THE moment Marc Espina was shut off as maritime mechanic after being clinically declared color blind, his life suddenly became dark. He was stunned and discouraged.

But little did he know that what appears as his life's darkest moment would pave the way for a brighter and yes, colorful future.

And so, now at 30, he may not be sailing the oceans of the world but on his sleeves are a degree in education, a well-known creative genius at par with the best, and an eye for photography that makes the mind either critical or simply at awe.

Marc’s engagement with what he considers as "dark arts" is consuming his passion and artistry for years now. He says “dark art photography” and “photo manipulation” showcase his love for the absence of colors, underexposed frames, and the dark and mysterious feel.

Despite cutting short to using high-end gadgets and processing requirements, he is constantly proving that there is beauty in having less; in scarcity, creativity is tested. His portfolio— a combination of self-portraits, digitally manipulated images, thematic story lines and well-planned photo shoots—are getting high praises.

Unlike the usual colorful, well-dressed and comical photography, his not-so-mainstream take on the arts is what I consider as the truer value of artistic self-expression: not people-pleasing and never commercialized. For him, while the perception of others are important, disregarding his vision in order to "tune in" with what others want is like "disregarding myself from the happiness I deserve."

For some, his dark themes may be a little disturbing; to me, it's controversial, thus, worth checking. For instance, he shares, during what appears to be a less exciting day— he stitched a photo shoot, this time, himself as the model. Posturing unclothed from head to toe while facing against a rusted and easily shaken wall, he displayed supreme confidence to be in his own skin. A bold take on self-expression, he finds relief in releasing his tensions and negative energies channeled in wonderfully crafted pictures.

Furthermore, the juxtaposition of headless, shirtless human forms and grey clouds or enchanted ruins is outward manifestations of his angst and skepticism to human struggles. His themes are his own personal stories: a frustrated mariner, a constant imaginer, a day dreamer and a dark artist.

The human eyes may find comfort in cotton-candy, pleasant composition, but the dark art of the likes of Marc is a breather in this highly commercialized world. His concept is freeing. A hint of accepting and understanding that each one has a dark story to tell: failures, misfortunes, betrayals, defeats and lies. We may conceal the hurt or mask the pain, but art, the dark kind in this matter, is instrumental to releasing anger and anxiety that if not expressed, will cripple the heart.

For Marc, his photography and art is real and existing. He portrays ambition after brokenness, aches turned strength, power after hopelessness, an intertwining idea that he never fails to hold.

And so, dark photography is Marc’s ardent approach to tell the miseries of the world and that, "it's not all good, but it's not all bad either."