I CAN no longer count with my fingers how many training and workshops I have attended since the time I received my college diploma over three decades ago. Now that my retirement from government service is nearing, I look forward to conduct training and workshops myself especially about the things that I have experienced and gained knowledge with that relates to the varied arts.
Just last week, we assisted a group of senior Photographers from the Federation of Professional Photographers Foundation led by Eduviges Huang and Pablo Beltran. We managed to assist the FPPF group find a venue and thanks to the Philippine Information Agency and the office of Mayor Mauricio Domogan for providing the use of their conference halls. I have been in touch with Mrs. Huang as early as 1983 when I was a neophyte member of the Professional Photographers Association of the Philippines who joined several monthly meetings and club competitions.
One of my early photographs was in fact tagged as among the winners in the portraiture category. Back then, we processed our own negatives and develop our prints inside a darkroom and in my case, I used our darkened bathroom and a 25watt red bulb.
By the mid-80s, I later taught photography and conducted shooting workshops at the Agricultural Training Institute where I am proud to say that spouses Dr. Rogelio Colting and Dr. Lita Colting were among our participants including Ed Carunongan of Saint Louis University.
The recent FPPF workshop with a theme, “Capture Beautiful Baguio Photography Workshop” had an activity called “photo-walk” where camera-toting participants go about their desired destinations and capture a subject following some tips on angle-finding, composition and framing including light-shadow positioning and selective focusing. We saw the interest and enthusiasm of the participants and I heard Mrs. Huang talk about professionalizing the craft saying “you should not give away your photographs for free” implying that there is a corresponding value in every photograph taken. She further stated that photographers should not lower the price of their works if they think that the amount they pegged is their worth.
“Pag ibinaba ninyo ang presyo ninyo ay ibinaba na rin ninyo and presyo ng iba hanggang gapiso na lang ang value ng pinaghirapan ninyo”, was the main gist of her statement and the participants nodded in agreement. We awarded the five chosen winners from among the entries and all the participants were challenged to produce better images. I saw the elderly Ka Lito Beltran taking pictures and Mrs. Huang who is probably the most senior among lady photographers in the country at the Panagbenga Flower Festival and I realized that indeed photography is for all ages.
During the Panagbenga Street Dancing Parade, I also had a short chat with multi-awarded master photographer George Tapan who got in touch with me for his media accreditation. Tapan has accumulated a wide collection of travel and news photographs and his works are practically all over from newsprint publications, glossy magazines, tourism hubs and airports or terminals. I have observed from his works that there is a personal relationship between him and his subjects and unlike photojournalists, he does not steal shots of people or grab images that reveals the dark side of society.
When I asked his views on what the younger digital photographers should consider during an activity coverage, he only replied “ethics” to which he further elaborated that a cameraman or photographer should not block the audience from their vantage points. He implied that photographers should respect the people behind them when I talked about fellow journalists who wanted to be as near to their subjects with their wide angle lenses. In one of his many written interviews about travel photography, he advised beginners to “stick to colors that are as close as possible to the real thing and do not make backgrounds stronger than the foreground”.
Having won in a National Geographic Photography Contest and contributed to national publications he suggested that when shooting horizons and you want your photos to be published, do not tilt or shoot from an imbalance angle because publications want a straight horizon. At the Panagbenga parade ground, were joined by artist Roger Santos of the Art Association of the Philippines who opined that there should be a category for photographers in the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) periodic honoring of national artists and he felt that George Tapan deserves that honor to which I also agree.