ONE amazing thing about photography is that while it captures things as they unfold, the manner of how it captures reality will tell the story within its frame. Photography is surely more than just an optical-mechanical contraption to document a certain reality. It is an art.

And while the newest gadgets in the market now, such as cellular phones and digital cameras, have built-in applications to capture and alter photos to our liking, no amount of technology could ever replace the eye of an artist.

This weekend, I was given the chance to get hold of the most sought after photographer in Negros Occidental, Mr. Jay Amarante. It is with great pleasure to share with you the story of this true visual artist.

The Photographer

Amarante graduated at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos (UNO-R) with a bachelor's degree in Computer Science. He started photography in 1995 as a photo journalist and an editorial cartoonist for the Tolentine Star, the official student publication of UNO-R.

"At first I really had no interest in photography. While I was an editorial cartoonist at Tolentine Star, they needed a photo journalist but nobody applied for it so I just grabbed the camera and learned photography on my own. At that time I was still using the film camera, so I really learned from scratch and I spent a lot for the films," he shared.

In college and after graduation Amarante had experienced working with the giant media network GMA and then ABS-CBN as video editor, giving him the chance to further hone his creative skills.

Amarante also worked as a studio manager at a photography studio and then decided to build and operate GMYXX photo studio together with his business partners. He operated GMYXX for nine years until he finally opened his own company, the ICON Photography in 2010.

Since then, Amarante forged a brand leadership in photography across Negros Island, as he monopolized the industry for being the official photographer in almost all events and in almost all barangays, municipalities and cities across the island over the years.

The ICON Photography

With the onset of the Pandemic, ICON Photography goes digital as it continues to provide services such as studio pictorial, graphic design and layout, and cover major social events such as pageants and fiestas as well as family events including wedding, birthdays, and debuts.

Layaw

Recently as well, Amarante ventured into producing short videos uploaded on YouTube. His vlog is called "Layaw," which practically documents the journeys of Christian Perez Mariano, a local celebrity who travels around different places and tourist destinations in the province.

"It's a way of helping local businesses by promoting local tourism in Negros as we feature the highlights of a certain city or municipality," he shared.

Standing Out

When asked what makes him stand out from the rest in the industry, Amarante said, "I'm into Portraiture. I specialize in portraits. As of now, very few are specializing in portraits. I am quite traditional when it comes to photography. I seldom use filters and enhancements. I am particular with angles of the face and how to take the right angle of a specific person's face."

Tips for budding photographers

Amarante puts a premium in client-centered approach as he advised that young photographers should learn how to listen to what the clients want and not just insist their sense of art.

Second, he also said that it is important to always unleash their creativity but at the same time be versatile and innovative because the time is changing.

Lastly and most importantly, in a cutthroat industry, it is important to catch up with technology.

When asked for a parting message, Amarante said, "Everyday is a learning process, so never stop learning and always be humble. Fame easily dies out, so always keep your feet on the ground."