Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Loyal Photog-Scholar

There are so many descriptions I can ascribe to this week's featured photographer. He is a serious model Director-Photographer, a caring and approachable HR competency evaluator and a garrulous dinner companion. But one trait permeates all his roles. He is a loyal person – to his studies, his job, his friends and FPC.

My wife and I met with him at Yoshinoya at Parksquare 1, Ayala Center, Makati last November 14, 2006. He was carrying his camera bag (as to why is explained in the actual interview) and his trademark ready smile, which I first noticed at the Nirai Party last September 14. We were still at the counter ordering food but I already noted that I was up against a tough time with keeping up writing down answers to the interview questions! This guy really loves to talk and tell stories! It made me wonder if it would have been better for me to have chosen the e-interview option instead of an actual interview. Hehe

Eventually, we sat down with our Japanese food at a nook behind the restaurant, where there was few people eating and thus, it is more conducive for the ensuing conversation. Before we dig into the persona and opinions of a loyal Club member, let me introduce him first:

flickr Name: JC
Real Name: Christopher Perez
Lives in: 98B Dr. Sixto Antonio St., Maybunga, Pasig City
Day Job: Technical Associate – Corporate Technical Services, San Miguel Corporation
Current Gear: Canon 30D and Canon Powershot S2 IS
Dream Gear: Canon DSLR full frame
Favorite Photo Subject: Nature/Landscapes, People (including models)
Favorite Photographers: Dominique James (who opened my interest in glamour photography), Reggie Santos (a fellow Filipino Photography hobbyist who have been an inspiration to me when I almost gave up. He lives and works in Canada), and countless good fellow FPC members who undoubtedly possess extreme talents in all areas of photography that keeps my eyes popping every time I see their photos.
Photographic Ambition: I want to take powerful photos that can reach and touch the deepest part of a human being… the heart.

These are his candid answers to the questions we dished out to him:

A. Person and Family

FPC: You are a working student and we’re pretty sure working and studying at the same time is very hard already. How do you still find time for Photography? What’s the secret?
JC: I make sure that my Photography does not interfere with my work and my studies. I don’t go to shoots when I have class. So, me and my shoot buddies, Lenard [Po, another FPC member] especially, always communicate to arrange for a common free time for photo sessions. Usually, we do shoots on Sundays, when every one of us is free. Sometimes, after office. I have to work to support my hobby.

FPC: What are you a student of in what school?
JC: I’m taking up Master of Technology Management at UP. And my second semester classes start tomorrow.

FPC: What can such Masters degree afford you when you graduate?
JC: I haven’t thought of that yet. [Laughs.] The reason I took up post-graduate school was that I was bored at home, wasting my time watching all the telenovelas [soap operas] there is to watch! I decided to be more productive so I decided to study. I chose a degree that is related to my work evaluating the worthiness of employee vis-à-vis a possible promotion or upgrade. San Miguel is such a diverse organization. We need specialized skills to manage the competence across all the related companies.

FPC: Are you also a fulltime student? What year are you in now?
JC: Yes, I’m a fulltime student. Fully loaded. I’m now in my second year and hopefully, I will graduate next year.

FPC: What does your family think about your passion?
JC: My Father is gone. My Mother is a very itinerant businesswoman. Last time I checked she was in Baguio. But she calls in once in a while to tell us what part of the Philippines she is at. So, she has no idea of my photography which I took on just last April.

I got no support from her ever since High School. I wanted to enroll in a Photography course in college but she said we have no money. So I ended up with Engineering.

My sister is supportive of my hobby. As long as I can afford it, she has no qualms about it.

FPC: Girlfriend?
JC: None. Right now, I’m not pressuring myself into such a relationship. I got my hands full with my work, studies, and of course Photography.

B. His Photography

FPC: What got you into Photography? When?
JC: I got an iPod and joined the online community. Someone there posted a question about the best camera to buy. I did some research and eventually bought myself my own digital camera in April this year.

Before I became an FPC member, I joined an online photog’s group but had a traumatic experience with it, the details of which I choose not to mention here. It was when I spent time in Corregidor, taking photos of the ruins and the rundown landscape, that I became serious about Photography.

Corregidor 24

Then, I got into glamour photography when Lenard organized a model shoot but we had no studio. Fortunately, John Chua offered use of his studio in Makati for free! I enjoyed it and was happy with the beautiful models and nice studio lights on my photo. I was hooked by that studio shoot and told myself I’d do it again!

So when Dominique James, whom I knew via the iPod online community, had an exhibit of his celebrity shots last summer, I also joined the free photo workshop he conducted. There I learned the basics of many things about Photography.

FPC: What was your first camera?
JC: A non-SLR. It was a Kodak film camera which we used for family activities. My first digital camera is the Canon PS S2is which I bought only April of this year. But after a month of using it, I already felt limited by its capabilities, so I bought a Canon 30D.

FPC: How do you describe yourself as a Photographer?
JC: [Thinks hard.] Hmm… the last comment I got from the previous 3 consecutive shoots, they say that I was superfriendly, funny during off-photo hours but serious during the shoots. When not in session, I befriend models, make jokes, make faces. And during the photo sessions, I get into the director mode. I don’t just shoot away. I wait for the emotion I want to the model to show, then find the appropriate angle, then I shoot, paying special attention to the eyes.

Two quotes by Dominique James I keep in mind whenever I have a shoot:
1 – “There are no bad subjects, only bad Photographers.” He stressed to look for the beautiful side of everyone. Everyone has it.
2 – “Photography is not to show but to hide.” A photo is a one-dimensional and limited representation of things so one only needs to show the beauty and hide the bad things from the limited frame coverage. So when I make a model more beautiful than reality, I feel I have succeeded. Just like my portrait [shown above]. I hid a lot from reality!

FPC: You said you “want to take powerful photos that can reach and touch… the heart.” How do you relate your style with your “Photographic Ambition?”
JC: With glamour shoots, I tend to relate Photography with acting. If the model feels sexy, then she should show that physically. Therefore, I challenge the model to evoke the emotion. When emotion is at its peak, I lift the cam to shoot.

Hunky Angel

With landscape, sunset and sunrise sceneries are by themselves powerful images. I think the challenge is how to make them more dramatic in post-processing.

FPC: It says in your flickr Description that you are a "Photography Enthusiast/Hobbyist." But we see that you’re on your way to a Professional track. What are your plans?
JC: Yesterday somebody asked me if I have done weddings. I said not yet, but have plans of becoming a VA [Volunteer Assistant]. He replied that he was thinking of taking me as a primary Photog.

I’ve been thinking of putting up a business with some friends soon. We’ve already started scouting for the place to conduct the business, probably forming a company that will make people’s photographic fantasies a near reality. My would-be associates are involved in wedding and stock photography, while Lenard and I in glamour.

FPC: Do you see yourself taking up Photography as your “bread-and-butter?”
JC: No. We’re planning to do business in photography only as a sideline. I will still pursue my corporate career. I’m still in love with my job of helping other people move up in their career and I’m finding fulfillment with it, especially when someone comes up to me and smile, thank me and say he or she was promoted because of me.

FPC: Have you even been paid for photo jobs?
JC: Yes. Once. My first paid shoot involves the “bagnet” photo in my flickr photostream, which everyone loved [and made it to Explore].


I did it for a friend so the pay is not much, and so there was also not much pressure. Before I did that job, I made some research and found techniques to enhance the food, making them sumptuous and inviting. [JC will do another paid food ads job in the latter part of November.]

FPC: Are you the type who attends seminars and workshops? Or do you “grab the basics, then, advance by intuition and experience?”
JC: I want to have a formal study in advanced Photography, but right now I just don’t have the time. So, in the meantime, I do research, then, I try to apply what I read.

FPC: Where do you get your beautiful and handsome models?
JC: Lenard is actually the “pimp.” [Laughs.] He has many friends. He works at UST and there are many students there who could pose for the camera. He also has a network of contacts among the students but the best advertising we have is by word of mouth.

I have also acquaintances at work that are willing to pose for some shots. For instance, there’s the daughter of the Secretary of an executive who looks like KC Concepcion. I started out with good-looking personal friends and officemates.

Samantha 02

FPC: Do you enjoy nude photography? How many times have you done such sessions?
JC: I haven’t really done nude—the kind in which the model bares it all and the Photog plays with the lights. What I did are only semi-nude and for me, it’s not artistic Photography. We just did it for “Sexy” Photography.

Ashley 04

FPC: Do you always carry your camera with you?
JC: No. I’m carrying this tonight because we did some test on the new flash my officemate bought, which was not working with a new Nikon. My camera stays at home and I take it only when there are planned shoots. And we usually plan the shoots at home.

FPC: How do you use Photoshop a lot? Do you see it as a big factor to your Photography?
JC: Yes, I do use Photoshop. And yes, I depend on it very much. After the shoots, when I review what I think are good shots, I find them usually lacking and needs further processing. For example, in the last shoot with Rachel Lobangco, I had several shots that were underexposed. So I rely on Photoshop to improve them.

All my photos in flickr are Photoshop'ed. Because before I post, I hide something—some things that not good, like a mole, a pimple. It’s a challenge for me how to make a rather ordinary face into something beautifully extraordinary, which makes the models and viewers happy, and frequently surprised.

C. As an FPC Member

FPC: What got you into FPC?
JC: I used flickr as a photo host to where I provide URLs in my other photo groups, linking them to the flickr photos. Then, one day I received a flickr mail from Tito Perry [Chua, another FPC member, who was the 3rd featured photographer], inviting me to join FPC. Now, as an FPC member, I know the peak and offpeak hours of FPC activities in the online group.

FPC: How do you compare FPC with other Photography organizations you know or connected with?
JC: Although I maybe one of the first 10 members of DPP online, I never became active in it. And I have also been a member of other online Photography groups, but only in FPC do I see that photogs admins do not make it a “career” being "Mods" [or “Admins”]. It is apparent that they don’t let their role get into their heads and that’s good for me because I am tired of politics.

I have been a moderator too so I know the temptation of “lording it over” the other members. I don’t see such thing happening in FPC. The Mods obviously do not feel superior to the members. I spend my online time now exclusively with FPC and I am happy with it. I told that to Tito Perry and thanked him for inviting me to FPC.

Having such experience, I also invite others to join the Club and just last week, I brought in four new members. I said to them that I would not invite them to something I don’t consider worth their time.

FPC: What do you envision FPC to be? Do you see yourself being part of that vision?
JC: Hmmm… Me, I am envisioning FPC to be more popular online community of photogs. There is this culture of equality, respect and a good mix of values in FPC and I think the Club can leverage on this culture to pursue the visions, like the vision for an FPC Magazine.

I am really excited about the future magazine, and I am envisioning it to be more popular than [a well-known Digital Photography magazine]. I am also excited about the plans for a website for which we acquired the domain name already.

With the activities going on in the threads, I sense that there is also the passion to pursue the vision—the blogspot with the encouraging interviews, like that of Sir Alex’s [alexdpx] and his article on the interview’s aftermath. There is pursuit of the vision. But it doesn’t do it to contend with other groups or clubs.

Lenard and my other friends agree with me.

FPC: Who are your best buddies in FPC?
JC: Lenard, of course, Jen, Karen, master Andrew…

FPC: Any message to FPC Admins and fellow members?
JC: For FPC Admins, I say continue pursuing the visions, maintain the culture of brotherhood in Photography. In FPC, we discovered something beyond Photography. Keep the friendship active, the passion alive, and help each other out.

For fellow members, be active, support the vision, keep sharing photos, promote FPC, and more importantly, maintain the quality of friendship and camaraderie.

To all, let us strive to become well-known, but keep the values that can not be captured by the camera alive—that “something” which binds us together!

- end of interview -

After the interview we drove him to Pasig. Along the way he told a lot of things, including how he got to be friends with Rachel Lobangco. Two days later, he sent an SMS to my mobile informing us that he just became a university scholar! November 20, I was with him again shooting the beautiful and sexy Rachel Lobangco! Thanks for the invitation, JC!

- end -


Hocchuan said...

Congratulations on your scholarship JC. Keep up the good work and God Bless.

ronrag said...

more than anything else, i dig this guy for being a real person and fun to be with!! congrats JC, you're one of a kind....

remedy said...

Awesome time management skills and self-discipline. Only great things will result from hard work, and youre such a great example. I hope you keep on blazing a trail and be a source of inspiration. Congratulations and God Bless JC.

jesslee said...

you deserved it, bro! i'm so happy for you!

god bless!!!

JC said...

sir pat, thank you very much. you're one of the coolest guy i look up in FPC. one of my inspirations actually. c",)

sir ron, thank you very much sir. photography is so much fun with real friends like you around. same as sir pat, you're one of the best in FPC. basta makukulit, the best... hahaha... c",)

thank you bro maxi, in this hobby of ours, i just want to be remembered as a good friend rather than a famous photographer who look down to people... i value the most important things that the camera can't be captured... c",)

JC said...

thank you very much sir rem... i just happened to be blessed with very good friends like you and that's more than enough motivation for me to better myself. you're also one of my inspirations who never fails to fire my passion and be proud that i'm a filipino. God bless sir rem... keep inspiring us, you're one of the best guys in FPC... c",)

JC said...

thank you very much bro jess... i wish all the best as well brother... c",)
God bless...

alexdpx said...

Idol JC - Congrats - hehehe. Nice interview Rob :)

Anjo Mines said...

Congratulations, Chris! Enjoy your hobby!

JeN said...

JC, ang galing galing mo....... congrats.... wag ka magbabago.... at tama wag ka makihalo sa mga politics ng ehem ehem... worthless.... mas masaya yung freeeeee to befriend and learn.... yeba!!!

Rob said...

Thanks too Sir Alex :D
JC was a lively conversationalist :D

Powerpee said...

I consider Chris to be a talented photographer... now as to why he calls me Tito, well mas bata pa ako sa kanya :p

Bro, congratulations and keep up the good work. I know you will be there amongst the BEST OF THE BEST someday. God bless! :)

Anonymous said...

tol JC i am very proud of you, you are a very talented young guyand i know that you will reach your goals in life in due time...You have all the potentials and the drive to succeed...'lil bro. Congrats and wishing u d best today & 4 always !
Mae (

Anonymous said...

tol JC i am very proud of you, you are a very talented young guyand i know that you will reach your goals in life in due time...You have all the potentials and the drive to succeed...'lil bro. Congrats and wishing u d best today & 4 always !
Mae (

josefdeguzman said...

Talented, nice and friendly... rare combi nowadays....kudos... keep it cool bro...

Really happy to know you..

JC said...

sir alex, classmate anjo, atchie jen, kuya robert, tito perry, sis mae, and bro josef, thank you so much guys... i just read the comments today... i lost track of it already... hahaha... but still a very memorable experience to me... c",)

all the best,