By Arlene Donaire
‘Vision and technique will compliment in creating a photograph whose value and meaning will transcend time.’- Lanz Castañeda
It was a festival back in 2007 in Pagbilao, Quezon called the “Papag at Bilao Festival” that got him into photography. Armed then with his first point-and-shoot camera and no knowledge on the techniques of photography, Allan F. Castañeda or Lanz, went by his instinctive eye to shoot the colorful costumes and dance routines. In the initial years of his hobby, he was also mainly interested in macro photography, fascinated as he was by the images he had seen of still life and nature with beautiful blurs.
In Batangas, where Lanz is based and the “Ala Eh” and “Wow” festivals were annually held, he was a regular shooter. These were his honing grounds—as he would create his images of people in action and other human interest scenes. His luck as a neophyte finally came in 2011 when we won his first contest, as finalist in Wow Festival’s People Category Photo Contest. In 2014, when he had shifted to using a DSLR, he had reaped numerous awards in local and interntional photo contests. With his most recent accolade as Ani ng Dangal awardee for 2017, givenby the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, he has gone a long way since that first day he clicked his shutter in 2007.
Pagpili (Cawonga, Padre Garcia, Batangas|Lanz Castañeda)
Pyra – The Face Mantra (Lanz Castañeda)
Ala Eh! Festival 2015 (Taal, Batangas|Lanz Castañeda)
Kyle (Ibaan, Batangas|Lanz Castañeda)
Serenity (Pinamucan, Batangas|Lanz Castañeda)
Patterns in Nature (Lanz Castañeda)
Inside Out (Lanz Castañeda)
Noli Me Tangere (Balete, Batangas|Lanz Castañeda)
Brave (Gubat, Sorsogon|Lanz Castañeda)
Batsai (Taal Lake|Lanz Castañeda)
Beauty in Red (Lanz Castañeda)
Tawaran (Cattle Trading Capital of the Phils.—Padre Garcia, Batangas|Lanz Castañeda)
Venice Grand Canal Mall (Taguig|Lanz Castañeda)
Lanz shares his journey and how he is grateful to certain organizations and individuals who have helped him to get to where he is now as a professional photographer:“In 2012, I was given a chance to attend a two-day basic photography workshop by Wow Batangas and the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation, Inc. (FPPF). It was through this that I finally gained formal schooling and also made new friends who shared my passion. In 2013, I landed my first break in events photography. A friend, Rev. Fulay in Bulusan, Sorsogon invited me to shoot a mass wedding and another friend readily lent me a DSLR unit. My parents gave me my first DSLR, a Canon EOS 60D with kit lens, to support my growing need for better gear. These acts of kindness had encouraged me to explore even more my genres of interest and endeavor to keep improving.”
A computer operator and data entry specialist from Ibaan, Batangas, Lanz currently works as freelance events photographer and on-assignment photographer for FlashStock, Canada. His approach in photography has also varied over the years, gaining confidence in experimenting with angles and style.
“I always shoot candid moments, low and high angles, and silhouettes and I like to explore new creative shots. I prefer to capture photos in my own style, to create interesting angles and framing, using reflections and shadows, and, whenever I have a reference or peg image, to do better.”
He is now keen on mastering portraiture. His favorite subjects are ordinary people going about their daily lives like farmers and fisherfolk. He continues to look for unique portraits among the dancers in festivals that he shoots, recognizing that behind the dance moves are the stories of men and women who aim to please the audience with their gesture and smile.
For Lanz, a photographer must first believe that the mind, eyes, hands, heart, inspiration, and creativity are all elemental extensions of the camerato create effective images.
“What you see can be quickly composed into a memorable and uique image if the heart, mind, and hands are in synch with each other. Vision and technique will compliment in creating a photograph whose value and meaning will transcend time. I prefer both colored and black-and-white photography, but more often I shoot in the former and convert. What is more important is that the story is present in the image because for me, editing can take care of the rest like adding the dramtic shades/tones found in black-and-white images,” he explains.
He admits that his process involves many trials and errors, so he is open to keep repeating until he finds the right formula. He is also not particular on his moods when creating images; what is more important for him is finding the interest to undertake his photo projects. He is prepared to spend as much time needed to get his desired results. For him, this is a stress-relieving exercise.
Lanz is a memberof Team Juan Makasining camera club and he has accumulated an impressively long list of awards and citations for his photography since 2014, including the IPA, World Photography Cup, and Neutral Ground Reborn. These have inspired him endlessly and pushed him to aspire for greater heights.
“My goal is to have my own commercial photo exhibit one day and to eventually donate some proceeds to charity that supports education for disadvantaged children. I also dream of joining a medical mission as a documentary photographer.” For Lanz, the higher purpose of his photography, which is to help others in need, would be the ultimate blessing. This, to him, is the best thing about being a photographer—the capacity to use God-given talent as a means of easing other people’s lives.
“I always say that photography is like music where photographers compose the lyrics and melody, putting the right notes to create the harmonious tune. In photography, we need to study the scene, compose, and apply techniques, which together with our creativity, all contribute to produce a good photograph with a story to tell,” Lanz concludes.