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  • Writer's pictureJeremiah Adriano

A Morning in Malate

"Morning is an important time of day because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have." So says Lemony Snicket.

This quote aptly describes the mood of a group of ALPHA Camera Club members when they took to the streets of Malate one Sunday morning in March. Armed with their wits (and their favorite lenses), club members started their walk just before sunrise and spent the rest of the morning capturing the waking hours of Malate.

Joining the group was documentary, photojournalist, and street photographer, Larry Monserate Piojo. Larry later conducted a knowledge-sharing and critiquing session with the club members at IDO Café.

Before the start of the photowalk, Larry gave a short briefing and pep-talk to the wide-eyed group of photo enthusiasts. Wide-eyed not only because they know and respect his work, but wide-eyed partly (or for the most part) because they are trying hard not to look sleepy after waking up early and traveling to Manila to comply with the 5 AM call time.

And by virtue of Morning Magic, the club members completely absorbed new insights and grounded tips on how to take better street photographs from Larry. They dispersed with a fresh outlook on how to capture the streets.

Some followed a route that brought them from Plaza Raja Sulayman, to Remedios Circle, to Korea town, and then to the side streets of M.H. Del Pilar and A. Mabini. A few explored the Roxas Boulevard thoroughfare, until they reached Dolomite Beach, and went back to Malate Church via the Baywalk.

Others intentionally let their feet lead the way. Allowing themselves to get lost in the streets of Malate shooting away like they lived and stayed in the community for years, complete with shirts with holes to achieve that pambahay look.

One or two were abangers on street corners. Looking at the street scene, contemplating, and waiting for their subject to come into frame.

One… arrived very late.

The morning went by so fast and before the group realized it, the sun was already high up and a bit too much to bear.

Together with Larry, the ALPHA club members regrouped in IDO Café in Quezon City and after partaking in a decent lunch, the former started his knowledge session and critiqued selected photos that club members took that morning.

Larry said that when he goes out and shoot street, he always has a specific vision in mind. He then wnt on and shared his portfolio, and his GreySkies work immediately hit the spot. Having your own vision when you shoot will help narrow down your photography and improve your output. Your vision will help drive your photography, from lightning to composition, to convey the desired message.

He also emphasized the importance of patience, anticipation, and timing. Larry advised being aware of one’s surroundings, observing people’s behavior and interactions, and anticipating the moment to capture the essence of the scene and the movement of the subjects.

Larry also underscored that photographers need to learn to “edit” their photos. “Edit” in the sense that they need to evaluate and critique their own work, which is very important, especially with photo series, or photo essays.

“I realized that street photography is not just about taking pictures but also about understanding and appreciating the world around us. Through our images, we can share stories of people, places, and cultures, and connect with others on a deeper level,” says club member Buccino de Ocampo after the afternoon talk.

Street photography is an art form that requires not just technical skills but also a unique perspective in life.

However, club member Jhing Montes was quick to point out, “Larry never talked about camera brands or gears but instead concretized the principle that it is the photographer, not the gear – depende sa Indian, wala yan sa pana.”

Buccino added that the beauty of these talks is that it goes beyond just learning photography tips but offer ideas to live by and a deep understanding of why we take pictures.

The day ended and club members went home with new learnings, full of renewed motivation for their photography, and looking forward to the next morning.


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