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