There is a lot of talent in the world of creative photography but having what it takes to put out creative content is just half the battle. You have to learn how to love what you do in order to stay in the game. Manila-based photographer Johan Andrew Ocampo, more popularly known as the visionary named JAO, is a young creative that has both. He's found balance in what he does and that also afforded him to stay grounded in the busy but fulfilling career of professional photography.
In this interview, he shares with us how photography continues to change his life. He also got to try Lomography's newest addition to the Petzval Art Lens family: the Petzval 55 MKII Bokeh Control. We have to put in a disclaimer, though. He loved it and we couldn't be happier that he did.
What got you started on your photographic journey?
Though by profession I am a registered nurse, specializing in dialysis. I dropped all that to pursue my passion and career in photography. Mainly because this is what I wanted to do, this is one of the things that wake me up in the morning and I feel excited about “what should I create next.”
It’s my fascination with the craft of creating something you see or imagine. Imagination is limitless and when you are given the opportunity to capture and create something without limits, you too become limitless. I guess that is one of the main reasons that pushed me and is still pushing me to continue on in this direction.
What do you like about taking photographs?
There is this pleasurable delight when you capture a photograph that you always wanted or something that is so spontaneous that you happen to be in the right moment in time. It is like you’re making your personal stamp in reality that is seen and framed in a moment's capture. You just stand in awe and say “Wow, I captured the moment!”
What inspires you to shoot?
God, family, and friends.
God – there is a verse in the Bible that goes “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalms 139:14. Let's say there are a lot of bad things happening in the world but there is so much good in it too! Because the world is meant to be a wonderful place, you are made and designed to be wonderful and beautiful, no matter who you are! I want to view and capture the world the way God sees it, that everything is beautifully made. That is how I believe you should capture beauty – seeing things the way they are meant to be. Do that, and you will capture and see beauty wherever you go.
Family – My family supports and inspires me to move forward, as I said before. I was actually a nurse with a typical professional career waiting for me but all that was set aside because I wanted to pursue something that is totally out of my field. And my family was there to guide and support everything I do. They inspire me to keep shooting and to do my best for them.
Friends – My friends, especially my fellow photographers, challenge me to be more creative. Being surrounded by talented artists challenges you to be better not because you want to compete with them but because they complete you as an artist. We should complete each other, not compete.
We're loving the photos you took with the Petzval 55 MK II Art Lens. How was your experience with it?
Oh, man! I wish I can have one real soon! The Petzval lens really lives up to its name. It is indeed a unique kind of art lens.
It was surprisingly sharp and the unique swirly bokeh with 7 different intensities just adds a whole new layer of creativity to your shoots and workflow. Not to mention the aperture plates. Oh, how I love using the aperture plates.
The plates have different kinds of shapes which in turn reshapes the bokeh of your shots. Now, this can potentially be awesome during at night when you capture bokeh lights which I already did and it was indeed awesome! Oh, it also has an f1.7 opening so lowlight shoots are such a beauty with this lens, Anyway, using it during the day combined with the aperture plate just gives you a dreamy vibe like no other – how the bokeh design changes and affects the overall photo is just very addicting.
How did the Petzval 55 MKII complement your shooting style? How do you think it can be improved?
What I love about the Petzval 55 is it preserved the essence of analogue photography. What do I mean? Well, you shoot it as it is without adding any digital manipulation of Photoshop or any other application. The effects are naturally applied the way you wanted it to be. In an age where everything can be digitally manipulated, having this naturally done in-camera is something that every creative should be able to try
The swirly bokeh with the 7 different levels/intensities and the aperture plate can change the overall look and feel of the shoot. It is so dynamic that you can use it almost anywhere and it can show you something new every time that you'll always be surprised by the results.
Well, I am actually already satisfied as it is but if it can be further developed, maybe there can be a version where autofocus can be applied to the lens. Having autofocus will indeed help you get good photos.
What are your tips for photographers who want to try out the lens?
Explore the 7 levels of bokeh and the aperture plates. Try the different levels of the swirly bokeh and different aperture shapes. Use them during your normal day-to-day shoots and see how it can affect your photos.
“The swirly bokeh with the 7 different levels/intensities and the aperture plate can change the overall look and feel of the shoot. It is so dynamic that you can use it almost anywhere and it can show you something new every time that you'll always be surprised by the results.”
Try using the swirly bokeh with high contrast background during your portraits take a shot then try putting an aperture plate and see how it can change the details of your shot.
Just try to have fun while exploring new things and try to create something that moves your heart.
What other Lomography products do you wish to try?
I’m open to whatever Lomography has but the new 80.5 mm is something interesting and worth trying for sure.
Any upcoming projects? Please share them with our readers.
Well, I’m involved with a very prestigious pageantry event here in the Philippines which is now ongoing and I have some upcoming international concert coverages that I’m excited to cover.