He is one of the more bashful FPC member around, but when you take a peek at his photostream, you'll find one of the most compelling kind of portraiture done in darker tones. Considering himself a "forever newbie" in photography, Michael Mabalay, known in flickr as Myklmabalay, treats his craft as a never-ending learning experience. He describes his work as "experiments in progress" simply because his photographs document his journey into the exciting world of photography and the honest manifestations of the experiences he has acquired through them. The following interview gives us an insight into the man, his passion that is his work, and the motivation that gives distinct color to each of his creations.
FPC: What’s your favorite photographic subject/s?
Myklmabalay: portrait, glamour, landscape
FPC: Any favorite photographer in particular?
Myklmabalay: Manny Librodo, Parc Cruz, Bobby Wong, carf (in flickr), Jim Fiscus, Andrej Dragan
FPC: Tell us about your dream gear.
Myklmabalay: Boso's gear is already heaven for me :)
FPC: What’s your photographic ambition?
Myklmabalay: to win in an international photo contest before February 2009.
FPC: Your "Kharu" photo was featured "Photo of the Week" on the 2nd week of October. How did that happen?
Myklmabalay: Edwin Martinez inspired me to submit an entry for Manila Bulletin’s ‘Photo of the Week’. Like me, he is also a ‘newbie’ in the hobby. When I saw that one of his beautiful photos was published, I realized that you do not have to be a ‘pro’ or a ‘big name’ in photography to get recognition. Even ‘newbies’ like us have a chance, as long as we are able to produce good quality images.
I submitted the photo through one of the threads in the ‘One Cent Shot’ Group in flickr. A few weeks later, the Group Admin (Andre) told me that the Section Editor of MB wanted to feature the ‘Kharu’ photo. It was a pleasant surprise.
FPC: Was that your first time to be featured? If yes, how did that feel? What was its effect on you? If no, what are your other public exposures?
Myklmabalay: Although a number of my photos were already featured in some flickr groups, it was my first time to be featured in print. How did I feel? I was really happy of course! Finally, I had something in print to prove to my wife that the amount of time and money that I have spent in photography was worth it. Hehehe
BTW, one of my images was featured again as 'Photo of the Week' last November 8, 2006:
FPC: To post-process or not to post-process. Many photographers who managed to build a career with film long before digital photography and Photoshop was invented say that digitally post processing your pictures is not real photography. What's your take on this?
Myklmabalay: I prefer to PP the photos that I release for public viewing. For me, digital processing is simply the equivalent of the traditional darkroom processing done during the film days. Post-processing tools and information are readily available so why not use them?
FPC: How does your family feel about your passion for Photography?
Myklmabalay: They are very supportive. My wife bought 3 copies of Manila Bulletin when ‘Kharu’ was published and my 7-month old baby remains a gracious subject for my portrait shots.
FPC: I've been browsing your photostream a lot lately and have been really speechless with your Portrait shots of Kids and others. This is the Manny Librodo style of portaits?
Myklmabalay: Manny is a dynamic artist and it is not right to set defining parameters for his style. However, one important denominator in his images is the presence of strong emotions that leave an impression on the viewers. Technical perfection is nothing if the image does not draw an emotion. I exert effort to reflect this also in my own photos.
FPC: The most noticeable part of all your portrait shots are the eyes of each subject. What is it that you would like to tell the people with these kinds of shots?
Myklmabalay: The eyes are the focal point of the image but it is the emotion that locks you in to the image.
FPC: Some say your style is unoriginal and monotonous, and that your photos look like Parc Cruz's and Manny Librodo's. How would you react to that? Why the similarity in style among you three?
Myklmabalay: Can you give me the names of the people who said this? My tripod needs a little work out. Hehehe :)
Seriously, I take it as a big compliment when I hear comments that my photos are somewhat similar to what they are able to produce. I only started in photography last February 2006. For someone who is starting out in the hobby, it helps a lot to have role models or ‘idols’ that you can emulate. If people are saying that my photos are already starting to look a lot like their images, then I must be learning the right techniques. I consider myself lucky because I get to learn firsthand from my ‘idols’. I will always be grateful to Manny and Parc for being generous in sharing their knowledge.
This is just a start for me. Who knows what is in store for the future? I’m planning to learn more about fine art nudes, any ‘idols’ that you can refer? C’mon, I know that you have a number of them in your contacts list. :)
FPC: What is your take about all this playful bickering about Nikon vs Canon?
Myklmabalay: I prefer the ‘boxers or briefs’ question :) Both brands are good IMHO. ‘It’s the Indian, not the pana!’ but ‘It’s the pana, not the briefs!’…
FPC: Obviously, your photographic leaning is portraiture. What makes your pieces different from all other portrait artists?
Myklmabalay: I’ve been into photography for less than a year, defining my own style is the least of my worries at this point. As a ‘newbie’, I am focused on learning, practicing, and developing the ‘eye’. My own brand of photography will emerge as I gain more experience in the craft.
FPC: Care to share a quick tutorial on how you do your work?
Myklmabalay: Most of my photos utilize natural light only. The reflections on the eyes of my subjects are already evident during capture. PP just serves to enhance what is already there. I utilize different PS tools based on what the image needs. A bulk of my time on PP is spent on manual dodge and burn. There is no quick plug-ins or filters that can help you achieve the desired output for every image. You need to get your hands dirty and dodge/burn manually.
FPC: Do you currently accept Photography Projects?
Myklmabalay: Not yet as a professional but I’m willing to pitch in for a worthy cause/ charity projects.
Flickr name: myklmabalay
Real Name: Michael R. Mabalay
Day Job: Assistant Vice President for a Life Insurance Company
Current Gear: Canon Powershot S3IS, Canon EOS 350D, 18-55mm kit lens, 50mm f1.8, 85mm f1.8, 24-70mm L f2.8