Friday, September 5, 2008

My ‘Addiction’ to Photography

by Manuelito N. Dagohoy
Saudi Arabia

It all started with the eyes, my eyes. I use these eyes to see things differently in multi-color, black & white, lights, emotions, patterns, nature, and people. I appreciate the many beautiful creations around I encounter outside and inside my home, office, school, shopping centers, outdoors, streets, my trips in and out of the Philippines, and others. But my human memory chip can not store all those beauties and savor all those moments. Thus, I have turned to my camera to help me capture those moments and share them with others.

Back in high school, I got interested in photography when a classmate showed me his SLR camera and different photography books. However, the realization of having my first film SLR camera (Olympus) came about only when I started working in Saudi Arabia in 1998. I took that camera to Germany and Brazil in 2000 and my eyes had a feast taking images of those beautiful countries, particularly the mega city of Sao Paolo. Then I went back to the Philippines in 2001 and took pictures of my hometown in Mindanao.

Unfortunately, a film camera has disadvantages in the digital world. Films are expensive in areas of exposures, development and storage. Like other photographers would say, you can take a million shots to get one beautiful image. Imagine using hundreds or thousands of film rolls to get that one ‘Kodak’ moment’. Film negatives are difficult to store for future development. Exposure to the elements can damage films. Moreover, film development is expensive compared to digital post-processing using computer applications like Photoshop and GIMP where I can do the processing myself.

Thus, I bought my first digital SLR, the Olympus e500, two years ago. Recently, I bought an Olympus e3. Why I’m into Olympus cameras is another story. Where I got these? From the same shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where I bought my first film SLR. The digital SLR has helped me in many ways. Cost-effective, the compact flash memory cards can be re-used to capture thousands of images. I can store the images in my computer external hard-disk. I can do in-camera editing and I can do my digital post-processing in my PC (admittedly I’m not yet good at this digital processing thing). Printing the picture is now cheaper.

In many ways, digital photography opened the door to more knowledge in photography techniques, equipment, networking with other photographers and business opportunity. On-line sites for photography techniques, reviews, brand forums, SLR buy & sell abound for digital SLR users.

Photography is social networking. To hone my skills in photography, I joined a photography workshop in Riyadh. I met several Filipinos and others from different countries. These photographers share their views, techniques, gears and their photo sites. On-line photography forums are available from the Philippines, UK, Canada, Saudi-Arabia, UAE, the USA and other countries. Some photographers -- enthusiasts, hobbyists or professionals -- joined the forums from other countries thereby expanding the network, skills transfer, and techniques.

Many of the workshop attendees found out that other photography buffs are just two corners away from their homes or offices. Some live in nearby streets or cities. This realization led to the formation of photography clubs. Filipinos in Riyadh formed a photography group called, ‘Desert Fox Shooters’ or DFS.

The members come from different fields of profession. There are interior designers, engineers, technicians, nurses, pediatricians, graphic artists, teachers, bank & supermarket employees, salespersons, and others. You can view the images from our Desert Fox Shooters website . The club has also helped our spouses and children become budding photographers. We have our ‘kulitan’ in the on-line forum. Most of all, members share their images, techniques and photo opportunities. You can view my photos from this site.

Our group has expanded from Riyadh to other cities in Saudi Arabia. Other members who had left Saudi Arabia for other countries linked with other ‘Pinoy’ photography clubs, i.e. Gulf Photographers Network. Well-known photographers and digital artists from the Philippines have also joined our network. These well-known artists offer huge discounts to club members in their workshops.

We are into different photo coverage for the Filipino community in Riyadh. We cover sports, weddings, school activities, embassy functions, corporate events, glamour shots, portraitures, food & product shoots. Most of these are done free of charge. We also meet for in-house photo sessions where we invite other Filipinos like a Chef for our food photography, families for family portraits, and models for glamour shoots. Sometimes, other photographers pose as models, too. We do these to enhance our skills as photographers because we simply enjoy shooting images. At the same time, we scout for opportunities to grow in the photography business.

Business opportunity in photography is where I plan to invest my retirement as an OFW. Why? I love seeing beautiful images of different people, places, and events. And I’m not alone. There are so many people who are not photographers who want to capture and relish special moments in their lives. This is where the business opportunity comes in.

People want to share their images taken when they were young, growing up, in groups, in events, in their weddings, graduations, parties, and trips. Other than individuals, there are corporate business opportunities like shooting products of a company, clinic, and sari–sari stores and there are opportunities from government functions like conference, tourism, town fiestas, fashion shows and school sports development.

Admittedly, photography is not a cheap hobby. Some say it’s a very expensive ‘bisyo’. For me, I’d rather have this kind of vice which offers a business opportunity. Compare my kind of hobby to others who splurge on designer clothes, who play mahjong, or who go night-clubbing and drinking. I can use my camera anywhere and get paid, that’s the big difference.

Others dream of becoming famous photographers featured in National Geography, Getty Images, Time, Sports Illustrated, etc. I choose to live and see the colorful world and at the same time learn, earn and enjoy my hobby.
A few years from now, the photography equipment I have purchased will be relocated to my new studio in the Philippines. My camera will be with me to capture that magic moment!

Copyright © 2008 to Barangay OFW. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Sheela said...


I am Indian and interested in photography. Would you know of any DLSR photography classes offered in Riyadh? Do let me know