We've seen this kind of story before : someone gets hooked to photography, eventually gets a camera, improves skill and creativity, and subsequently makes it their profession. But making a leap of faith and going full-time into photography, traveling to faraway lands for free, and having a grand time on a cruise ship taking pictures? And how about witnessing the Northern Lights while at it? That's not quite common now, is it?
Hagonoy native Humprey Catajan started his affliction with photography while still in school and continued to feed his passion after graduating and landing a job in the business process outsourcing industry. He would designate his off days as shooting days when he would explore different places or techniques. After several years in his BPO work, he decided to go all-in on photography : he applied for a photographer position in an international cruise line (Royal Caribbean Cruises). It launched him to an experience of a lifetime, one that he would never forget (especially considering he amassed quite a number of photos to remind him).
"Kuya Humps" has many tales to share. This space is all his.
After all, he's the Focus photographer of the month.
Do you still remember the time that you got hooked to photography? Tell us how it all began.
H : Yes. Around 2009. I was in college. Way back then, I was only using a Sony Cybershot point-and-shoot camera but I was already a shutterbug.
We know you’re also into music and used to be in a band. How would you compare and differentiate music and photography?
H : Simple lang. They're both my artistic endeavors as a way to express myself. 'Yung music for my audio pleasure. And sa visual pleasure ko naman is 'yung photography. Basta it's like exploration of photography and music are set in relation to each other. Parang ganun. Haha.
You’re known to some people and you’ve also embraced the monicker “Kuya Humps”. Where did that come from?
H : It started during my college days. I entered college late na kasi eh, I think I was 21 or 22 years old na that time. So "kuya" na talaga ang tawag nila sakin. Hahaha.
You also love pets and consider pet photography as a special discipline. What is it about them that really tugs at your heart?
H : Special memories. Their lifespan is not as long as ours. And they're so cute, so why not? Haha. But seriously, pet lover na talaga ako since childhood.
How did your Focus Bulacan story start?
H : It started as an inspiration. Even though I was only using a point-and-shoot camera, malakas ang loob ko na dumayo pa sa isang lugar para lang mag-shoot. And palagi akong may nakikitang group ng mga photographers and they're wearing a Focus Bulacan shirt. Ayun sinearch ko na sa Facebook 'yung page nila and that led me to their website.
What’s your favorite Focus memory?
H : Siguro 'yung Christmas parties ng Focus lalo na kapag may "Jack en Poy" na game. Napaka-laughable niya talaga! Hahaha.
What’s your ultimate favorite photo, or the one you’re most proud of?
H : Of course 'yung nag-3rd Place ako sa PhotoWorld Cup 2018, "House of Worship" theme. Sobrang special niya sa akin because the human element doon sa composition ng photo is actually my Mom. The moment that I saw her praying in front of the altar, ayun na! Naramdaman ko na, sabi ko sa sarili ko, panglaban 'to. Hehe. (Photo shown above.)
You embarked on a cruise photographer career. How was it like?
H : It's different. It's a whole new level of experience. You have to be a well-rounded person. Hindi lang kasi puro click lang nang click ng camera ang gagawin mo doon. Anything na related sa photography, dapat alam mo talaga lahat.
What’s the most enjoyable part about being a cruise photographer? And what’s the part you like the least?
H : Ah syempre 'yung mapuntahan mo 'yung mga lugar na pinangarap mo mapuntahan tapos libre pa! Hahaha. The part I like the least siguro is nakakapagod talaga siya. Walang day-off kasi sa barko, hehe.
Of the places you’ve traveled to from your cruise photographer stint, what was your favorite?
H : Alaska. Nandoon na lahat eh! Cool weather, snow, beautiful landscapes, the wildlife, free wi-fi at syempre doon ko nakita si Aurora. Photography haven talaga siya!
Tell us more about your Aurora Borealis experience.
H : Galing 'yung ship namin from Seward, Alaska, and were going towards south sa Ketchikan. It was around midnight nang nabalitaan namin na may northern lights nga daw. So as soon na matapos 'yung duty namin, nagmadali na talaga kami umakyat at pumunta sa aft ng ship, doon sa likod na bahagi ng barko. Actually lahat kami doon napapa-wow na lang sa ganda. It's like a dream talaga and everybody had smiles on their faces. Hindi na nga ako masyadong nag-take ng pictures. Nag-decide ako na i-enjoy na lang 'yung moment kasi baka 'yun na ang last time na makita ko siya. (Humprey's northern lights photo shown below.)
What’s your next plan?
H : Sa ngayon, I wish to continue 'yung mga nasimulan ko nang vlog sa Youtube about photography, music, and pets. So stay tuned! Haha.
How’s the Kuya Humps vlog, by the way?
H : In hiatus siya as of the moment. But hopefully next month, game na ulit! Hahaha.
If you could talk to your 2015 self, what words of wisdom would you give him?
H : Humps, doblehin mo pa ang sipag na lumabas para mag-shoot. Ang dami mong nami-miss na magagandang photo opportunity.
Anything in particular that you really plan to invest in improving on?
H : Time, money, and motivation lang talaga para makapunta sa mga lugar kung saan ko gusto mag-shoot. That's a straight answer! Haha.
What advice would you give someone who’s starting in photography?
H : Just maximize what you have. Sabi nga ni pareng Chase Jarvis, "The best camera is the one that's with you". So make the most out of it and learn as much as you can.
Message to Focus followers and fellow members.
H : Well thank you everyone for taking the time to read this and to my fellow members, kapit lang. Babalik din tayo sa normal. Thank you so much.
Humprey's Other Favorites (Click thumbnails to view photos in full)
Photography has given him a new way of appreciating life. Seeing different parts of the world has broadened that perspective. If his Aurora Borealis moment is any indication, it's true that travel makes us speechless... then turns us into storytellers. "Kuya Humps" is all too happy to have his camera tell his stories.
Every month, we have a feature on our members, our photography idols, and other photography issues we feel deserve a heads-up.