Posted By Lester V Ledesma

#6) Street Photography With Luis


September 15, Malaysia: Whenever I hold a camera I have a story and a theme, sometimes even a layout in my mind's eye. Call it a professional habit, something I have cultivated in my fourteen years as a travel photographer. So imagine the internal retooling when photojournalist Luis Liwanag joined me as a guest speaker in PhotoTreks: Malaysia. This veteran lensman was renown for his evocative street photography, a shoot-first-think-later style of shooting that captured fleeting moments in everyday life.


It was a method of madness that contrasted my own, and from the start it was clear there was much to learn. Where I would approach a situation thoughtfully, my counterpart would wade in with cameras blazing, sometimes inches away from his unsuspecting subjects. And when I would stop to "art direct" my quarry, he would hide in plain sight, snapping away to reveal an instant of whimsy, or joy, or intrigue. Later on I switched gears, and did as the man did. No stories or layouts, just a heightened sense of awareness for anything interesting ("kung anu-ano lang" was how he described it). Damn it was challenging. And fun. And liberating. There's a select handful of photographers whose work truly inspire me. This guy is one of them.

#5) The Long Lost Hometown


October 22, Philippines: It was just another fiesta in a career spent shooting fiestas for a living. But this visit was personal, and we had much, much more than photo-coverage in our heads.


We had come to Bacolod to shoot the annual Masskara Festival, and to reconnect with a city I used to visit as a child. This, you see, was my late father's hometown - a fact that was driven home (pardon the pun) by the numerous streets, buildings and grand old houses bearing my family's name. In another place we would have been strangers; here we were greeted by relatives I hadn't seen in years. And for five days we lived the Bacolodnon lifestyle (basically eat, party and drink lots of beer...) while I tried to shake the dust off my long-unused Ilonggo. Sure, we'd occasionally go out to shoot fiesta dancers on the street. But as my girlfriend Joanne said at one point: "para kang taga rito!" ("you're like a local here"). Going home was the real attraction here - the Masskara was just an excuse.

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