. Jelens, Jing and kuya Awel... and kay Jay Salvador sa mga teachings sa mood and street photography. Salamat.
Shauang's Moody Favorites (click thumbnails to view photos in full)
Shauang won't find it strange if some people don't understand, much less appreciate, her art. It's not her motivation. The most important thing to her - as every artist would innately feel - is that she gets to express her feelings about the scene. And that, in a sense, is art in its purest form.
Life is complicated, no matter how quotes about life would like to paint it. Time is of the essence and setting priorities is a must. No matter what we do, we have to give up something in order to gain something. It doesn't mean, however, that we can't balance things that matter to us. Our featured Focus photographer of the month Bobby Jo is a prime example. Juggling roles as a Honda motorbike mechanic, a doting father to his kids, a beer-loving friend, and a passionate photographer, Bobby has learned the art of allocating his precious time to his priorities.
As a photographer, he has also found a niche : street portraiture. Shooting in the dynamic world of street photography, he observes the commotion but focuses his sight on interesting faces and subjects. It's the way he lives : understanding the chaos and living beyond it. His photography has naturally followed suit. Let's find out more about Bobby through a simple ask-and-answer session.
Q : You’re a mechanic by profession, fixing motorbikes. Aside from being a creative outlet, what made you decide to pursue photography?
B : We are a family of creatives. My grandfather's hobby was photography, as well as my uncle George Mesina who was my first mentor. At first hindi ko na-notice na may skills din pala ako taking picture. Using phone camera, pitik lang nang pitik hanggang may nagkakagusto na sa mga shots ko. Sabi nga ng uncle George ko, bumili na ako ng camera. My first DSLR camera nga pala was a Nikon D3100. Hahaha, actually dapat Canon, kaso kulang pera ko.. so nang babalikan ko na siya..wala na. Well, it's a different story na…at doon na ako na pursige sa photography nang makahawak na ako ng DSLR. Lalo na nang nakapasok ako sa ibang photography club, syempre lalo na sa Focus Bulacan.
Q : Which photography genre got you hooked? And what’s your favorite?
B : I like street photography very much and portraiture too! At first I thought that taking a picture of street scenes is just simple, without meaning, so I was like na.. pitikan mo na agad. Nagbago pananaw ko noong mag-talk about street photography si Sir Omeng (Rommel Bundalian, Fujifilm X-photographer) noong second anniversary exhibit ng Focus Bulacan. Doon ko siya mas naintindihan. Pero ngayon, mas gusto ko pang matutunan ang street portraiture. I really love taking photos of old people's faces.
Q : How do you feel when you get recognized for winning or making it as finalist in photo contests?
B : Feeling excited and very proud sa sarili. And very thankful sa mga taong tumutulong sa akin. To be the best is my goal. Pero minsan, nanghihinaan din ako ng loob, kasi sa totoo lang madaming magagaling na photographer. Kaya everytime na sasali ako sa mga photo contest I make it sure na I'll shoot it differently to be noticed.
Q : Do you have a specific photo that you are most proud of?
B : That was when I was in Porac, Pampanga. I took a picture of a wife and her husband na mabubulag na dahil sa complication sa liver. After I took that picture then I was told about their story and kung sino sila, I found out that 'yung lalake ay dating NPA and he was the chief of their community. For some reason naisip ko na what a coincidence na 'yung kinuhanan ko pala ng picture ay may nakaraan at may meaning kung bakit ko sila nahanap.
Q : What’s your photography style? Can you describe your signature look?
B : Gusto ko 'yung mga kuha ni Steve McCurry at ni Andrzej Dragan. Gustong-gusto ko 'yung Dragan effect. Kung makikilala man lang ako bilang photographer gusto ko 'yung sa mga portraiture na parang Dragan style.
Q : What has been the most challenging aspect of photography?
B : Since I love taking pictures sa streets, well it is very challenging na minsan ayaw magpa-picture 'yung mga tao na gusto ko kuhanan. Nagagalit sila and parang nagdududa na bakit ko sila pi-picture-an at bakit doon sa lugar pa nila. Not all of them though but still very challenging especially kapag nakita ko na this is very interesting to take pero sometimes ayaw nila.
Q : Personally, what do you still want to achieve with your photography?
B : Mastering light and the proper exposure that I want on my subject. Especially kapag portrait. Alam naman natin na 'pag mukha ng tao ang kukunan kailangan maganda ang details na 'yung parang there's a meaning behind that picture and behind that face. Parang may drama.
Q : Who are some photographers you look up to and why?
B : Aside from my uncle and grandfather, those will be Joey Ramos and Jeremy Sandel. Joey is known to be the best photographer by showing it, always na champion sa mga contests. And hindi madamot magbigay ng mga tips how to be a better photographer especially sa mga newbies na sumasali sa contest. Jeremy is very enthusiastic especially to his fellow member photographers to improve their skills and showcasing the works of other photographers to the public. They motivate me since they are the best photographers I know.
Q : How do you manage your time and still give effort to photography aside from your work and family life?
B : I know I'm spending my time at work but still if you want something you'll find a way na magawa pa rin 'yung mga bagay na gusto ko. Parang 'yung kasabihan na 'pag gusto may paraan at 'pag ayaw maraming dahilan. Pero I'll make it sure na everytime na magkaroon naman ako ng time na extra after work and family, nagfo-focus naman ako sa photography.
Q : What's your most unforgettable experience related to photography?
B : 'Yung kabibili lang ng Nikon D3100 ko, nang bigla akong sinama ng uncle George ko para maging second shooter sa birthday ng anak ni Ms. Dawn Zulueta, the actress. Sa Manila Polo Club. First time ko ma-experience 'yun at makita siya pati si Gabby Concepcion. Mahirap din pala tsaka nakakapagod. At syempre 'yung awarding ng Larawang Bulakenyo photo contest sa Robinsons Place Malolos.
Q : Do you have plans of someday being a full-time photographer?
B : For now I don’t think na I want to be a full-time photographer kasi I know na marami pa akong kailangan matutunan but if ever na makilala at mabigyan or makuha ako sa mga project then that’s the time na maybe I'll think about being a full-time photographer.
Q : What do you still want to learn in photography?
B : Post-processing I guess kasi marami akong nakikita na magagaling mag-take ng photo pero mas lalo pang gumaganda 'pag magaling din ang photo manipulation.
Q : What's your message to fellow Focus members?
B : We do have a lot of responsibilities in life but still hindi kailangan maging hadlang 'yung mga gusto nating gawin, especially sa mga bagong pasok sa Focus. 'Yung passion natin, like me I'm a mechanic, but still I have time to do what I love. And we know there's a lot of challenges we face in our lives but still without a doubt, we need to face those challenges. Think positive and love your passion. And thank you sa mga kaibigan ko sa Focus. Naging malaking tulong kayo kung ano man ang narating ko ngayon sa mundo ng photography. God bless us all!
Q : Advice to those who want to excel in photography.
B : Just do it. Meron tayong iba't-ibang panlasa pero ang importante we have our own style and originality. Be yourself.
Bobby's Favorite Portraits (click thumbnails to view photos in full)
He's one of the nicest guys you'd meet in Bulacan's wedding industry. Hardworking and easy to work with, not to mention his looks that cause his friends to tease him as "Alden Richards ng Focus". Going full-blast in events photography after previously working as a support network engineer, he has steadily expanded his repertoire and connections with a successful recipe of consistent output and good relations with clients and suppliers alike. Now let's find out his photography story. Gilbert Fajardo is the featured Focus photographer of the month.
Q : What is it about weddings or events that made you pursue it as a profession?
G : Noong natuto ako sa photography nagkahilig talaga ako sa macro and portraits, and then parang naisip ko paano ko mababawi 'yung investment ko. Hanggang napasama ako sa iba't ibang team and na-realize ko na pwedeng pagkakitaan talaga ang events. One more thing na nagustuhan ko, nag-e-enjoy ako sa ginagawa ko.
Q : Being a professional photographer now, how is it, compared to your previous work?
G : Ang bigat ng salitang "pro", haha. Ang nakikita ko lang na advantage ng employee is may steady income ka monthly. Unlike sa photography you can't predict your income. Pwedeng ngayong month is konti lang 'yung projects, tapos the following month mas madami. In the aspect of enjoyment, mas masaya ako ngayon sa trabaho ko, 'yung pakiramdam na kumikita ka habang nag-e-enjoy ka sa ginagawa mo.
Q : Tell us, how did you switch to photography?
G : Nag-start talaga ako sa corporate world. One day nakahawak ako ng DSLR camera at parang sobra akong nagandahan sa output ng pictures. Matagal ko na din kasi balak bumili ng point-and-shoot camera pero sabi ko sa sarili ko, mag-iipon na lang ako para makabili ng DSLR. Noong naka-ipon ako, bumili agad ako. Kung ano lang makita ko na subject sa backyard namin pinag-practice-an ko. Little by little suma-sideline na rin ako sa mga kiddie party, nag-start na rin akong tumanggap ng mga maliliit na birthday coverage. Till the time na sumali ako sa photography club. Dumami mga kaibgan ko na photographers sa events, nakasama ako sa iba't ibang team na nakatulong nang malaki sa akin para ma-develop yung skills ko. Kahit tumatanggap na ako ng sarili kong bookings, hindi pa rin ako nagre-resign sa work ko. Sabi ko, mag-iipon at mag-i-invest muna ako ng gamit, kapag medyo stable na ako, saka ako magre-resign. Dumating yung araw na parang madami na din akong schedule at sa tingin ko it's time para mag-fulltime na. Sa grace ng Lord, hanggang ngayon nakaka-survive ako sa tulong Niya at sa tulong ng mga kaibigan ko na nagtitiwala sa kakayahan ko.
Q : You’ve witnessed a lot of love stories with your camera and lens… what have these stories taught you about life and love?
G : Na masarap pala ang magmahal at ang mahalin. Hahahaha.
Q : What’s your most memorable event coverage?
G : Ang pinaka-hindi ko makakalimutan na wedding shoot ko 'yung galing ng preps tapos papuntang simbahan, ibang simbahan pala 'yung napuntahan namin. Halos lumipad 'yung sasakyan namin, buti na lang late 'yung officiating priest kaya hindi kami na-late. Hahaha. Kaya lesson learned. Every detail sa event ay mahalaga, lalo na ang time and place.
Q : If there’s a wedding or prenup shot you’re most proud of, what is it?
G : Every prenup and wedding na na-shoot ko is a different experience. Masaya talaga makita silang nag-e-enjoy sa bawat isa kahit na pagod na pagod na sa mga poses and pegs. For me, ang magiging wedding shot na pinaka-proud ako, 'yung dream ko, and that is to shoot my own bride's portrait during our wedding day.
Q : For the record, you're single and has yet to tie the knot. We’re sure you have plans to. If it’s your wedding, who would you like to be the official photographer?
G : May prospect na ako sa ngayon pero hindi ko muna i-a-announce. Hahaha.
Q : Wala namang samaan ng loob kahit sabihin mo. Okay, clue?
G : Sikat sila sa Bulacan. Nakatrabaho ko na rin sila. Haha.
Q : What’s your favorite gear combo when shooting events?
G : Sa events, mas gamit ko madalas Canon 6D and Sigma 35mm Art.
Q : What’s the most challenging aspect of being an events photographer?
G : Unang-una sa lahat dapat marunong ka mag-budget ng time, importante ang time management. Dahil kapag hindi nasunod ang timeline, madaming mami-miss na moment. Being an events photographer, kailangan mo ma-document from the start hanggang sa last part ng event. It is your way to tell the story through your photos.
Q : Five to ten years from now…. what would you like to accomplish?
G : To have my own physical office and studio. I think of having some events-related business din. Clown, magician, kidding aside. Hahaha.
Q : Aside from shooting events, what genre would you like to try or master?
G : Parang gusto ko i-try mag-landscape kapag nag-travel na ako sa ibat ibang lugar.
Q : Do you have a dream project?
G : Yes, to work with Metrophoto and Oly Ruiz. Isa siya sa mga idol ko!
Q : To those who are starting out in the events industry, what advice can you tell them?
G: Start to have a good portfolio. Mag-collect na kayo ng mga pictures na magagamit n'yo to represent your name. Tingin tayo ng mga magagaling na photogrphers, then kuha tayo ng ideas from them. Time will come, magkakaroon at ma-e-establish natin 'yung sarili nating style and identity. In client's side naman, dapat i-maintain natin 'yung magandang reputation ng name natin especially sa mga kasamahan natin sa industriya. Maliit lang ang mundo kaya 'wag natin pasikipin lalo. Tayo-tayo lang din kasi ang magtutulungang mga magkakaibigan.
Q : While for those interested in photography, what can they do to get good at it?
G : Lahat naman tayo nag-start sa empty knowledge. Walang nag-start na magaling na agad. Basta continuous lang tayo mag-shoot and practice. Malaking tulong din na may group tayo or team, madami tayong matutunan sa kanila.
Q : What's your message to Focus followers and fellow-members?
G : Sa mga kasamahan ko po sa Focus Bulacan, maraming salamat po sa pagsuporta ninyo sa group natin. Patuloy tayong mag-suportahan at magmahalan. Lumaki pa sana ang ating grupo at dumami pa ang mga photo enthusiast na makasama natin. Sa lahat po ng followers ng Focus Bulacan, sana po ay nakapagbigay kami ng inspirasyon sa inyo sa pamamagitan ng aming grupo at ng aming mga larawan. Mabuhay po kayong lahat! To God be all the glory!
Gilbert's Picks : Some of his favorite projects (click thumbnails to view photos in full)
A lot of questions down the road that we'll wait for the answers to. Will he get to work with Oly Ruiz? When is he going to put up his own studio? Is he really serious about magicians and clowns? When will he find the love of his life? And whose portrait is he going to shoot at his own wedding? We can't tell exactly what the future holds, but one thing's for sure : Gilbert is going to keep on persevering, working hard, and being the nice guy who doesn't finish last.
It's the love month and what better way to celebrate it than feature a feel-good love story?
Focus Bulacan member Jan Danielle "JD" Reyes has been living the happy life with wife Christine Joy (or CJ) and one of their favorite activities is traveling. Being the photographer that he is, JD always makes it a point to hit two birds with one stone during their travels - spend quality time with the love of his life and fuel his artistic passion. Their way to recharge and relax from the stressful demands of running multiple businesses, traveling together has made them even closer as a couple and, according to JD, developed them as persons. Learn more from the question and answer session with our featured Focus photographer of the month, JD Reyes.
Q : You’ve been together for years now. When did your travels start?
JD : Before my wife and I met, I used to travel throughout the Philippines for work purposes only so I really didn’t fully enjoy those out-of-town trips as I was only given a day or two to check out the famous landmarks in the area as side trips. On the other hand, wifey's passion for travel included both local and international scenes. When we became a couple, the first location we were able to cross out on our list was La Union. My wife’s quite a good surfer. She actually taught me how to surf and until now she gives me pointers. It was a happy and special memory for us. We took a night bus ride to La Union and arrived at the resort early in the morning. We enjoyed the laidback environment, the good food and the music. The trip really had an impact on us because it also taught us how to live simply and peacefully with joy in our hearts. I believe that the more extravagant you live, the more stress and depression come with it. We both want to enjoy life to its fullest because time is a precious resource we can’t waste.
Q : What do you love most about traveling with your wife that is different when traveling with other people?
JD : Traveling with my wife is one of my outlets to release stress and unwind after long and tiring days of work. When you travel with other people, the tendency is your activities will be limited due to varying preferences. But when I travel with my wife, I can do and be whatever I want. For CJ and I, traveling helps us grow together and learn more about each other.
Q : What is your favorite gear setup when traveling?
JD : I have my Canon DSLR and GoPro when doing travel photography. My on-the-go lens is a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, which is primarily used for landscape and for portraiture as well. It is versatile and very practical to use. During travels, there are instances that you would encounter time constraints. I can save time by not having the need to change into a different lens. I also use Canon 18-135mm standard zoom lens when I need to get closer to the subject. Other items in my bag are a tripod, ND filters, CPL and a camera remote for night and long exposure shots. I also have a DIY plastic with rubber band to protect my gear in case it rains.
Q: Of all the places you’ve been to… which one is your favorite or most memorable and why?
JD : The most memorable one is Sagada. When I first learned that we were caving, I thought it would be like the one in Puerto Princesa where you would just sit back and enjoy the ride. But to my surprise, it was spelunking. The trail was difficult and we were not prepared. It took us more than an hour to finish it. It was also during that time that my wife almost fell off a cliff, barely hanging as her foot slid from the slippery rocks. It was indeed an adventure of a lifetime. On the other hand, our favorite is Italy. Actually, it’s my wife’s dream destination. She even learned to speak Italian during her college days. She loves to cook Italian dishes that’s why when we were there she shopped for her ingredients such as risotto, cheese and pasta. As for my personal favorite, it is Cambodia. Its history captured my interest and the temples are unrivaled in grandeur and scale. The people we met are nice with unparalleled optimism and contagious smiles.
Q : Any tips you could share in traveling and travel photography?
JD : Let’s stick to the saying that victory loves preparation. When you’re planning a trip especially if it’s your first time visiting the place, always read about it in advance. It is easier that way, as compared to going there completely unprepared. Next thing to consider is how much time and money you are willing to spend on each location. It will determine a lot about your approach in taking your photos. Travel and photography works hand in hand. You are basically documenting the life and the culture of the people you’re interacting with. My first rule in travel photography is to know the itinerary, so you’ll be able to determine what items you’ll need. Second is to travel light. If possible, bring only one versatile lens especially if you’re shooting for the whole day. You’ll need all the energy walking around fast under direct sunlight. However if you’re shooting at night, the camera remote and the tripod are certainly handy, and always pick a spot with sturdy flooring. Prior to traveling, you can also check snapshots of other photographers for inspiration. If I may suggest, you can check my mentor’s website at www.jersandel.com. He also has a Facebook page that exhibits his takes on different photography genres.
Q : Place you’d definitely want to go back to? And, just in case, a place you’d rather not.
JD : It’s all about the journey, not the destination. I believe that all places I’ve been to are worth coming back to. Yes, there were times wherein I encountered negative incidents in certain places, but those didn’t make the trip any less. What’s important is that should I visit those places again, I have countermeasures or backup plans to ensure the trip’s smooth flow. Whenever I travel, I try to understand that different places have different traditions and practices that I am not accustomed to, so I take it as a great opportunity for me to adapt and grow as an individual.
Q : Dream destination you still have on your bucket list?
JD : New Zealand. We’re looking forward to having a Middle Earth adventure and visiting the hobbit hole of Bilbo Baggins. And of course, we would love to see and take photos of the southern lights Aurora Australis.
Q : What's the most memorable travel photo you’ve taken?
JD : The most memorable travel photo would be my night shot at the Colosseo. It was the evening of Christmas 2015, my wife and I decided to check out the Colosseo as it was just a 20-minute walk from the hotel. It was freezing cold, about 4°C, as we walked up and down alleyways. We eventually ended up on a gated park so we looked for alternative ways which then led us to a shadowy street. Afraid of our lives, we walked briskly towards the Colosseo. It was already within our sight but still a couple of miles away, so we armed ourselves with a tripod and a selfie stick. Haha. At last we reached a perfect spot, I set up my tripod while my wife was on the look out, just in case someone snatched our things. We took videos and selfies, in awe of the beauty that was the Colosseo. On our way back, we passed by a convenience store with a Filipino crew and that talk made us a bit at ease afterwards. (Photo is shown above.)
Q : When you’re shooting photos… what does your wife do?
JD : My wife is actually in charge of the GoPro for selfies and for taking videos. But sometimes I let her use the DSLR so I could have my own portraits too. She is the type of traveler who is really after the experience. She used to say her photographic memory is the best way to capture memories. So while I’m taking landscape photos, she wanders around the place and looks for trinkets.
Q : What photography genre do you still want to pursue or specialize in?
JD : I would like to practice more on street photography and specialize in portraiture.
Q : If you could compare your wife to a place…. what is she and why?
JD : Definitely Siargao! Siargao is known for its numerous white sand beaches with calm and clear waters, and of course, the Cloud 9 surfing spot. My wife is calm and chill most of the time, but when it's time to make decisions she can immediately clear her mind and get things done. She is brave and adventurous, and she loves outdoor activities.
Q : So where is your next trip? Any particular spot there you want to shoot?
JD : We have a number of places lined up such as Malaysia, Singapore for the Coldplay concert, Hong Kong and Macau, USA, and of course we’re looking forward to coming back to Europe as we want to visit more historical places and stay longer to really experience the place.
Q : What's your advise for photography beginners?
JD : Every good photographer starts as an amateur. They say practice makes perfect, and in photography I say the same applies. You should not tell yourself that you don’t know how, that you are not an artist and therefore cannot and will never be. If you don’t step out of your comfort zone, you will never know. If you don’t try, you will never learn. Sure, people will criticize you, but don’t be discouraged easily. No one gets it on their first try. Be patient. Try to experiment and don’t be afraid to ask around. Today, information is right at our fingertips. You are just a click away to learning basic photography.
Q : Message to Focus followers and co-members?
JD : Photography is a never-ending learning process when it comes to adjusting lights, composing, creating tricks, and post processing. We in Focus Bulacan.. we are one big family ready to have each other’s back. This true camaraderie that stemmed from our similar pursuit permits us to develop and progress. It is true that each of us excels in different fields, but we are not anxious to share with each other what we know. This sharing and looking out for each other is a good sign of our team’s solidarity. To Focus Bulacan followers, don’t be afraid to take a shot. Whether you’re using your cellphone or a digital camera, what matters more is that you capture those precious memories and one day you can look back and remember every detail of the story in that photo. Also, we would like to welcome you to join some of our talks or seminars so you will know us more and hopefully we could help or inspire you in one way or another.
There's never enough time to do all the things that we want, but when we do the things we want most with the people closest to our heart, life could be happy and balanced. JD Reyes got lucky indeed : combining his love for travel and photography and doing it with the encouragement (and presence) of his wife CJ has made life more enjoyable. The camera has been there to document their journey and these photos are mere proof that when love supports passion, results tend to be beautiful.
With 2016 being another banner year, Focus Bulacan is looking forward to another successful one. It's getting more difficult each year because of ever-increasing expectations but our group loves challenges. We do not know exactly how to make 2017 even better than 2016, but we're sure our officers and members are going to give it a good try. Leading the way is this year's batch of officers, majority of them holdovers from the past year, with a few new additions to reinforce the club's think tank.
All the best, 2017 officers, and Godspeed, Focus!
Every month, we have a feature on our members, our photography idols, and other photography issues we feel deserve a heads-up.