By Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
We teach the basics of ISO, shutter speed, aperture and depth of field — and then put the fundamentals immediately to the test. Underexpose, compose and wait for the moment. Make the image in the camera now, not later with apps and filters. Make life’s colors pop.
Participants in the South Pacific Photo Workshop 4.0 ranged in skill. Some were quite good; others struggled at first. But as with seminars past, they all wanted to improve their knowledge and vision.
A mother and her teenage son joined us, again. She approached the workshop with the cool and calm of a mom, with an eye toward family bonding. I can’t think of a better way to get into photography. Kind of like my dad did with me.
She and her son first joined us for a workshop in 2014. I know she won’t mind me saying that her photography was pretty raw then. But she stuck to what she learned, honing her vision in the year since — and that’s what counts.
On the way out the door, she said she wants to take photos of the trash piled up around Dumaguete City. She’ll post them on social media, maybe to effect some action and change. Do your thing, Gemma Kitane!
Another participant owns a local bar and restaurant. We gathered at her place after a long day of shooting and laughed over drinks. A businesswoman, she joined us to get in touch with her right brain. Now Ivy Ravas has caught the bug and is intoxicated with the possibility of expressions that photography presents. She just might hang some images in the dining section.
We had several college students and fresh graduates with degrees in nursing and med tech, business and the information technology fields.
In the Philippines, young people commonly make educational and career concessions to fit parental desires and familial economic needs. Millions of Filipinos labor around the globe as contract workers. There is just not enough economic opportunity in the Philippines to go around. You may not necessarily want to be a nurse, but that degree paves the way for better overseas employment possibilities. A job is a job.
The Philippines does not outsource work, it outsources people. Still, talented individuals like Shan Peras and Joseph Maquiling are drawn to the workshop and photography — and we encourage them to shape their lives to accommodate the craft.
We try to find meaning and relevance in our ongoing experiment. We have tweaked the instruction to fit the people attending, and have let a lot of locals in as scholarship students. There’s no money in it, and we can’t promise anyone a job in a field facing major changes worldwide, forced largely by the phenomenal growth of the Internet, where “exposure” for free is a common and hard reality for many photographers.
The seminars happen because of the dedicated workshop staff — a motley crew that includes a painter, an iPhone shooter/graphic designer, a videographer and rock climber, a ceramicist and portraitist, and an Iraq war veteran and journalist. They all study or have day jobs at Foundation University, but find the time to help. A fine group of photographers who love to teach, we just completed our fourth seminar.
Essentially, we offer a chance to let others into your head to see the world through your eyes. We teach the power of photography that looks outward and exists beyond the selfie.
It is interesting to note that Xyza Cruz Bacani, a Filipina domestic worker for a wealthy Chinese family in Hong Kong, was recently awarded a prestigious fellowship by the famed Magnum Photos Agency. In the last decade she has created substantial work in street photography, documenting the world as it exists around her.
We hope that one day one of our students will be like her.
Hersley-Ven Casero, an emerging artist in the Philippines and a workshop instructor, noted that photography can be alluring and addicting.
Yes, true. As you get better, you like it more and you do it more. It possesses qualities of fleeting euphoria and content. I’ve always thought it’s a lot like fishing.
The shutter opens and closes. You got it! But the moment always moves on — and the chase for light begins once more.