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Humans Of Manila

The Philippines is where I was born and lived till I was 15. Showing my private customers this beautiful country and people has been an absolute pleasure. However, I wanted to make an itinerary that was not typical of what most travellers would expect of the 7,000 plus islands. The Philippines is divided into three regions, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Most tourists tend to gravitate towards the tropical islands with white sand and coconut trees. This trip was totally different.

Locations - Manila Manila's most historic area is the Spanish walled city of Intramuros. It is the oldest stone church in the Philippines built in 1589.The atmosphere is medieval since both church and monastery symbolise the majesty and equilibrium of a Spanish golden era. All of these interior shots were taken with a 15mm lens handheld.

After lunch overlooking Manila Bay we strolled along the boulevard and Luneta Park. After Chatting with many friendly street vendors we decided to focus on them as our subjects for the afternoon. All of the street portraits were taken with a shallow depth of field aperture of around F2.8 with an 85mm lens. Nat Geo's Steve McCurry is well known for using the same kind of lens. The prime lens allows the photographer to capture optimum quality and still keep a good enough distance from the person. I encouraged my customers to chat with the sellers. I also don't mind giving them a few pesos as a model fee (20-30 pesos) which is less than a dollar. Instead of buying what they sell I would prefer to chat with them for a few minutes and hear their stories.

Where they come from, why they were here and some small talk to help them feel comfortable in front of the camera. The trick is to to talk to your subjects while you are shooting. If there are any technical or creative issues you need to work out, do them before you approach your subjects. The space behind or around your subject needs to be with as little clutter as possible. If needed do a test shot with a shooting buddy. The longer you can engage with your subject the more interesting your portrait will become.

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