Shutter Games

I recently got in touch with old colleagues from a photography/publishing studio that I used to work for.  I got called in to do some art direction regarding materials for this huge photography competition they were concocting. And knowing the team, I’m sure that this would definitely be something to look forward to.

I got at the new Bella Lucce studio around noon, where I met up with Nick (Digital Photography Philippines’ Editor in Chief) and did some catching up. It was moments later that Niko Villegas from Edge of Light came in along with his model.  Though this was the first time I’d be working with Niko, something about his vibe made me feel confident about us being able to dish out some kick assed results with the afternoon’s shoot… I was not disappointed.

Shutter Games Poster 1

and we even got the whole behind the scene to be featured soon on a photography show…

Video Guy

… where I could look forward to marveling at my awkwardness in moving picture form. © Digital Photographer Philippines

Let the games begin

For the event, teams would be comprised of two contestants, both would be shooting in regards to the given themes within Intramuros. Points will be cumulative to each submission the team would bring in, the highest of which will be the winner. Judging will be done by Edge of Light’s Niko Villegas, DPP’s editor in chief Nick Tuason, and Street / Fine Art Photographer extraordinaire Justine Wright.

Shutter Games Poster 2

Prizes for this event ranges from 10 to 30 grand plus photography gear. There is also a bonus category by the DOT (Department of Tourism): “Street Photography, It’s more fun in the Philippines”, where the chosen picture not only would get a cool 75 grand, the team behind it would also get an advertising contract to shoot for the ongoing DOT campaign.


Winning money is always “more fun” regardless of what country you are in.
© Digital Photographer Philippines

The Venue

A whole floor at the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros was cordoned off for the event. Space was an issue in housing the huge turnout, so it was a smart logistical move dividing the shooters into two large groups, alternating the time on who shoots and stay inside for all the photo gear goodies and seminars presented by top local photographers, which for me (the unqualified participant) was pretty much the meat of the event.

Personal space, where art thou?

Personal space, where art thou?

The Meaty Bits

Alright, I admit that the last month have been a dry photography season for me. I could only describe it as like hitting a wall of sorts, messing with my momentum, and diminishing my interest. Hoping that this seminars would snap me out of my stupor.


Trying out the theme “old and new”, and “accidental tourist”.


I finally found where this place is… achievement unlocked!


meh… rusty, rusty photographer boy.

Since the seminar was a free for all, I got to start off with Chasing Light’s Landscape and Advertising photographer Jay Jalorina. Now, I could shower this Canon Band Ambassador with praises about his work, technique, and teaching skills. But I’m still peeved with him running off with a camera flash I sold him years ago, which, up until now, I’m still waiting payments for.

What. A. Dick.

Good thing he “promised” me a FREE Chasing Light Workshop for my troubles. Which is good, because those workshops can cost up to php12k++, and hopefully I could write a review about it here afterwards.


After Jay, I walked in on Fujifilm’s sponsored seminar with one of the Philippines’ top Wedding Photographer, Lito Sy, which turned out to be a sales pitch for Fuji’s new X series. Holy crap, I’ve never wanted a camera so badly after that. The only thing that’s stopping me from swiping the old plastic cash is the image of me in a ditch, dirty, hungry, and probably missing a kidney… but with a brand spanking new x-pro.



I need my kidneys you bastard!

I also had a blast listening in on Mark Terence Sy’s talk on shooting concerts, the genre which  got me started with photography. It was nice picking up a few tidbits on how to capture the perfect shots with the challenge of erratic lighting and subjects from somebody who is successful at making a living out of it.


There was also a free Cosplay shoot with the self-proclaimed “Geek photographer” Jay Tablante, and Model Photoshoot with our pal Niko Villegas. I only got to sit in the latter half of Niko’s seminar, but what he said emanated with such sincerity that my respect for the guy went tenfold. He was sharing how grateful he was with finding a mentor such as Xander Angeles, who gave him the chance to be successful in doing the thing that he loves most, which is fashion photography. He reiterated the importance of paying it forward, being that now he is mentoring other aspiring photographers to reach their dreams.



And then there was George Tapan.

From what I heard, George had one of his pictures win an International National Geographic contest. Aside from that, I haven’t had the chance to know nor see the guy in action nor in person. But with the supposed accolades under his belt, I assumed we were in for a treat.


It started off with a video presentation of sound bites they got off from his guesting at Camera Geek TV. It went off nice enough, with George in one of his seminars in Corregidor, people having a good time and all that… after which, in a contemptuous tone, atop his photography high horse, disparage the use of Photoshop and other photography effects to “exaggerate” reality.

Now, I do think that some photographs out there are over the top in regards to post processing, but I don’t go around like a westbro batist photo nazi telling people what they should do with their photographs. As they say in Filipino: “walang basagan ng trip” (closest translation: to each his own).

To be fair, I did get where he is coming from. From a print standpoint, sometimes an overly processed photograph doesn’t come out right on print due to poor color management. It is where you need to hit the sweet-spot of having your color reproduced faithfully throughout mediums such as monitors, inkjet, and prepress printers. And having a faithful reproduction means you have a better chance of selling your photographs at the right price. But his fragmented way of speaking came out condescending, and having him show off his NatGeo award, exotic coffee table book projects, and expensive gears every minute or so wasn’t winning my sympathy to his cause either.

The last speaker I got to listened to was bird Photographer Rey Sta. Ana. I really appreciate the dedication of his bird photographer’s association in regards to protecting the endemic species of birds in our country. But with the optimal zoom lenses required that would equal the cost of a small house, I don’t think I would be joining in on their bird shooting fun anytime soon.

May the light be forever in your favor…

Overall the Shutter Games turned out to be quite an awesome experience. And for 250 bucks (500 since you need to register in pairs), it’s a great deal! Sure I did feel a tad rusty with my photography when I was trying out some of the themes, but what’s important is that it got me started again, sparking a little bit of curiosity and inspiration with the help of the speakers…

…and yes, even with Jay Jalorina. That dick. >:(

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