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Keeping it real


By Maan D’Asis Pamaran


Donell Gumiran

  • Blind Stare

  • Heroes of the Desert

  • Mambabatok (Kalinga)

  • Unsuspecting

  • Aryan Tribe (Northern India)

  • Children of Hemis

  • My Life

  • The Master

  • Mother & Child

    “Every time I press the shutter, it seems like it’s an extension of my personality,” says Donell Gumiran. “That is why in photography, it’s really important that you have character, style, and mood. Effective photographs have the ability to evoke emotion. There is an element of storytelling and there’s a connection with the viewer.It’s all about how are you going to interpret every aspect of your subject and how you deliver the message through your photo.”

    He sees himself as an image-maker who captures and tells a story of the world in a single photograph.The Ilonggo lensman sees his photography as an art form, borne from his desire to create on canvas and his professional training in design, when he worked as a director in a creative agency.

    Now based in the U.A.E., Donell is known for his evocative portraits and travel photography. His favorite subjects are those that capture human conditions and emotions in everyday life. His knack for sharing his stories, captured through the lens, has won him international recognitions. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including back-to-back grand prize winner for the XMO Fujifilm MENA (Middle East and North Africa)International Photography award 2013-2014. His work has likewise been featured in local and international magazines.

    He was adjudged the 2017 grand prize winner of the Travel Photographer Society International Photography Contest Awards in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017 and was awarded as “Portrait Photographer of the Year 2017” for Asian Geographic Images of Asia for its Asia Without Borders program. In addition, he was also one of the winners in the Life Framer World Travelers competition judged by magnum photographer Steve McCurry. Most of his works have been exhibited in New York, Tokyo, and Rome. On the homefront, Donell was recently chosen by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts under the office of the President of the Philippines to receive the coveted “Ani ng Dangal Award 2018.”

    Even with all these awards to his name, what he really feels is his biggest achievement goes back to his focus on storytelling. “I think my real accomplishment was that I was able to use photography as a significant instrument to change the world for the better. My work gives me a chance to capture and preserve memories of our time.”

    He sits on the Board of Directors as creative director of Team Juan Makasining, and uses this position to encourage other photographers to express themselves through their art. He gives newbies these tips: “Just be yourself. The technical aspects of a photograph are secondary. Follow your heart and don’t overanalyze. Just shoot what you feel. There are no clear-cut rules in photography, only guides. Tell your story to the world through your photograph.”

    He explains why his works have a certain “look.” Since my work is inherently based upon the real world, I use both colored and black and white. I want to produce a photo that looks cinematic, with less saturation. I’d rather focus on emotion to catch the eye.”

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