Tag Archives: rail roads

Things we look at but don’t always see

8 Dec



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  Two classmates and I went to Tondo yesterday for our third J 123 (Photojournalism) assignment: covering informal settlers. We’ve had a similar requirement for our first coverage, where we scoured dumpsites in the metro for sights and snapshots.  “Papa-bahuin ko muna kayo sa una niyong shoot,” so said our professor, Dennis Sabangan.

En route back to school after the Tondo shoot, my batch mate Princess observed how the slums where our photos’ subjects live, play and work could be so reminiscent of other similar locations, while always, always having different elements.

Children are my favorite subjects because they make for highly enthusiastic models. The ones we met along the railroad tracks yesterday followed us around, asked for their pictures to be taken, and squealed in unison as they watched the images played back in the camera LCD. It gets a little more complicated with adult subjects; it’s either they turn away when they see the lens, or we get hesitant because we feel like intruders to their person and space.

Our prof would usually stress the importance of eye contact in a photograph. An image becomes all the more powerful when the viewer feels as though the subject were looking directly at them. Which is why I was on the verge of deleting this from my photo set last night:

Why this boy as a subject? I was drawn by his small hands grasping the handlebars, and the way his feet barely touched the pedal. But, oh, his eyes! Quite a waste that he wasn’t looking at the lens then. My finger brushed against the keypad — but before I pressed the delete button, I squinted to see the boy’s background.

A group of uniformed students were crossing the intersection at the same time my subject was mounted on the bike. It was then that I remembered our shoot was on a Tuesday, a school day. My subject was not old enough to fit into his father’s bike, but given a few years, he should and would have  fit into the same crowd of schoolchildren that was quickly making their way past him.

It’s through the eyes that we perceive reality. But it’s scary-amazing how much we could miss even with our eyes wide open.