April 16, 2013

cast away: a manny librodo photography workshop

note: if there's a "manny librodo" watermark or if i type, "by manny librodo" it means the photo is his and not mine :) all other photos which are not mine but used in this blog post gets tagged to their respective owners.

for workshop rates, you may contact rachel lobangcomj suayan, and nenita ramos. each of them organizes their open shoots and classes every month.

a valid reason to go to boracay

before, i really had no plans of going to boracay as it is the least of my concerns in my philippine travel map. i have always told myself that i will only go to boracay if i will be emigrating soon, someone gives me a boracay vacation package for free, it's a friend's wedding, or it's really that important (whatever it is). the latter manifested itself as a manny librodo photography workshop, which was produced by mj suayan, nenita ramos, and rachel lobangco. since it's manny librodo, the main model is rachel lobangco herself, and the venue is boracay, i booked my tickets without a second thought.

"a portrait is a landscape of emotions" - manny librodo

when i was resting for the last 6 months of 2012, photography kept me sane. i joined various photo shoots organized by various studios and got to meet a lot of photographers. in their small chats, i often hear the name, "manny librodo". out of curiosity i googled his works and i was stunned by what i saw. 

mist 1
by manny librodo
toothless smile
by manny librodo
by manny librodo
rosalina 1
by manny librodo
lovingly kharu
by manny librodo
great talent screams aloud in cyberspace. with all the photos i have posted above, there is no doubt he was chosen by scott kelby as one of his top 5 photographers in his my “best of 2009” picks. his fame led to many invites to lecture on photography workshops within the philippines and across the globe that he dropped his school teaching career to focus more on teaching photography.

my facebook friends who catch my yearly "best shots" know well my progressions as a photography hobbyist. each year i had a goal. from solely focusing on landscape way back 2007 when i started mountaineering, i transitioned to nature, to macro, to landscape with people, to people, to portraits. sometimes learning from the photographers i meet in my travels but most of the time learning all by myself. in a psychology forum i am a member of, some of the readings stated that the introverts and the thinkers photos are with less humans. but then again, i don't want to be nailed to that scientific generalization. i made it a goal in 2013 to study more portraiture, which is my waterloo. having said that, knowing the name "manny librodo" in my personal goals in this hobby this year is very timely. 

admittedly, i was nervous prior to the seminar. almost all of the participants are pros, semi-pros, or librodo frequenters. not only that i was the only person using an olympus camera. almost everyone was holding a nikon or a canon with their huge lenses, which god knows how much they cost. when manny arrived holding 2 sony cameras, the inner me said, "hell, yeah! i am not an odd dork!" before, he was a brand endorser for nikon. prior to our boracay workshop, he switched to sony because of a good offer. 

photos from sony. i got this from manny librodo's page
from manny librodo's page. photos are by from sony
when sony first released its alpha series way back 2009, a diver friend of mine, neil, bought it bundled with an ikelite underwater housing. at that time, sony was bundling their cameras with underwater housings as a summer promotion. after his dive in dakak, the pictures were so intense and the colors were vivid! i asked him if there were alterations done in photoshop and if he used strobes. he answered, "no. just an underwater flashlight." i already bought my camera at that time. if i haven't, i would've bought a sony too! unfortunately, multiply already shut down their social media site so i do not have any evidence of his breath taking dakak photos (if only i was able to save some of his photos!) having said that, i hope sony would sponsor an underwater photographer because their cameras work spectacularly underwater!

going back, it really doesn't matter what camera you use. manny has used 2 brands already yet his luster as a photographer is still there. and that's the reason why people go to his seminar -- to catch his eye.

manny, the teacher

the organizers grouped each photographers into 3 to get their turns to shoot and direct the models. after everyone gets their turn, it's manny's time to shoot. photographers are still welcome to shoot with him. when teaching,  he goes by the socratic method -- everyone gets to have his/her freedom to shoot. being the experienced teacher that he is, he guides and he doesn't spoon feed his students. this allows everyone to release his/her own creativity.  

bts photos c/o nenita ramos using an olympus camera

bts photos c/o nenita ramos using an olympus camera

bts photos c/o nenita ramos using an olympus camera

we had 5 layouts which were collaboratively styled by rachel and nenita: the hawaian babes, the cast aways, the mud people, the pool of mud, and the fire dance. during our 3-hour break, we had our travel photography portion with our choice to join him or wander off somewhere else. 

for me, the highlight of the event was how rachel delivered herself in each shoot. she is not just a model. she i definitely an artist! aside from acting for everyone, she did the styling, and, as a photographer herself, she also suggested ways on how we're going to shoot her. she is the concept of the photo and not just some model whose photo is to be taken. all photographers who'd like to get serious into the photography business should work with her some day to know what i am babbling about.

what surprised me more about this workshop was knowing that most of the models were pulled out from their comfortable normal lives. in short, it was their first time to model! nonetheless, they still did well in the workshop.

we were 25 photographers in the workshop and each is battling for a good angle at the models. while most flock at a particular group of models, i pulled out a few from time to time to pose for me. good thing that one of the models, lynn, and i have a common friend so we shot most together using a fishnet i got from some fisherman at station 1. 

altered. fishnet sponsored by manong mangingisda
the bad thing was while i was enjoying my dive, i forgot to charge my camera's battery. while walking to our venue for the fire dance, i was also shooting photos at some kids building sand castles that, when i arrived, i got red batt'ed!

the last set we had for the day was fire dancing. however, rachel wasn't able to dance with all the kids running at the beach line. she can't help it if the kids were amazed by her fire swords and bow. instead, she just posed for us with her fire stuff. but since i kept on deleting and turning off my cam to get a bar of battery life, i was only able to shoot a few in the last set.

i really never learned from that same mistake of not bringing extra batteries and memory card. before my battery could even die out, i already ran out of memory making me delete some photos which i could have still used. well, i'll charge that again to experience for being stubborn. 

to photoshop or not to photoshop?

what also makes most go gaga over a librodo workshop is his skills in post-processing in adobe photoshop. his lecture in post-processing was on the 2nd day of our workshop at asya. there, he taught us his workflow and shown us how he manipulated all the photos he took on the 1st day. right after he finished a photo, he assigned us to get one of ours and processed it with his workflow as a guide. while we were working on our photos, he was roaming around to check on us and help. although the workflow is his, the colors, the texture, and the drama are still on us. 

here are some of mine using his workflow. i can't say they are top notch but at least i am getting better as far as portaits are concerned.

but here's the big question: to photoshop or not to photoshop? being the best photographer doesn't mean you are perfect. of course, you can't please everyone. manny also has his own set of detractors who didn't like his digital manipulation of photos saying it's not photography anymore. according to some, as long as you alter colors, it is not photography anymore but graphic design. but then again, graphic designers would contest saying that graphic designing has illustration so which is which? 

to be honest, i don't give a flying fcuk.

my fiance once said to me that he didn't care about the photographer-art-graphics debate because an artist is entitled to his/her own works and has the last say of the outcome. whatever the outcome may be, it depends on the people if they are going to like it or not. as an artist, you don't create your works to please people as that would be the job of the designer. a designer, on the other hand, creates based on need as a design is a solution to a problem, i.e. marketing ads, a hammer, etc. the design solely relies on the "user" for it to be appreciated. 

with these definition, my fiance didn't call himself an artist or a designer. he calls himself a "visualizer" for the simple reason that he creates what he wants people to see and to hell if people get inspired by it or not. in short, he didn't really care. lol. 

going back to the question. for me, it depends. there are photos i love to see as they are which are mostly landscapes. there are photos which are badly taken by my camera due to technical limitations but i still want to salvage. then there are times i just want to create my own world and use people, objects, and places as my tools. manny librodo is also a visualizer - an uncontented artist who doesn't settle for "what you see is what you get" but "through my eyes." as what they say, "if you want to lead a symphony, turn your back against the crowd."

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