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Highlighting color & creativity


By Erick Lirios

‘Most of my shots contain positive emotions. Since I love doing festival photography, most of what I capture highlights color and creativity.’- Jose Maluya

When a person refers to his camera and lens as “family,” you know that things are getting serious. Jose Maluya came to Manila in 1993 to look for job opportunities. He started driving public conveyances like jeepneys and tricycles. He eventually became a camera technician in the well-known spot along Hidalgo in Quiapo known to photo enthusiasts as Dong’s Camera Repair. He had a feeling this thing called photography was something special particularly when he heard the professionals and hobbyists talk about their adventures behind the lens. He decided to take a vocational course in photography to get more into it. Things became clearer for him not long after that. This was it, he felt. He learned film photography and by the early 2000s, he started wanting to try the latest fad—DSLRs.

  • Grand winner, PAGCOR photo competition 2015 (Jose Maluya)

  • Grand winner, NLEX the Great Outdoor photo contest (Jose Maluya)

  • 2nd place, PWC Masskara OTS (Jose Maluya)

  • Dragon Boat (Jose Maluya)

  • Marinduque sunset (Jose Maluya)

  • 7th place, Environmentally Speaking (Jose Maluya)

  • Pyro Olympics (Jose Maluya)

  • 1st place, AirAsia OTS (Foods|Jose Maluya)

  • Leyte (Jose Maluya)

  • 1st place, Picture Perfect Photo Challenge (Urban Scenes|Jose Maluya)

  • Praying Mantis (Jose Maluya)

  • Motor Racing (Jose Maluya)

  • Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (Jose Maluya)

    He joined contests and dug deep into his heart to shoot what resonated most to him. He loves festivals and now considers it his specialization. He likes to focus on the action and color and zooms his gaze on the emotions people display in such situations. Budget is a concern for him when it comes to going to the various places in the Philippines that celebrate their fiestas but he takes these in stride and plans as best as he can for them. He loves seeing the different cultures, the practices, and the celebrations. “When I see locals smiling through my lens, it is as if I already captured the sweetest photo ever.”

    Some people may be concerned that doing festival after festival may generate some clichés. He’s not affected by this. “Surely the first photos anyone takes are pure cliché but those photos can be considered special when you are able to show genuine emotions. An effective photograph is when you are able to portray feelings or produce something that other people might not have been able to observe. It is when you are able to tell a story with your photo.”

    Jose stresses, however, how important it is for the photographer to approach a situation with the right mood. “A photographer’s mood is very important. It drives the outcome of your pictures. If a photographer is happy, the tendency is your pictures could be happier.”

    He is a generally happy and positive person and this shows in his choice of subject matter and how he approaches things. “Most of my shots contain positive emotions. Since I love doing festival photography, most of what I capture highlights color and creativity.”

    The choices available to photo enthusiasts now allow many creative avenues and this is not lost on Jose. “I first used film cameras when I studied photography in vocational school. I still remember when I manually set the aperture and shutter speed and had no idea of the result of my shots. That was part of the thrill though. There’s an excitement that you don’t have with digital. I bought several rolls of film, developed and printed hundreds of shots. It was challenging and exciting. Although I now prefer using DLSRs, I still enjoy using film-based cameras. It’s still very exciting.”

    The issue of patience and being able to see a shot before it happens, undoubtedly, is part of his type of photography. His winning photo in the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) contest in 2015 involved two racing carabaos. You can easily see the action in the photo and you feel the intensity of the event with earth being thrown to the wind by the rampaging beasts. The main rider’s face is also an image of powerful and passionate emotion. You don’t capture such things just with equipment. You can only shoot such images if you anticipate what will happen and prepare for it. That’s what Jose has been able to do in his photography. He pre-visualizes what will happen and situates himself in the proper spot to get his shot based on the equipment he has.

    What’s next for him?

    “I achieved many goals in my life through photography. My lens and cameras are my companions through my ups and downs. Being a photographer has been a happy and exciting experience. I get to capture many moments, I get to visit different places, and I get to learn many things. My ultimate goal as a visual artist is to be able to tell story through the lens of my camera. I would also love to share knowledge to anyone who aspires to be a photographer. I enjoy taking pictures and as I have said, the prizes I bagged are just plus factors or rather ‘big blessings’ to me.”

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