LIFE is made up of fleeting moments. Capturing these in photographs gives one the capability of living and reliving moments over and over again. Because in photos, memories are frozen; the intangible becomes tangible. Before the memories fade, most wish to keep them as long as they can.

For photographer Nino Jim Bacalso, the art of photography is about capturing the human element, using the cityscape as a stark material contrast. Using only available natural light, and a candid approach, he seeks to document true life as it happens on the streets. Taking pictures mostly in high contrast black and white, he seeks to eliminate colors as a distraction to the subject and scenery, trying to bring story and emotion to the viewer.

“I started taking photos when I was in elementary school. My mother bought me my first 3G phone and that was the Nokia 6630. I took photos of my friends skateboarding and until now skateboarding is my turf. A few of my influences in photography include National Geographic and Transworld Skateboarding Series America. I kept taking photos even when I was only just using a phone camera. By the time I graduated from college and received my degree, my sister bought me my first camera, a Fujifilm point and shoot. When I received my point and shoot camera, featuring only three megapixels that time, my photos started getting better,” said the Cebuano, now based in Singapore.

Nino is the first Cebuano awarded first place and photographer of the year by the International Photography Awards (IPA) 2016 for the Deeper Perspective category (Non-Professional) for his entry, Wet and Wild. The entry comprised five photos from the Thingyan Water Festival in Myanmar. During the festival, Nino “immersed” himself and sacrificed his Fujifilm X-pro 2 camera for the love of the art.

“This was my third time to celebrate the Thingyan Water Festival. But in previous years, I only took photos from afar with a telephoto lens because of the fact that I was worried that my camera would get wet,” he said.

“But I felt that there was no connection with the subject. So, I decided to take photos upclose instead and let the camera get wet. Yes, the camera was damaged and I had to get it repaired and spent $1,000 for almost a full replacement of major parts. I did not buy a new camera because I was very attached with this Fujifilm X-pro 2. I feel that I have a connection with this camera.”

He was also a finalist and a nominee as photographer of the year for the Lucie Awards 2016 which is the competition in New York where IPA winners get sent to after winning the annual IPA competition.

“It’s a great feeling that I have achieved something very big. Until now, I still can’t believe that I won first place in the IPA and became a finalist for the Lucie Awards. This is my first time to participate in the IPA. I saw the ad on the internet and said to myself that I wanted to test myself on whether I have already grown as an amateur photographer,” said Nino.

A few of his other awards include being a finalist for the annual Best of Photography contest 2016 (California, USA), finalist for the Street Photography Awards 2016 sponsored by Lens Culture USA, finalist for Singapore Heritage Photography Contest 2016, first runner up for Singapore Lights Camera Action Photography Contest 2016, and got recently published on the October issue of Transworld Skateboarding Magazine Japan.

Nino won second place in the Canon Photo Marathon 2016 and also got an honorable mention for his Wet and Wild entry for photo essay category and The Patterns of Street Skateboarding for fine art category at the Tokyo International Foto Awards 2016.

Nino has just recently held his first International Photo exhibit held at 1961 Gallery at Siem Reap, Cambodia called the Mirage Collective, a collaboration of five photographers. The photographer also revealed that another exhibit will be held sometime in March in Bangkok, and another one in Vetro Gallery in Manila, sometime October.

Despite being a multi-awarded photographer, he humbly admits that his diverse knowledge about the trade is self-taught. Nino revealed that he learned photography through magazine photos and activities with manual setting descriptions and YouTube tutorials.

He is currently based in Singapore as a full time Marine Surveyor and consultant but he never fails to continue his passion for the art of photography. He brings this documentary street photography style to some of his freelance part-time photography work, where he also functions as a documentary wedding photographer, skateboarding photographer and event photographer.