No more reasons not to photograph – My story into Photography

I grew up in Los Baños, Laguna, though I was born in Ilagan City, a province of Isabela. We were eight in the family, and since we were poor, my parents could not send us all at the same time to school. It was the 70’s and the height of social and political activism under the Marcos regime. I was restless.

Until I decided to find any job where I could earn and buy things my parents could not afford, personal things actually. Until one day, a friend of my mother was generous to offer support for my studies. He brought me to a town in the Samar province and was supported to study. It took me only two semesters, and then I went home to Los Baños. I was restless again.

Another family friend encouraged me to work with Plan International, a non-government organization. I was hired with some knowledge and skills I learned. That work brought my family and me to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Since then, I worked with different non-government after Plan International was history. Currently, I am on contract with a national government agency tasked to facilitate programs and projects for the community.

I used to love reading fiction but shifted to liking nonfiction (memoirs, feature stories) right now. My interest in prose prompted me to do self-study on fiction writing. But my work with non-government organizations forced me to leave that genre for technical reports and project studies.

Right after graduation from high school, I dreamed of taking Development Communication, but I’ve never accomplished it. Studies took the back seat when I started receiving salaries but then realized that landing a job in the Philippines without a degree is hard, so I went back to school while working and finished my Bachelor’s degree in Education at the age of 40. Immediately I took my Masters on and finished the required units in Masters in Development Education. Thesis writing took a back seat for some reasons.

While working with the government, I do part-time teaching in my college Alma Mater where I teach general education on sociology, introduction to philosophy, technical writing, entrepreneurship, understanding the self, science technology and society, and lately, art appreciation. The last subject was during the pandemic and gave my students and me a lot of stress since we had to do it online.

I took an interest in photography since 1985 but never had the chance to own even a point and shoot camera; owning one was just wishful thinking. But when I started ghostwriting for project proposals, facilitating trainings, I saved some of the professional fees paid to me and bought my Canon Powershot A1200 point and shoot camera in 2011 and saved more to own a mirrorless camera.

I learned photography from my previous work because I was required to document the activities we did. The first camera I used, incidentally, was a Fujifilm Fine pix camera (I forgot the model) and started taking pictures of sunsets, trees, and plants aside from documenting work during immersion in the community. It was an opportunity when I worked in Manila and bought the Canon camera out of my savings.

Later I bought the Fuji X-A5 because it was the only model I could afford from my savings. In many aspects, my Canon point and shoot cannot be compared to the X-A5. Nevertheless, I still used both. My point and shoot is the backup for video shooting with my XA5.

I don’t have other lenses apart from the kit lens included when I bought it. Right now, a friend who also owns a Fuji camera, advised me to get an extension tube for macro photography. I have tried them, and I have a few example shots in my portfolio.

The X-A5 is handy. I like the way it was designed and made. But familiarization is still in the process.

I don’t use any software to process my photos. They stay as they come directly from the camera. No adjustments on colors, but I crop some of them to remove unwanted parts of the photo.

I am still exploring other settings like the Manual and Program modes. I still have a long way to learn the shutter speeds and the aperture. Right now, I use the SR setting when I take pictures.

I like both subjects – landscapes and people. Though sometimes it’s hard to have permission from people to take pictures of them, I usually do it candidly.

Not too long, I was invited to join an association of photographers based here in Occidental Mindoro. I attended the meeting, was given orientation about the group, and met old and new officers. We were given a short workshop on basic photography and a one-on-one mentoring with one of the group members who owns a Fujifilm camera as well.

My work as a development worker gave me an opportunity to see different towns and provinces. I’ve seen scenes and images which left me in awe. I also met a lot of people, mostly the locals of the places I went to, mostly beneficiaries of the programs we implement. I have met indigenous peoples too, and have seen their way of life far different from the way of life I was raised and grew up with.

With my point and shoot camera and my X-A5, there’s no more reason not to document what I see.

"My birthday falls on 22 March. I was born in 1960. I am married for 36 years now; my wife and I were blessed with 3 biological children, married all; we have one foster daughter, Grade 8. I enjoy my work as Project Assistant III in one of the Philippines’ Government agency. I am responsible in facilitating organizational development activities to strengthen assisted organizations. "

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