I grew up in the tropical country of the Philippines, and a graduate of Information Technology. I worked there for a while and then moved to Dubai, where I’m currently working as a front-end web developer in a digital agency.
I’ve always been fascinated with photography. I started doing it when I was in college, but I wasn’t really serious about it – usually taking photos on my phone of just anything that I saw: beaches, rabbits, graffiti, food, sunsets. When I arrived in Dubai around 2015, I was amazed by the architectural designs, so I stuck to taking photos of the mosques and other buildings (the famous Burj Khalifa always a part of the list,) architectural details, historical places and the Abras. I was exploring Dubai to the fullest and experienced a lot of things, but at some point I got bored with taking photos of buildings, and everything was starting to feel superficial to me. I was stuck in an endless routine, so I was looking for something real and different.
Then one day in late 2016, while I was photographing places in Dubai, this time there was a human element. For the first time, I felt fear. Nervousness. Asking myself, “What If I get caught? What will people say?” In Dubai, you have to be careful all the time, as there are strict rules for taking photos. Not all people are open to photography, especially taking photos of anyone, or of establishments without permission.
But that day was the start. A friend messaged me on that same day and asked me if I knew anything about Street Photography. I didn’t even know that such a genre existed. I just knew that the photos now seemed much better with a human element, and I was having fun. My friend gave me a website with articles on Street, and the next thing I knew, I was hooked. I watched Street Photography documentaries on my way home, I read articles on my way to work, and took photos along the way. Then, every time I saw a potential scene with people, it seemed as if my mind was telling me to take that photo – then I would suddenly feel that adrenaline rush, and I would take the photo with my phone, and walk away with a fast heartbeat and feeling alive. I soon bought my first camera, started to roam the streets of Dubai and got in the habit of bringing the camera everywhere I went. Now photography has became my therapy – I feel better about myself, and I slow down and smell the roses, as I am always exposed to the faster paced environment. It has given me a sense of purpose, and is something I look forward to every day.
I find myself peeking through holes, trash bins, and any unconventional places, and honestly hadn’t realized that I had so many photos with these different framing angles. I guess this point of view has became my signature over time. Because Dubai is quite strict regarding photography, I’ve tried to be as discreet as possible in taking photos, as people tend to shy away from the camera, and I try not to disturb the environment. What also inspires me to photograph from these angles, is that I always try to depict people in the environment they’re normally in – like the construction workers framed inside one of the holes of the plastic street barrier, or a man whose car is swamped by massage cards every single day, or people who work in the design district are framed in a futuristic trash bin.