Just a quick update here. I’ve spent the last few days rejuvenating myself in the small mountain town of Sagada, about 10 hours by bus north of Manila. Sagada is located in the mountainous Cordillera region, a rugged area with a somewhat incongruous mixture of pine trees and rice terraces. With its fresh mountain air, cooler temperatures – ok, cold – and the sent of pines with a hint of wood smoke, Sagada has been a wonderful respite from the madness of Manila.
Category Archives: Philippines
Another year has come and gone, like it does every year at this time. And at this time, it’s often recommended that people take some time to stop and reflect on what they’ve accomplished over the past year and to consider what plans and goals they might wants to pursue in the coming year. Obviously that first part assume that goals were actually set the previous year. In reality, I think when the end of the year rolls around most of us are kinda caught off guard. We look at the calendar and kinda freak out about how fast the year went by. At the beginning of the year many of us may have good intentions about setting goals, but those good intentions get lost in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, exemplified by all the February canceled gym memberships.
I don’t claim to be much better than the average Joe when it comes to setting goals and planning. I wish I were better at it because I do think it’s an important and useful tool in moving forward and achieving longer-term goals. So with that in mind, this post will be a look back over the past year of photographic non-goal-set accomplishments and a look ahead with some objectives for the upcoming year, interspersed with some of my favorite photos from the past year.
This past year saw a number of photographic accomplishments that I was quite happy about. I had my first article and set of photos published in a magazine, the Southeast Asia Backpacker. Although not exactly a high-profile publication, it was still exciting to see my words and images of the Thaipusam Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, printed in an actual magazine. The travel blog FoXnoMad published a tutorial I wrote on why you should consider shooting more black and white. An article on shooting sunsets that I also originally wrote for FoXnoMad was republished on the high-profile website Lifehacker.com. I was interviewed about my experience being a photographer for the PicsArt blog. The website HDROne.com asked me to become a contributor, writing occasional tutorials on HDR photography. I had three articles (here, here, and here) published there before the site decided to go on hiatus. And, although not directly related to photography, I also had a travel story published on the budget travel website Bootsnall.com.
Traveling, I didn’t make it to a huge number of destinations this past year, but I did manage to check off one of my bucket list items which was to go on a week-long photography workshop with one of my favorite photographers, David DuChemin. For this trip, I went with Within the Frame Photographic Adventures and spent a week with David, cultural photographer Jeffrey Chapman, and nine other ‘students’ in Oaxaca, Mexico, for the Day of the Dead festival. For me, one of the great things about this trip was being able to spend time with other photographers talking about the craft and just sharing the experience of photographing together, something I don’t seem to get to do very often.
For this coming year, I have a number of things I’m looking to accomplish. In a vague, ambiguous sense, my goals are to take more pictures, write more, travel and get outdoors more. More specifically, one of the things I’m looking to do is to change the direction of this blog. Over the past few years, this blog has been somewhat of a mish-mash of various topics but primarily a place for me to post pictures. That’s been fine, and I’ll still post the occasional photo essay and I’ll regularly post images to my Facebook page and to Google+, but my goal now is to transition the blog to something more educational by providing more photography tips and tutorials, some related to getting out and shooting and other geared toward post-processing. While much of this will likely be geared more to the beginner level, I hope that more experienced photographers will find some useful information as well.
Does the world really need another photographer telling everyone else how it’s done? Probably not, although I hope to avoid falling into the trap of saying This is how it’s done. But everyone has a different voice, different experiences, and a different vision. Hopefully how I see the world and express what I see will resonate with some people. Yet, I don’t even consider myself a Pro, so who am I to be instructing others? Well, I think too much emphasis can be placed on how much money someone makes, how many clients they have, how published they are, how much they’ve read, or how many places they’ve traveled to. Experience does count for something. I have a long way to go to get where I’d like to be on my photographic journey. But we’re all at different places along our path traveling at a different pace, different stages of whatever photographic journey we happen to be on, and there will always be someone ahead of you. That doesn’t devalue where you’re at now. I’d like to think that I have something valuable to share and I hope you’ll continue along this journey with me.
Last week I posted a series of images of the Gay Pride parade and march that occurred recently here in Manila. In that post I mentioned how when photographing events such as this, I often find it more interesting to capture the scenes around the event, the passersby, the people there to observe. I had a few more such photos from the Gay Pride event that I really liked but didn’t include in the previous post so I thought I’d post them separately here today. As stand-alone images they probably don’t work very well, but hopefully you will enjoy them within the context of the previous post which you can see here.
A week or so ago I just happened to find myself at Manila’s annual Gay Pride march in the Malate section of the city. A relatively small event, especially considering the size of the city, it was nonetheless a boisterous and lively group that wound its way through the narrow and crowded streets in a part of town known for its colorful nightlife. I don’t know any of the details, but typical of what I’ve seen of many Pride organizations, this event apparently almost didn’t happen due to lack of organization and problems with sponsors. Regardless, the show did go on though this disorganization may have had something to do with the small size of the event.
There was no organized route in the sense that one would usually expect from a parade. There were no blocked off streets, no pedestrian fences to keep people off the parade route, no traffic cops, and very little media presence. And no spectators, aside from the people out on the street going about their business, the occasional odd tourist, or those who came out of their homes or shops to see what all the ruckus was about. Although there was some corporate sponsorship in evidence, overall the march had a very grass-roots feel to it, more like a protest rally than a parade, something reminiscent of what might have occurred back in the 1970s and ’80s when the gay-rights movement was just getting started.
After a few years of photographing events like this, I’ve come to find that quite often it’s the vignettes of the everyday people who come out to watch the festivities that are the more interesting story. In this case, it’s the people on the street, some just going about their business, pedestrians caught-up in the mess of the passing crowd, some amused, indifferent or unsure, and some still covered in the soapsuds of their interrupted bath.
Friends and family: As you are all aware, Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms in recorded history, struck the Philippines two weeks ago causing indescribable destruction, loss of life, and leaving 10s of thousands without food, shelter, or livelihoods. While this story has already largely dropped on the news radar, replaced by the latest political scandal or celebrity sighting, the rebuilding of people’s homes, lives, and communities will go on for years. In an effort to provides some small gesture of help, I have put together a calendar of cultural and travel images from around the Philippines. 100% of the proceeds from the sales of this calendar will go to Mercy Corps Haiyan relief efforts. I’m asking for your support in helping the people of the Philippines, through purchase of one of these calendars, and/or by sharing this post with your friends. Thanks y’all.
Incidentally, the church shown on the front cover of the calendar is the San Pedro Church in Loboc, Bohol. This church was seriously damaged by the earthquake this past October.