Where did you grow up? I grew up in the Philippines, in Metro Manila to be specific. I lived there for the first 21 years of my life, then I moved in Los Angeles right after graduating college.
How do you like Los Angeles? I love it! Los Angeles is one of the two best places to be if you work in the entertainment industry, the other being New York. And with the weather being sunny most of the time, I get around to shoot a lot!
How do you, as a photographer, make sure that the thing, person or landscape you want to shoot looks the way you want it to? For me, I’ve never had a full mindset of completely pre-planning my shots because I got used to working with the resources available on the spot. Most of the time, there’s a set goal in mind, but I’m always flexible to switching it up given the circumstances.
From your point of view, what makes a good picture? For me, what makes a good picture is the potential inspiration it could give someone. On my end, the pictures that I love are always those that make me want to get up and shoot more! I’m not the person who checks on details or composition to a T because, like a lot of people out there, I never studied photography professionally, so I don’t want to base a picture on something I am not fully educated on. I remember when I moved here, I actually stopped taking photos because of all the sudden changes in my life, and I would only shoot tourist-y stuff for the sake of using my camera. What got me to start again was this beautiful but simple product photo that my old boss had taken for his brand which I was interning in. It was simple and clean, but it really drove me to shoot again.
Since the photography techniques and equipment change quickly, it is important to stay up-to-date. What do you do to always keep up with the times? Techniques change a lot but what is important is to always have your style incorporated in them. Because of the social media, people tend to copy each other’s work which is something I did before. If you look at my earliest Instagram posts, my style and techniques vary from post to post just to get the likes. Eventually, I realized that because of that, my photos don’t show a cinch of what I really wanted to do. So instead of focusing on learning different techniques, I focused on my style and then improved it with the techniques I learned, which lead to the way my photos are now. Yet I’m still open to improvement!
Unless you’re a sports photographer or an avid videographer, I don’t think you have to keep up to date with equipment that often. I own a Canon 5D Mk III which is almost 5 years old, I think, and I am not really eager to get anything new. There are a lot of photographers who use old equipment but make stellar photos. Photography equipment is one of the most expensive fields to invest in, but the value does last for a long time. That doesn’t mean upgrading equipment is a bad thing, but it is not necessary
Nowadays almost everyone has access to devices with which it is possible to take pictures. What do you think is the difference between a professional photographer and any other hobby photographer? The biggest difference, I believe, is that professional photographers are committed to getting the work delivered with maximum efficiency. This is something that I usually talk with my close friends about, because back in the Philippines this is a huge problem professional photographers face. Currently, professionals have a hard time to finding work that pays because they are threatened by hobbyists who would do their work for exposure (free). I don’t mean to downplay hobbyists as there are amazing artists out there, but professionals dedicate their time and full attention in getting their clients work delivered. That’s essentially why they are called professionals.
Which one is your favorite lens and why do you prefer it?
Okay, this is a very difficult question for me, mainly due to the fact that the 4 lenses that I have right now are basically my essentials. When I started photography, as I already mentioned, I was trying to mimic other people’s techniques, so I basically tried to get as many lenses as possible. So I had an ultra-wide, general purpose, prime, zoom, macro, I had a bunch. Although when I finally focused on what I wanted to shoot, I trimmed them down to focus on portraits and events as that’s what I do the most. So my 4 lenses now are considered my favorite. If I had to pick a favorite though, it would be my 85mm prime as I love the general focal length and sharpness of the lens itself, I love shooting close-ups. But if I can only have 1 lens, it would be the 24-70 as I can both cover events and portrait with it.
Who influenced you the most? Is there any other photographer that you considers as a kind of idol?
I am not very familiar with a lot of photographers, so I can’t name any huge or award-winning ones, only those I follow on Instagram. There are two who I really idolize, that I can’t decide in between as they both tackle an aspect of the focus of my photography. For male fashion, it’s Blake Ballard and for male physique, it’s Dylan Rosser.
What, in your opinion, is most important to consider while shooting portrait pictures?
What’s most important to me is being good friends with the model. This helps the model relax and do better poses while the photographer can be more flexible with the shoot.
In your free time, what kind of pictures do you like to shoot and which ones do you avoid?
I either cover events or do portraits with friends or people I find on social media.
What is the role of social media for your own work? Social media is very essential as it is the main channel for me to get discovered and the main way I find people to shoot as well. Even if the social media are so saturated already, it is still the best way to get discovered and find inspiration for future work. Also it’s free, but Instagram is slowly making me want to pay for ads.
Have you ever visit Greece or Israel? I haven’t but I want to! I’m thinking of a month long trip going around Europe around next year.
What do you know about those two Countries? Aside from movies and TV, I don’t know anything. Weirdly, I don’t have a knack for checking out different parts of the world, I hate studying history and geography, they are my worst subjects. I’m slowly trying to learn though!
Feel free to contact Normandy Europa on instagram : @normandyeuropa