Dennis: Passion for photos

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By Susan Palmes-Dennis

The 'S' Factor

Saturday, February 1, 2014


WHILE sorting through my online accounts, I was surprised to see one photograph on a Facebook feed that's attributed to one Gian James Gamones-Maagad.

The name was familiar and when I saw the name of the person posting, I knew this is the same Jajang that I knew when he was still weaned on a feeding bottle.

Meet street photographer Gian James Gamones-Maagad, the son of Jimmy Maagad and Erna Gamones-Maagad, and both retired bank employees.

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Jimmy worked at Metro Bank while Erna worked at Land Bank.

The couple has three sons and Gian is the middle child.

He always sports a smile and to family members and close friends, Gian is known as Jajang.

His first published work was a photo shown at the Europe-based Arte Fotografica Magazine entitled “Working Day.”

The publication inspired him to keep continuing with his photography work, fueling his love for taking pictures.

His other current works are published in Lens Folio gallery and at Black and White Street.com.

Jajang's favorite subject is street photography and it started as a habit way back in 2011.

“At first I wasn't serious about it back then—it was only a pastime.” Jajang said.

It was in 2012 that his perspective changed on his hobby.

During our conversation, Jajang talked about the time he passed through Cogon market and he had this sudden urge to take a photo of one market scene.

While he didn't talk about that particular scene, he said he knew that taking pictures of street scenes would become more than a hobby.

I could only assume that the scene is a familiar one as he passes by the Cogon market everytime he goes home to RVM Subdivision in Cagayan de Oro.

I could also assume that the scene underscored a perennial problem in the market especially during the rainy season but that's another topic altogether.

Jajang developed a passion for photography in his high school days at Xavier University.

At XU, he also tagged along with uncle Fadi Ismael, husband of his aunt Nora Gamones-Ismael, who has a DSLR camera and is a photographer par excellence.

A DSLR camera given by his mother on his birthday merely fueled his passion.

Even then he knew that photography like any platform of art needs nurturing and so he reads articles and photos of different photographers for reference.

“You're not going to copy their work, you simply develop your own approach. One important thing is to have my works critiqued by different people so it can help improve my work. Some people are biased when it comes to their own works,” Jajang said.

Jajang went on that he forgot about his fear of being held up as long as he can take the shot.

Spoken like a true journalist; while I had the fear of being held up during my years in the field, I didn't mind it as well.

What Jajang said was something I felt I had a connection with unlike in another genre of photography where I struggled to practice.

“Seeing the drama and scenes on the streets and capturing them on camera gave me a chance to express what I see,” he said.

Jajang also said the most important thing in photography is to have a free mind when capturing images.

“You just can't keep thinking about the technical aspects because the tendency is you'll miss a lot of good potential images,” he said.

He cited the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, Elliot Erwitt, Joel Meyerowitz, Eric Kim, Rui Palha, Danny Santos, Rinzi Ruiz, Luis Liwanag and Rick Rocamora as influences to his style, names I admit are unfamiliar to me.

When I asked him about any picture by a photographer that stands out in his mind, Jajang mentioned about a photo taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson of a man in a bicycle passing by a street.

He said Bresson finds art even in the simplest scene on one’s daily life.

When he's not clicking away, Jajang works as an accounting supervisor at Banco de Oro Cagayan de Oro branch.

His favorite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. “It's a book about finding your ‘personal legend’ or destiny perhaps,” Jajang said.

As a full-blooded Atenean, the colors blue and white had been his favorite.

Among the pictures he took, one that I particularly liked was of a male vendor sleeping at his stall where an assortment of cell phones and accessories lay unattended.

It was taken in either Divisoria or Cogon, I believe.

It epitomized Jajang's love for taking photos of life in the street.

Way to go and good luck, Jajang.

PS: To see more of Jajang's works and his influences, go to http://erickimphotography.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/henri_cart....

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 01, 2014.

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