The crowd started to thin out, as the new faces came in while the Club members, their guests and the models completed the exodus out of Nirai. The sleepy lightsman of Aperture Trading who pressed his head against the glass wall while sitting beside the studio light he was supposed to man—oblivious of the hubbub that the eager members shooting the models—finally got his head on a pillow, I suppose.
The Canon representative who did a no-microphone presentation with a hoarse voice over a hall packed with camera enthusiasts must, by now, be getting his throat lozenges or soothing ale. Archie, the restaurant owner, was now busy attending to his usual customers, conversing with them on the couches the models posed on for member-photographers jockeying for the prime positions. No doubt, the night was settling into its “normal” mode.
But we, the organizers of the party, were still there inside Nirai, congratulating one another for a smashingly successful event. We simply had no idea the enlisted members will live up to their word that they will attend the party we dubbed “the Unveiling of FPC.” We were expecting about half will not be able to come, but alas!, almost all were there to meet, eat meat, talk and shoot! And what a garrulous bunch, talking “until their mouths frothed,” as one member later figuratively put it online!
How was this gathering of 55 friendly photographers brought into fruition? Well, the answer may be traced to the several “eye-balls” of members of the popular photo-sharing website, flickr.com—from the first studio shoot and dinner, to the poetic sunset of Manila Bay, to the raging false falls of Wawa Dam. It was during this latter photo-shoot and meeting on May 21, 2006 that six core members formally organized and named the group “Flickers Photo Club” (the Club). After that, Pat Hocchuan (flickr name, Hocchuan) went on to create the Club’s online group— http://www.flickr.com/groups/flickrphilippines —where we can attract members, and engage each other via the discussion threads.
Last June 23rd, noting that the online club membership was near 300, John Edward Taca (John Edward) proposed a party on a discussion thread, and others went on to fuel the interest, proposing dates and venues and activities during the party. It died down a bit, but Andrew Villasis (Boso) pointed out that we should keep our word to develop credibility. Thus, preparations went on as early as a month before the event, with the nine (9) online group administrators—which includes the six present at the Wawa photo-shoot—doing the legworks.
First we visited the proposed placed owned by a Club member, Archie Simtoco (Archie0222) – the Nirai Japanese Restaurant at the carpark area of the Greenhills Shopping Complex along Ortigas Ave., San Juan. We met there for a dinner and planned the rough details of the party. It was agreed that we should send personal invites to the member via email to boost the attendance. Various tasks were assigned to specific admins. Andrew clenched the support of Canon who promised to provide on-site printing, lenses on loan during the model shoot, and a photo printer as the grand raffle prize, in exchange for spot and time to promote their products. Ronnie Ragonton (Ronrag) engaged Epson for the many items to be raffled off and given away at the party night. Archie got the sponsorship of Premium Wines and Spirits for the night’s drinks. Perry Chua (PowerPee) engaged the support Aperture Trading early on.
We planned the party to be not the usual “gather-to-eat-and-talk” type, which would look like we did it just to please the members. Rather, we aimed at introducing the Club and the members with a “big bang,” much like when runners of a race burst into action at the loud sound of firing gun. So we thought of button pins—not one, but two designs, car stickers, t-shirts, and even ball pens, with the FPC logo. Igor Maminta (Igorms) finalized the logo design, which, by the way, underwent an evolution caused by the critical eyes of the admins. The logo was then printed on the button pins and t-shirts, assigned to Edward Chuasiaokong (Ed’s) and Perry, respectively.
The model shoot, though, was there in the plan right from the start. But the models we wanted were either not available or not “free.” Thus, it was decided that we should just pay for models and get value for what we will pay for. We met once again at Pier1 in Quezon City to pick the models from a list and photos that Andrew brought with him, over some San Mig Lights, peanuts, pasta, and sizzling “sisig.” To spice up the event even more, we injected a secret (members not aware) photo contest and we scheduled a final meeting at Pat’s place the next Saturday to decide on the winners and finalize other details of the party activities, like the registration and program, which was given to Ed to firm up.
In the confines of Pat’s office, we strained our eyes browsing through the pool of 6,000+ photos, looking at photos fit to win the four categories: Landscape, Black and White, Portrait, and Macro categories. And then the ensuing debate on who will win the top spot among the nominees, while on the side, Igor showed us his creepy ghost photos. Then he and Edward went on into the dark office bays for flash lessons and practice. We went home late in the evening unaware of the incoming torrent and so went out of our “war room” into a lot of rain, topped by a flash flood that made the streets lakes and rivers, and our vehicles, amphibious metals on rubber floaters. We named the flood “Bumatay Lake,” after the name of the first street we waded on half-way and backed up from. But we went home with FPC logo on car stickers as a consolation.
We also figured we should let the members have the priority at shooting the models during the party, and we as marshals controlling the activity. Thus, we decided to meet again at DPI Photography Studio to shoot the models for ourselves and post the photos later as party teasers. We guess that drummed up the last enlisters for the party. Anyway, the final list of attendees counted close to 60 the day of the party. Pat is just a panicky guy or is a consummate organizer! Because, a day before the party he, acting as the overall coordinator, was texting us to remind us to make sure everything is set. I was tasked to get the giveaways from Epson and bring them to the venue.
My wife and I arrived at the venue along with Estan and Roy, two members who are from Makati, hitching a ride with us to the venue. Alas! In our excitement, I forgot to drop by Epson to get the giveaways. Fortunately, when we called John Edward, he said he could drop by to bring the goods himself. At around 5:15, we were at the venue, and we thought we were the earliest to arrive! Kuya Ronnie was already there sitting at a table outside the main hall, puffing like your usual urban professional savoring his success. He is a lawyer. We were settling down on our registration table when Janzedrik, a member, arrives. Then Neil Vicencio (Neiltot), and admin. Neil helped organize the model shoot and as main marshal, made sure everyone who wished to shoot had his opportunity. Soon, before 7 pm, others started pouring in and after some time, it became impractical for me to take a photo of everyone who registered, which was my plan.
Soon the dining hall was packed with bubbling photogs. Flashes of light from their cameras attract the attention of passersby and patrons from adjacent establishments. The studio lights were brought in and were immediately setup, the models arrived and the flashes became even more tightly spaced. Even the sponsors of the wines and spirits brought their pretty promo girl to the delight of the party-goers! They would call the attention of the girl, not to ask for a drink but to have her photo taken!
We setup a projector and against the wall outside, we showed a slide presentation of how the club came to be formed—a montage of photos from the meets, from the studios to the concert halls and the Manila Bay, as well as parties coupled with fashion shows. John Edward’s time to host the formal program came and he fired along, bumbling but coming back funny, delivering some punchy puns and engaging the members who were at the same time eating. The Canon representative was given time for a presentation, speaking to a crowd of mostly canon users were more or less already familiar with the products, with a hoarse voice and he had to shout a little because the microphone cord isn’t long enough to reach his position, which was beside our registration table near the entrance.
Raffle prizes were drawn. A highlight of the program, of course, was the awarding of the winners of the surprise photo contest. You can view the winning entries on this page: http://www.flickr.com/groups/flickrphilippines/discuss/72157594284862591/. The Pixma printer that Canon brought for the grand raffle prized was won by Tipoy, a Nikon camera user!
A little while more and the studio lights went on and the hall was instantly on its feet! The order of the shoot was given—in timed batches so that everyone would have the opportunity to be close to the models. At first the batches were kept. But soon, same faces appeared on each batch! But since no one was complaining, the shoot became a free for all, with just the exposure of the models being timed. Tod Polson, our only foreing guest brushed shoulders with the local photogs to get a good shot at the models! Initially, two models were scheduled as the main ones who will be shot at the setup. But other models were very accommodating, filling in the slack time and giving the photogs the challenge of a marathon shoot of so many models in a short span of time. Ashley, one of the members, also went up the stage and showed the group the moves! After about 2 hours of model shoot, talk, and laughter, the party came to a gradual halt.
Watch out for Pat Hocchuan's photos of the party!