It’s amusing how online photo-sharing has evolved more artistically in its quality this 2019. Since the removal of the appearance of “likes” count, the IG community has been challenged to take their posts’ authenticity to the next level to adapt through the (always-changing) feed algorithm. And with the presence of hybrid cameras available in smart phones specially-designed for taking pictures, it allows many regular users to practice photography techniques more instantly (or should I say, “Insta-ly” *wink wink*).
The “explore” section of Instagram helps us find (or should I say, steal) limitless inspirations in capturing better, “like-able” images. Not to mention, the hype of film photography is also back (or probably was never gone, but now more people have come to appreciate it), instant film photography is continuously growing its fandom, and thanks to artificial film camera apps such as Gudak and Huji (and the Instagram influencers who use them), photos with artificial film filters exuding that “classic vibe” have gotten more mainstream.
These various photography mixes have provided us creative ways to establish our Instagram feed’s branding, but the common denominator that makes the photos special is the magic of the moment, the art, the connection, the gasping feeling it serves. While a pretty photo is, obviously, a pretty photo (which is okay for commercial use and even effective if the filter looks among the uso filters), I personally feel that a great image evokes a concoction of feelings to the one seeing it, leaving an open interpretation that—just by staring at the picture—fills the viewer’s artistic void. A good photo doesn’t rely merely on their camera’s sophisticated specs or Lightroom’s presets that camouflage with the uso look. Photographers should use their cameras as some sort of a mirror to translate a vision into a piece of work that can inspire other people.
And to honor the community of photographers who actively take pictures to inspire us, to not just “sell” content and be fueled by “likes” but to cement the life of art through their passion for photography, I asked the online community to send over their nominations for their most underrated Indie Filipino photographers from among the portraiture, street, art, and fashion category. We have garnered plenty of references but we have chosen only 10 for you to continue to believe in, get inspiration from, and of course, “follow” and keep supporting!
If you want to express your support for these artist/photographers, don’t hesitate to share this article with your friends and please do check out their Instagram accounts below! And if you’re generous enough, you can also follow me and my photography work by visiting my Instagram, @_ragingyouth wherein I feature regular people and share their story through the captions under their photo diary.
STREET, PORTRAITURE, GRIT
To start off, we have @gerardemmanuelcayco. This remarkable photographer takes street photography seriously by making sure he gets the framing right and balanced—and nothing stops him from getting them on point in every frame be it has deep or shallow depth of field (which is what’s in nowadays). If you visit his Instagram feed, you might observe that some of the thumbnails are all washed in monochrome, but if you tap one of them and then swipe away, he’ll surprise you with the color graded versions.
WHY WE LOVE HIS WORK: You’ve probably seen a lot of street photographers through the years, but what we love about his work is that he doesn’t overwork his images. This guy clearly loves black and white and is confident enough to glorify his images’ subjects even in monotones. He keeps them momentary, gritty, yet impresses you with layers of messages, just by staring at his snaps, leaving you wondering what the narrative was behind his subjects’ images.
Check out his other account @_chromed to take a peek at his colored photographs, proving us that he’s got the versatility to do both.
FASHION, MOODY, GROUNDED PORTRAITURE
Next, we give you an artist from the north side of Luzon, 23-year-old @xtof.sen. This youngster captures breathtaking and mood-infused images, serving us with warm tones that give us cold feels and moist-faded film photograph textures, making you think like your social media profile photos must always be shot during the golden hours all of the freaking time! I promise you, you’ll end up tapping the save ribbon more than once as soon as you find yourself on his Instagram page, envying the models that he shot.
@xtof.sen: “I like my subject to wear something with a really vivid color that usually contrasts with the colors of the background. That way, the subject really stands out. Most of the time, I’m not thinking about it and just really trying to enjoy creating art because I feel like I’m taking better photos when I free my mind from thinking of what the end results should be.”
WHY WE LOVE HIS WORK: Simply because he knows how to take advantage of natural lighting, he creates concepts that would look better hung on the wall or in museums or probably seen published in high fashion magazines. Not to mention, his color grading style is not annoyingly orange, not old school sepia, yet hits you in the heart with that old but gold vibe.
NOIR, CONCEPTUAL, BODYSCAPES
Instagram has been intentional at monitoring its community guidelines by removing sensitive contents that show nudity. In fact, some Hollywood celebrities were offended to have their nipple-exposed images taken down by IG. Guess what, @izzyliboon has got her fascinating content waived from being under the “nude” category.
Point number 1, this artist’s work clearly doesn’t intend to stimulate sex hormones in your body. Rather, her work leaves your senses in a subliminal state as she uses nudity to depict something more than a symbolism for sensuality. I couldn’t explain clearly how I personally feel about her work but I perceive them as if they were still shots taken from an independent film, or maybe her photographs could be included in a montage of a puzzling dream you’d want to wake up from.
@izzyliboon: “I also do unplanned shoots which consist of either bodyscapes (or nudes) or portraits. During these shoots, I just want to follow the flow and see how everything unfolds.”
WHY WE LOVE HER WORK: Her photographs let us swim into her mind. It’s crazy to see her work showing how effective art is in conveying concepts that we find uncomfortable to explore or share, since these concepts would commonly appear taboo to others and are meant to only exist in our imagination.
PORTRAITURE, FASHION, FEMINISTIC
Presenting to you a sharp femme fatale artist, @aracustodio. We tagged her as feministic simply because her work features astonishing portraits of Filipinas of diverse branding. As you scroll through her feed, you will see that no matter if her subject is taken in broad daylight or with artificial lighting—she kills it! If in the previous entries our choices were all monochrome lovers, @aracustodio’s photo style is different as she clearly enjoys vibrancy and contrast in her color grading. You’ll also notice her talent in taking advanced selfies (probably shot by another photographer but the concept is surely from her vision) and how she showcases womanly curves in a more artistic fashion.
WHY WE LOVE HER WORK: She has the balance of influencer-style and commercial photography, and she seems to be a fiercely fabulous personality, too!
FASHION, BEAUTY, CONCEPTUAL
Get ready to refer a friend-client and hire this upcoming bigtime fashion editorial photographer who started from the humble grids of instagram and on his way to the fashion industry—@makieph. This 21-year-old artist-photographer knows how to pave his way to create opportunities to get his work out there. Imagine, producing and completing a 52-week photography challenge for the sake of art expression? When you visit and follow his page, you might notice that he created a local spin-off to PAPER Magazine, which makes his work even cooler as his mostly-studio produced concepts are close to that of the international magazine’s branding.
@makieph: “It took me a while to validate myself as an artist but now I only create art for myself and not to impress others.”
WHY WE LOVE HIS WORK: He works hard, stays dedicated, and surprises us with his concepts. I mean, we all have equal time in our hands, right? This guy seems to have plenty in his and we’re excited to see him flourish even more in the international scene. He is a brilliant example that will absolutely inspire more young fashion photographers in the industry to make the most of their talents and their time regardless of their limitations.
EROTIC, GRIT, PORTRAITURE
To all the boys, have you stumbled upon @jerf.k’s instagram feed? (you read it right, it wasn’t mispelled) If you’re a guy and you’ve been wanting to follow an account that can serve you steamy images that won’t have to be “blurred out”, or to the ladies, if you want to feel sexy and inspired to bring back the curves, this is the Instagram feed for you.
They say that it’s better to leave some to the imagination but I can certainly say that this photographer’s content can prove to you that photographing girls in their undies doesn’t always depict lust or suggest sex. In this case, I could tell that the girls seen in his work just feel confident about themselves as they work out some symmetry, slicing through the shadowplays @jerf.k plays with his photographs, with majority of the subjects in their tiny garments. What also works in his style is that he shoots faithfully in natural one afternoon settings, capturing flirtatious body curves, silky black and white flesh textures and grainy-moody silhouettes, balancing his subjects’ character with his stylistic classic tones as he processes them.
WHY WE LOVE HIS WORK: It’s difficult to capture female models especially when there’s sensitivity in exposing body parts, no matter their age. But based on the outputs of this artist’s images, I bet the ladies made a trustworthy connection with his camera lens very well that he captured the models’ confidence and the soulful side of their sexuality—and he did such an amazing job earning their trust! All the more that the outputs appear to be double-down reflections of good ol’ art (women + photographic style = art).
COMMERCIAL, STUDIO PORTRAITURE, CONCEPTUAL
This entry is one of our earliest discoveries this year—@avtvazquez. He identifies as a fashion photographer, yet regardless of whether he comes up with photograph themes or not, we absolutely admire his works. He shoots in both film and in digital cameras, capturing portraits and style cards that can be marketable to both social media and editorial platforms. One of the most remarkable and effective series he did was the collection featuring the professional model Graciela Del Fierra (@graydelf), who I bet you’ve already seen on many media. You better guess the concept of the series that I’m talking about because the theme of that collection sparked quite a discussion on twitter… what an exercise! Thanks to the woke people, we get to meet more photographers like @avtvazquez.
WHY WE LOVE HIS WORK: We’ve seen many fashion photographers on Instagram and we think that this guy is one of those photographers who’ve had an experience doing actual modelling, which he uses to understand which photos work best for fashion photography and which don’t. We are excited to see more of his work, and also hopeful to see his creations uploaded on his Instagram more often.
HIGH FASHION, BEAUTY, INTERNATIONAL
Locally-hailed, yet internationally-grailed, we have Dubai-based fashion photographer and director, @joie.officiel. Although there’s little to explore on his instagram feed, you can tap the tagged images section of this well-achieved artist to check out some of his works’ exposures in high fashion campaigns with Fendi, Gap, and American Eagle—all of which and more can also be found on his portfolio, joieofficiel.com. Reaching out to this artist was surprisingly a breeze, because I thought that he would be already too busy to entertain my DM.
@joie.officiel “I like it more cinematic; noise and blurs don’t bother me much as they are elements in my form of art. In fact, I use them as an advantage to add more character to the whole composition.”
WHY WE LOVE HIS WORK: He shares with us how creates stories out of mundane scenarios—be it in grocery stores, toilet breaks, or everyday commutes. The fact that he finds inspirations from the least predictably aesthetic moments makes us believe more in the saying that inspiration is everywhere! And we hope that someday, those who this guy has inspired would be able to find their way on the international grounds, creating photographs that connect to our senses.
FASHION, EVENTS, INTERNATIONAL
Representing today’s generation of young fashion and art genuises is Hong Kong-based fashion designer and photographer, Filipino-German, @inglorious_arno, who is about to make it big in the local industry.
As seen on arnobaetz.com, this passion-driven chap knows how to infuse his photographs with elements of spunk, class and that “you-can’t-sit-with-us” impression. His concepts are versatile as he performs stunningly both in studio and outdoor photography and he keeps his images extra interesting by maintaining that street underground, wild youth texture without compromising the way he highlights fashion and style details.
His international fashion stints have brought him to launch “Inglorious Cultus” with him as the CEO. As for how much we will know about Inglorious, that’s for us to anticipate in 2020.
WHY WE LOVE HIS WORK: If you look up on Google, there are only about 7 featured fashion designers who also identify as photographers and we admire the guts and devotion to the non-singular world of art and expression, which @inglorious_arno clearly has got.
FUTURISTIC, FASHION, COMMERCIAL
Completing the list of our favorites is @rjwolfgang. Cyberpunk, Tokyo High Street, Futuristic—you name it as you check out his works on his Instagram feed. This urban streetwear photographer loves to maintain his photography branding by shooting models in layered, techwear clothing. We bet he invests more confidence in shooting in artificial lighting for sharp, shiny, noise-less, colorsplashed, high-definition photographs.
WHY WE LOVE HIS WORK: We’ve seen photographers who shoot urban streetwear appear to have a similar style in post-processing and lighting. With @rjwolfgang’s branding, we can imagine him shooting for live action movies with futuristic concepts such as Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner 2049, BLAME! and the likes.
Make the most out your time! Indeed, inspiration is seen everywhere and it’s up to you whether or not you just want to stick to one path or you want to explore more of what you can do by using advanced, professional equipment or even with just a smart phone. You will never know where else your passion projects can take you until you start deviating from the norm and using art as an opportunity to translate your thoughts into visuals that stir up inspiration!