Gentlemanly and always calculated in his moves, he may be considered a late bloomer in his long-held passion. His is a classic story : a curious aficionado of photography who goes all-in when he finally gets a camera of his own. From that point on, he has never looked back... except on one photo, taken at a time when he was still learning the intricacies of the craft. A Civil Engineer who hails from Malolos and works for the country's biggest expressway concessionaire, he quickly rose through the ranks in Focus Bulacan, exhibiting teamwork and leadership qualities, aside from a commitment to service. More than enough reasons for him to be designated as officer just a year into his membership.
A creative mind with a keen eye for details and a dedication to get better. Jovit Caballero is our featured Focus photographer of the month.
How did your affinity for photography start?
J : My photography journey started last December 2016 when I finally got to afford an entry level camera with a kit lens.. which is still the only camera I have now, with just an addition of a few lenses. Back then, as a new and young professional, taking photos had occupied most of my spare time outside work. And during those times that I remember my high school days when I used to dream of having my own phone with a camera. Yes, it was a big deal back in 2008. I would always borrow my classmates’ phones and take random photos around the school premises. This made me realize that my passion in photography did not just pop out of nowhere, it has always been within me.
You’re an engineer by profession. Does photography serve as an outlet for you? And do engineering and photography have something in common?
J : Civil Engineering can be physically and mentally draining, so yes, photography is one of my outlets during stressful times. I am currently assigned as a Contracts Engineer which focuses on even the smallest details of a project. This is the same with photography where details are important, different elements will tell you a different story.
What were your usual frustrations when you were starting out in photography?
J : Like most beginners, I would say that my limited resources are my usual frustrations. I always thought that to become a good photographer, one has to own the best equipment, have plenty of budget, and a lot of spare time. But I’ve proven myself wrong. The most expensive equipment may not necessarily be the best, and those who have less, will always know how to make the most out of it. I think we just need to have that drive to pursue what we want, and surround ourselves with creative and supportive people.
You took quicker than usual to be appointed an officer of Focus Bulacan. How did you handle the load and pressure at such an early stage in your membership?
J : First of all, I would like to thank the officers for trusting me that early. At first, I was quite worried because I am concurrently leading a photography club in my company, Expressions Photography Club. But because I’ve always wanted to do something for the people I share the same passion with, I accepted the challenge. It was really difficult to find time for the meetings and activities, but we always find a way. Photomeets and club events are very complicated, but they always end successfully. I think the officers have the same set of goals, that’s why the heavy weight of the load and pressure has become something that can be shared by each and every one of us. It has always been hard but definitely fulfilling.
What’s the most difficult aspect of being a Focus officer? What’s the most fulfilling?
J : The most difficult part of being an officer would be the consolidation or finalization of a group consensus. An organization this big is accompanied by a meticulous decision-making process. While the most fulfilling part will definitely be the end results, of course. Not only the good photos, but also the good memories.
To date, what has been your proudest moment as a photographer?
J : I would always be proud of the recognitions that Expressions, the Photoworld Cup, and Focus Bulacan have given me. In fact, I have them displayed in my room to remind me where I started. But nothing will beat the compliments and the support that I am receiving from my family and different circle of friends. Every day with those people who believe in me will be my proudest, they are my living trophies.
Care to share us the most unforgettable lesson you’ve learned in photography?
J : I think the most unforgettable and valuable lesson that I’ve learned in photography, which I think is also applicable with our daily lives, is that you cannot please everyone. Photography is an art and a way to express yourself. We can’t avoid comments that we don’t want and expect to hear, but always be wise enough to choose and filter those criticisms which can help you be better at your craft.
If you could pick just one photo among your favorites, which one is the most meaningful to you, and why?
J : I think the most memorable one is the "Flower Girl", taken at the St. James Church in Plaridel, because up to now I can still remember the comments that I received on my photo. In 2017, Focus photographers Jer Sandel and Gerson Domingo conducted a 3-day workshop in celebration of the municipality’s town fiesta. It was the first ever Focus Bulacan activity I’ve attended, and a segment wherein we can shoot around the vicinity is conducted and then the photos will be criticized by the speakers. It might not be the most technical, but it brings me back to that moment. And for that, I consider it meaningful. (Photo is included in image gallery below, the first in the group.)
How would you describe your style in shooting and presenting your photos?
J : Honestly, I can’t specifically describe my style but I would say it’s more of “clean and colourful” conceptual photos. I do try a bit of every genre, but I usually enjoy conceptual and portrait photography more than anything else.
What remains in your photography bucket list? What would be your dream destination or project to shoot?
J : I have always been fascinated by landscape photography. I want to learn a lot about this genre, and maybe own my complete set of landscape portfolio from around the Philippines. My dream photography destination is definitely Batanes. I’ve been there once, but my time was just occupied by my amazement of the majestic sceneries. I definitely enjoyed my stay there, and as promised, I will be back to capture what I’ve witnessed.
What photography advice would you give yourself five years ago?
J : So that was 2015, maybe “Buy a camera now and join Focus Bulacan as early as possible! You’ll learn and experience a lot, for sure!”
Jovit's Other Favorites (Click thumbnails to view photos in full)
In your own words, what is photography?
J : As I would always say, photography for me is a means of transporting myself to an imaginary and creative world where it seems that I’m not bothered and don’t care about anything at all.
Tip you’d like to give those who are starting out in photography, how they could become better faster.
J : We all know that every learning process takes time. In fact, I’ll still put myself on the beginner’s bracket, maybe just a few steps ahead. There are a lot to learn, so surround yourself with the best mentors that you can meet. Keep your fire burning, but be careful not to get burned. Put in extra time and effort from conceptualization up to execution, because that little extra can be the difference between failure and success.
Your message for fellow Focus members, then message for Focus followers.
J : To my fellow Focus members, thank you for the first 2 years full of learnings and experiences! Amidst these trying times I see a lot of great photos in your posts from different social media platforms. I am also happy that our first-ever virtual photomeet has been successful, and our group is as active as ever. Let us all participate and contribute to all other succeeding activities of the group so we can continue to bring honor not just to our club but to the province as well. Ingat mga ka-Focus! To our followers, thank you for the usual support that you guys are giving us! To those who plan to join the club, there is no more room for hesitations, I’ve been there before and I assure you that the only thing you’ll regret is that you didn’t join earlier. You are all most welcome! Keep safe everyone.
Let's not lose sight of the fact that Jovit also won the "Newcomer Of The Year" award in Focus Bulacan's 2018 competition, and the "Rookie Of The Year" distinction in the national PhotoWorld Cup competition of the same year. All these while navigating through professional and social life, and discovering a niche in his creative pursuit.
He has come a long way, indeed... yet he has only just begun.
In between the innumerable compelling images he has produced is a solid list of accolades : representing Fotomasino and finishing as runner-up in the Junior PhotoWorld Cup, endorser and reviewer of various photography brands, facilitator of Creative Vision Clinic workshops, content writer for Fstoppers, and current ambassador for Asus and Meco Filters. All these while successfully pursuing a medical career : he's a full-fledged doctor.
His credentials are extensive, but if you ask most of the people who have crossed paths with him, they'll likely tell the moments when he gave a helping hand. Whether it was about photography, health problems, personal matters, or social issues and advocacy, "Doc" has always been willing to listen and do his best to help. His impact is not just about the wonderful photos he captured or the expertise he has gained and shared through the years, but also about how the photography industry is more collaborative because of his support and initiatives.
Recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has adversely affected everyone including the photography community, he organized a series of online photography-related tutorials for anyone who wants to learn amidst the community quarantine. A month and over 3,000 group members later, "Workshops From Home" has provided valuable lessons and invaluable inspiration and stress relief for viewers... exactly the reason why he started the campaign.
We're proud to feature Dr. Nicco Valenzuela as Focus photographer of the month.
How did you get started on your photography path?
N : As early as the age of six, I was encouraged to learn music. I joined a boys’ choir at that age and still hold the record for being the youngest to ever join. For over 15 years of my life, I sang with that choir, competed abroad, and also dove into other forms of music as an instrumentalist. Throughout that path, I always followed my brother. In my teen years, I yearned for my own identity and that’s where I found photography.
How would you describe your photographic style?
N : I wouldn’t call it my own personal style. I’ve made it a point to learn the works of many photographers I look up to and adapt to what a certain shot or a certain vision requires. If there’s anything consistent among all my photos, it’s that I put a bit of myself, my personality, my mood, my emotions into the photograph.
What do you think makes a good photo stand out from the average?
N : A good photo simply provokes. It provokes emotions may they be good or not. It conveys either a story or a mood. That is simply what makes a viewer stay a bit longer when they come across a good photograph.
What inspires you?
N : Self-expression. Most of my photos, especially those I put online, are chosen whenever there is something I want to say or express. Of course, not counting the commissioned work. As previously mentioned, photography has become my voice and I use it to say things that most people won’t normally listen to in a plain conversation or text.
Whose work has influenced you most?
N : For most of my life in photography, I haven’t really been looking at a lot of international photographers until recently but for landscape photography, Elia Locardi is probably one I often refer to. For architecture and urban abstracts, there is Dirk Bakker, and Daniel Cheong for Cityscapes. Though I particularly pay more homage to personal mentors Jay Jallorina for Landscape Photography, and John Chua for the use of photography for social change.
You've produced an amazing collection of work. Which photo is your ultimate favorite?
N : Not trying to be a buzzkill but I have none. My love for my photos come and go as inspiration strikes.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
N : At this current situation, I hope to see myself alive first and foremost. And hopefully I would have built a family. As for photography, I only really hope to make my voice louder.
What’s your most memorable photography experience?
N : It would definitely have to be a trip to Banaue I went on in 2015. We were there for an advocacy project with Photography With a Difference founder, the late advertising photography legend, John K. Chua. I had only started on my path in landscape photography then and though we had quite a load of work to do, John made sure that we had a few minutes to see the wonderful terraces of the Ifugao. None of those times were planned golden hour shoots but every single location gave me divine light. It was an affirmation that I should pursue this path.
Where is your dream photo destination? What’s your dream project?
N : I would always say that I want to go back to Banaue and the neighboring towns. I dream to create a series that totally captures the beauty of the region. The landscapes, the people, and the beautiful culture of the Ifugao.
If you knew then what you know now, you would…?
N : I would have definitely taken more time to learn before going on so many trips. Most of the regrets of my life are stored in a hard drive. They are all f**ked up shots that could have been so much better if only I didn’t rush my learning.
You could only choose one. Between being a doctor and a photographer, which motivates you more?
N : A photographer. Easily. Even when I shoot for clients, I never feel that it is work because I fully enjoy my creative process. Photography feeds my soul so much better. Especially considering the situation of COVID-19 and our faulty healthcare system, it’s really difficult to love our job as doctors. But I won’t give up this profession either. Because people need doctors and I still love people.
You’ve been involved in a lot of advocacy groups and made photography as an instrument to inspire and help others. How does it feel to make a difference through the craft that you love?
N : Hungry. It makes me hungry to do more. I believe that every social issue and every social conflict can be driven into resolution by a powerful photograph. There is definitely more we can do and so much more to be done.
People are pulling together and supporting others during this COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen it in the photography industry. You organized the Workshops From Home series and obviously it’s been a tremendous help for a lot of fellow creatives. Tell us how it got started.
N : It struck me hard when I found out how many photographers have lost so many projects due to this crisis. I knew for a fact that a lot of them are bound to be hit by anxiety and depression. The two mental health issues are no strangers to me and I felt that I needed to help prevent that by simply pulling people together.
What has been the biggest joy for you in seeing how Workshops From Home has worked out so far?
N : When people tell me how much relief the sessions give them. Them learning from all the speakers are an absolute given since the generous speakers are masters of thier craft. But when they tell me that Workshops From Home has lessened the amount of time they’ve spent worrying, panicking, being sad or feeling alone, I know that the effort has been worth it.
We wonder what’s next, after the community quarantine, do you have plans of extending Workshops From Home?
N : It’s still a decision we’re closely studying. But we are leaning towards maintaining the group as a welcoming community wherein people can join, learn, and be inspired by notable photographers, regardless of brand, location, or social class.
More of Nicco's photos (click thumbnails to view photos in full)
What’s your message to your fellow Focus Bulacan members and Focus followers, including those who would love to get on track in photography?
N : You’re never gonna be the best because that state doesn’t exist in this. What you should aim for is to be better than yourself the previous day. Never stop learning, never stop shooting, but also keep your feet on the ground.
What advice would you like to shoutout to the public in general, in terms of battling this pandemic?
N : The real frontline is the one where your door is. We can never truly defeat this virus if we are always selfish and disobey the quarantine rules. Frontliners are risking their lives to heal the sick, and your most vital role is to stay healthy and not be the one that spreads the virus. Stay the f*** home.
What gives you hope for the future?
N : Little victories. Look for one everyday. It may be the increase in the number of COVID recoveries, it could be a win on your mobile phone game, or a fulfilling productive endeavor like editing old photos or reading a book. Find and do something meaningful everyday.
Photographs remain a universal language and one of the most effective ways to communicate. May the stories they tell lead us to better understanding of other people and of life in general. It is in this light that we can affirm that photography is a powerful tool for social change. Photographers wield influence and have the ability to impact the world. Nicco is prime example that in good hands and with sincere intentions, that power could translate into positive gains and help those in need.
It is especially in these times that we need to support each other and, even when apart, heal together. In our own ways, we could contribute to making the situation more manageable. One day at a time. One step at a time. One victory at a time. Toward a collective effort that would make us better humans.
Just what the good doctor prescribed.
She's considered as Focus Bulacan's "Iron Lady" due to her undaunted commitment to uphold club rules and also as tribute to her long-standing service and support as officer. A native of Malolos, she was working as a powerplant construction and electrical design engineer when she was assigned to Japan to coordinate her company's projects. It was there that she realized the need to document life's moments with a camera.
Now employed in an Australian mining company as an electrical and instrumentation designer, photography has somewhat taken a backseat while she also juggles duties as wife and mother. Despite her hectic lifestyle she continues to fulfill her role as a Focus leader, a responsibility that she has skillfully managed all these years.
Ma. Katrina "Katcen" Centeno-Verzano is our featured Focus photographer of the month.
How did your photography story start?
K : Year 2011 when I was assigned to work for 10 months in Nagasaki, Japan. It so happened na meron kaming Japanese supervisor na photo enthusiast at niyaya kami mag-travel with him to explore Nagasaki. Digicam lang ang dala ko noon pero kapag umaalis kami pinapahiram niya sa akin 'yung mga dala niyang DSLR.
You’ve obviously undergone a change in lifestyle now that you have a family. What do you miss most about photography?
K : Nakaka-miss 'yung monthly photomeets lalo na 'yunh mga outside of Bulacan. Ang dami ko din kasing natutunan sa ganun, mula sa settings ng camera pati composition. Sa Focus Bulacan photomeets ko din na-experience mag-shoot ng iba't ibang genre.
You’re one of the founding officers of Focus Bulacan. How do you feel that seven years after, Focus Bulacan is still very much active and you’re still helping guide it?
K : Sobrang nakaka-proud na ang layo na ng narating ng grupo. Hindi man ako naging passionate and successful sa photography pero nakakatuwa na isa ako sa mga nag-strive para marating nito 'yung success and fame sa ngayon. I'm also very grateful na for years, pinagkakatiwalaan ako as officer, from Activity Committee, Finance Officer, and ngayon as Senior Membership Officer.
What’s the biggest challenge in serving as Focus Bulacan officer?
K : Habang dumadami ang members nagiging struggle sa officers 'yung communication between members at 'yung pag-instill ng sense of responsibility. And since may family na ako at employed din...mas nahirapan ako sa pag-manage ng time kung kailan ko isisingit ang pagiging officer, lalo na sa meetings na kailangan ng physical attendance.
What do you think has been the best achievement of the club so far?
K : For me ang best achievement ng Focus Bulacan sa ngayon ay 'yung pagiging well-known at established niya sa photography community. Imagine noon hirap kaming humanap ng sponsors para sa funding ng events and activities namin. Ang hirap humanap ng connections. Pero ngayon isang message lang sa kanila madali na sila mag-"yes". Also, for seven years nakita ko 'yung personal, professional, and career growth ng members and previous members, with Focus Bulacan as their stepping stone to know more of their passion. Marami sa kanila may sariling photo and video or studio business na. Their success story is Focus Bulacan's success too.
What’s your favorite Focus photomeet or activity?
K : Favorite ko 'yung foodtrips at photo travels. Photo travel siguro dahil 'yun din ang nag-introduce sa akin sa photography. And pag malalayong photomeets kasi nagkakaron kami ng maraming time for bonding and communication with other members during travel time.
What was the most memorable photography experience you’ve had?
K : First noong January 2017 sa Batanes. I never imagined na ma-e-experience ko mag-landscape and mamasyal sa Batanes for a cheap travel cost. First two days ang ganda ng panahon, it's stunningly beautiful everywhere. Pero 'yung next days umulan and na-stranded kami sa island, the rest was adventure. Another memorable sa akin 'yung summer outing sa Dingalan, Aurora, May 2018. Parang 'yun na kasi ang last na nakasama ko ang group after my lifestyle change and a chance na maisama at maipakilala ko ang baby ko at asawa ko sa group.
Where would be your dream photography destination?
K : I'm praying na makapag-travel ako with family for a month sa Japan, Hokkaido and Tokyo. Then noong napanood ko ang "Crash Landing On You", gusto ko na din ata sa Switzerland. Ang ganda ng landscapes nila, though this is really dreamy knowing how expensive 'yung pagpunta doon.
What remains in your photography bucket list?
K : Hindi ko pa na-experience mag-shoot ng Hot Air Baloon event, sports photography and live concerts. Parang 'yang tatlo na 'yan ang gusto ko ma-try in the future kapag may time na ulit for photography.
Which photo are you most proud of?
K : 'Yung photo ko sa tulips field with windmills. Ito kasi 'yung isa sa unang photos ko sa Japan. Dito ko na-realize na napakahalaga mag-capture ng moments para ma-preserve 'yung memories. And also, I'm proud na isa 'to sa mga photos na na-feature sa Focus Bulacan exhibit. (Photo shown above.)
Are there any similarities about motherhood and photography?
K : Siguro pareho silang trial-and-error and continuous learning experience. Sa photography, sa una mahirap, laging sabaw ang shot, walang story or di ma-gets ng iba, "ano 'tong shot na 'to?". Just keep on practicing, read a lot especially your camera manual, explore more to know your genre and break some photography rules para makuha mo 'yung best shot for you. Sa motherhood, walang manual pero learnings from others' experience, and reading a lot about kids' behaviours. Sometimes breaking the "pamahiins" and setting our own rules on our child's upbringing and as my child grows, I keep on learning din through him.
Katcen's other favorite snaps (Click thumbnails to view photos in full)
What's your message to Focus members and fellow officers?
K : Keep on supporting the group. Always respect each other's differences and opinion, take responsibility of every action or decision na related sa members or sa group. Never burn bridges, ayusin anumang conflict sa grupo. We are not just members and officers here, we are family. Enjoy the company of everyone, attend every photomeet, join contests and makisali kahit sa non-photography related kalokohan. Time will come na mag-iiba din ang priorities ninyo, change of career, having your own family or maybe running your own business, but never forget Focus Bulacan. You'll someday realize hindi lang photography learnings ang meron ka, may life lessons din.
Your message to Focus followers.
K : Thank you so much for your undying support sa Focus Bulacan. Part kayo ng success ng grupo na ito. Thanks for supporting our events and activities, and please keep on doing so. You inspire us to be better on our craft and you help us improve as a group.
Priorities in life may change but when one is committed to a cause, there's always a way to contribute. Katcen is prime example of how we could make our presence felt even in absence... like how she remains a guiding light for Focus Bulacan in spite of being fully-engaged with her family and career.
The process ends. The journey begins. Congratulations to our newest members, Batch January 2020!
We are excited to have you in the team. You are reminded to be responsible and active members. Welcome to the Focus family. Looking forward to shooting with you soon!
Batch 14 (January 2020) :
Next batch of approved applicants will be announced on July 2020.
Coming from a family who runs a printing and signage business, she was exposed to the world of media at an early age. She was taught Photoshop even before she learned how to take pictures with a camera. She decided to major in Tourism in college but eventually shifted to a Multimedia Technology course, not exactly because that's her area of interest all along, but because of a drastic change of circumstance.
During her second year in college, she was diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects bones and tissues. After it was determined that it was already in Stage 4, doctors gave her no more than 5 years to live. As she couldn't travel, she decided to change courses and alter her diet and lifestyle altogether, embracing an all-natural method to combat her affliction.
Today, eight years after her diagnosis, she is living life to the fullest. She still maintains a strict diet while managing her condition but she feels as healthy as ever, looking forward to a future full of promise. A future that is also full of positivity and creativity, with photography a big source of her inspiration.
We're all blessed to introduce you to Adit Gomez, our featured Focus photographer of the month.
What do you remember about the first time you used a camera?
A : Elementary days. Na-amaze ako. Parang ayoko na siya bitawan. Gusto ko picture-an lahat. Kahit ano lang hanggang ma-lowbatt, hahaha.
So when did you realize that you wanted to pursue photography?
A : First year college. Noong nakakita ako ng mga magagandang photographs online. Sabi ko, gusto ko din matutunan 'yung ganun. Click lang kasi ako nang click noon. Wala pa akong alam sa mga settings back then.
How would you define photography?
A : Photography is an art and a way of preserving memories and capturing life's precious moments.
What do you enjoy shooting most?
A: Portraits! Gusto ko kasi 'yung naka-capture ko 'yung at-the-moment na emotion nung subject. Mostly, puro pagent contestants 'yung na-shoot ko recently. Natutuwa ako kapag nakukuhanan ko silang nakangiti pa rin kahit nandun 'yung kaba at pagod nila.
What's your most memorable photo?
A : So far, 'yung third attempt ko mag-shoot ng star trails last year. Around 10 PM ako nag-start then natapos mga 2 AM na. Memorable sa akin 'yun kasi ako lang mag-isa sa rooftop namin. 'Di ako sanay lumabas sa kwarto ng ganung oras dati kasi takot ako, hahaha. Pero para sa star trail ginawa ko 'yun and happy ako sa naging output. At dahil din dun, hindi na ako natatakot lumabas mag-isa kahit anong oras. Hahaha. (Photo shown above)
What do you consider is your best trait as an artist or photographer?
A : Siguro 'yung hindi ko paggi-give up as an artist. Mapapagod at magpapahinga lang ako minsan pero I will never quit on making art. Gusto ko nga sya i-priority talaga next year. Okay, so sinabi ko na, kaya kailangan panindigan. Hahaha.
Which area of photography do you think you need to improve on?
A : Lahat? Hahaha. Wala pa kasi akong masabing, "ah magaling ako sa area na 'to, okay ako dito." Para sa akin, ang dami ko pang kailangang matutunan at aralin. Learning is a never-ending process. Tsaka goal ko din 'yung maka -10,000 worst photographs at 10,000 favorite shots.
What has been the most unforgettable photography moment you've had?
A: I think 'yung nagka-media pass kami with Focus sa concert ng Parokya ni Edgar. Tapos may kuha ako kay Chito na sobrang lapit. Nakatingala lang ako sa kanya habang kumakanta siya. Literal na abot-kamay ko lang siya. Fan girl! (Photo shown below)
Any photographer you look up to?
A : Alen Palander! Sobrang solid lagi ng mga shoots at video niya, pinag-isipan at hindi basta pitik at post lang. Gusto ko din 'yung pagiging consistent niya sa kulay at professionalism niya sa bawat post nya. Bonus na din 'yung kamukha niya ang ex ko na si Zac Efron, hahaha!
What would be your dream subject or project to shoot?
A : My mom as the subject tapos sa Top 10 world's best travel destinations para sa akin.
What remains in your photography bucket list?
A: Aerial and underwater photography, shoot wildlife sa South Africa, tapos northern lights. Tsaka syempre, own my dream camera.
What's your dream camera, by the way?
A : Sony Alpha a7 III. Hahaha.
If you knew then what you know now, you would....?
A : Kung alam ko lang na masaya sumali at madaming matututunan sa Focus Bulacan, matagal na ako sumali. More than a year of being a member, ang dami ko na agad na-experience i-shoot dahil sa Focus, what more pa kung from the start member na ako di ba? Hahaha.
What advice could you give to Focus followers and aspiring photographers?
A : Kapag feeling mo hindi pa maganda ang mga kuha mo, keep on shooting. Kapag feeling mo naaral mo na lahat, maganda at perfect na 'yung mga kuha mo, keep on shooting pa rin! Kasi tama ka, feeling mo lang 'yun! May igaganda pa 'yan. Always keep on shooting. Keep on learning!
Adit's favorites (Click thumbnails to view photos in full)
Did photography play a role in your battle with the Big C?
A : Isa siya sa mga naging outlet ko. Nagpaka-busy ako, especially with art, para ma-occupy ang isip ko. Kasi kung wala akong gagawin, baka kung anu-ano ang maisip ko with my condition. I also listened to podcasts about positivity and self-help. 'Yun ang hilig ko gawin together with art and photography.
Looking back on your early struggles, and now that you've overcome them and manage your condition, what's your greatest realization?
A : Buti na lang talaga positive person ako bago pa ako magkasakit. I never pitied myself. Once lang ako nag-question na "bakit ako?". Pero mabilis ko rin na-realize and natanggap. Kung time ko na, time ko na. Hindi ako takot mawala dahil na rin sa faith ko. 'Yung time na 'yun, I don't look at it as negative. I consider myself blessed dahil malakas pa rin ako.
What was your reaction when so many people responded and even messaged you after you shared your story on Facebook?
A : Thankful ako na naging source of inspiration 'yung story ko when I shared it on Facebook. Kahit mga hindi ko kilala, nagulat ako nag-message sa akin. 'Yun talaga ang purpose ko kaya ko pinost. Gusto kong maging testimony 'yung nangyari sa akin.
After surviving probably the toughest challenge she has experienced, life goes on for Adit. She accepts design and print projects thru Adit Works while keeping her options and calendar open for different kinds of media-related bookings, including stints as resource speaker for computer-related topics. At the time of this posting, she's serving in a week-long digital literacy campaign of the Department of Information and Communications Technology. Life has a way of rewarding those who never quit. Especially those who doesn't take anything for granted.
If she has an advice for all of us, it's probably this : "Dapat you take everyday as a blessing. May sakit ka man o wala."
Words of wisdom. From a beautiful story of faith and survival.
What started as exposure into the world of multimedia in college has turned into a rewarding profession. He has worked as Studio Technician in his alma mater Bulacan State University and as cameraman in TV shows such as "Agribusiness" on Studio 23 and "Drive" on CNN Philippines. Nowadays, you will find him minding his own business (literally) : a rice trading store in his adopted town of Pandi. But he's still on call as a freelance videographer and photographer, willing to work events and corporate gigs especially those that require him to travel out of town.
Driven to succeed both as an entrepreneur and a creative. Guillermo "Gemmz" Robles, Jr. is our featured Focus photographer of the month.
Do you still remember your first camera experience?
G : My first camera was a Nikon Coolpix S2500, gift sa akin ng cousin ko since she knew that I love photography and I always shoot our family occasions. Kapag may travel and events sa school lagi ko siyang dinadala to try and shoot na din ng different styles and subjects.
What made you realize that you wanted to pursue photography and videography?
G : Influence ng Multimedia Division organization namin when I was in college. That time kasi madami kaming trainings and seminars sa org about photography, videography, editing, and film. Madami din learnings and experiences. I'm very thankful to my mentor, Danilo Gatchalian, dahil siya ang nagturo and nag-push sa akin to continue my career as a videographer. Then noong time na nagwo-work na ako as photographer and videographer sa Manila, ang saya kasi that time ang daming travel shoots. First time ko din nakapunta ng Visayas and Mindanao. Nakakapasyal na ako for free then kumikita pa ako.
What were the usual struggles when you were starting out?
G : Noong time na wala pa akong sariling camera puro hiram lang ako that time kasi wala pa akong pambili ng DSLR. Kaya talagang nag-ipon ako para makabili ng sariling DSLR ko, Canon 60D with 18-135mm lens. Six years din kami nagsama ni "Baby G", name ng 60D ko. Now I'm using Sony a6500.
What do you like most in being a professional cameraman?
G : Masaya ako 'pag satisfied ang mga clients ko and mga directors ko sa output ng shoot ko. Then I really love travel shoots lalo na sa mga places na first time ko mapuntahan.
What's your most memorable photography experience?
G : Educational tour of MassCom at Ilocos, there's a lot of beautiful places in Ilocos. Masarap na food and very kind people.
How do you see yourself and your career ten years from now?
G: Ngayon I enjoy being a freelancer, but hopefully ten years from now matupad ang dream ko na maging professional cinematographer and film director.
Do you have an ultimate favorite photo?
G : My photo at Biak-na-Bato, one of the bridges doon. That time humiwalay ako sa group namin and naghanap ako ng ibang spot to take different shots then nakita ko 'yung bridge. Ang ganda at walang tao kaya I took the opportunity to take that shot. (Photo shown below.)
Which places do you want to go to, as part of your bucket list?
G: Dito sa Pinas, Batanes syempre. Lahat siguro ng photograper dream place ang Batanes because of its breathtaking views. Then kung abroad, sa Singapore and Japan.
What's the most fun photography moment you remember?
G : Every Scott Kelby Photowalk masaya kasi ang daming photographers na makikilala at makakasama from different parts of Bulacan. Masaya din mapuntahan 'yung iba't-ibang bayan sa Bulacan na madaming natatagong magagandang lugar at puno ng kasaysayan.
How is it like working with James Deakin?
G : Sobrang bait and very professional. Actually walang script si Sir James sa show namin na "Drive". Grabe 'yung passion niya sa car industry and sa environment. I really love working with Sir James.
What advice would you tell aspiring photographers?
G : For me sobrang importante ng basics in photography, especially the Exposure Triangle. 'Pag naaral mo 'yan pwede ka na mag-explore and experiment ng gusto mong shots. Then mag-focus ka sa gusto mong genre o forte. Then just keep on shooting!
How would you describe your photographic style or approach?
G : I love shooting landscapes and events. Lalo sa mga travel shoots. Basta masarap sa mata gusto kong ma-capture siya to keep as memories.
What would be your dream project?
G : My own directed film.
Your message to Focus Bulacan followers and fellow members.
G : I'm really happy being part of the Focus Bulacan family. Sobrang dami kong natutunan and still learning more and more. Madami ring new friends and unforgettable experiences. Thank you Focus family and thank you Sir Jer Sandel for being my inspiration in photography. I always wait for your next amazing photos in social media. I know grabe 'yung passion n'yo sa photography and I'm really a big fan of yours. Ganun din sa mga ka-Focus ko. And to all Focus followers, if you love photography, join us. Let's shoot, learn, and have fun together in Focus Bulacan. God bless you all!
Some people say happiness comes after contentment. Such is not the case with Gemmz : he's overjoyed as a family man with wife Jane and daughter Mirr Giellane, but he's far from being satisfied in terms of career growth. There's always that next step, that next level that he wants to reach, to make him a better artist and, more importantly, a better person.
Jeffrey Tinagan loves challenges.
He's a sports buff, having competed in swimming and basketball at school intramurals and then representing his high school and making it to the regional meet in badminton and table tennis.
He loves math and has always been fascinated with numbers, equations, and solving problems. So much so that he also competed in the annual Metrobank-MTAP-DepEd Math Challenge from elementary till high school. When it was time to enter college, he decided to major in Mathematics (what else) with his Secondary Education degree. He then overcame his initial apprehension of teaching math (in his own words : "madali ang mag-solve, ibang usapan ang pagtuturo paano mag-solve",) and turned it to a short yet fulfilling career at the biggest public high school in Central Luzon (Malolos City's Marcelo H. del Pilar National High School).
When Jeff got hooked on photography, it was a fusion of two elements that he's very much used to. In photography, he saw a practical application of math. He also viewed photography (at least in the beginning) as a sort of competition. He termed it a "race", something you'll read about later. Overcoming obstacles and learning curves, he has made photography not just a creative pastime but also a money-making endeavor.
Now trying his luck teaching junior high English in Japan, he wants to expand his portfolio and better equip his arsenal of camera skills while away from home. Who knows what challenge he decides to try next?
Jeff Tinagan is the featured Focus photographer of the month and this is his story.
When and how did your penchant for photography start?
J : I already had the desire to take photos and videos using my Nokia N70 phone. Before, I was more inclined to videos because I liked making highlights of our family trips and school activities in college. Then I began to see the limitations of mobile cameras and I had thoughts of trying a DSLR. In 2012, I started working as a teacher and thoughts of buying a DSLR kept coming back. However, my pocket disagreed with the price of a brandnew camera. I thought of asking a favor from a person that I was really close to, he's like my real brother. It was my cousin, Raffy, who was in Japan to participate in an exchange program on agriculture. Before their contract ended, I asked him to buy me a secondhand camera there because Japan was famous for its used camera shops. The word “selfie” was not yet coined that time but that was how my penchant for photography started. I wanted myself to be the highlight of every shot and clip of my Nikon D3100. I wanted to make music covers and I liked my games of basketball, table tennis, and badminton to be covered by my first DSLR. However, while I was into the basics of the DSLR learning curve, my goal changed. I had different subjects that I enjoyed. It wasn’t about my selfie music covers or sports games anymore but the joy I get when I take pictures of others. Seeing how they liked and appreciated my simple photos made me work hard to learn and get better.
You’re a teacher by profession, and you taught mathematics. Does math, in any way, benefit you in photography?
J : Yes, indeed. It was beneficial to me because I already had the ideas of symmetry, parallelism, triangles, diagonals, fractions, golden ratio, and the like. The process of halving and doubling the aperture’s f-number is also a geometric sequence. The fractional aspect of shutter speed and ISO element into one picture translates into real-life mathematics. Getting good exposure using manual mode , to me, is a problem-solving skill. The road from auto to manual mode was tough but mathematics made my early photography life easier. The concept of equations made me realize that manual exposure is about balance with direct and indirect variations. If you add or subtract a number on the left side of the equation, you must also add or subtract the same number at the right side of the equation. I could say photographers and videographers are actually calculating good math problems during a shoot without knowing that they're real and abstract concepts of math. Although mathematics in photography is more on junior high school math, I believe math enthusiasts have a slight advantage in learning photography.
Alright, that last question was quite heavy to digest. How about this : how would you compare and contrast math and photography?
J : Math and photography both need problem-solving skills that depend on different situations. Math may have many solutions with one correct answer while photography may also have many solutions with a number of answers. These are answers that depend on the eye of the photographer. A photographer may deliver darker or lighter, tilted or normal, portrait or landscape, fast or slow shutter answer or output. Mathematics is absolute on the final output while photography goes beyond a photographer’s creativity. Nevertheless, these two are friends. They go out in a harmonious manner. Both of them make the world meaningful and a lovable place to live. I believe, just like creativity, mathematics is embedded on the roots of photography.
Describe to us how was it like when you were starting out in photography, like your struggles, your joys, et cetera.
J : The common reaction of a person getting his first DSLR is to shoot everything. You read it right, everything. I find joys in it even when they were taken in full automatic mode. But, there were obstacles too. First, I had a time when I didn’t know what kind of photography I should focus on. Even though I identified the kind of photography I wanted to take, the lens lineup and equipment were too much to bear. Photography seemed to be a luxurious hobby. That time, I had to find ways to save, save, and save to get the types of glass that I needed. Second, I thought photography was a race. I knew friends and other people who picked up their new camera the same year I acquired mine. I could see how they progressed through Facebook and Instagram. I thought photography was not for me. It was like my turtle against their rabbits on the photography race. I seemed to progress very, very slowly. But I realized that comparing yourself to others could kill you. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my own race against myself because I had no pressure, just pure learning. Hurdling obstacles made me almost quit photography. However, it is where the excitement lies : when you turn struggles into joys and laughter. It was Focus Bulacan that was the game changer. Focus Bulacan was the turning point. I owe a lot to the group as this club addressed all my struggles as a beginner photographer. Meeting new friends, shooting and joining photo contests and be at photo gatherings make every member keep the fire burning from within.
Now you have an events coverage team. How did you get into professionally shooting events? How is it like as another source of income?
J : From the limitations of my kit lenses, an 18-55mm and a 55-200mm, I managed to buy my first fast aperture lens, a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8. It was from my bonus on my first job which is my teaching career. However, I felt a little regret because of investing so much for my hobby. I thought I exceeded my hobby-spending limit. So, after persuasion from my friends, I accepted the challenge to shoot events. I started with debuts, then weddings and basketball games. Same concept as before, if I bought a lens or anything, I should shoot events for its Return of Investment. It being my second source of income is a lifesaver for emergency funding and additional allowances. At some point, I felt like leaving my teaching job for photography but the idea did not succeed because I still love teaching the youth. The part-time job also opens windows for quicker camera and lens upgrades but time element as the downside. I teach on weekdays and shoot on weekends. In between I edit or I sometimes end up sleepless at nights for editing and early calltime events.
Who are photographers you look up to? What inspired you about their works?
J : My pick would be the likes of Lito Sy and Sherwin Bonifacio for wedding, and Jer Sandel, Glenn Bernasol, and Cris Magsino for landscape. Sy and Bonifacio’s portfolios are magical as they bend light to their advantage during wedding and prenups. Sandel, Bernasol, and Magsino’s landscape photos are carefully planned and they could bring a dead scene into life. Go check out their folios.
What has been your proudest moment so far as a photographer?
J : Let me see. Hmmmmmmm…. perhaps when I was awarded as Focus Bulacan's Newcomer of the Year. I didn’t see it coming. What I did was just shoot and shoot, join photowalks and make friends. I didn’t know I was winning contest points for the Newcomer of the Year award.
What was the most unforgettable shoot you’ve experienced?
J : I suppose the sexy, "implied nude" shoot of my friends. We had two very gorgeous models. We were twelve to sixteen photographers divided into two groups. We took turns in shooting the model for a couple of minutes. My hands holding the cameras were a bit shaky because of the hot models. It was unforgettable because I didn’t know how to direct poses for them and I mostly observed how the senpai photographers did it. I know what you’re thinking. Hahahha. I asked permission from my girlfriend, Ren, to shoot that kind of concept. It was my first and last time to shoot that kind though.
Do you have a photography bucket list? Care to share what’s in it?
J : First, landscape photos shot abroad. Second, a Milky Way shot taken in Japan. Next, underwater photography. Also, self-portraits while traveling alone. Lastly, light painting on a wedding couple or pre-nuptial shoot.
What event would be your dream project to cover?
J : Hmmmmmm… A national event like the Bb. Pilipinas pageant or international events like the Tokyo Olympics or Miss Universe.
What’s the most important photography advice you have received so far?
J : Shoot and shoot. Practice and practice. Commit mistakes and learn from it. I think it doesn’t apply only to photography but to almost everything. You don’t excel at something without any practice.
Show us your most favorite photo, and tell us the story behind it.
J : It's a photo I took of my fellow Focus Bulacan member Julius Calzo. Not Photoshopped. Not a multiple exposure. 70% prayer with 30% luck. This was the most meticulous photo I ever shot. It was for the Focus Portrait Project where members work by pairs. A photo that was shot in a very dark outdoor place. I had my remote shutter and a flash. I created the idea but I regretted it after the shoot. Because it was really not easy. If my memory serves me right, it took 17 long exposures to get me to this. Insects especially mosquitos were not friendly that time. Not so perfect but that’s the closest we could get. I had three concerns to address : one, I should get the right light from my flash for every shot of the face. The front face is better lit than the faces on the sides. I must also direct the flash at the correct angle. Second, I must hold and release the shutter in a very timely manner. Last, I should direct Julius to the correct movement of the face after the flash is off even without light to see ourselves. Five bursts of flash, five facial poses and a lot of trials to get the closest photo that we needed. I suppose it paid off because this photo secured a Top 3 spot at Focus Portrait Project 2017. (Photo shown above.)
Jeff's other favorite photos (Click thumbnails to view photos in full)
If you could address a specific photographic skill that you want to improve on, what would it be?
J : Timeliness and timelessness. Timeliness.. I had issues of time management because of my main work versus my part-time work. Finishing everything on time, especially quick and efficient editing, is my waterloo. I hope I’d happen to acquire this skill on editing. Timelessness... I hope I’ll improve more on getting shots of landscapes that give photos a timeless appeal.
Five to ten years from now, how do you see yourself and your craft?
J : I pray and hope to meet clients or couples to shoot abroad especially in Japan. Bring my folio into a different realm of sakura and autumn colors. I could also see myself as a travel photographer of the most beautiful places in the Philippines.
If you knew then what you know now, you would……?
J : I would have started learning photography earlier. The earlier the better.
Message to Focus followers and fellow members.
J : Maraming salamat sa mainit na pagtanggap, Focus members, noong ako'y nag-uumpisa pa lamang. Salamat sa patnubay at gabay sa iba’t ibang klase ng photography na meron tayo sa photo theme contests. Hindi ko makakalimutan na naging parte ako nitong isang respetadong pangkat ng photographers ng Bulacan. Special mention kay kuya Mark Jayson Cruz or MJC na naging schoolmate ko sa LCUP or dating Regina Carmeli, salamat sa paghikayat sa akin na ipagpatuloy ang nasimulan sa larangang ito, at sa paggabay sa procedure ng aplikasyon sa Focus Bulacan. Kay master Alih Viaje na unang nagmulat sakin sa concert photography. Silent Sanctuary concert sa LCUP noon. Siya ang pangalawang Focus member na nakilala ko at nakasabay ko pa mag-shoot. May real-time tutorial kami noon sa harap ng stage. Dahil doon, nagustuhan ko na rin ang pag-shoot ng live bands. Kay Sir Jeremy, isa ka po sa mga hinahangaan ko sa Pilipinas. Alam ko ikaw ang utak ng Focus Bulacan at ang dedikasyon mo sa club na ito ay sobra pa sa pagiging hobby. Salamat po. Sana 'wag ka magsawang mag-train ng photographers sa henerasyon namin. Hahaha. At marami pang iba… 'Di ko na iisa-isahin ang pagpapasalamat sa inyo. Masaya ako sa grupo at mga kaibigan na nakilala ko sa Focus Bulacan. For Focus followers, if you have the passion for photography and you want to bring your talent to another level, then Focus Bulacan is for you. Hope to see you soon!
It might be a stretch to say but it seems like Jeff loves the difficult side of life.
Facts don't lie : Math, numbers, and problems. Sports, discipline, and pain. Challenges, competition, and pressure. Passion to profession turning into stress and sacrifices. These are things most people would rather skip than face head-on. But there lies the difference... because the way Jeff sees it, they're all beautiful complications. Simplifying them is always key to success, be it in photography, math, or life in general.
He admits he's the introvert kind. Reserved and soft-spoken, he does most of the loud work in his mind. Music is his first love but photography gave him a voice. To fully express himself and his interpretation of the world. The eye and creativity for compelling images may be in his genes : his father and grandfather were also lensmen back in the good old days. He entered the world of photography fairly recently and now he's making strides. Steadily, his voice is getting heard, his vision being seen. Surely, there are stories and ideas bursting within.
Chinn Joaquin is the featured Focus photographer of the month.
How did your photography story start?
C : Nag-start ako sa isang prayer, "God ano po bang gift ang meron ako na kailangan ko ma-discover at pwede kong mai-share sa lahat?". Then naalala ko may DSLR camera si tatay. Nikon D3100 na hindi nagagamit. My tatay is also a photographer kaso malabo na 'yung mata niya. Pinakialaman ko 'yung camera. Noong ginamit ko 'yung camera para akong sinaniban, haha. Nasiyahan ako mag-picture kasi detailed 'yung photos and ang linaw. Hinayaan ko na 'yung sarili kong gumawa ng photos.
When did you go full-time in photography?
C : Noong una ang mindset ko lang talaga kukuhanan ko kung ano 'yung gusto ko. Ayoko kasi mahirapan, pero one time nag-message sa akin ang pinsan ko. Gusto niyang ako 'yung kumuha sa wedding niya. Sabi ko wala pa akong alam sa wedding and takot pa akong kumuha ng ganun kasi precious moment 'yun. Well napilit niya ako. Nag-research ako ng mga idea, tumingin ako ng shots sa wedding albums. Ni-ready ko 'yung sarili ko pero nandoon pa rin 'yung kaba. Natapos 'yung wedding day, nabigay ko 'yung photos and nagustuhan naman. Iba 'yung feeling 'pag napangiti mo 'yung family. Ang saya sa pakiramdam and sa bawat experience nandun 'yung kwento na "noong araw ang Amang mo at Lolo Vito ang photographer dito sa atin, ang tatay mo din. Baka nakuha mo 'yan sa Amang mo." Why not? Ipagpatuloy ko 'yung nasimulan nila.
What were your usual frustrations when you were starting out?
C : As a beginner hindi maiiwasang may marinig kang "wow feeling photographer" o "nagpicture-picture ka lang napagod ka na?" Parang ang liit ng tingin nila sa'yo pero iintindihin mo na lang and give your best shot. When it comes to pictorials, naba-blangko ako, nagagandahan kasi ako sa girl kapag pre-debut, haha. Isa 'yun sa gusto kong ma-overcome. But thanks to kuya Mark Simon, nandiyan palagi 'yung advice niya para ma-handle ko.
What’s your mentality when taking photos?
C : Malaking tulong sa akin ang pakikinig ng music, mas nae-express ko 'yung feelings na gusto ko ipakita o iparamdam sa mga gawa ko at sa mga makakakita nito. Music is my fuel, photography is my story. Marami akong gustong ma-achieve na shots but for now gusto ko i-improve muna 'yung sarili ko.
What kind of music do you listen to? Who are your favorite artists?
C : Rock music. Paborito ko pakinggan ang Linkin Park at Greenday. Red Hot Chili Peppers din. Syempre Eraserheads, Francis M, and mga OPM bands.
How did you develop your style?
C : Watching photography videos in YouTube, music videos, naging curious din ako sa mga shots sa movies, download pictures basta maganda. Then pag-aaralan ko 'yung shot. Kapag nasa shoot ayun naa-apply ko 'yung mga ideas. Hindi ko pa alam anong style ko sa photography but for now tinutulungan ko 'yung sarili kong ma-discover 'yun.
What has been your most unforgettable shoot so far?
C : Monthly theme contest ng Focus, bonding kami ng kaibigan ko. Shoot kami for my entry. May nakita akong location na angkop sa theme, gitna ng bukid 'yun, may dalawang puno, 'yung isa madahon 'yung isa naman walang kadahon-dahon. Nagandahan ako, bihira kasi . Time 'yun na kakasabog lang ng palay sa bukid, so shoot kami. Gawa ako ng story, lumusong sa pitak so halos puro putik kami. Nalagyan din 'yung camera, low-angle kasi 'yung kailangan para makuha 'yung gusto kong shot. Pagbalik namin, pinapanood pala kami nung may-ari. Galit na galit sa amin. Sabi ko gumawa lang kami ng assignment, haha. Siya naman ang lalim, "ang laki ng daigdig doon pa kayo nag-kodakan". Wow, ang lalim. Daigdig. Panay ang sorry namin, pagtalikod namin tawanan kami. At least may pang-entry na. Gusto ko talaga kuhanan 'yung view na 'yun kaya go lang. 'Yung entry? Ayun, better luck next time, hahaha. Pero okay lang, enjoy 'yung experience.
What’s one lesson somebody taught you that you couldn’t forget?
C : Sa bawat shoot palagi ko pinapakita kay tatay 'yung gawa ko. Hindi siya vocal magsalita kung okay ba o hindi 'yung kuha but one time nag-advice siya sakin, "Maraming makakakita at makakapuna ng gawa mo kaya dapat gandahan mo. Kung kukuha ka gandahan mo na!"
Do you have a photography bucket list?
C : Noong simula sabi ko sa sarili ko lahat ng kaya kong puntahang festival sa Bulacan gusto ko makuhanan. May isa akong hindi napuntahan at gusto kong ma-cover. Angel Festival ng San Rafael. Gusto ko rin gumawa ng collection. Sunset story ng iba't ibang lugar. Tapos 50 portraits of old men at ia-album ko sila.
What photo are you most proud of? And why?
C : Siguro personally, 'yung kuha ko sa aking Inang Fely, lola namin. Isa 'yun sa una kong gawa. Wala siyang award o anuman pero 'yung magustuhan siya ng buong pamilya 'yun ang award para sa akin. The photo reminds me anong ugali meron si Inang bilang lola. (Photo shown below)
What can you say has been your biggest achievement so far in your craft?
C : So far 'yung Focus exhibit. Ang sarap sa pakiramdam 'pag naka-print 'yung gawa mo. Hmm why not someday magkaroon din ng award in this field.
Five to ten years from now, how do you see Chinn Joaquin the photographer?
C : Siguro masasabi ko na nag-improve na 'yung mga photos sa bawat shoot. Nandun na rin 'yung confidence mag-handle ng pictorial shoots. Na-achieve na 'yung dream shots and bucketlist. And why not, maging speaker, magbigay ng advice and lesson sa mga future photographer. Hmmm five to ten years hanggang sa pagtanda ko gusto ko may camera pa rin itong kanang kamay ko. Sarap isipin uugod-ugod ka na pumipitik ka pa.
Tell us about your favorite Focus Bulacan experience.
C : Last exhibit, Focus Bulacan's 6th anniversary. Simula sa preparation, my first ingress experience. Wow, ingress. Naalala na naman kita. Ingress? Coffee shop ba yun? Saan ba 'yun sa Malolos? Hahaha akala ko ako lang ang 'di nakakaalam, may iba din pala, hahaha. Hanggang sa mismong 2 days na event puro kulitan, kumustahan, laugh trip. Iba 'yung feelings kapag exhibit and marami ding naka-close na member tulad ni Sir Alih and more. Sa Focus naman every photomeet o photowalk palaging nandun 'yung saya. Pero ibang level kapag exhibit.
What's your advice for photography beginners?
C : Wala namang mawawala kung susubukan mo. Kapag ayan na 'yung moment, 'wag mo nang pakawalan, give your best shot! No excuses! Kaya mo 'yan! Effort. Enjoy. And please stay humble.
Your message to Focus Bulacan followers and fellow members.
C : Thank you, Focus Bulacan, for this opportunity. Thank you talaga sa lahat. My fellow members.. dahil sa inyo I can be more. Hindi ko maitatago na taga-hanga din ako ng mga gawa ninyo. Sadyang tahimik lang po talaga ako. To all Focus followers.. maraming salamat po sa pag-support, sa pag-puso sa mga photos at activities ng club. Para po sa inyo ang mga ginagawa namin. Tara, shoot tayo!
Chinn's other favorite shots (Click thumbnails to view photos in full)
While he seeks to strike a balance between passion and profession, Chinn is planning to secure a non-photography job overseas so he could help provide for his parents and family. While at it, he has no intentions of putting his photography journey on hold and looks at life in another country as a new opportunity to explore. And a new world to interpret using his camera... while being inspired by the rock songs he loves.
Congratulations and welcome to the family, Batch 13! You have been responsible applicants, now we ask you to also become responsible, active members. May you continue the good showing that convinced the Membership Committee that you are deserving to be Focus Bulacan official members.
A photo introduction to our new members :
We'll see you again soon, Batch 13!
A civil servant for more than two decades before venturing into a variety of businesses, he pursued photography back in 2014 to allow him a better work-life balance, not to mention the chance to unlock another field of creative excellence. Picture this : just a month after getting his first camera, he joined a top-level national photography competition and cracked the Top 10 of the contest. Months later he was adjudged as the Rookie of the Year in the said photo tilt, the PhotoWorld Cup, an annual competition among camera clubs organized by the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation (FPPF). The next year, he won the much-coveted Photographer Of The Year honor. Along the way and over the years, he has amassed plaques, prizes, and acclaim for his contest-winning photos, foremost of which is the "Ani ng Dangal" award from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) of the Philippines, a recognition given by the government to Filipinos who reaped top honors in international events. The awards keep piling up, but he's not stopping anytime soon. Photography has given him fame, friends, and even fortune. Yet his mantra is not just about winning, but also of giving back. He's very active in outreach projects of clubs and groups he's affiliated with. He also seeks out opportunities for other talented photographers to shine and make their marks. Fellow shooters often come to him for tips and he's always eager to share. All because of a positive mindset and a winning attitude.
Jose "Joey" Ramos II is the featured Focus photographer of the month.
You seem to be a man of many talents and pursuits. How and when exactly did photography enter your aspirations?
J : I have been in government service for almost two decades and it was so stressful in my field of work. So I decided to find something to neutralize the toxic world of politics so as to enjoy the other side of my life, and along came photography.
Before the camera, what was your creative outlet?
J : I loved to draw and paint, mostly charcoal and watercolor. I also did creative writing. I have two unpublished books of poetry, “Fragments of my Reflections” and “Untitled”. Many of my poems were published in national magazines before. Lost the steam and decided to stop composing by writing my final obra, “The Day My Pen Died”.
In what ways is photography similar to other passions you enjoy? On the other hand, what’s unique about it?
J : I would say the common denominator of my passions were the compositions. In creative writing, you grab the words floating in your imagination to finally create a moving sentence or stanza. The same is true with photography, you arrange the subjects and compose them in such a way that it would be pleasant to the eyes and at the same time tickle your viewer’s imagination. However, photography is more challenging because your playground is the world itself, life itself. Literally, in creative writing, you can easily create scenarios out of mere imagination without leaving the comfort of your home. Ironic to photography, because you are dealing with live subjects and outside environment. Passion is fulfilled mostly through adventurous travels and escapades.
Tell us about your first winning moment in photography.
J : I bought my first entry-level DSLR in January 2014. Entered the Photo World Cup 2014 contest the next month and my entry made it to the Top 10 beating out veteran photographers!
Who did you look up to for inspiration?
J : It was when I saw Chow Yun-Fat, the actor and director, holding his photography exhibit that inspired me that even at my age, it is possible for me to learn new crafts.
What do you think are traits that a successful photographer should possess?
J : You should have the 4 P’s. Passion. You should have the passion to shoot and create great photos, without it, you will shoot just because you want to be called a photographer. If you have passion, you will experience joy in every shot you make because you love what you are doing. Next is patience. There are no shortcuts in creating great photos. You must plan your every shot, compose it and “picture” it in your mind. You don’t shoot a sunset and just arrive at the scene 15 minutes before the sun sets. Third, playfulness. Creativity starts with a playful mind. You should be able to produce photos that would make viewers say, “Naisip niya 'yun?". Lastly, perfectionism. Do not settle for “pwede na”. If you want to capture amazing photos, you should check every single detail. The composition, the colors, sharpness, the use of light, distracting backgrounds, and other technical necessities. And don’t forget to shoot a “security shot”.
Okay, we will understand if you’ve lost count, but let’s try. How many trophies and plaques have you won?
J : In my six years in photography, I have won more than seventy awards here and abroad; thirty of which are plaques and trophies; others were certificates and small prizes and tokens.
Do you have a top favorite? And why that one?
J : Of course, my first award would be my top favorite considering I was just a month old in the world of photography. It was the Photo World Cup 2014, theme was "Emotion" which landed 10th Place overall. That shot started it all! (Photo shown above)
What has been your most memorable shoot so far?
J : My most memorable shoot was when I happened to pass by Tumana Bridge in Marikina where I saw a group of carabaos bathing in the river. I decided to shoot the scene so I came back the following day and waited till the farmer came with his carabaos. I did some top shots with kids playing and those shots made it to Top 1 in Photo World Cup 2015 "Rural Life" theme and First Place in 4383 Days of Childhood International Photo Contest in Russia where I received my dream NCCA Ani ng Dangal Award last February 2019. (Photo shown below)
What remains to be your dream photography destination?
J : Maybe Arya Stark has gotten into my nerves so my dream destination is to to go to Croatia and shoot those great structures of history and jaw-dropping sceneries!
One sure-fire tip to do better in photo contests?
J : Be different. Photography is like business, the greater the risk, the better the profit. Shoot like no one has ever dared to try. Think like no one dares to think. Risky, as others may consider it unorthodox, but sometimes being different is an edge. Why? Because in photo contests, there are always judges, and those judges choose the winners, and everyone, including those judges must see your pictures different making them utter, “Naisip niya 'yun?”. Remember, other photographers are great too in terms of technical excellence but the only difference the judge might look into is the concept being different!
Related to your success, how do you handle or deal with skeptics or haters?
J : Ignore. Haters often see you as a threat or they want to be like you but they couldn’t so they become jealous. Haters fuel me up to strive more and excel more so that they hate me more. Hating me more causes stress and may result to heart problems; which eventually may lead to death in the near future. Hehe.
Is there a photography genre you’d like to explore or shoot more?
J : I am not good in landscape photography, probably because I don’t have the proper equipment needed. But in order for me to shoot the Seven Kingdoms, learning this genre is definitely a must!
Ten years from now, how do you see Joey Ramos?
J : I would be in my late-fifties then. I am sure like other senior citizens, I would spend my time traveling with my family other than having my monthly laboratory check-up, maintenance and church services!
Advice for those starting out in photography.
J : Do not lose your passion to shoot. Always bring your camera with you. I never left home without my camera on the trunk or back seat. Make your camera a necessity, not just a want. Sooner than you think, it will be part of your system. You will know when to pull the trigger or not without even thinking about it!
Joey's other winners (Click thumbnails to view photos in full)
Message to Focus followers and fellow members.
J : To my Focus family, you have adopted me when I was just starting in photography way back 2015. Your enthusiasm and camaraderie brought me closer to the land full of history. Focus Bulacan is full of talented photographers; unsung talented photographers. So that was the main reason why I invited Focus to join the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation, Inc. Bulacan is full of history; so it is but proper that Bulacan’s premiere camera club also makes its own mark in history of Philippine photography. That is why I am happy that I became an instrument to achieve Focus Bulacan's status in the national level. That the best of Bulacan photographers can compete and also excel with the Philippines' best! Again, as I am always saying, do not lose your passion to shoot great photos. Always be an empty cup. Even if you already know something, do not argue, just listen, and nurture the ideas whether old or new. You will never learn new things if your cup is already full. You have conquered Bulacan with your great talents, now is the time to conquer the Philippines, then the world! That way, you will become an inspiration to new photographers, that if Bulacan has created many heroes in our national history, Focus Bulacan can also create heroes in the world of photography!
In photography, Joey found a new way of experiencing life. Of witnessing and appreciating the world. Of looking at the bright spots and the beautiful side. Of seeing the positives instead of the negatives, then highlighting them onto wonderful images for others to see. Maybe the gods and the powers that be favor those with good intentions... or maybe Joey is riding on an unbelievable lucky streak. Whatever the case, the awards don't lie : he is a winner. And there is wisdom in his words that we can surely use in our ways.
Every month, we have a feature on our members, our photography idols, and other photography issues we feel deserve a heads-up.