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!
We're feeling good about 2017 and part of the reason is because we have 8 new members we'll be reaching greater heights with. Like we always say, it doesn't matter what camera you're using, what you do for a living, or which genre you mostly shoot. Once you get approved, we welcome you with open arms to the Focus family.
So let's see, we have an interior designer, an immigration personnel, a marketing specialist, a travel guide/blogger, a math teacher, among others. A Canon user, two Fujifilm mirrorless revolutionaries, and Nikon shooters. Just another eclectic batch of approved applicants... now considered official Focus Bulacan members.
Congratulations, Batch January 2017 :
Since it's more important to us how your photos look like (how cute or dashing you are is just secondary), here's a visual introduction to Batch January 2017 :
Welcome to Team Focus and we hope you make the most of your membership. Rumors say that it's more fun in Focus Bulacan, it's up to you to find out if it's true. Let's shoot soon! :)
Q : So when exactly did the photography bug bite you?
E : Since elementary days pa lang hilig ko na humawak ng point-and-shoot camera kaya noong nagka-trabaho ako, isa sa mahal na nabili ko 'yung Sony Cybershot para may sarili na akong camera. Wala pa akong idea sa photography proper noon. 2011 nung binili ko 'yung Canon 1000D, sabi ko 'yung pinakamura lang, tapos nood lang ng mga tutorial sa Youtube kung paano gamitin 'yung mga settings. 'Yung mag-blur lang ang background masaya na ako, hahaha. 2014 noong in-introduce sakin ni Shauang (Bote, a fellow member - ed) 'yung Focus Bulacan, na may photography group pala sa Bulacan. First photography workshop ko talaga 'yung sa BSU ng Focus, November 2014. After nun na-realize ko na gusto ko talaga matuto ng photography. December binili ko na 'yung Canon 60D ko. Doon na nag-start 'yung eagerness ko at ni Shauang na makasali sa group.
Q : Tell us how it’s like to get started and what fueled your passion?
E : Masaya! Noong una gusto ko lang talaga po mag-shoot tuwing may okasyon sa pamilya. After nung Basic Photography Workshop ng Focus, 'di lang pala 'yun ang pwede kong gawin sa DSLR ko. 'Yung makapag-produce ka ng photo na katulad ng mga nakikita ko lang sa internet dati at magawa ko 'yung mga nagagawa din ng iba, basta pag-aaralan mo lang, doon siguro ko masasabi na nagsimula 'yung hilig at kagustuhan ko na matuto ng photography.
Q : Along the way, who were influential mentors or photographers to you?
E : Sino nga ba? Isa na siguro 'yung mga photographers na nakakahalubilo ko sa Focus Bulacan tulad ni kuya Awel Dionisio. Siya 'yung nag-guide sa akin sa Salubong Festival kung paano mag-shoot at tignan ang tama ng araw at shadow sa mukha ng mga dancers. At 'yung nakilala ko sa isang mobile photography group sa Facebook na matiyagang nagturo at nag-guide sa akin ng mga nalalaman nya at nag-encourage na din para mag take ng Basic Photography course sa FPPF.
Q : If you compare and look back at your photos two or three years ago, what enters your mind?
E : Sayang, hehehe. Kung sana noon pa ako nag-aral eh 'di sana mas maalam na ako. Pwera-biro, masaya naman kasi, mainam-inam naman na ang mga kuha ko ngayon kumpara daw sa dati.
Q : We see you shooting a lot of different things. What genre fits you the most, and why?
E : Sabi po kasi ng kakilala ko, wala naman masamang subukan lahat. Sa huli makikita ko din kung anong genre ang pinakagusto ko. Portrait and Landscape talaga kung tatanungin 'yung pinakagusto ko na matutunan, bukod sa Macro na pinagkakalibangan ko ngayon.
Q : What keeps you motivated in photography?
E : Siguro kasi ito talaga 'yung gusto kong gawin tsaka para sa akin, feeling ko ngayon pa lang ako nag-u-umpisa eh. Madami pa akong dapat at gustong matutunan.
Q : You’ve also taken mobile phone photography seriously, with the Huawei P9. Does it give you pause that you might start loving shooting with your phone and start shooting less and less with your DSLR?
E : Hindi naman siguro, iba pa din ang DSLR compared sa mobile para sa akin. Sa mobile lang kasi lagi mo siyang dala, kung may makita o madaanan ka na interesting pwede mo na agad pitikan. Saka ang ganda ng P9. Haha.
Q : It seems like you shoot everyday. How do you usually schedule or decide your shoots? Does it happen spontaneously, or do you plan it ahead most of the time?
E : Hahaha, nakakahiya naman. Spontaneous siguro na masasabi kasi sa umaga habang nakasakay ng tricycle 'pag maganda ung sikat ng araw ilalabas ko na ung phone ko para makapitik na at saka pag naglalakad pauwi papuntang sakayan ng FX, umiikot 'yung paningin ko sa mga nadadaanan ko. Titignan ko kung may maganda bang mapipitikan. Sa akin kasi practice ko na sa sarili 'yun.
Q : Doesn’t work get in the way of photography?
E : Hindi pa naman, hehehe. I still enjoy doing my job at the NLRC (National Labor Relations Commission where she works as a stenographic reporter - ed).
Q : What’s your favorite place to shoot?
E : Hagonoy, syempre. Walang katulad ang hometown ko.
Q : What would be your dream shoot?
E : Dream kong makapag-shoot ng wedding. Someday, sana.
Q : Do you have a frustration with a certain photography genre? The one you’ve really been challenged.
E : Challenged siguro, Portrait and Landscape pa rin kasi madami pa akong dapat matutunan. Sa Portrait dapat kong pag-aralan 'yung paggamit ng flash, 'yung tamang pag-bounce ng light sa subject, paggamit ng reflector at practice kung paano mo ipu-puwesto ang subject. Sa Landscape naman after ko marinig 'yung photography talk ni sir Jay Jallorina, mas lalo ako na-inspire. Gusto ko i-apply 'yung mga pointers niya tulad ng paggamit ng filters at paano mag-long exposure.
Q : What’s your most favorite photo of all? And why?
E : 'Yung photo ng Divine Mercy altar (shown above). Noong una kasi wala siya sa loob ko na gawing entry sa Larawang Bulakenyo. Noong processing at selection session ng Focus para sa mga gagawing entries sa contest, doon lang ako nakapag-decide, tapos siya pa 'yung napili sa Landmark Category noong mga judges ng PCCI kaya parang sobrang swerte.
Q : You’ve attended a lot of talks and workshops. What’s the one, most important thing that you’ve learned?
E: Know your gear! 'Yun talaga ang pinaka-importante eh, alamin mo paano gamitin ang meron ka.
Q : And what’s the most important thing you would like to tell those who are just getting into photography?
E : Cliché man pero shoot lang nang shoot. Kahit mobile pwede pang-practice lalo na sa composition, at hindi pwede ang pwede na.
Q : What's your message for Focus followers and fellow Focus members?
E : Sa mga ka-Focus at sa lahat ng mga sumusuporta, sobrang salamat sa experience na ito. More power sa ating lahat! Kitakits sa susunod na shoot.
Elena's Picks : Her favorite captures (click thumbnails to view photos in full)
The curious question is : how long will Elena be able to sustain her photographic fire? Or better yet, what would intensify it even more? With what she's showing us, our bet is that the second question is more likely to be definitively answered.
Q : We know you love to travel and you always want your camera with you. Tell us how it’s like to combine two things you enjoy doing.
R : Travel and photography combined is truly an adventure and at the same time a challenge for me. Yes, love ko po etong parehong gawin and it all started during my overseas work in Singapore way back 2007. Point-and-shoot na Kodak digital camera gamit ko pa noon, 4 megapixels pa lang yata 'yun. On weekends, I’ll just go to Chinatown, Little India, Bugis, Clark Quay and Sentosa and capture whatever subjects fascinate me. Pangtanggal lang ng inip at homesickness. Although it’s an exhilarating and learning experience, the major challenge here is how will you able to capture and share photos of a place, be it on landscape or architecture, people and culture, making it more inviting and appealing to your viewers so they could also feel and enjoy the beauty of the place too, as if kasama mo din silang nakikita 'yung ganda ng isang scenery with their own naked eyes. Bonus pa kapag may narinig ka na "wow, ang ganda naman ng places na napuntahan mo."
Q : And your latest trip took you to North America. Looks like you enjoyed shooting with your mobile phone. What was the main reason you took snaps mostly from your phone?
R : For this trip, I took most snapshots from my Samsung S7 Edge for my Instagram account. Madaliang shots, kaunting edit sa Snapseed and voila, pwede na i-upload agad. Aside sa nagkaroon ng markings na black sa corners ng image ng photos ko using my DSL, a problem with the lens whatsoever, it was also difficult to concentrate shooting when you are traveling with friends on a limited time frame. Good thing I have with me my Samsung phone and it turned out na lumabas na okay naman 'yung snapshots from the trip.
Q : Do you think the gap is closing in terms of image quality between full-fledged cameras and mobile phone cameras?
R : With hybrid technology rising among the camera specs of smartphones nowadays, I think mobile phone cameras are already bridging the gap closer to full-fledged cameras in terms of image quality and camera features.
Q : What, for you, makes shooting with a mobile phone camera so much enjoyable compared to DSLR or mirrorless?
R : Three words. Handy, lightweight and instant.
Q: Obviously, travel photography is your thing, but what other genre are you mostly inclined to?
R : Food photography and child photography and portraiture, I think. I love capturing the innocent smiles of children especially my kids and my nieces and nephews.
Q : And what other kind/field of photography do you want to try or always been curious about?
R : I have been curious with Street Photography. It amazed me seeing some street photos by my co-Focus members like Jay Salvador, Julius Calzo and Nympha Pagtalunan…Conveying mood and emotion in an ordinary street life is quite a difficult and tedious genre for me. I have also been curious with the long exposure photography of Jer Sandel. I'm amazed at the photos of my other Focus family. You are all awesome and talented in your own ways and I am proud being part of Focus.
Q : Of all the places you’ve visited, which one is your most favorite, and why? How about the one place that for you was the most picturesque?
R : Japan is my favorite place among all. Aside of course that my family is living there, people are generally nice, disciplined and well-mannered. Food was great and each place has a distinct appeal, be it in the mega cities of Tokyo or nearby prefectures. I would love to explore other places like Osaka, Kyoto, Hokkaido and Sapporo if given the chance to come back. For me, Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia is the most picturesque among all the places I visited in Asia. Noong napanood ko 'yung Tomb Raider ni Angelina Jolie, na-amaze ako sa mga temples sa movie, sabi ko sa sarili ko, "wow ang ganda", sana mapuntahan ko din 'yun one day. Fast forward, 'yung dating dream ko naging reality at nakita ko mismo 'yung temple and Ta Prohm the famous Tomb Raider Tree. Luckily, my shot of the Bayon Temple was featured in the first Focus anniversary exhibit in 2014.
Q : Please share your most favorite photo of all.
R : The night shot of the Tokyo Skytree is my favorite among all my photos. We were then going home to my sister’s house in Chiba. 'Yung kapatid ko nagsabi , "Ditse, kunan mo 'yun o." Perfect timing lang talaga na blue hour tapos lighted pa yung Tokyo Skytree I took the shot while inside the moving vehicle swerte lang na hindi blurry ung image. The shot was taken while we are travelling at the Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo. Na feature din yun sa Photo of the Week ng Focus.
Q : What does travel and photography have in common that you like.
R : Memories, for me, is the common denominator of travel and photography and I love every memory documented in each of my travels. It’s just like you capture every moment and have it with you forever.
Q : A dream destination that’s still in your bucket list.
R : Naku madami pa, there are a lot to mention. I have only been to few places so far but my wish list would be Europe, I would love to see the grandeur of fairytale-like European castles and chateau. I would love to see also Machu Picchu of Peru, the highly-diverse culture of Bhutan as well as the wildlife safari of South Africa, and madaming local travels, unang-una na 'yung Batanes. Libre lang naman mangarap, 'di ba?
Q : What's an advice that you can give to travelers and travel photographers?
R: For travelers, travel, create and collect memories while you still can. Life is short. Enjoy and wander. Remember the adage, “We travel not to escape life , but for life not to escape us”. There are so many budget airlines and cheap airfare just wait for the right timing. Schedule the assigned budget para 'di mabigat and may time pa kayo mag-ipon. Kumbaga andiyan na nakahain na sa'yo, schedule mo na lang ang kulang. I am not rich and most of my travels are from piso fare and other deals ng airlines. For travel photographers, hmmm…I’m still amateur in doing this and there are still a lot to learn. Siguro just enjoy and create memories of every place. Just bring the basics, don’t bring so many gear. Travel light and be wary of your surroundings.
Q : Your message to your Focus members and Focus followers?
R : Hi, Focus family! I miss shooting with you guys. I hope to catch up soon. Saludo ako sa skills and galing n'yo. Hindi man ako visible and active lately, I am always here to support you guys. God bless us all and more power to us!!! To Focus followers, thank you for your support. Rest assured that the group will continuously give clearer, sharper and bolder images to everyone.
More of Rochelle's favorite snaps from her North America trip
Now taking a breather after working for years in the shipping industry, Rochelle wants to focus on her family and expand her photography. Having sisters who are also camera junkies, photography runs in the blood. We could only imagine the photos she would come up with on her next adventure, or her next pursuit. For now, we'll keep an eye on her Instagram account, who knows, maybe her next target destination is coming soon. All we know is she has her sights on the land of the rising sun. :)
Every month, we have a feature on our members, our photography idols, and other photography issues we feel deserve a heads-up.