LEARNING photography during my student days wasn’t as easy as compared the digital photo-shooting today. We dealt with a Jurassic system that involves metallic cameras with shutters, negative films, light sensitive papers, chemicals and we go to a darkroom to develop a picture. We used cotton buds dipped with a developer to darken spots in a frame and we block part of the light coming from the enlarger with our hands and fingers to do what computer programs such as Photoshop does to over-expose and under-expose parts of the photo composition.
Editors and layout artists practically used scissors to crop images for publication and there was a time when my publisher said to me “Art, your pictures are awful.” My experimentations in the darkroom continued even at the Baguio Colleges Foundation laboratory when I was teaching photojournalism students in the mid-90s.
After the Y2K rollover, digital cameras started to evolve but we still took pictures using our old film cameras and had the developed negatives scanned to be digitized and what we got from the studio were jpeg files saved in a compact disk. Now, the common gadget that you see being used by working cameramen and photojournalists aside from their digital cameras are laptops with photo editing programs.
As I look back today at my files that have accumulated dust and turned sepia because of molds, fungi and other elements, I couldn’t imagine that I have recorded in film not only the changing of guards in our country’s historic resent past but also the crucial days of the EDSA revolution and the protests that popularized the term “People Power”.
From the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1981, the trooping the long grey line at PMA by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1983, the writer’s workshop in Baguio attended by Indonesian writer and novelist Mochtar Lubis, my discovery of the mummy of Apo Anno being kept at the National Museum in 1985 and others including my photographic chronicles of Cordillera’s quest for genuine autonomy has enriched the collections of my media newseum.
After one of my major assignments like the Tarlac-to-Tarmac coverage, I never really thought that I’ll be clicking more cameras than dipping brushes with turpentine after finishing artworks on canvasses as a fine arts graduate. Instead, I have mounted 4x4 SUVs and rode helicopters to cover and document events that happened in the region including cultural events staged in the upland provinces.
I have witnessed the passionate ideological crusade of Chadli Molintas in Sagada in 1987 amidst the constant warnings of Antonio Zumel and Louie Jalandoni for us photojournalists not to use long lenses when aiming at the New People’s Army cadres who were in full battle gear during the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front Congress. These including a firefight between an army element and CAFGU unit in Botolan, Zambales during our Mt. Pinatubo Relief Mission were captured by my lenses.
The development and improvement of media recording devices has greatly changed the way we especially millennials record and transmit news items to their networks. In fact everyone one who has access to these gadgets can actually report a breaking news to the global community because of connectivity. The wide use of social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook has practically linked all of us in one whole caboodle of readership or viewership without even subscribing for as long as we have the basic requirements such as internet, email address and one tab in our keyboard which reads enter.
Decades have passed since Jennifer Ringley mounted her jennicam or webcam in her apartment for what is now termed as “Lifecasting” and retired Col. Juny La Putt created the first website of the Philippine Military Academy. The later who was also known as the Hawaiian Webmaster met and toured me to Honolulu in 2006 during my artist-in-residency at the East West Center. A modern smartphone with a sound and moving image recording capability can actually enable a person to be a filmmaker or chronicler of events and one can even engage in enterprises promoting a product or activities like sports, hobby or simply by selling products online.
It is also a fact that there are independent filmmakers who have used smartphones not only as their back-up camera but as their main image recording tool where they can edit right at the site where they are shooting. I have written a module on smartphone filmmaking which I used as my guide during my 2018 three-day session in Sta. Monica in Siargao and the result was quite revealing that even students from a fourth-class municipality can cope up with technology and be at par with those living in highly urbanized cities like Metro Manila and Baguio City.