Candid Photography as an Art Form, is I’ll admit part luck but its calculated luck. You put yourself in a place or position that gives you the greatest chance of capturing a subject that suits your eye, or at least comes close to what you’re looking for. If you find something of interest you can’t pose it you have to take it as it is or have the patience of a saint to wait it out until it gives you an opportunity for a reasonable shot. If it’s the type of subject that is movable then you have fractions of a second to compose the shot set the focus and shoot it. If you have the wrong lens at the time or the lighting isn’t the best you don’t have time to change it, you do the best you can with what you have. You can’t control the lighting unless you spend the time to determine when is the best time to get the shot you want with the best lighting. It’s the most frustrating art media I have ever dealt with. To come up with a truly candid artistic photograph you might be lucky if you get the opportunity to come up with one acceptable shot out of hundreds…It is my opinion that a good photographic artist has to have the eyes of an eagle to be able to focus and see its subject at the best angle in order to capture it, the speed of a mongoose avoiding the bite of a cobra, the patience of a saint and the dexterity to utilize their equipment available to them at the moment instantly and correctly.
~Paul Viverito from his article Candid Photography as an Art Form
Let’s talk a little bit about pictures and why we love them.
Pictures can be beautiful. They can decorate a home or an office; be published in books, magazines and calendars; they can even win ribbons or prizes in contests. A breathtaking landscape can transport the viewer to another time and place, if only for a moment. A beautiful still life can capture a mood of serenity, warmth, even magic. A great portrait of a person can look into their soul, and let you share their smiles or tears. A great picture communicates. Think about it. There is a huge market out there for photographs because publishers know that the people who buy their materials will be drawn to good photographs that reach out to them. Visual communication is something that we’re all born being able to relate to. The subjects out there to take pictures of are limitless. The only boundaries are within your mind.
But what makes a photograph successful? The answer is a fairly simple one, and you can improve your photography today by learning a few very basic rules.
One caveat, however. As the old saying goes, rules are meant to be broken. Some of my favorite photographs very purposely break a lot of the basic “rules” of photography. But to break the rules in a way that enhances a photograph and effectively turns it into a great photo, you first have to know the rules and have a reason for wanting to break them…
~from the article Composition and Impact
A photographic urge is like a bodily itch, there is only one immediate solution – scratch. In a photographic situation, you can’t help it, you have to take a snap and hope for the best.
I have been to dozens of churches in the Philippines and they are some of my most favorite photo subjects. The older, bigger and more elaborate the church structure, the better. But there are many modern ones that catch my eye, with their attractive geometric designs. Like the above church interior when I was in Cebu City. It was the first time for me to see this particular church and as I entered its door the Mass had just started. It was filled with people and the first thing that struck me was the ceiling design above the altar. I did not want to attract attention and disturb the solemnity of the proceedings so I slowly took out the point and shoot on my belt pouch, turned it on, raised it and took a one-handed snap, all under five seconds. Some people saw me and gave disapproving looks. I bowed my head, closed my eyes and prayed for two things: apology from the Lord above, and hope that I had a good shot. The above picture was the answer. Though patience is an endearing trait of the photographer, there are times when the urge gets the better of him and he just has to take a snap, foregoing all processes of thought and forgetting all about composition. This is not an ideal situation for a thinking photographer. Yet sometimes, there is that rare moment when the photographer leaves it all to divine providence.
Around 15 years ago I was diagnosed with glaucoma. It is a debilitating eye condition which, if left unattended, can lead to blindness. I was at an advanced stage and had to undergo expensive and critical laser surgery on both eyes. The medical process was to free up the pressure that was building up inside the eye so that the liquid inside can freely circulate. Unlike the skin organ, the rods and cones in our eyes damaged by the built-up pressure caused by glaucoma cannot regenerate. My sense of sight has not been the same ever since that operation. I wear glasses though the grade is not that high. Glaucoma doesn’t go away, there is always the prospect of a recurrence. How does this affect my photography?
If you have been following this blog for some time now and going through my image postings you may say that I have 20/20 vision. Well, it’s far from that. I have poor eyesight and is nearsighted. I don’t know if that’s because of my previous glaucoma condition. It’s crucial that I wear my eyeglasses when driving because I can not clearly see distant objects, they are all just a blur. I even struggle peering through the electronic viewfinder of my DSLR and find it more comfortable viewing, framing and capturing through the camera’s LCD screen. Such setback (I wouldn’t call it a disability) does not deter me. It even encourages and inspires me to really “see” things. This gift of sight, no matter how imperfect it is for me, propels my photography and visual imagery. Maybe because of this condition I strive to see more, and go the extra effort to perceive light and other elements that make up a good picture. Maybe I am guided more by my internal vision than my external sight when photographing. Or both could be complementing each other. All you my friends who have perfect eyesight be thankful, and utilize that powerful sense to make the most of your capture.
Tomorrow, the last Sunday of January, is the culmination of one of the biggest if not the biggest tourism event in the Philippines – the Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo City in the central part of the country. It has been voted for three consecutive years in the past by a national organization of tourist and travel operators as the No. 1 tourism event, rivaling the equally grandiose Sinulog Festival of Cebu City. I had the opportunity a couple of years back to cover the Dinagyang event together with my photo buddies from Metro Manila and I tell you, even for locals like us who watched it for the first time, it was an experience unlike any other. Now the Philippines is a “fiesta country.” Every town and city celebrate a fiesta of sorts in honor of a patron saint. There’s almost a fiesta everyday somewhere all year round. These usually consist of local beauty contests, drum and bugle competition, the community parade and a culmination night in the city gymnasium or town square where there are special numbers, live bands and fireworks show. Some places have kept the celebration small, others through the years have become a national showcase and tourism attraction – the likes of the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo City, the Sinulog in Cebu held last weekend and tomorrow’s Dinagyang in Iloilo. These premiere festivals that attract thousands of visitors from within the country and from all over the world are virtual explosions of colors, of tribal and local costumes, elaborate choreography, beats of drums and music. It is a flurry of synchronized movement from the performers garbed in their most eye-catching attire. It is the “Mardi Gras” of East Asia. I will run out of words to describe the magnificence and sheer pageantry of these events. But I will not run out of photos I took and the best of them will be presented in the next issue of Junsjazz Digital Magazine which will come out this February. It will be in direct contrast to Issue #5 which was all black and white. Issue #6 will be all about the colors of Fiesta!
Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.~Walker Evans (A blind guitarist performing for tourists in Cebu City)
You are the conductor – your orchestra are shapes, textures, stories, objects, patterns, emotions, design, moments, depth, focus, rhythm, shades, colour, movement and light. It is your performance. It is your vision.~Steve Coleman (Photo location: Wishing bell at Top Mountain Park, Cebu City)
When riding in a car or a taxi, I prefer the front passenger seat because I get to take pictures like the one in this post. I either look out the car window with the camera or just shoot from behind the windshield. You never know the photo opportunity that crops up when you’re on the road. And there are places where you are not allowed to stop, like bridges and freeways, unless its an emergency. Stopping to take a photo will not pass as an urgent situation when confronted by authorities. So I make the most of my travel on the road by being right there on the front passenger side. Obviously, the driver’s seat is the worst place to be for a photographer. (Photo location: Marcelo Fernan Bridge, Cebu City)