Personal Project — Faces (Part 8)

“Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.” – Edward Steichen

Faces is a personal project that I’ve started and worked on over the past few months. I have shot portraits of over 30 different people as of this writing.

I talk about its inception here. This is the last installment of the series in this form. What started out as an exercise in color and lighting has turned out to be a journey in finding my own visual style. I am not saying that I will no longer shoot portraits in this manner, but that I am simply taking the series on the road (figuratively most of the time, but literally in some cases) to keep me on my toes.

This last set features three faces that photograph quite well. Two represent the different faces of Filipina beauty and one is a kindred soul, a rather gifted visual artist.

Follow the blog for a new take on this series.

Nature

The human form has long fascinated me. There is an undeniable elegance in its design, and an indelible grace in its function. The way bare skin catches the light and glows. The way the body’s curves and edges do not only give it shape, but create accents and textures as shadows fall on them. And in the way each bump and mark tells a different tale that when taken altogether tells the story of the person it belongs to.

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A nude body can be just a nude body. There is always a choice whether to eroticize it or not. That choice is governed by intent. Mine is to offer the idea of nudity as being more than just a commodity to be consumed or a taboo to be hushed into submission. I would like to make it the subject (as opposed to an object) in the creation of something lofty and inspiring, something that would not shy away from being called art.

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The human form finds its home in nature, which is why I strive to capture it in its natural habitat so to speak. Its inherent beauty is seen more clearly when its shape exists in harmony with the chaos and order of the environment. There is an incontestable primal connection that reminds us of our roots, our origins.

Personal Project — Faces (Part 7)

“It is the common wonder of all men, how among so many millions of faces, there should be none alike.” – Thomas Browne

Faces is a personal project that I’ve started and worked on over the past few months. I have shot portraits of over 30 different people as of this writing.

I talk about its inception here. The seventh installment of this series came quite late. These are pictures that I shot in the second half of last year; but I intend to post all the portraits I’ve made for this series, as all of the subjects here have graciously gifted me with their time and presence, so it’s only proper that I give them mine as well (albeit belatedly).

I found myself reconnecting with people from the past, a good friend from my alma mater and some of my students from before. As for the latter group, I find it interesting to see how their faces have changed since they were first in my class, seeing how they have matured along with the new life stories that they tell me during the shoot.

One more set (or a little over half a set) before a shift in this series …

Walking Your Path

Don’t compare yourself to other photographers. Don’t benchmark your success against theirs. You’re trying to do your own thing, so their definition of having made it will never be the same as yours. When you look too long at the work of others, you’ll appreciate your own vision and style less and less. And then you won’t even realize that you’ve actually already made it, you just can’t see it because you’re too busy looking over on the other side of the fence.

These are words that I try to remind myself of every now and then. When the doubts and self-loathing kick in, these lines keep me afloat on a sea of uncertainty. But I’ve been struggling to find my bearing lately, so I have Susan, my wife and guardian angel, to thank for helping me find these words again as we talked over coffee yesterday.

She helped me remember why I chose this path in the first place and how I intend to see the furthest that it will take me.

My weekends might never be booked as I am not a sought-after wedding and events photographer. I don’t expect fashion magazines to hire me to shoot their latest collections as I know very little about what is haute and what is not. I may never be called artsy and hip by the young crowd as I am at least two generations removed from today’s millennials.

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I shoot pictures to make photographs. From the atmospheric street scene, to the travel photo less taken, and to the quiet and thoughtful portraits of people, with or sans clothing — this is where I find my home. The goal is to make art for people to admire and hopefully purchase for themselves (or commission me for). And it is in that regard that my wife reminds me of my success, having sold dozens of prints since I first started making them.
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Am I an art photographer?

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I wouldn’t call myself that as I have no formal training in the arts, as my background is in the sciences (chemistry). And even though I believe that creativity is not the sole province of artists, I wouldn’t want a label that might only make me sound pretentious.

I am a photographer. And I’m a fairly successful one at that.

Shooting the Stars

I find myself out on the streets shooting pictures again. The feeling of looking for your shot and then plopping down your tripod to make it never gets old.

20151128-jrl_paskosapajo_036Although, I still wonder what commuters and passersby think of the idiot who darts from the sidewalk to the concrete barrier in the middle of the street. Or if they even think that I’ll start whacking random people on the head with my tripod. I suppose me looking into my camera’s LCD screen and grinning when I do get the shot does not help.

20151128-jrl_paskosapajo_044Admittedly, I used to be quite conscious about the people’s perception as I shoot pictures on the streets out in public; now, I’m at peace with being that idiot.

Bare – Shara

  1. What do you love about your body?

It would be my eyes and my legs. Quite a number of people have complimented me about my long legs and my lovely eyes. But, of course, those are other people’s words and not mine.

  1. What are you most insecure of?

I’ve always felt conscious about being flat-chested and having a flat butt. It’s hard to think of myself as sexy when I don’t even have curves in the right places. I might probably consider myself as statuesque because of my height, but not sexy.

  1. After looking at your pictures, have they changed the way you look at yourself?

Yes.

How?

After seeing the pictures, I feel beautiful. I felt a part of my insecurities fade away. I can now say that I can be sexy even if I am flat-chested. It just depends on accepting your body and yourself. I definitely feel a lot more confident.

It feels good.

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*The Bare project was introduced here. Its manifesto can be read here.

The Bare Project Manifesto

The Bare project aims to empower its subjects. Its goal is to create portraits that celebrate both the beauty and flaws of the person in front of the camera.

Each subject is asked to answer two questions prior to the shoot:

  1. What do you love about your body?
  2. What are you most insecure of?

Her answers will serve as an inspiration and as a guide in the journey that she and the photographer will take in making her pictures — from concept to print.

After the shoot, the subject is asked one more question —

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  1. After looking at your pictures, have they changed the way you look at yourself? How?

The hope is that the subject sees not only what makes her beautiful, but also how her imperfections complete the picture.

New Project: Bare

Bare is a new intimate portrait series that I am currently working on.

The meaning of the project’s title is twofold.

First, an an adjective, the word bare means basic, simple and without addition. The focus of the portrait is the subject herself. It’s not about the clothes, the accessories or even the location.

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Second, as a verb, it means to uncover a part of a person. It is not about exposing skin for the sake of looking sexy. It is a confident gesture of being comfortable and proud of one’s body.

The goal is to create images that will be more about the subject than the viewer; to make a photograph that shows both the beauty of her features and the character of her flaws.

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*The project is still in its early stages, so the photo above is  actually from a preliminary shoot. My vision is not just to create an online gallery of images with empowering realizations from each subject, but to hopefully see these pictures in print, either for an exhibit or a book. Well, one can always dream.

Please visit the site every now and then to check on my progress. Wish me luck.

Personal Project — Faces (Part 6)

“Every great work makes the human face more admirable and richer, and that is its whole secret.” – Albert Camus

Faces is a personal project that I’ve started and worked on over the past few months. Despite the hectic schedule, I was finally able to shoot portraits of 30 different people. As for the birthday wish that I spoke of in a previous post, whether it comes true remains to be seen.

I talk about its inception here. In the sixth installment of this series, I was able to work with new subjects, K and Shantyl (2nd and 4th photos respectively); and recapture old faces, Marlyn and Julia (3rd and 5th photos in the set), as well.

The highlight, however, is the first image. I was finally able to shoot a proper portrait of my mother. No blinks, giggles and smirks. I am proud of this picture because this person is half-responsible for the Joel Locaylocay part of Joel Locaylocay Photography after all.

More to come…

Street Photography – Faith

I am not the best advocate for travel.

To this day, it is still a tense and fairly stressful experience for me. But, I have come to realize that nothing quite opens your eyes to the diversity of life on this planet more than travel. It’s not as easy to disregard the different beliefs and practices of the multitude of people on this planet when you witness them clasp their hands in earnest prayer as they raise their faces into the heavens above.

How can we say whose god is right?

How can we be so certain that those who do not follow our traditions are lost and misguided?

I believe that before we start quibbling over our differences, that we plumb the deepest depths of our shared humanity first. And if there is one thing that I am certain of, it is my faith in our capacity for a love that transcends race, religion and creed.

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You can view more of my street photography here.