They say that time flies when you’re having fun.
I must be having so much fun because I simply can’t believe that it has been 10 years! I had to re-check dates and photo-evidences to convince myself that it has indeed been a decade, and that I have achieved a milestone! Had I still been employed in the corporate world, this milestone would have equated to a fully-vested retirement fund. LOL
I could have never predicted, even in my wildest dream, that I will be what I am now, a photographer. I stumbled upon it unintentionally in 2006, but here I am, 10 years later, still very much in love with it. It has been an enduring love affair, photography and me, and it is safe to say that we have more years ahead of us.
I don’t think I ever told him, but Redg Plopinio actually got me started with photography. Redg was a leadership trainer at a company I worked for (in the days gone by haha) and I was so impressed at the photos he used in his presentation slides. The photos as it turned out were his own. When asked, he spoke about them with so much passion and delight, it was impossible not to get hooked. I could not afford a decent camera at that time though, so shout out to my good friend, Angel Viernes, who has very kindly lent me her Nikon D40 camera for a try.
I soon got me a Canon S5, a prosumer camera (which in the hierarchy of cameras, sits in between a basic compact point-and-shoot and a proper DSLR camera) and enrolled myself in FPPF's basic photography course in Intramuros, Manila. It was quite intimidating in the beginning because all of them were using proper DSLR’s. But the jitters quickly left as I got on well with my batch mates [Ron Mendoza, Albert Bareng, Nur Demo, Net Ramos, Rene Manahan], I even ended up sweeping the end-of-class awards and I still have the glass trophies to prove it! :)
The years that followed were all about photography – photo walks, photo-centric travels, photo-marathons and a series of advanced photography classes. I got close to a few professional photographers who advised me to take baby steps and book small, private photo shoots to test the waters. I can still remember how nervous and insecure I felt those first few times but like everything else in life, given time and experience, I developed enough confidence to go thru and conduct my business comfortably and with relative ease.
I will be forever grateful to Lyn Laroco-Ipong for booking me all those private cruise events at the Manila Yacht Club which served as a practice point, as well as helping me keep afloat financially because I finally took the jump and left the Corporate world for good at that point. My client base grew through word-of-mouth advertising, and I found myself shuttling to and from different places in pursuit of clients and experiences. Shout out to my Familia Goya who were my default models/victims during practice photoshoots.
When I was still primarily based in Manila, I started to venture into wedding photography with Hanz Lustre and Loel Ochoa. From our separate or joint bookings, I learned agility, teamwork, physical preparation, effective client communications and protecting your rights as much as the clients - conducts I live by, and which have been key to our working relationship to this day.
I can honestly say that I am sustained by my desire to keep growing. I keep moving my goal post forward, and when I find that my enthusiasm is waning, I try to find inspiration from people who have “made it” in this business. I took classes, expanded my network and found comfort in the fact that my challenges are not too different from my peers. The most memorable workshops I have attended in Manila have been from those who made photography their business as much as their passion, to wit: Pilar Tuazon (Portraiture Lighting), John Chua (The Business of Photography), Team OSS (One Light Photography), and Raymond Isaac (Fashion Photography, SoFA). And who could ever forget Vic Sison, Ador Pamintuan and Cecilia Angeles of FPPF? I also had the opportunity to have further studied photography in London back in 2012 – in London School of Photography (Creative Photography) and in London Academy of Media Film & TV (Photography Masterclass). Needless to say, in each of these classes I have been pushed and challenged to transcend my personal doubts and limits. I will always look back to them with great fondness and gratitude.
These days, I shuttle between Samar, Cebu and Manila - the places I now call home. Photography has turned me into a nomad. But least you get me wrong, I do like it. I prefer it, even. There is something so liberating in a bohemian lifestyle.
I have obviously skipped over some of the finer details, but this mini-memoir is a decent account of my personal journey as a photographer so far. It has been 10 years but I know that I have barely even scratched the surface – there is still so much to learn, so much to improve on. There is so much room to grow as an artist and as an entrepreneur. I still look forward to working with my fellow photographers, and I hope to continue working with my clients, most of whom I have become really good friends whose own personal milestones I have become a part of.
May god continue to guide me.. 'til the next milestone!