Street/People Category June 2020 Winner, taken in Manila, Philippines, titled “Faith” and captioned “An annual festival celebrating the Feast of The Black Nazarene in Manila, Philippines people gather to join the feast and profess their faith. Many tries to get near the replica of the Black Nazarene in their own way because of their belief to be spiritually cleansed.”
As ASIAN Geographic’s annual Images of Asia (IOA) 2020 Photo/Videography Competition looms closer, submissions to our IOA Monthly competition – the precursor to our annual event – are pouring in. We have received stunning photos across the categories, and are now featuring our monthly winners in an exclusive interview!
Below is our interview with one of this month’s spotlight, Yasser Alaa Mobarak, the IOA Monthly June 2020 winner in the Street/People category, selected from the May 2020 entries.
AG: What is the story of your beginning and journey to creating great images?
Froilan: I was working in Dubai as a fulltime Architect/Interior Designer, and looking for a hobby that would help me overcome homesickness. I started taking photos of scenic views around me using a small point-and-shoot camera. I enjoyed this hobby exponentially. In 2012, I bought my first DSLR. I started shooting everything, ranging from still life, portraits of friends, and the streets of Dubai. I started reading books on photography to gain more knowledge and, finally, I enrolled to get a formal study of photography at the Overseas Pinoy Professional Photographers Society in Dubai. My experience here was great. Besides learning, I gained more friends that shared the same passion. I got my first local portrait award in December 2012.
And so the journey began. My new found hobby turned into an unfaltering passion. I started attending events in Dubai taking any photos that would please my heart. As the days went on, I met new faces and friends (Filipinos and other foreign nationalities) in the field of photography – both beginners and professionals. They shared their knowledge with me and to others as well. It was really a great experience.
There’s a lot more to learn, and as the saying goes, “…never stop dreaming, never stop believing, never give up, never stop trying, and never stop learning…”
As my passion deepened, I started joining more competitions – local and international – with the encouragement of my photographer friends in Dubai. As expected from a beginner, I did not win in my first few tries of joining, but it didn’t stop me from trying. More research and studies were needed to further enhance my skill. More exposure to the outside world was necessary.
At the end of 2015, I started to win competitions in Dubai, Philippines, and other countries. I was hooked!
The time came when I decided to leave Dubai and go back home to continue my profession as an architect, as well as my passion as a photographer. It was a turning point as going back meant starting at zero. But I was confident and tried to continue what I has started. I kept competing and I have won a fair number of contests to date.
But the knowledge was still not enough! I joined Team Juan Makasining, a photography club and an advocate in arts, under the auspices of the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. This club inspired me with the exchange of ideas and knowledge. Most of all, finding friends in the club was very rewarding.
In my journey as a photographer, I have fairly shown my abilities to see things beyond the ordinary way. I have shown the viewers of my photos a different thing.
My goal is to continue to capture life around us and to be able to express what life is beyond through my eyes.
AG: How would you define your style and concepts you enjoy exploring?
Froilan: I’ve tried almost every genre of photography, from still life, fashion, street, landscape, studio and events but like every lensman, there is always one genre that pops! I love environmental portraits. A subject’s life in relation to its surroundings attracts me. I try to communicate them through my lens. It is not an artificial experience capturing people in their natural surroundings where the character is more illuminated and portrayed in their natural surroundings.
AG: What is great photography to you, and are there any photographers you would like to work with?
Froilan: A great photograph is one where the photographer has achieved its intent and communicated effectively with the viewer.
Photography is an art form, and every other artist (painters, sculptors, etc) create their art with their moods. Different moods create different outcomes.
AG: What is your preferred imaging gear to work with and why?
Froilan: Today I have two mirrorless cameras on hand that I carry on shoots: the Fujifilm XT1 and Fujifilm EX2. I also own a Huawei smartphone for quick shots. Nevertheless, gear is only an instrument to translate your the messages of the heart.
AG: What is the next Asian destination you’d like to explore and why?
Froilan: I’d love to explore more of my country; the Philippines has a very rich culture and heritage, it is a wonderful tourist attraction, and the hospitality of the people is commendable. Given the chance, I would also like to revisit Thailand to explore more of their culture. India would also be a nice destination to explore.
AG: Can you share more about your current and upcoming projects?
Froilan: As photography is my hobby, I don’t usually list down projects related to it. What I am currently active on is learning more through workshops and photowalks, sharing thoughts with others, and going out to explore the world.
Photography is my creative outlet. To me, everybody is creative in their own way.
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