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Artist at Work: In the Moment with Philip Dizon


By Hannah Jo Uy
Images by Pinggot Zulueta

Philip Dizon

Philip Dizon

Photography is a manipulation of time. A click of a camera captures the beauty of a fleeting moment. For Philip Dizon, life exists in the present. But when he encounters an exquisite image, he challenges its temporal existence through the lens. “My creative process is more dynamic and spontaneous,” says Dizon. “It begins and ends in my heart.”

Dizon’s love affair with photography started when he was an exchange student in Colorado. “My foster dad lent me his Canon FTB,” he recalls. “With the breathtaking views of Colorado, I found myself interested in landscape photography. He also had a darkroom so he taught me how to develop black and white.”

To refine his skills, he went to UCLA, where he was inspired by a mentor he encountered at a fashion photography workshop. “He did the covers of Vogue and Cosmopolitan, and would fly to New York and Paris for fashion shoots. I thought it was such a glamorous job. I was inspired to do the same.”

When Dizon returned to Manila, he opened his first studio Voyeur Visage Studio at Shoppesville Mall in Greenhills. It was later renamed Phildiz. A second studio in Quezon City followed. He is currently in the process of opening his third studio as well as a fourth one at a boutique hotel in Tagaytay.

Where Light Abounds

Where Light Abounds

“Aside from the mentoring from my foster dad and the classes at UCLA, what really taught me was experience,” he says. “In my studio, I spent a good number of years taking photographs of people from different walks of life.”

Although he remains passionate about photography, he devotes a lot of time to fulfilling his responsibilities in the family business, as the CEO of Vendiz Pharmaceuticals. “Vendiz is a family-owned corporation founded 27 years ago by my father, Ven Dizon. He decided to distribute to his six children the various and diverse corporations he established, to give us roles in securing the family’s future. I’ve been the CEO since November 2007, and regularly meet with the board of directors, who have been very supportive in helping me run the business.”

But his devotion to his art and commitment to his business pale in comparison to the importance he gives to his role as a father. “Needless to say, balancing family and career is not always easy,” he admits. “Being a single parent keeps me grounded. My priorities are my kids. I’m less self-centered, and I’m more concerned about living life with more profound meaning, since I’m trying to pass on the right values to them. But I do try to involve them in my work-related activities.”

A Boundless Distance

A Boundless Distance

Dizon’s daughter, Jessica, now works closely with him. His son, Justin, is also honing his skills in photography. Both have helped him with his exhibits in New York last July at the Philippine Center, and last October at the Grand Hyatt, which coincided with the launch of his coffee table book.

“Photography is ever so dynamic, constantly evolving as technology advances,” he says. “I think it’s a very exciting time to be a photographer right now. When I started, it was film, which was good. But today, with all the tech available to complement your creativity, it’s somewhat easier to turn your vision into reality, and the possibilities are endless!”

Dizon’s portfolio has indeed showcased his welcome acceptance of new techniques, and, more important, it showcases his diverse interests. “I’m in love with both worlds—landscape and portrait. Portrait photography feeds the part of my soul that loves meeting people from different cultures. I find them completely fascinating. Landscape photography lets me celebrate my love affair with life.”

A Fiery Horizon

A Fiery Horizon

Both of these also exercise unique aspects of his skills. “For glamour and fashion, I first have to establish a rapport with my subject, getting to know them and using that and the ambience of our location to set the tone of our shoot. For landscapes, I start with getting a feel of the environment. I breathe it in and sync my heartbeat with it—and then I work from there.”

In his upcoming fine art photography exhibition “Paysage,” Dizon will be showcasing a series of landscapes across unique perspectives. “Capturing at the right moment, time, and location is both taught and learned from experience,” he says when asked how he manages to seize the most breathtaking views. “It also takes quite a bit of preparation to coordinate the right location with the right weather conditions and the right time of day… a lot of things have to be ‘right.’ Though when the unexpected pops up (e.g. weather conditions), it can also be a fun challenge to make it work. At the end of the day, putting aside all the sacrifices and the sense of urgency to capture just the right moment, it’s the passion for photography and the love for the process that make it worthwhile.”

Galerie Joaquin will be presenting “Paysage: Fine Art Photography Exhibition” from March 24 to 31 at G/F 8 Rockwell, Makati City.

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