AS ARTISANS in the art would say, photography is painting with light.

Last week I got to witness the annual fiesta of my alma mater usually held during the first week of August. One of the college's newest fiesta events was a grand modeling and photography contest named Modelo Ateneo.

It is a contest which exposed new talents (modeling, photography, make-up, fashion design) to the Ateneo Community.

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There were nine male and female models and nine photographers who joined the competition; one from each division. In the contest proper, photo shoots were held every week in various locations and themes. The whole event ran for four weeks -- these covered the auditions, the photo shoots and the program itself, a finals night where models and photographer get to showcase their stuff inside the college covered court.

I went in to see friends Jose Miguel "JM" Santillan, former Starstruck finalist Irenee Lascuna and Josol Matalam who were entered in the contest.

Asian Studies seniors JM and Irenee teamed up as the photographer and make-up artist for the Social Sciences Division and Mass Comm coed Josol Matalam who is entered as a photographer for the Humanities Division.

After a frenetic, raah-raah filled finals night that was capped by a showcase of noted Dabawenyo fashion designer Silverio Anglacer, the Social Sciences Division of which JM and Irenee represented copped the most number of awards with JM adjudged as the contest's best photographer (Josol took home second runner-up honors).

After the contest I got to interview JM about the contest, his victory and his passion.

Durian Jam: Who were your Social Sciences and Education Modelo Ateneo team?

JM: Our male model was Alex Le Neindre, a Filipino-French student he is a first time model. Then our female model was Therese Medel, a Filipino of Spanish descent, also a first time model. Our Make-Up Artist was Irenee Lascuna, a former Star Struck 2007 finalist then we had our SSE Division Representative ? Dawn Albert Pates. That composed our team.

(Alex was named as Modelong Ateneo best Male model while Therese copped runner-up honors.)

DJ: What entice you to join the contest?

JM: First of all I wanted to represent the Social Science and Education Division and explore outside my box; venture a little bit more regarding my photography. I knew that something like Modelo Ateneo would give me a somehow wider perspective on photography whether I win or lose.

DJ: Describe the equipment you used during those shoots

JM: Editing any of the photographs was against the rules. So, every after shoot we were watched by a certain PA from the production staff to make sure that we were not editing. What I did was I used Strobes, soft-boxes, colored gels "to put an artistic effect on the subject" and fortunately enough, the ambient light. I was lucky enough to have friends who had the equipment that I used for the photo shoots. I would like to thank Bounce Productions for the equipment they lent me.

DJ: What was the process of doing the shoots?

JM: Actually, there were four photo shoots within four weeks, every Sunday with four different themes for each Sunday, D. Basically, the production team, Blue Monsters Production, gave us the concept which we worked on so everyone had actually the same concept. The only difference in the concepts between the photographers including myself was that we all added a flavor of our own style.

DJ: How would you describe the photo shoots?

JM: It was stressful of course, given the circumstances that we were all students and that it was all held on a Sunday but it was all worth it considering that I made new relationships, gained new knowledge and experienced a good amount of recognition as a photographer.

DJ: What was your reaction when you won the awards?

JM: Maluha-luha ako nung natanggap ko ang mga awards. I was so shocked because I thought that my partner photographer, Jimmy Du, would get the awards. True enough I am so grateful for the recognition, experience, relationships built, the support of the team, my family, friends, classmates, mentors and of course God.

DJ: Going back to your craft, why you'd choose photography?

JM: Nung bata pa lang ako, kating-kati na akong gumamit ng kamera, at hindi ko alam kung bakit. I took random pictures of random things whenever I got the chance. Officially, I started my career as a photographer in 2009. Why Photography? Let's just say that it was because of intuition. I mean, who wouldn?t love taking photos? I studied Basic Photography under Mr. Jeremy Eliab, the Mass Communication coordinator of the Humanities division in Ateneo de Davao University and through workshops under Eight Espino.