Landscapes, still life, street and concept photography. Ian Earl Calalang likes them all. But if there's one thing he loves shooting most, there's no doubt it's festivals. Those colorful, energy-driven events that have made Ian travel to various places just to witness and capture with his camera. A senior software engineer in Accenture who hails from Malolos, Ian has garnered awards for his multifaceted photography. Yet it's his festival photos that have consistently generated awe and praise from viewers and peers. So much so that he's called "Mr. Festival" by friends.
We asked Mr. Festival about his experiences in photography, and what tips he can share to other shooters. Here's the excerpt of his interview :
Q : You are known for your festival photos. Bakit festival ang isa sa mga hilig mong subjects? What do you like shooting about festivals?
Ian : Bukod sa travel at mga side trips, iba rin kasi ang energy ng mga tao 'pag nandun ka na. Nakakahawa... sabay-sabay kayo nag-aantay na magsimula na at dumaan sa inyo 'yung mga performers. Marami ka ring makikilalang mga taga-doon at mga local photographers. Iba rin kasi ang pag-picture ng festivals, portrait s'ya pero hindi mo kailangan sabihin kung anong pose ang gusto mo. Kailangan mo ng tamang timing at kailangan mabilis yung mata mo sa paghanap ng mga magandang anggulo.
Q : Speaking of festivals, which festival is your most favorite? And why?
I : Sa mga napuntahan ko nang festivals, 'yung Dinagyang festival ng Ilo-ilo siguro 'yung pinaka favorite ko. Isa siya sa tinatawag na trinity festival ng Pilipinas, bukod sa makukulay na costumes at props ng bawat tribe, magaganda rin ang choreography ng dance performance nila.
Q : Ano namang festival ang hindi mo pa napupuntahan o na-shoot pero plano mong i-shoot next?
I : Siguro 'yung Sinulog festival sa Cebu o 'yung Kadayawan ng Davao pero sa tingin ko meron pang mga magagandang festivals na hindi gaanong nafi-feature pa.
Q : Can you share a quick tip on how to take better festival photos?
I : Festivals have to be happy, find someone who has a great smile. Usually they are located on the middle part of the group. On shooting street dance, I usually ask the choreographer to ask his or her group to smile.
Q : What's your usual gear setup when shooting festivals?
I : Usually a telephoto lens, I use a Nikon 80-200mm.
Q : Some of your friends call you "Mr. Plake" because you've won awards and prizes in photo contests. To set the record straight, how many awards have you won?
I : (Laughs.)
Q : Among the awards you've won, which one is most significant to you?
I : Siguro yung na-award-an ako noong 2012 ng 9th place as photographer of the year sa sinasalihan kong photo contest ng FPPF Photo World Cup. Year-long competition siya ng iba't ibang camera club sa Pilipinas.
Q : Aside from festivals, which genre do you like shooting most?
I : I do like shooting landscapes.
Q : And which genre do you wish to try or shoot more?
I : I would like to shoot more landscapes, one of my dream photo safari would be in Batanes and to be able to shoot some aurora borealis.
Q : What is the most unforgettable experience you've had while shooting?
I : Isa siguro 'yung bumyahe ako nang uwian papunta ng Pangasinan para sa festivals of the north, 4 hours ang byahe sa bus papunta at pabalik tapos kinabukasan may pasok pa, haha. Isa rin 'yung na-picture-an ko 'yung funeral ni President Cory Aquino nang malapitan, nakatabi ko pa noon si Bayani Fernando. Lumagpas pa ako sa area ng mga press noong time na 'yun. Ninjang ninja, haha.
Q : How will you define your style or brand of photography?
I : I don't like to over-process my photos, I just keep it to minimal post processing, mostly just global enhancements.
Q : Do you still get to shoot even if you're busy with work?
I : I do take photos once in a while, I just don't post it online. I just keep it to myself.
Q : Of all the genres you've tried, saan ka pinakana-challenge?
I : Pinaka-challenging sa akin 'yung pag-take ng landscapes. Especially on taking sunrise and sunset. Bukod sa paggising nang maaga, panahon, kung high tide or low tide, mabilisang setup ng gear... kailangan mo rin makahanap ng magandang pwesto bago sumikat 'yung araw. Sandaling sandali lang ang window mo para maka-capture ng magandang image.
Here's a few of Ian's favorite festival photos (click thumbnails to view in full) :
You can also check out his Flickr page.
Q : Who are your influences in photography?
I : Wala akong particular na photographer na kilala, usually 'yung mga nakikita ko online at mga magazines at books.
Q : What's your general advice for people who want to get better in photography?
I : Your gear is a huge help or a big factor for you to take better photos but as they say "nasa indian 'yan... wala sa pana", hehe. Don't focus more on acquiring more gear, invest on workshops if possible and if budget permits. You can also do some research over the internet. There are many sites which feature photographers who are willing to help you and share their knowledge. You can also join photography clubs.
Q : Leave a message for Focus Bulacan followers or those interested to join the group.
I : Enjoy lang 'yung photography. Kapag may hindi alam, 'wag mahiyang magtanong.
The Philippines has its fair share of fun-filled festivals - celebrations of culture and traditions. We need not go far to have picturesque events to shoot. We only need to look around, plan, and have fun shooting. But while we're at it, we also have to be ready for the capture-worthy moments and sights... something Ian has mastered, as proven by his photos.
Savoring the splendor of festivals and creating inspiring images all at the same time... just one of the joys of photography.
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