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.
Every month, we have a feature on our members, our photography idols, and other photography issues we feel deserve a heads-up.