The Project Journal

I always have a pen and a small notebook in my camera bag. One can never know when or where inspiration will find you. So, when one comes to me, I find the time to write it down as soon as I can. Better pages full of scribbling than ideas lost to oblivion.

This coming series of posts is a digital version of an idea notebook. It will be a more organized version of its handwritten counterpart though. It’s a springboard upon which I can build on a personal project from concept to print.

This journal will not just serve as means for me too keep tabs on my work. More importantly, it also opens the door for collaboration with interested individuals who come across it.

I haven’t quite decided on what project to start with, but here’s a sampling of old work that I’d like to revisit and build on.

Back to Black



And new frontiers that I’d like to explore in fine art nude photography

and a new artistic nude series that I’m tentatively calling Bodies for now.

Make sure you subscribe to the blog to receive timely updates. For all you know, we could be working on one (or more) of these projects pretty soon.

Think Before You Buy

I regret having found Ted Forbes and his wonderfully informative and inspiring YouTube channel The Art of Photography a few years too late after I started pursuing photography. I find his insights on the subject of the creative’s life, in general, and that of a photographer, in particular, to be honest yet hopeful at the same time. He openly speaks about the difficult reality of the craft without the cynicism of someone who’s been practicing it for as long as he has. To choose to be a photographer is not one of the easiest paths to take, but it can be quite the adventure.

In the video, he talks about one of the most commonly discussed topics in photography circles – Does gear really matter?

What do you think?

Keeping Pace

The researcher-by-day-but-photographer-after-hours experiment didn’t quite work out as well as I hoped. I haven’t been able to make headway into most of the personal projects that I set out to do or reach most of the goals that I set for myself in the past few months. I am hopeful that when my term with the research group ends that I’ll have both the time and the opportunity to make more pictures.

I haven’t exactly been idle though, so what were the past few months like?

Last December, I was commissioned by Surebright Manufacturing Industries Inc. to create images to advertise their line of cleaning agents. I got this job as a result of work I did for a personal project, the #ChemLoveArt series. This is proof that personal work pays.

Earlier that same month, the day job and the dream job sort of met (albeit a little awkwardly) when I was asked to document a two-day convention on natural products research. It was definitely a welcome break from performing experiments in the lab.

Up to until February this year, I worked on my ill-fated Project 365. There were days when I’d get more than one good image but chose another to post, so there are a number of keepers that I’ve been keeping (pun not intended) to myself. Here’s an example of such a picture shot in December.

In January, I started work on the Digital Film Roll project. My first “roll” hasn’t been used up yet, but I hope to change that soon. This is a project that I definitely want to pursue as I plan to try my hand at film photography in the coming months.

I wasn’t able to travel anywhere new just yet, but I continue to strive to find something new every time I revisit an old haunt.

I continue to make and promote the sale of my prints. I hosted a successful sale of my existing catalog before the end of 2016. It makes me happy that more people are open to the idea of purchasing prints as art.

I am using lighting setups that I’ve crafted for old projects for new work. You can recognize the painterly look for Faces in play in this portrait of my goddaughter Peace. I wasn’t surprised that it worked, but that it took me all this time to put something I spent months developing to good use.

I continued to shoot intimate portraits, both for the Bare project and my fine art nude portfolio. I am already in the process of developing upcoming projects in the same vein. I hope to find brave subjects who will collaborate with me on these when the time comes.

I realize that I stalled for a bit on this heading. I have no control over losing the wind in my sails, but I can always pick up an oar and start rowing.

Onward, always onward.


He had been in the hospital for five days and his condition was on the decline. Our last visit with him felt more like a chance to say our farewells. Susan and I had Foxy for over ten years, so when the vet told us about our options, we both struggled with the possibility of having to have him put down. She assured us that it would be painless if it ever came to that. But, for me, even considering it was anything but. We asked to give him one more night and that we’d check on him the following day. If he showed no sign of improvement, then…

I took the day off work to make preparations for whatever outcome. I was preparing myself as well. I was already anticipating how difficult the loss would be. I just didn’t anticipate how hard it would hit. I waited for word from Susan as she was the one who was going to contact the doctor for an update. I sat in the sala of my folks’ place (we slept there as it was an easier drive to the hospital) trying to keep myself preoccupied. There was an early morning thunderstorm and it rained for quite a bit, then my phone rang. It was Susan.

Foxy had passed.

A part of me knew that my dear friend was gone before I even took the call. She just got off the phone with his doctor a few minutes before calling me. As devastated as I was, a part of me was relieved that he was no longer suffering and he spared me the decision of having to put him down. I got dressed and asked my papa to drive me to the hospital. Susan would meet me there and we’d claim his body and I would take him on his final ride home.

After I laid him to rest later that morning, I proceeded to gather his stuff that was lying around the house — his food and water bowls, bedding, and grooming tools. I thought it would make the grieving process a little easier. And yet I could still “see” him in every nook and cranny he’d squeeze into. I catch myself looking down at my feet expecting Foxy to be curled up next to them. Or I’d find myself stopping mid-sentence realizing that the buddy I had early-morning “conversations” with was no longer there.


How can something so small leave such a large gaping hole when it’s gone?

The immensity of the loss that I feel now had nothing to do with what the giver was or had, but rather with what he gave. I’m slowly and painfully realizing that I’m not just mourning the loss of a pet — a smart and kindhearted Pomeranian-Spitz mix whom I have shared over ten years of my life with. It’s a lot more than that. I am grieving over the loss of a good friend. One who gifted me with not just companionship, but with acceptance, patience and love.

It’s not going to be easy, but I know I have to accept and deal with this loss over time, and I’d like to begin with one last farewell.

Goodbye, Foxy. Thank you. Rest now, buddy.

I’ll be missing you until we meet again.

A Good Run – Project 365

It was a good run while it lasted.

This is a late post, but I’ve long decided to stop working on my Project 365 a few weeks ago. After a bit of consideration, I realized that I wasn’t able to achieve the desired goal of getting inspiration (and eventually gaining momentum) from shooting every day. Instead, it ultimately became a chore. There were days when I would find myself settling for what’s there (especially when the weather conditions are dour).

The process became more and more stressful. Of course, there were the rare gems that I was glad to capture; but all in all, I came to admit that this was nowhere near my best work. That the little energy and precious time that I had was better devoted to personal projects that I’ve been working on over the years.

I don’t know what’s next yet. I’m at a fork in the road. But whichever path I take, I’ll make sure to let you know.

Day 114 – 365

Perspective. I’ve set goals for myself to reach this year. However, I now realize, that there are goals that I do not yet see. The only way I can discover these is if I took that first step and the thousands more that lay after that. It’s time to start climbing.

*For this photo-a-day project, I will be posting thrice a week. Photos shot from Monday to Wednesday will be posted on Thursday, photos from Thursday to Saturday will be up by Sunday, and my selection from Sunday will be posted on a Monday. 

Day 111 to 113 – 365

Reservation for One. I don’t know who left this stool out by the tree. It looks so forlorn. It is as if someone got tired of being stood up that they actually brought a seat to the rendezvous. Just in case.

Waking to Sunshine. It’s always nice to wake up to the sun shining brightly in the sky. With cold fronts and low pressure areas creating a blanket of rain clouds, we could go for days without seeing its radiant glow. I like rain, but a good part of the reason why is the contrast it creates when the sun comes out after an afternoon shower.

Flame On. It must bring some comfort to the person manning the grill when it rains and the temperature in the restaurant drops a few more degrees lower than usual. It’ll probably be a different story during the lunch hour rush in the summertime.

*For this photo-a-day project, I will be posting thrice a week. Photos shot from Monday to Wednesday will be posted on Thursday, photos from Thursday to Saturday will be up by Sunday, and my selection from Sunday will be posted on a Monday.

Day 108 to 110 – 365

Torrent. I woke up to a downpour. It was a case of Mondays staying true to form, overachieving even. A nearby river had overflowed and was causing unprecedented flooding in its vicinity. In years (even during super typhoon Haiyan), it’s never done this, so I decided to stay home that day.

Homework. I cleaned the inside of my desktop PC case. It’s not something that I relish, but I recognize that it’s something that needs to be done. Perhaps, once every two to three months and not once a year.

Digital Film Roll Project (3 of 10). Staying at an ISO of 400 is tough when shooting indoors, especially in low light. Working with a daylight white balance also poses some color issues when dealing with mixed artificial lighting. However, a number of my best pictures were made while working with challenges such as these, so I’m excited to see what I can create in this project.

*For this photo-a-day project, I will be posting thrice a week. Photos shot from Monday to Wednesday will be posted on Thursday, photos from Thursday to Saturday will be up by Sunday, and my selection from Sunday will be posted on a Monday.

Day 107 – 365

Love. Susan loves fireworks. For three years now, we’ve camped out at the same spot to watch the display that culminates the Sinulog festival. It’s not the easiest location to get to because of the crowds and the traffic, but we persevere. I have a love-hate relationship with my social anxieties, so I often have to will myself to get there. But it’s not as hard because I do love Susan so much more.

*For this photo-a-day project, I will be posting thrice a week. Photos shot from Monday to Wednesday will be posted on Thursday, photos from Thursday to Saturday will be up by Sunday, and my selection from Sunday will be posted on a Monday. 

Day 104 to 106 – 365

Taking Things into Your Own Hands. Susan and I have an old car that we bought from her relative. It was a steal. But like most old cars, it would break down every now and then. We try to minimize that from happening by taking it to an auto shop for checkup and maintenance every month or so. I try to help however I can by doing minor repairs every now and then. If I can understand what it says in the manual, I’d give it a try. I’m not a car guy. I’m actually more interested in photographing tools than using them.

Happy to be Wrong. I was waiting for Susan at a nearby mall when I happened upon this scene. I thought I had spotted a funnel creeping down to the ground from a storm cloud. I watched the scene unfold and came to the conclusion that it could’ve just been a part of the cloud trailing off as a result of the wind. I couldn’t be any happier to be wrong.

The Show. A group of kids of various ages, from pre-schoolers to teens, had their music recital. It was inspiring to see them put their love for their craft on display. Even if the audience consisted mostly of their families, I believe it’s a big thing to show your support when your child shows an interest in the arts.

*For this photo-a-day project, I will be posting thrice a week. Photos shot from Monday to Wednesday will be posted on Thursday, photos from Thursday to Saturday will be up by Sunday, and my selection from Sunday will be posted on a Monday.