Davao City through a new lens

BANKEROHAN market is a landmark destination in Davao City for tourists and an immediate place for the locals to look for fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables at lower prices. A corner eatery serving Bulalo is also a popular destination for drunk Dabawenyos to sober up minutes before the liquor ban.

But it takes a good pair of artistic eyes to see the Bankerohan market more than what it is and instead use it for a location shoot.

Loel Balangauan, fondly called Loloy by his close friends, is a young photographer in the city. He is currently a Multimedia Arts student at the University of Mindanao supporting his passion for arts specifically photography.

His photos at Bankerohan market went trending on Facebook and caught the interest of many. What for most is just a marketplace abundant of fresh fruits and vegetables was converted into something more fashionable and artistic.

“For me, photography can be associated with the promotion of our tourism--capturing and showcasing the best landmarks in the city. I consider Bankerohan Public Market as one of my favorite locations in my entire career. Aside from the fact that it feels like I’m in Bangkok, Thailand, its vibrant atmosphere and the entirety amuses me. The smiles of the people surrounding the market and the cheap prices in the ukay-ukay stores,” Loy explains.

Preparing for something mundane as the Bankerohan market for a location shoot is not as simple as one would imagine. Loy shares that he starts with a mood board or a theme before deciding on the location for the shoot.

“As a photographer, my responsibility is to find the best location that suits perfectly with the theme. Through the help of Google Maps, I can easily locate and check if it’s possibly good for the shoot. The third step would be the model casting. I look for models who are well suited to the theme and send them the mood boards. If they’re okay with it, we proceed to the wardrobe,” he shares.

He added that in selecting clothes to be worn for the shoot, he would sometimes work with the model and ask what they think. For an affordable, good-looking and unique outfit perfect for shoots, he recommended the ukay-ukay stalls in Bankerohan market.

For the market shoot that they did that went viral on social media, Loy shares that they particularly decided to do it at 2 p.m. when the sunlight is perfect for the theme he prepared. Props, wardrobe, and make-up were prepared in a fast-food chain near the market.

“Photographers are honed with inspirations from their co-artists. I am a big fan of street fashion photographers for, I believe, they have unique outputs. Also, I am delighted every time people are watching us, doing our craft, and are actually amazed by how things happen in the shoot location,” he said.

His love for photography started when he was younger and when his only medium for taking photos was his smartphone. Eventually, when he was able to buy his camera, he started his passion for photography by going into conceptual photography specifically portraiture.

For a visual artist, being stuck at home during the quarantine is but a challenge. But he doesn’t allow that to affect him negatively. Together with his photographer friends, he attends webinars on photography and attends online short courses. They have also tried doing virtual photoshoots where models were being photographed through video calls.

With the quarantine, finding clients is getting more challenging. Loy decides to support local businesses by doing product photographs helping them market their products better online.

The quarantine sure is bringing out the creativity more in our local artists as they strive to survive amid the pandemic. With these challenges, now is the best time to innovate to survive more than ever.

To see more of his photographs around the city, visit his page Loy Portraits.


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