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11 February 2008

On Assignment: Peter Bialobrzeski

Photo © Dennis Rito

Yesterday (02.10.08), I got the chance to assist Peter in his shoot. We had a long walk from Recto Avenue to Binondo Area in the morning where we scout places and Peter made his digital sketches - image references in preparation for the actual shooting (in the afternoon). Afterwhich, we went back back to his apartment and I got the chance to show some of my initial photographs for the workshop. I leaned a lot and really appreciate his constructive criticism. After viewing the digital snaps and made decisions where to shoot, we left with his tripod and Linhoff 4x5 camera in tow.

Upon reaching the area, kids started following us asking what was the strange-looking object mounted on Peter's tripod. They even started posing and had been yelling at Peter to photograph them which is a bit annoying. Some asked what those photographs are for - why are we doing it. Several expressed doubts too, thinking that after we shoot, their shanties will be demolished - a sense of paranoia among the people living in the shanty towns around Metro Manila. I observed how Peter worked and it seem that shooting large format follows a different workflow as compared with shooting on 35mm SLR. It also involve a lot of thinking and needs some focus/ amount of concentration before the exposure. With patience, we finished shooting at about 7PM.

I am indeed grateful & privileged that I was included among 10 other photographers selected to attend Peter Bialobrzeski's Teach & Work photography workshop organized by Goethe Institut (Manila) in cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism and Silverlens Gallery. Peter Bialobrzeski, a German photographer and World Press Photo 2007 judge is also a professor of photography at the University of Arts Bremen, Germany. He has travelled Southeast Asia since October 2007 and is currently in Manila (his 5th stop) conducting workshops and working on a project called “Urban Nature”, which looks at the relationship between the green landscape and the modern infrastructures that dominate Asian megacities.

The workshop is very engaging and loaded with content - an information overload which comes from Peter's long experience as a photographer. He selflessly shared his knowledge and challenged our thoughts on issues concerning photography. One of the interesting premise he raised on digital photography particularly on image manipulation was: that image manipulation begins on the intent of the photographer - how he/she focus and frame his/her subject. This and other discussions left us thirsting for more.

Slideshow of participants work will be shown on 26 February 2008 at Silverlens.

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