She developed a bond with photography while coping with an emotional circumstance, giving her a new outlook toward people and life in general. Her new pursuit opened her eyes and drove her to explore more of her second home, the progressive city-state of Singapore. An interior designer by profession who hails from Marilao, Bulacan, nowadays she happily travels and documents her adventures with Jake, steadily building her portfolio as well as developing her own style. It's only a matter of time until her images rival her designs for mall and airport retail spaces.
Jennifer Arcadio Francisco is the featured Focus photographer of the month.
Q : How did you get sucked into this big, beautiful world of photography?
J : I bought my first camera way back 2013 in the Philippines, a Sony SLT-37. I just had it locked in my cabinet most of the time, random shoot when I have time after work. The interest and drive came in the summer of 2015 - I was already here in Singapore. I had a turnaround in my personal life and spent most of my time outside the house – observing and photographing people quietly. Tingin-tingin lang, roaming around with my bike and camera. I found new friends who are into photography. One of them is a Fujifilm user. I spent most of my free time with them, no surprise na I got hooked on the rendering capabilities of Fuji, may film feels and how easy it was to use, magaan pa so I decided to save and purchase an X-T1 camera. That was February of 2016. I named him “Jake”.
Q : You're an interior designer. Is photography a big part of your profession, or is it more of an additional
J : It is an artform on its own, it was an escape for me because it doesn’t oblige me to talk and it exposes me to things which I would not dive into if walang camera sa kamay. But of course my passion for architecture and interior design are key factors when I shoot urban and cityscapes. I remember when kuya Joel Domingo (fellow Focus Bulacan member who was also based in Singapore) told me that my day job is an edge in photography – madali na daw ang perspective at vanishing points kasi we are used to it na.
Q : What's your style and what do you love to shoot?
J : Siguro I cannot point out one specific style kasi I am still on the process na I want to try every style and technique that I encounter. Architecture, cityscape, landscape, portrait, events, and street photography are mostly my top choices.
Q : What would a shoot routine for you be like?
J : Random photowalk depends on my mood; sometimes I have Jake on my bag pero hindi makaka-shoot, minsan naman I don’t have it kaya camera phone na lang, sayang kasi kung hindi maka-capture 'yung moment. I am most productive when I shoot on my own or with a buddy. When I shoot alone, I ride public transits, madaming interesting stories to capture but siyempre we need to be very careful and try to respect privacy din ng mga tao. Also madaming free spots here in Singapore to shoot, no need to pay. For commissioned works like prenups, the night before the shoot, I will make sure na I have batteries and SD cards enough for the whole session and clean lens. I also look at the clients' social media accounts lalo na if 'di ko talaga kilala, just to observe 'yung details ng faces nila and how I can take good angles. To add up, I always have a tumbler for water, mainit and we have to be hydrated palagi at madalas may mints ako sa pocket.
Q : Which part of Singapore is your favorite?
J : CBD area like Marina Bay and Esplanade Avenue for architectural. For landscapes, no particular na favorite place kasi most of Singapore parks have their own beauty to share. For street photography it would be Chinatown and Little India, we call it “walang sayang na oras” areas. Anytime of the day sure na you have a take-away shot.
Q : And when you're back home, do you have a go-to place to shoot? How about locations in Singapore and the Philippines that you would want to explore that you haven't yet?
J : I had a chance to go on a hike sa Mountain Province last December 2016, it was an instant photowalk for me. Maybe that is one of my best photography experiences, I am still hoping na makabalik and to be connected to Mother Nature ulit. I want to explore Batanes, Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan, and maybe Rizal as we all know there are lots of hiking places na ready to be discovered, few hours from Metro Manila lang.
Q : What's your dream photography destination?
J : It would be Myanmar, sunrise and sunset riding on a hot air balloon. Next would be Turkey, to photograph people and architectural places like Hagia Sophia. It would also be a dream for me to travel to Russia and Greece.
Q : Who was your photography mentor when you were starting, and is there a specific advise or tip that you couldn't forget?
J : My first mentor was kuya Jase Ng, he taught me basics of photography and how I can maximize the capabilities of my camera. I was using SLT camera back then. Next would be the person who influenced me to buy a Fuji cam, Barry Millare. I am a big fan of his portraits and floral shots, and also of his colored street shots. My first long exposure was mentored by sir Jer Sandel of Focus Bulacan. Another helpful person to me is one of my closest friends and kuya here in Singapore - Francis Gaerlan. It was thru him that I understood why we do not have to be too hard on ourselves to make people like our photos. He made me value my art more, he said that photography will always be subjective. What is good for you will not always be good or great for other people, we all have our own preferences.
Q : Who are photographers you look up to or who influenced your craft?
J : Xyza Cruz Bacani, Win Magsino, Jaja Samaniego, Jayjay Lucas, and Eric Kim to name a few. I am also a big fan of MangoRed Studios and Everywhere We Shoot.
Q : Which photo are you most proud of?
J : One of my favorite shot is the one from Chinatown, Singapore – “Transient” (photo shown above). I love how everytime I saw it on my archive I am always drawn into a natural flow. At first you will be drawn to the little boy sitting on a luggage but then you will be intrigued with his look and be directed to the person he is looking at – the auntie with a handfan, to add up you will also notice the man behind is also looking at the same direction of the auntie. Lastly is the father of the child holding the luggage bag looking at his child. Ang daming stories to tell, you can also leave the story to the audience. Another one is the combination of sunset and my favorite band Coldplay’s concert scene (photo shown below). It was a great timing and good weather that the Cardiff Stadium opened the dome roof in the middle of a colorful performance. It was a feast in the eyes kind of experience.
Q : Ten years from now, how do you see yourself as a photographer?
J : I always pray to learn more and hope that someday I will be able to establish my own style. I want to develop techniques in documentary type of event photography. And be able to capture important and simple life events of my own family, especially my future kids.
Q : What's your dream photography project or series?
J : Photographing old photographer couples, it’s a wonderful feeling to see old couples with cameras, enjoying their time together with photography. Another series would be my future kids' faces, I want to photograph how they will grow and bloom. A section on this series are photographs of my future life partner’s face every year. And turn it to a book.
Q : Your most unforgettable photography experience?
J : Mountain Province hike and shoot, I have many memories in that place. It was like an immersion on the mountains, trees, and clouds. I also learned lots of life lessons in that place and also about our culture and ethnicity.
Q : What was your first Focus Bulacan experience like?
J : It was with a group with Sir Jer, Alih (Viaje), Mark (de Leon), Amen (Alcoriza), Sir Joel, Ate Nympha (Pagtalunan), and Ayie (Salva), who eventually became a good friend and housemate. It was a random message from Amen that led me to my first long exposure shot mentored by Sir Jer. First advice from him was “know your camera”. Always grateful for these individuals who inspired me to travel and take good photographs.
Q : What advice would you give those who have just bought their first camera?
J : We have to read first, understand what are your needs and not because of norm. Whether you are a natural reader or not, try to read the manual, but if in case na may Japanese characters ang manual, Google is always available. Youtube is a great friend too, and we can always ask our friends for help, 'wag mahihiya. In the long run you will be able to take good shots and happy shots. Always be patient and love your craft. Don’t be discouraged din with other photographers na magagaling na, they were beginners din before they became the kind of photographers they are now. Instead na compete with them, make them your friends and ask for their advice.
Q : What's your message to Focus followers and your fellow members?
J : To all Focus followers - thank you for supporting Focus Bulacan, and we hope we are inspiring you guys thru our photographs. To my fellow members, thank you for accepting me in the group and I hope to contribute more in our community. Thanks too for inspiring me to keep the passion in photography. Praying for our group’s vision and goals to continuously benefit each member. Hope to see you all soon! God bless.
Jen's other favorites (Click thumbnails to view photos in full)
Every month, we have a feature on our members, our photography idols, and other photography issues we feel deserve a heads-up.