LOOK HERE: An Act of Service
When I was in college, we took up photography as one of our subjects in UP. It was film based then. For two semesters I enjoyed learning the basics and experimenting with bulb setting, multiple exposures and printing. I looked forward to going to markets and playgrounds to shoot portraits of people. I love going to Hidalgo in Quiapo to buy b&w films, slides, and photo papers. I would go to Vigan with my classmates to shoot churches, vendors, workers, lights and patterns, or anything that caught our interest. I enjoyed spending my afternoons in the darkroom developing the films and printing our negatives on our own. Long nights became exciting as we makeshift studio setups using tungsten lights with black cartolina hood to act as spotlight. A friend once was able to borrow a printing machine. So we asked help from our Kuya Danny, our darkroom man, at school for the chemicals needed and we were able to set up a darkroom in their house. It was amazing! At the end of the semester, I was encouraged by my teacher and classmate that if they will ever need help for a photography project they would get us because they believe in our talent to take pictures. Since then, I knew photography would be something I would like to pursue.
But the Creative world said there was more demand for graphic design than photography. Being a photographer is a freelance task so I chose the stability and benefits of a regular job. I became a hobbyist carrying my camera anywhere I travel and sometimes getting opportunities to shoot for magazines.
Then in 2007, I heard about Imagine Nation’s apprenticeship program in an egroup. Curious, I attended the meeting, got shortlisted and passed. At that time, I wasn’t sure if want to be a wedding photographer. In my heart I wanted it so I could practice shooting frequently, or so I thought. My schedule at publishing company where I was employed became very hectic and shooting was my last priority. Pride got in my way to excel in the program too as some of my batchmates got promoted. Plus the idea of a company requiring its employees to attend Bible studies was absurd to me at that time. Perplexed on what I want, my mentor, John Ong, seemed to notice, and told me to choose and focus on what I want. I quit the program.
I continued to be a hobbyist and moved to Baguio for a year for a teaching post. On my second semester, I started to miss doing photo projects . After all these years, after a few jobs, I still long to be a photographer. One night, as I was eating dinner, Sir John messaged me in chat, just asking how I am. I was surprised that a former boss of mine, after two years or maybe more, would reach out to me out of nowhere. Then I saw in my fb feed photos of old colleagues from Imagine Nation , their gatherings, the changes in the studio, etc., and they seemed to be having fun. I suddenly missed them.
He invited me to attend their meeting. After an exchange of emails with Sir John, I attended their meeting. I was happy to see old colleagues and friends. So happy to know their new stories, new developments in career, lovelifes and family lives. One friend joked to Sir Jong, “Sir, babalik na daw si Liz!”. I rode along with the joke as if there’s an opening. He said “None, but for Liz I would.” It wasn’t my intention to go back, but I just let things happen that night. And I’m glad I did.
What I learned best from Imagine Nation is service. When you treat work as an act of service, it changes everything. Work becomes more meaningful and purposeful. It becomes more fulfilling and enjoyable. Service extends far from what’s in the contract. Service builds relationships. From getting to know our couples and meeting them, to praying for their wedding day, to holding our bride’s hands when they are nervous, to making them laugh, to asking how they are after the wedding, or assisting them in their queries after the wedding, and a lot more.
Through service, I learned to love my job. I learned to shoot with a heart, feeling the moments and capturing the story.
Through service, I try to show my couples in their relaxed, natural ways that are sometimes playful.
This service, I learned, is all for God’s glory, a way of giving back to Him what talent He’s given me; a way to become a blessing to others.
So whether you are getting married soon, or planning to someday, LOOK HERE, we are photographers of substance. WE SHOOT TO SERVE.
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