Friday, June 22, 2012


Lady Luck was on my side today! :) The sun was a'shining as I was a'striding downtown Baguio. And I even happened to chance upon scenes which carried a certain degree of rhythm amidst chaos. The following two  photos are what I'm referring about. 

Copyright: Julian Barbadillo

Copyright: Julian Barbadillo

I don't wanna talk more about the photos, I'll leave the appreciation and criticism to you guys. :D 

The Unending Battle Between B&W and Color

There goes another misconception that street photographs must be exclusively in Black&White.

I believe that this misconception is rooted to elements which were exposed [pun intended] to the very origins of Street Photography and Photography itself: the ever humble film and paper. I won't dive into SP history stuff, tho, I'm not really good at remembering dates and names really. There are tons of resources out there on the net that would tackle those accounts better than me. ;) Anywaaays, going back to the topic: At the time Henri Cartier-Bresson (HCB) and friends (otherwise called THE Magnum Founders) were scouring and photographing the streets and doing projects about the post-war Earth, technology was far from its peak and all they had were cameras and film rolls which could capture light intensities ONLY. 

In other words, color capture was impossible. 
In other other words: They had no other choice but to shoot in black and white. 

Thus, the world was seen in black and white those days. It just happened that HCB, who lived in a world where red was grey and blue was lighter grey, was later on renowned as the Godfather of SP; naturally then, his works (and of many others in his time) defied the years and has had the power to influence even the youngest generation of street photographers. A strong influence and symbol of standards seen in, guess what?, black and white.

Thus it has lead us to somehow (even subconsciously) think that street shots must be in black and white. Well I do think that HCB himself would disagree. If color film were already existent in their era, I bet my lowly camera that HCB and friends would have shot in color. Or atleast not exclusively in BNW. And we'd think differently about the issue if ever.

But then, it is indeed undeniable that B&W images have a certain "xfactor" that we could not resist. But color has its own lineup of advantages and "charms" as well. So I think it would be fair to discuss and dissect both the methods.

*Advantages of B&W: 

1. The removal of the color stimuli arouses the mind to search and appreciate geometry, patterns, textures, symmetry, and relationships of the elements in the frame.
2. A sense of "rawness" is induced by B&W images (well at least for me).

Tried to emphasize the textures by eliminating the colors of the photo. Copyright: Julian Barbadillo

*Charms of Color:

1. Moods are much easier portrayed with the help of colors and their associated psychological interpretations. For example, a photo tainted with the primary colors invoke a sense of joy and even intensity. A photo dominated by blues seem to convey a gloomy atmosphere. 
2. If used properly, color could invoke what I call "eyegasms". You know what I mean. :))

A captured soul. I can't just dump the colors out of this photo. Copyright: Julian Barbadillo

And then again another question is raised: When should I use B&W or color?

Being born in the digital age, I have been an exclusive digital shooter since I got interested in photography. It's a shame I haven't tried film yet. But I'm planning to do so soon. Anyways, being a digital shooter as I am, I have learned a simple rule of thumb concerning this somewhere in the vast web of info we call 'internet', too sad I can't remember where exactly. But I'll gladly share it to everyone nonetheless (well if you won't really find this corny or plain common knowledge. 'Cause I found this very influencial to my workflow).

"If color isn't adding interest to your photo, drop it."

Hence, I never shoot in monochrome (never a BNW jpg straight from the cam) and just convert the photos to BNW according to my desire. But, I normally end up with a greater count for black and white photos after post processing. I dunno, maybe I'm more of a BNW shooter. :))

ANYWAYS! This had been a looong post, so I'll just share some name of photographers whose works are worthy to review and are relevant to the post. You might as well see the issue in a much lighter way and even learn more from their photographs. ;)

*Some renowned BNW Streettogs:

*Some Color Shooting Streettogs:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fathers' Day '12 Streetwalk

I thought I'd go out and shoot exclusive Fathers' day-themed street shots today but later shrugged the idea off, thinking that shooting fathers on their very own special day is too mainstream. Haha. JK. I still had one decent shot which might fall under the theme. I find it quite sad, though.

This photo goes out to all the dads out there whose children has gone ahead of them in heaven.

I dropped by a Jollibee branch to grab some breakfast and saw the guy on the right as I was looking for a seat. He seemed to be sad and tulala (lost in thought). I decided to sit a few tables away from him thinking that a good scene might reveal in front of me with him as a subject. And I was quite right. After some minutes while I'm in the middle of my meal, a mother and her son occupied the table in front of him. The mom left her child for a moment to get some utensils, I think. And that was when I got to take the shot above. The guy staring at the boy with pure sadness in his eyes. Makes me wonder where his children are, and why he's all alone. Dang, it must be heartbreaking for him if what goes on my imagination is true.

So yea. Moving on! after my meal, i continued to stroll downtown for around 2 hours. And, luckily, I got some pretty nice photographs. I dunno, but I was amped up today. Maybe because I've been waiting for so long to shoot again (school deprives me of shoot-time. ugh) and I only got the chance today. Yea. The following are those "pretty-nice-photographs" for me. ;)

Curiosity is what drove me to shoot this photo. Questions ran in my mind as I saw this cat. Where's his owner? Pano kung jejebs o iihi ung pusa? Bakit pa sya sinama ng amo nia? haha. I'm not really accustomed to shooting scenes without people on them, but I personally think that this may pass as a street photo in the absence of the literal human element. 

Manong was quite a character. He's a street vendor with the swag (if that would make sense). The graffiti on the wall of his stall complements his character very well. (I'm not implying anything about 'weed' ,though. hehe)

Just a bunch of tourists. Quite interesting to see quirky patterns in mundane scenes, isn't it? :D

Saw this very colorful backdrop and instantly got the idea to wait for a character which would stand out against the vivid colors. And he is what I got, a monochrome-dressed man. Good enough! :D

Friday, June 15, 2012

On Critics, Critiques, and Criticisms

[SPOILER: This post might sound a bit unstructured, cluttered, and random. Sorry for that. My brain has just survived a battering in engineering school so bear with me. Will fix this later <3 ]

Well they say that "Critiques & criticisms are essential to your growth as a photographer." But I add (my basic principle in dealing with the dreaded C-words),

"As much as critiques/criticisms are important, choosing which to absorb and whom to listen to are just as essential. The least you'd want is to be lead astray by people just as blind as you."

*Other thoughts my mind had stumbled upon regarding critics/critiques/criticisms:

1. Criticisms are hard to the heart. 
2. Critiques are bittersweetly fulfilling.
3. Know your critics and respond to them accordingly. Respect goes a long way, for real.
4. Drop your ego, and learn from pros. They might really talk harsh, but endure, shut up, listen, and learn.
5. Don't make excuses for your shortcomings. You're just making yourself look even more futile. Again, shut up and listen, and take time to ponder if what was said really makes sense. (e.g. "Masyado kasing mabilis 'yung pangyayari kaya di ko nakuha ung peak moment". *rough translation: "The scene flew by so fast I didn't have time to catch the peak moment").
6. Cirique others the way you want yourself to be critiqued. The Golden Rule just applies to any situation. ;)

*In case of confusion:
1] critic (noun) - one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter especially involving a judgment of its value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or technique.
2] critique (noun) - a detailed analysis and assessment of something, esp. a literary, philosophical, or political theory.
3] criticism (noun) - the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.

So yea. I hope those random chunks of info meant a thing or two anyway. Thanks and much love! :))

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

This is my first favorite street shot taken during my debut street photowalk with Sir Luis Liwanag. I really like the "candidness" of this shot and the variety of facial expressions and gestures present inside the frame. Beginner's luck, I guess. :3
I was drawn close by the geometric design of the pile of boxes, but was drawn even closer upon noticing a foot peeping out of a gap. I dunno, but the way the foot breaks the geometry of the boxes adds a striking and even mysterious appeal to the photo for me. Or maybe It's all in my head. :)) whatevs.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A common misconception about Street Photography

So it has always been assumed by many that Street Photography is the easiest photography genre/method. You might think it's just about going outside and shooting anything and anyone just as long as you're on the streets. 

Hell no.

As far as I've observed, there are two types of SP noobs, and, IMHO, they are the most accurate reflection of the difficulty of this method. They are:

(1) The trigger happy. He who shoots obsessively and fails to remember the basics of his photography once out on the streets. He shoots random strangers and scenes and even cityscapes and what not without paying attention to composition, lighting, balance, exposure, and all those technical stuff. And yet proclaims his works as SP solely because they were shot on the streets.
           *difficulty faced: keeping on track with the rules of photography amidst the spontaneity of SP

(2) The paranoid shy type. He who can't lift his camera up to his eye around strangers even when a grandeous moment is unfolding in front of him for the fear of being called a creep/try-hard/pedo/manyak/spy/noob (denial. we all know the feel). He often misses to shoot the decisive moments, instead he just watches them come and go (with a twitch in his heart, knowing those moments will never repeat themselves. ever. again).
                                          *difficulty faced: uneasiness in shooting in public spaces

Or you can be fluctuating between these two types. Depending on your mood and confidence level. Just like me. At first I was the shy type. I even sweat heavily when I was outside with my camera slung around me. Man, the tension was unbearable. haha. But then I got over it but got too trigger happy. Which I later realized was just as bad.

"drop mo muna ang word na STREET at mag focus ka dun sa kakabit nitong word na PHOTOGRAPHY. Alam mo na marahil kung ano yun. Once na ma-master mo ang 2nd word na yan, para mo na din na master ang SP dahil ang SP ay Photography in its simpliest form."
*rough translation:"(referring to street photography).. For the meantime, drop the word STREET and focus on mastering PHOTOGRAPHY, instead. Once you've nailed that, SP will be much easier to do since SP is photography in its simplest form."
                                                                    -Leanne Jazul (Founder, Usapang Kalye)

*This was the most influencial advice I got while trying to learn SP. And the one that made me realize how difficult SP truly is. It was one of the comments of Leanne on a photo which I posted on Usapang Kalye (more commonly known as UK, an FB forum which critiques works, and discusses and teaches SP in the most straightforward [read: brutally honest] way). And it was what pushed me to revisit and rediscover the basics of photography in the context of the streets - rules of composition, lighting, balance, visual literacy & design,etc,  which all the while I thought I have already mastered. Honestly, the lessons I've learned from UK made a great impact to my SP learning process. The streettogs there were the ones which made me realize my wrongs and lead me to the right track (since I was once mislead and went astray. haha). So yea, BIG THANKS to UK!  

Hope you got my point, BTW. In case not, I repeat, SP is not easy. Go ahead and see for yourself. ;)

Friday, June 8, 2012

DON'T Play the "Size Game" in the streets

The infamous quote of "longer is better" does not apply to SP. We're talking about lenses here, btw. :P 

There are a few reasons as to why I think telephotos and SP would never mix. They're basically immiscible. Like oil and water; north and north. Some of these reasons are picked up from readings and discussions, others I just realized myself. But I'll just summarize them into three.

(1) Viewers quite feel detached and uninvolved in photos made with teles (the reaction might be subconscious to an untrained eye, but it's there. ). As streettogs we'd like to replicate the very atmosphere & mood of the situation we photographed, but delivering a photo which makes the viewer more of a spectator than a participant is not the best way to keep on track.

(2) Streettogs are not paparazzis/creeps/voyeurs/etc. There's this quote which basically nails the point down. "Creepiness is directly proportional to focal length". We're not on the streets to capture things from a distance. We are there to capture beauty, art, and moments as we experience them. In that way, our viewers will also feel the spontaneity and decisiveness of our photos. Hopefully. Well it's not that easy, really. But that's a point.

(3) Invisibility is an undeniable advantage in SP. And having a humongous cam and lens setup hanging around your neck simply fails to deliver that advantage. Telephotos draw too much attention. But too much attention is the least that we would want. We'd want to be as unobtrusive and as discreet as possible in shooting. In this way, we could capture the "rawness" of the scenes as they happen. 

So drop the long lenses and keep up with the primes. A 35mm on a full frame sensor or film cam is the ideal setup for SP. That is what the masters have been using since Henri Cartier-Bresson. 24mm on cropped sensors rounds up to almost 35mm on full frame, so they are just as good. If you have no primes on hand (like me!), kit lenses are fine. I just tape the zoom ring to a constant 24mm focal length and voila! instant prime lens! They just make me feel less intimidating and more discreet! Plus, the field of view of these lenses replicate a normal human field of vision. The point of attention of our eyes and some field periferal are included in, making a raw replication of what the photographer really saw. 

*More on the advantages of primes on next posts. Thanks for reading! And keep updated! ;)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

On Influences [pt 1]

Let's start with the firsts.

The first street photographer I've ever known was Sir Luis Liwanag (also a photo- and videojournalist). I might have seen works of other street photographers before but it seemed that I didn't bother knowing who they are, or that I wasn't really interested in SP yet when I stumbled upon them, or maybe I was just plain busy harvesting likes from my random artsy hippy photos then. 

Me and Sir Luis

I first heard about Sir Luis when a friend's brother messaged me last November telling that Sir Luis will be holding a street photography workshop (Wide Open Streets) here in Baguio. The brother was so enthusiastic about telling the news so I thought, this might be something. Intrigued by his name (srsly! haha. Astig e!) and the workshop itself, I looked him up on facebook and found his works. I was awed. His street photos were full of life and soul. Heck they even made me laugh! His sense of humor and eye for oddities were so evident in his works. I was an instant fan. Too bad I wasn't able to join the workshop because of two reasons: (1) I was out of town and, (2) I've got no pesos to pay. *facepalm* So I just resorted to studying his works and trying to imitate/emulate/chocolate them. But to no avail. I had no idea what I was doing back then. I even used an 18-200mm on the street and shot voyeuristically! (More on why telephotos are "bad" in SP on later posts)

One of my first futile attempts at SP

Clueless to the errors I was doing, I continued shooting SP the wrong way. Until, months later, Ate Rina, the chief photojournalist of our university school paper, informed me that Sir Luis will be a guest speaker/lecturer in a journalism symposium organized by them. Without any questions asked, I opted to go! 
*fast forward to the symposium* 

Meeting Sir Luis was like meeting a celebrity for me. I was such a fan boy. :)) I wasn't really surprised that he's so easy to go along with. It just reflects on his works. He lectured about reportage/photojournalism and showed a bit of his works on video, too. We even got to join him in a photowalk the next day, even though that wasn't really included in the symposium programme. Sabit lang kumbaga. But that's when he actually taught us SP. He was so generous in giving ideas, as if every little secret that he knows about the field was made available to us, nonworthy beings. I learned much. But I I knew I had to learn even more. A half-day's worth of lecture/photowalk is simply not enough. Someday, I'd join his workshops. :D

*Following are shots taken on the said photowalk.

[... pt 2 ...]

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cliché: Hello World! It's me! :P

Oh hi! This is my first post obviously. Been a while since I wrote something this significant so bare with my awkwardness maybe? :P Seriously. I don't really know why my mind goes haywire for these "first" thingies. But anyways, here's an obligatory self-intro just for you guys.

I'm Julian Carlo Barbadillo. Filipino. 19 yr-old college student. An Electronics engineering student, to be precise. A self-confessed-self-proclaimed street photographer. I'm still learning  the craft, though (and this might take an eternity). In fact I just shoved myself into the Street Photography genre* (read: method*. more about that on later posts) a couple of months ago. But I got so addicted and hooked that I strived to absorb as much info about the method as possible and tried to apply my learnings within that short period of time to achieve, oftentimes nothing, but sometimes some pretty nice photographs. Well, for me, at least. I hope that would also be the case for you, too. *wink wink*

I'd like to think that many are intrigued as to why I chose Street Photography (SP) as my field of specialization (gemays). Specially in these times when Portrait-Wedding-Fashion Photography and Landscape Photography are on a *boom*. I'll tell you why, and I'll be dead honest with this. 

First reason: I'm a poor guy. I can't really afford expensive telephotos, flashes, triggers, strobes, light stands, filters, tripod (HECK. I don't even own a tripod for real), and what not. All I have is my 500D and my handy-dandy kit lens (my kuya's birthday present for me last yr) which are just enough for a street photography set-up. Rangefinders and primes are the perfect gear for SP, though. So I'm gonna start saving for a Fujifilm Finepix X100 maybe. Talk about a long shot saving spree.

Second reason: I developed a hate repulsion to repetitive, brain-stagnating, heavily-gear-relying photography stuff. Maybe as a natural defensive mechanism to compensate for my photography "handicaps". I have worked for a shirt shop as a product photographer for a short time and I dreaded shooting models. It's the same thing over and over. Have the model dressed and made-up, find a location, think of a pose, *ka-chak*, another pose, *ka-chack*. Not to mention my lack of gear. Pop-up flash only beybeh. Whew. Yes, I have also tried landscape. But I never really got what I wanted. I drooled for long exposures and I tried to make my own too. But then again, I figured that one needs filterssssss to produce those magnificent piece of art. Filters which cost more than my yearly monthly allowance. And then again I tried macro. My kuya got me a lens reversing ring for my kit lens. Instant macro lens! Well, macro is a bit different to the previous two that I've tried. I still quite love and shoot macro. It's just very relaxing to do. But I still get bored easily.

Third reason: I walk always. I mean, I rarely commute. Only if it's necessary. Ugh, what an absurd reason, you might think. But walking exposed me to the streets. I have seen oddities, humors, nuances, patterns, geometries, and characters in my walk-a-thons. I have developed an innate relationship with the outside because of walking (and also very nice calves. haha). It was and IS this interest which finally made me a street person and consequently, a street photographer. 

Fourth and last reason: My brain loves stimulation. I find SP very spontaneous and hella difficult, to say the least. I had to deal with mental tasks continuously like: finding ways to compose shots while being discreet/invisible/unobtrusive to my subjects; recognizing patterns and geometry in the crowd; anticipating what happens next just by observing subtle clues about the subjects and the environment; reading tons of SP articles and hand-picking ideas which I think match with my personality and my goals; and many many many more. SP has been a brain workout for me. Very different from schoolworks and shit. It's just very mind-sharpening 
and zen-like at the same time. And the fact that what I see once will never unfold the same way again -ever- just makes me indulge myself to SP even more. Makes me wanna sing, "I don't wanna miss a theeengg~"

Sooo, yea. :D This post is getting longer than expected. I think I'll just tell more on my next posts. :)
Thanks for reading until this very sentence! You rock! Keep in touch okay? More posts and photos to come!

*PS (yes, postcript, not Photoshop you camera-head!) I'd like to thank my one and only Celine for helping me push through with this blog. She's an interactive media design student in Canada. And I so love her. :3