Looking Back - The Philippines: The Genesis of my Photographic Journey

Shots from Iloilo City and Tigbauan, August 29th-September 12th, 2014

        In September of 2014, I went with my family to Iloilo, Philippines, the province where my mother grew up. I had just gotten my Canon T5i and, knowing I'd be in a culturally rich context, I was eager and  ready to shoot the crap out of everything I saw.

        Since the purpose of the trip was pre-determined (I was merely tagging along), I had to take every opportunity in between planned day trips, outings, errand runs, and events to get shots. Needless to say, my camera and I were rarely seen apart. It did, however, help me understand some of the core habits of what made a good photographer. 

"One Stop"

"One Stop"

"Follow the Leader"  

"Follow the Leader"
 

        All the traveling I had done before that time (trips to Texas and California) I had developed a particular interest in street photography. The subjects that filled the street scape and city scape were not only fascinating to me, but they capture the history and flow of life of a place in time. 

"Girl with the Pink Umbrella"

"Girl with the Pink Umbrella"

"Making Gravestones"

"Making Gravestones"

        My brother, a graphic artist and designer by trade, was also on the trip, getting back to roots and taking in the motherland. Being someone who took a photography class in college (which I did not), had a particular eye and high artistic standards, he was a pivotal person in my development as a photographer. His brutally honest feedback helped me weed through crap shots and helped differentiate between "ok" shots, "good" shots, and "great!" shots. 

"The Fisherman's Boy"

"The Fisherman's Boy"

"Self-Occupying"

"Self-Occupying"

"The Grave Keeper"

        I was still very young in my craft as a photographer. I still had a "point and shoot" mentality and there were gaps in fundamental knowledge that needed to be filled. But it was then that I began to grasp the concepts of "visual storytelling" and that the value in what my eyes saw began to change...

"Commute"

"Commute"

...and would only continue to change.

"Commute II"

"Commute II"

        Being a very Americanized Filipino in the Philippines, I felt like and was an outsider and a tourist. I did have more of an "in" in that my family still had roots and that I share in their blood. But the progress in understanding of my own Spanish influenced Malay-Asian blood seemed slowed by my American Upstate New York born, Southern raised habits and mindsets. And I would discover that even more later on. Still, it was a step in the right direction. 

"Ilongga Folk Dancer

"Ilongga Folk Dancer

"Boats of Tigbauan"

"Boats of Tigbauan"

        Thus began my photographic journey. Upon my return to the states I was already gearing and anxious to go somewhere again. I, in fact, became very discontented with my (at the time) present surroundings. I had to continue to look at where I was with new eyes if I didn't want to lose my mind or fall into a creative rut. 

        The journey has been challenging and somewhat frustrating at times. The things I've done, seen, and learned since then have shifted my perspective even more dramatically. There are times where I felt lost, overwhelmed by the amount or the types of work I got. I've questioned myself in whether or not I belong in this field. 

        But each time I set out to capture the world we live in, to document moments in time and the beauty that I see, I always feel like I'm one step closer in understanding and filling in those gaps for myself. And my hope is that my work helps and moves other people.

         I can't really think of anything else I'd rather be doing. It's, in the truest sense to me, a labor of love.