Strong visual imagination holds sway in Inquirer photo exhibitBy Constantino C. Tejero
Philippine Daily Inquirer
How they’ve grown, and how their works are reflecting a growing maturity—one could swear these amateurs have become professional photographers.
The Inquirer Camera Club recently held its annual exhibit of this year’s output on the lobby of the PDI main office in Makati City. Some 60 photos were on display, the result of the group’s trips from Sagada to Negros.
Aside from the usual subjects of landscape, portraiture and still life, the group covers cultural events such as the Taong-Putik Festival of Nueva Ecija; Dinagyang of Iloilo; Parada ng Mga Lechon in Balayan, Batangas; Pintaflores in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental; the World Pyro Olympics and Aliwan Fiesta in Manila.
Festivals and fiestas always offer interesting colors and movements for photographers, but the resultant shots are almost always uniform. It takes someone with a real eye for image-making to capture the decisive moment, the available light, the unusual angle, the telling detail, to stand out in a crowd of generic photos.
Landscape and portraiture are more restricted. What can you do with a waterfall but shoot the cascade of water? What can you do with a horizon but shoot the coconut tree? The real photographer instinctively knows what to do.
We’re happy to note that in this exhibit a strong visual imagination predominates. Many of the photos have remarkable narrative bent. Some use color with spareness, often to the point of near-monochrome.
Pattern serves the photographers well. Gerry Jano’s shot of the curving necks and beaks of innumerable ducks in Nueva Ecija is such a one.
And so is Boy Abing’s shot of soot-black Ati-atihan revelers holding up gigantic canary-yellow sunflowers.
Arnold Buno’s image of Sagada rock formations that look like a broken cliff beautifully alternates the grayness of the crags and the greenness of the vegetation.
Sonny Cruz’s peacock in a Subic aviary is the usual picture of the bird with tail outspread, but his visual texturing renders the photo to appear like a piece of tapestry.
Cruz has a keen eye for symmetry, as witness in another shot the twin lines of ripples created by the outriggers of a boat cutting across the water of Ambuklao Dam.
Unusual angle is best exemplified by how Fran Katigbak catches a prayerful woman in a church pew in Iloilo from the vantage point of the feet of the Crucified Christ.
A telling detail can be found in Adela Mendoza’s abstracted image of a wet, cleaved, flesh-toned boulder in a Sagada cavern. This can be mistaken for a loaf of bread or a piece of erotica.
Drama in these photos sometimes assume cinematic form. Genie Lagman’s silhouette of a fireman on a rooftop looking over a flame-red conflagration in Iloilo looks as if on the rim of a caldera overflowing with lava.
Mendoza’s golden-brown lechon heads, closed-eyed and open-mouthed, fixed on a sky-blue wall in Batangas appear like pitiful creatures crying for help.
Founded in 1999 by Nilo Alterado, ICC now has 28 members, half of them active. This year, Inquirer photographers Joan Bondoc and Edwin Bacasmas serve as their mentors.
Bondoc had held a lecture on photojournalism, Bacasmas on street photography. ICC members were clarified on focus (strong foreground, supporting background); long exposure; silhouette and shadow; framing and cropping; drama; reflection; capturing the story.
The exceptional result is in this exhibit. It’s not too much to say that a few of these photos approach art photography.