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The Accidental Tourist

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By Maan D’Asis Pamaran

He  literally learned on the job, when he had to cover for their publication’s photographer who was sick on the day of an event. “I’m a graphic / layout artist by profession, when I started working in a publication, I was never interested in taking photos, I thought I can make all images look great as long as I have Photoshop,” grins Bryan Erick S. Arevalo.

Then, on the day of a major presentation in Mindoro, their in-house photographer was unwell and unable to go. “I have no idea on how or what buttons to press. Then he told me to just look at the view finder, look for the markings on the center, and then the very first photography tip that I had, ‘Pindutin mo ‘to ng konti, pag tu-mu-toot, shoot.’ It was a very practical or should I say idiot proof way of teaching me how to frame my shot, half-press to focus, recompose, then shoot,” he laughs.

  • Wall of tiles in Istanbul (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Dubai Sand Dunes (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Cherry Blossoms (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Afternoon tea, Ho Chi Minh (Bryan Arevalo)

  • San Pablo Church, Cabagan, Isabela (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Polar bear at Singapore Zoo (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Old Government Building, Sapporo (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Mt. Mayon, Bicol (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Kimono (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Ho Chi Minh City Hall (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Hakodate Bay area (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Dumagat kids in Isabela (Bryan Arevalo)

  • (Steak) Outback (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Inside the Blue Mosque (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Fruit Picking, Hokkaido (Bryan Arevalo)

  • Mt. Hakodate view (Bryan Arevalo)

     “After realizing that photography is a big part of graphic design, and the fact that I can keep visual images that I captured and share the stories with my family and friends, that got me hooked,” he says.

    His first camera was a six-megapixel Kingcom, which he carried in his bag every day. “Every time I get a chance to talk with photographers, photojourns, I always ask for tips and how-tos. I’d always get the same answer: ‘Kuha ka lang ng kuha.’”

    He soon fell into travel photography, and with good reason. “Travel has a good mix of most fields of photography. When you’re walking around exploring, that’s street photography. When you ask someone to pose for you, it’s lifestyle. If you dress her up, that’s fashion. When you get hungry and eat, that’s food photography.”

    He loves taking food photos because he says he is still hungry to learn. “Every time I’m able to make the chef who cooked and plated the food happy with my shot is a big accomplishment for me. Because I know that it’s the chef’s creativity and art that I’m capturing.”

    He describes his photos as colorful and vibrant, to suit the travel magazine he works with. “Our goal is to make our readers want to go to the places we feature. I admire people who shoot with film, but I prefer working with digital. It’s just much faster and easier to deal with when it comes to post.” He loves the travel aspect of his job, he says, as he gets to try different cuisines and meet new friends from all over the globe. “My ultimate goal as a visual artist is to have an exhibit. But as a photographer, it is to be a Nat Geo contributor.”

    He has tried joining a photography club before, but wasn’t able to commit extra time for meetings and extra activities, he reveals. “My photography mentor is Neil Garcia of iMag Photography Magazine. I always show him my photos before I choose which ones to use for the magazine. He has never approved of any, sadly,” he shares. “The followed and admired the works of Veejay Villafranca. When he was still with Philippine Graphic, I would  borrow his DSLR and ask him the function of each button.”

    When asked about what is an effective photograph for him, he explains, “When a photo relays the story or gives the message that the photographer intends to deliver without explaining it to the viewer, that for me is an effective photograph.”

    The 34-year-old fine arts (major in advertising) graduate from the Technological University of the Philippines shares the things he has learned on the job. “Be at least an hour early from call time, so you can scout the location and be prepared even before your subject or client arrives,” he advises. People skills are important, too. “Communicate and be friends with everyone. On the streets, you might want to get a portrait of a random person like a vendor. You need to learn how to make him feel comfortable with you and your camera before you can properly take a good portrait of him.”

    The graphic artist who edited photos for publication has this to say. “Don’t shoot for Photoshop. Make it good in camera. It’s always a good feeling when your subject or client instantly ask to see the photos you just took and you confidently hand them over your camera and hear good comments right away.”

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