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Living the dream


By Arlene Donaire

‘Photography is communicating in a non-verbal manner and the photographer is the storyteller.’- Francis Ancing

Francis Ansing is a biologist, mountaineer, musician, teacher, and visual artist. With many miles in his pockets, earned these past years as he pursued his passion for travel and photography, he began shooting in 2009 when he got his first Canon DSLR kit for a business purpose. He is currently doing freelance assignments in digital art, web development, landscape photography, digital matte painting, and graphic design.

He fondly recalls his beginnings: “I was trading guitars that time and I needed to post good-looking images online, to boost my sales. Since I was into outdoor activities as well, the camera was essential for recording my activities.”

  • Children Playing at Tukad Unda Dam in Bali, Indonesia (Francis Ancing)

  • Peacock Master (Bali|Francis Ancing)

  • Puting Buhangin, Quezon Province (Francis Ancing)

  • Traditional Boats (Tamblingan Lake, Bali|Francis Ancing)

  • Wild Flowers (Mount Pulag National Park|Francis Ancing)

  • Sunset in Nagsasa Cove, Zambales (Francis Ancing)

  • Mount Pinatubo in Infrared (Francis Ancing)

  • Ubud Rice Paddies, Bali (Francis Ancing)

  • Blooming Flowers (Mount Bromo, Indonesia|Francis Ancing)

  • Horse Rider (Bromo, Indonesia|Francis Ancing)

  • Capones Island (Francis Ancing)

  • Sahara (Francis Ancing)

  • Tamblingan Lake, Bali (Francis Ancing)

  • Buruwisan Falls, Mount Romelo (Francis Ancing)

  • Bangui Windmills, Ilocos Norte (Francis Ancing)

  • Sand Dunes (Death Valley National Park|Francis Ancing)

    Things would take a different turn when typhoon Ondoy hit Metro Manila hard and Pasig, his hometown, was one of the most gravely affected cities. Armed with his camera and 50mm lens, Francis walked into the floods and began documenting the devastation. “Almost every day I was shooting until it became a two-week, self-imposed photography assignment. Later on translated into hundreds of photos that filled up my memory cards and were eventually shared online.” He was surprised that his posted images gained recognition and the Filipino community in Australia even asked for permission to use the photos for a fund-raising drive.

    Travel (including hiking) and landscape photography are what he loves doing most when he is not at work. The outdoor life invigorates him and he believes it is his main stimulus for photography. Mingling with the residents, as he shoots in places where his feet would take him, is a fascinating part of the travel-and-shoot experience. When shooting portraits or human activity, he looks for vibrant individuals who reflect the culture, tradition, and atmosphere of that particular place. He also explains that landscapes must not merely be appreciated at their beautiful face value but for the story behind their creation—the journey taken and the effort exerted.

    For someone who approaches photography both as science and art, Francis maintains a more philosophical view on what an effective photograph is: “When a photograph inspires, it is effective. But in order for the photo to inspire, it must possess beauty that captivates and a story that compels.”

    According to him, while beauty may be subjective, one way to validate it is if viewers are drawn to it. On how he integrates a story into his images, he goes back to his vision for the shot. An effective photo for him is one that doesn’t need a long narrative because it will already make you think and feel.

    “It is important to pre-visualize the shoot. Research, right mood, and planning are keys to the creative process,” says Francis. And this creative process includes: think of a concept; carry this thought in your heart and mind; plan, save funds; talk to people who can help you; prepare your equipment, mind, and body; and shoot with your heart, mind, body, and soul.

    One challenge for him is to let the viewers of his images to feel that they were there in the scenes. This is why he pays attention to the way he embodies “mood” in his photographs by using elemental movements like streaking clouds, rushing running water or waves, spewing volcanic smokes, and creeping fog. In creating photographs with human elements, on the other hand, he looks for dramatic lighting and vibrant colors to give more aesthetic impact.

    Francis has joined various contests with his biggest win so far as the grand prize of Pasig City’s Typhoon Ondoy Bayanihan Photo Contest in 2010. He has also established an adventure team called Trail Madness Outdoors, which he considers one of his achievements. All the photos used by his team to advance their endeavors and advocacies come from his photographic creation. His other source of pride is a photography blog which he started last year and has populated with both written and video tutorials about photography.

    “My first career is being a teacher and I want to use that to help others in improving their own skills in photography and post-processing,” he discloses as sees himself not just as a photographer but an online source of photography knowledge.

    “The best thing about being a photographer is that you always have the reason to go out and see more of the world. I believe this chosen path is not cheap but the happiness it brings is priceless.” He also believes that the most important thing in his creative journey is to always learn and experiment.

    In closing, Francis shares: “Photography is communicating in a non-verbal manner and the photographer is the storyteller. In many ways, I am letting others look into my soul through my photographs. This is why I am always conscious that my images must speak a beautiful language.”

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