Sunday, October 24, 2010

Extreme Photographers

If I can't be one of them, I'll just read about them.

I am amazed with the amount of risk and effort photographers take to get that single shot that lands on the covers of magazines and newspapers. Since I'm treating photography as a hobby and a leisurely pastime, I'm content to continue dreaming of having even just one of my photos (or of me... kahit singit lang sa picture) featured in the National Geographic Magazine. 

Here are some great photos of photographers who I am a fan of (this list will grow, as I discover the people behind my favourite photos). These photos are not arranged in any particular order.

I saw a feature on Discovery Channel about how the great white shark captures seals off the coast of Seal Island in South Africa. In this photo, shark expert and photographer Chris Fallows had taken position on a "seal sled" to be as close as possible to the water surface as a shark breaches a few feet from him, attacking a seal decoy. How crazy could anyone get?!?

Photographers seem to thrive with lots of risk, like Mount Pinatubo's eruption in June 1991. At the time, I was just learning how to use the first SLR I've ever used (which is my Dad's, naturally). When I saw the explosion's picture, which has been attributed to Jing Magsaysay, I was amazed... How could anyone take a photo in such a frightening moment?!? 

I bought a book called "Photographing Your Family" by Joel Sartore (a photographer for the National Geographic). I was blown away by this picture of him with a crocodile. I've always thought that photographers used zoom lens and stayed far away from wild animals during a shoot, but this photo proved me wrong.

The "Afghan Girl" is a photo that caught my eye while browsing through past issues of National Geographic magazines (this was a 1985 cover) in a book shop along Grove (just outside UPLB) back in high school. The girl in the picture was so young; I couldn't begin to imagine what teenage life was like in a war-torn country or in a refugee camp. Steve McCurry, the photographer, chanced upon her in a camp in Pakistan. For so long, she lived in anonymity as her picture enthralled the world. Decades later, the photographer was able to find her and put a name to the face. She is Sharbat Gula.

(Investigating a camera. Butbut, Tinglayan, Kalinga. 1948.

A visit to the Mountain Province in 2000 introduced me to the historical works of Eduardo Masferre, whose photos of the Cordilleran culture in the 1930s to the 1950s have been catalogued in different museums worldwide. He was able to document festivals, traditions, and day-to-day activities of the people of the mountains. A lot of these photos were on display in the Masferre Inn (Sagada) and in the Bontoc Museum in 2000. My interest was piqued, specially since the movie Mumbaki had been aired a few years earlier. I just wonder why I've never encountered his work earlier on (especially in museum trips in Manila). A great Filipino artist.