When I was younger, I wasn’t really around many artists, so I had little clue on how they worked or their place in the “rat race”. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that I was an artist. I was in denial for a time, but I’ve come to terms with it. Moreover, I realized that that they are an integral part of everyday lives. Imagine a life without art!
I became a photographer in 2006 when I moved to Toronto, Canada for postgraduate studies in marketing. My family said I needed to find a job to support myself and everyone was in shock when it was a job in the field of art.
Since then, I have had a few jobs – including corporate jobs; but I balance myself with the artist inside me. I grew up in Manila, and as of writing, art is not a priority in the country. Reasonably so, due to the socio-economic status of majority of the population.
It was a pleasure exchanging stories and delving deeper into their world.
I spoke lengthily with two artists, first is Sandra because I was inspired to see how simple pages can be transformed to a piece amalgamated with such meaning.
The last artist I spoke with was Helen – absolutely adored the simple complexities in her work! It spoke so much to me and we lengthily chatted about a collaboration (if you’re reading this, I’m still on that!).
How she transforms simple curves and lines into shapes and forms that invoke such emotion and meaning is a present mystery.Should I have not been traveling with one suitcase, I would have shopped for some art here. But I remain optimistic, who knows – one day I’ll return and buy tons of art from these amazing artists! If you are in a position to do so, I say visit the place and support artists.
So after shooting with a disposable camera around Osaka, I decided to bring out my grandfather’s antique Canon AE-1 camera. I actually saw one displayed in the Canon showroom there before I decided to use it, the unit is much older than I am. Thankfully, I got some help figuring out the necessary technicalities from staff Yodobashi Umeda, a store I frequented during my stay.
After using the disposable camera, I remembered why film is great. However, after using it in fully manual mode with my grandfather’s camera, I remembered why film is love.
In as much as I adore my digitally captured photographs, there is something inexplicable when shooting with film. This exercise taught me to savor moments more, to be still when it’s dark and to have patience.
Though I’ve had the camera for ages, it was the first time I ever used it. I could almost hear it shout, “Use me!” in Japan. I’m glad I did. I used quite a lot of film on the Osaka skyline.
Also practiced capturing defining moments in street photography. Must say, takes a lot of patience. I would just stand still in one spot until there is an urge to press that shutter.
Streets are usually very chaotic but as I walked down these streets, it was actually very peaceful. I could almost feel my mind reorganize itself with more structured thoughts than just rely on what I feel – thanks Japan! Balance is key.
In relation to my previous post, I mentioned that personally, to travel is to experience light in different destinations. While shooting fully manual, I was more sensitive to the light that presented itself in various instances.
Personally, I realized the magic in the medium of photography when I researched on the etymology of the word. It was in 1839 that the term was coined by Sir John Herschel.
“Photography” was created from the Greek roots φωτός (phōtos), genitive of φῶς (phōs), “light” and γραφή (graphé) “representation by means of lines” or “drawing”, together meaning “drawing with light”.
Putting the technicality of the medium into consideration, it’s pretty amazing how this form came to be. I mean, if you really think about it photography does the following:
It freezes a particular moment in time.
Time stands still with the light captured.
Those captured moments brings back memories.
Remembering distinct memories brings you back in time.
Essentially, it allows you to time travel!
I have no mathematical formula for this, but it sure would be interesting to converse with one who does.
Point being: photography may be the only activity that allows one to capture light and still time in a form sensible to actual reality.
I have had fond memories as a child in InterContinental Manila, it has been torn down since. However, those cherished memories seemed to have had a rebirth during my stay in Osaka. I honestly felt like a very independent five-year old human.
Without knowing the language, I was able to ask people to be part of my photographs. I surprised myself because the only Japanese term I know related to photography is “bokeh” and that does not come in very useful when asking someone for a photograph. I surprised myself, I guess it’s the courage of my inner child.
I really admire seeing them wear their traditional garments, with the contrast of the modern environment – it’s a refreshing sight.
I am very grateful to Japan for being the safe place where I was able to bring out the child in me once again.
People travel for many different reasons. Personally speaking, I travel to experience light in different destinations. I mean that literally and figuratively speaking. The former has more to do with how the earth moves while the latter is more focused on the brightness that comes from within each being.
The interplay between the sun and the light in our souls is a topic that has consumed my thoughts lately.
Doing what I do, being a photographer, capturing light is my livelihood. Though only when necessary do I use strobes, the studio, or other artificial sources of light.
The way light fell over Japan highly was highly interesting and shooting with a disposable camera, meaning there were no manual functions was an old experience I enjoyed remembering.
When I started taking photos at a very young age, I did it to remember – to still a memory. My very first tool was a green Canon Advantix (it was a short-lived kind of film) point and shoot camera. Being an automated camera, I gave little thought to the technicalities, all I would ask myself was, “flash or no flash?” But because a roll of film is limited to 36 shots (maximum), I would save those frames for when the moment presented itself.
Walking around Osaka with a fixed amount of shots (after shooting digital for so long) was a challenge. So before every press of the shutter, I would ask myself, “Is this moment worth keeping?”
Real talk now, I think the year was 2016, October: I highly contemplated about quitting being a photographer. Work came to a place of stagnation, in my mind. I started working as a photographer 2006 and thought to myself, I’ve given ten years to this craft and I was still not satisfied where I found myself. I thought about selling my equipment and everything I had related to my current profession. In the process, I debated with myself. Eventually, I arrived at the realization that I was doing what I was doing half-heartedly because I let the negative perception of others affect my craft.
Choosing to pursue an artistic path is like walking through quicksand. In a career where vulnerability is a commodity, many times, it felt like the earth has swallowed me whole. However, I lived.
It took me two months to process my thoughts and feelings about my situation. On December 2016, I came to the conclusion that I needed to pursue this purpose further and most importantly, wholeheartedly. I muted the naysayers in my head and just kept doing what I love and capitalized on my talent. Many whom I held with high regard questioned the path I chose and their opinions of me were the harshest and hardest to shut off. Though in the process, I saw that they were deflecting their many unsettled desires and unaccomplished dreams towards me and tried to convince me that what they wanted was what I wanted. It was a twisted process that was hard to untangle, but completely human.
While in Japan, I experienced zen. It’s a philosophy I studied in university, but to actually see it in action within their society was the real treat. Because it was no longer just a theory in my head, but a practical practice in life.
Finally, I felt guilt-free to live strongly and actually pursue the devotions in this life that brought me joy.
When I finally embraced who I am and accepted what I desired, I felt like a child with fresh eyes.