As is the case with almost all of my interests today, I got motivated in dabbling with photography when I was in college. But before I begin I would just like to make it clear that I have yet to be formally trained in photography, so I don’t really know so much about technicalities. You could say that all this time, it’s been trial-and-error, hits and misses for me.
I remember wanting to learn photography the analogue way first before going digital because I thought that it’s the proper way to go about it; however, as it was, my first camera, one that’s solely mine, was neither film nor even at least and entry-level model – it was a red Canon digital camera, one of those small IXUS ones that I got for my 18th birthday. Before this, I can vaguely remember tinkering with my mom’s old point-and-shoot, learning particularly how to load films properly.
And so I would always bring that little red camera with me to school, taking photos of anything and everything. It was mainly for documentation, since for some reason I thought it was a bit silly trying to take “real” photos with it. Not that I never did that.
Tragically, it was still this camera that I used for our only Photography class. In retrospect I think I could’ve badgered my mom to get me a proper camera, but since it wasn’t required, I didn’t feel the need to do so. The professor didn’t care anyway, as long as we’re able to take images that would pass his peculiar standards.
Every week he would assign us to go different places to take photos, like wet markets, the streets, and gardens. One day he was telling us the results of our first assignment, and I was very surprised to hear that he thought that this photo I took was the one he liked the most. It’s a nice recognition, I liked that photo myself, but I never thought it’s better than 45 others taken by some of my better blockmates. It’s blurred and taken only with a digicam, unlike some of the other photos. And oddly enough, I found it more embarrassing more than anything. But in a funny way.
Ironically, I finally received my first real analogue camera sometime after our Photography class ended. One of my uncles was kind enough to give me his old Minolta α-7700i. Although a bit dilapidated, it’s still functioning well and, like the IXUS, I always brought it to school for documentation. I liked taking my friends’ portraits with it, as well as daily scenes from my alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.
Not long after, in early 2009, I received as a graduation gift from my aunts and my mom a DSLR – the Sony α200k. Since some of my friends were also already into photography at the time, I would tag along with them and take mostly behind-the-scenes shots. I’ve also been to one photowalk with a few of my friends and blockmates just before graduation. We went around some places in Manila, from the district of Quiapo to Escolta street in the Sta. Cruz district – both of which were once home to some of the most affluent homes and thriving businesses in Manila – to Manila’s Chinatown and Rizal Avenue or Avenida, one of the city’s main roads where rundown art deco movie theaters can be found. A hundred years ago, this was once Manila’s premier social hub with its restaurants, theaters, and various shops.
At the moment, though, I only have a Vivitar EZ35 and the Minolta in my arsenal. The former I got from a friend who was able to score a buy-one-take-one deal online last year, I think. But both have been gathering dust in my room since I haven’t taken photos for a while now. The last time I did was back in March, and it wasn’t even for a shoot or a photowalk. That time, two of my closest college buddies and I went for a weeklong trip to Singapore. I took the Vivitar with me and borrowed a friend’s Diana F+ flash, but unfortunately, one roll was wasted because it turned out that not a single image was taken in any frame. The other roll seemed all right, but since they couldn’t develop the first one they returned this one undeveloped too. I’ll try having it printed soon.
Right now, working for Lomography has made me want to try to pick up the hobby again. This time around, I’m definitely aiming to try shooting using some of the awesome Lomo cameras that I’ve been hearing about since college!