More Reflections On Photography, and How I Am These Days

I think a break from the usual posts is needed. Yes, maybe it is from watching Sherlock, and this whole business as blogging being therapeutic thing that they’ve noted, which honestly sounds like a throwback motto from the 90s. Also, shelling out the money to renew my domain, and move to another webhost added to that feeling that maybe I should use this space more.

Let’s use an obligatory post-photo, though:

People's Square Metro Station
People’s Square Metro Station



The gigs, the solo photowalks, and the recent temple visit were all good ways to revive what seems to be a slightly waning interest in photography since I set foot back here in Shanghai. The most glaring symptom would be the time it took for me to get a new DSLR body, which may have taken about a year. Still using a Canon 350D (released and production ceased in 2005) in 2012 feels like I was living too dangerously. There’s also that bit where I did enjoy the privilege of living in shared apartments with bathroom all to myself, which meant I could probably go back to developing my own film again, which hadn’t really been realized yet.

There are more things I know I should do: make some sense out of these photos, and see if I can make a book out of it. Start with a self-published book, and see where that goes. I started shooting live bands in 2006. This year marks my seventh year of doing this.

I’ve also had time to reflect on the reason I do THIS. I haven’t found anything I’d like to put down in words yet, but maybe I found a partial answer to the question: what do I do? I don’t fancy myself as a ‘music photojournalist‘, though I’d be the first to admit that I would largely cite photojournalism and documentary photography as major influences. The label ‘gig photographer‘ is a little easier to adapt to, a little easier for people to understand, and there’s no pedestal for me to prop myself onto. I take photos of live bands, solo performers, across all music genres, with no mind to popularity, and, sometimes, even musicianship. I take photos, my medium is visual. Good music does not always equate to the prospect of good imagery.

Also, two words: subjectivity, and heart. I pick my subjects. When that subject does not have any visual appeal to me, I focus on someone who is. Visual appeal doesn’t always tend to be pretty. There’s the subject’s actions (or inaction) during the gig, how light falls on him/her/them, the stage position that he/she/they would take, the interaction with fellow bandmates or the crowd. Most of all, it’s presence, which I don’t think has a solid, objective definition in what I do. I am a subjective photographer, and maybe that is why I may find it hard to make money out of this.

Heart! If I love you, I will take your photos. If I love what you do, I will take your photos. Screw any of my standards, and whatever rules I made myself.


Movies. Something else I’ve set aside, and I’m now catching up on. There’s this illiterate movie pundit inside me, it’s still there, and has been there since, oh, the late 90s. I’ve watched films of this land I now reside in (the eye-pleasing Dangerous Liaisons, the classic Red Sorghum), some American offerings (most are severely overrated: Les Misearbles, Silver Linings Playbook, Cloud Atlas; the Searching for Sugarman documentary was OK), and even a few Filipino film I’ve found in the bountiful Chinese video sites (forgettable sexy flicks, and the emotionally crushing 80s obra, Saan Darating ang Umaga). Throw in the less popular Kurosawa (Lower Depths, High and Low), too. Plus that Rurouni Kenshin movie -never watched the animated series- that the world’s otaku were raving about? Much deserved praises, it was a very entertaining watch.

The everyone-is-into-it TV series. Check. The popular Breaking Bad deserves the popularity, and is a reminder of how good the serialized format can be used. That’s about it, but Mad Men and Shameless (US) are good as well. I still have all the Twin Peaks episodes to plow through. How about the other offerings meant for cheap laughs? You mean that show for nerds? No. It’s a show OF nerds FOR non-nerds. I mostly relate to the former, and don’t find the humorous quip of a random statement such as “Oh I love Ubuntu!” humorous. There’re a good number clips of late night talk shows that can fill that gap, thank you.


Perfume? Oh you know, that Japanese girl-group I’ve been obsessing over. I spent ¥1,200 to join their worldwide fanclub. I spent five hours watching their welcome livestream over a painfully slow connection, since it was done on UStream and the site is blocked, so I had to deal with it via proxy. They were all very pretty. Nocchi was dressed up in a kimono, was taught ikebana. Kashiyuka was brought to a petting zoo, where she handled snakes and baby tigers. A-Chan was garbed in a fantasy-set costume.

The deeper life-meaning of this rather unpopular preoccupation? They make me happy.


Lastly, like I mentioned briefly earlier, I switched webhosts, and since I was due to renew my domain next month anyway, I looked up my domain provider’s hosting packages (Namecheap), and decided to move more money over to them, too. This website is now three-years secure of its online presence, and I got a 50% discount on the hosting, too. Remember kids, in dealings like this, Google search *your-chosen-webserivce + coupons*.

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