CLUTCH Vol. 5: What Do Your Shadows Reveal?


Finding good lighting. Choosing the right angle. Taking multiple shots. Finally! I am satisfied with a photo of myself--where my skin looks lighter than it actually is and where my nose doesn't look as flat.

It's due to this mentality that I have many photos of myself where I don’t look like myself. However, during the CLUTCH photography workshop facilitated by Alex Felipe, I embraced and accepted my appearance and also changed the way I handle my photo-taking process.

I confess that I am one of those people who excessively post photos on social media platforms. Similar to how I manipulate how I look in photos, I would spend too much time trying to make my food appear tastier and the places I visit look more interesting and exciting. Admittedly, I take shallow pictures on a regular basis, so the direction of this photography workshop was quite refreshing.

Alex taught us that "a great photograph is never about a person, place or thing (in and of itself)--but rather, about signs, symbols, and icons composed together artfully." So before taking any photos, we were asked to write down what first came to mind when we thought of the Philippines as a country, and then of Filipinos as a people. After coming up with our lists, we had to think of ways to represent these words in photographs.

As Filipinas living in Canada, how can we represent the islands, the poverty, the love, the family, the struggle of Filipinos with the resources within our reach? And why do we want to take these photos? It made us think of what we were most proud and ashamed of when it came to our Filipino-Canadian identity.

I always thought I would need a fancy DSLR camera or lighting equipment to take great photographs, but Alex showed us even a simple setup of just a spotlight can spark so much creativity and tell amazing stories. One of the stories I was able to capture during the workshop was the reunion of Loisel and her mother who had literally just arrived from the Philippines the night before and was visiting the K.

Loisel Connects With Her Returned Mother

Through this workshop, I came to appreciate all kinds of photography. There can be beauty in everyday photos followed by hashtags because of their candidness and simplicity--and beauty in staged photos because of their complexity and detail. Previously, I wasn’t satisfied with my photos because they lacked thoughtful meaning. This inspiring workshop has urged me to continue to learn more about Filipino culture so that I can incorporate it into my photography and share a part of my identity with others.

Thank you, Alex, for a fun and informative workshop! Stay tuned to see the symbols and stories that Clutch Vol. 5 will capture on our journey!