Photo Essay & Invisible Interview: Fatherhood, by Jake Verzosa

Tammy David Invisible Interviews, Photography, PROJECTS 11 Comments



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Fatherhood

I had the most profound changes in life in being a father. And change isn’t always an easy thing. I think all first-time dads feel this spectrum of emotions from self-doubt and fear to excitement and fulfillment in their new role. It’s surprising how you work your way towards a place where you think you got it all figured out, and then suddenly you’re into the next chapter of your life and you know nothing about it.

Photographer: Jake Verzosa
Website: www.matanglawin.ph


Invisible Interview: Jake Verzosa

Photographer Jake Verzosa is one of Manila’s top fashion photographers. In this Invisible Interview, Tammy David speaks to Jake about his journey in photography, his personal projects and becoming a father.

How did you start in photography?

I started when I was in high school – when I started fiddling with some cameras and darkroom equipment at home. My dad taught me the basics.

What was your first camera?

A Nikon FE10 and a Yashica TLR from my dad.

What are the cameras do you have now?

I have two Canon 5Ds for work. A Yashica TLR, Pentax67, Leica M4 and M7 for personal projects. I also have a couple of polaroids, lomo cameras – holgas, LCA, Pop9, Supersampler, and a Mamiya RB67 that I used for work a long time ago.

What made you decide to shoot film?

I prefer to shoot film for my personal work because of the workflow. I want to stick to the discipline of taking fewer shots where you are more aware of light and composition. It also makes me value my images more since I have something organic and tangible. I grew up looking at these types of photographs so it’s also a matter of preference for me.

Do you have any influences?

Photographers from Magnum, Noor, fellow photographers, musicians, writers. I admire the works of the masters and the contemporary works of Martin Parr and Pieter Hugo. Right now I am into street art, traditional processes and revisiting rock music.

You are one of Manila’s top fashion photographers, what advice do you give people who want to explore that field?

I never thought I’d end up being a labeled as a fashion photographer but in Manila, the more visible magazine work revolve around fashion and celebrity. You have covers and multipage editorials which are all about that, and getting a chance to do those gives the best mileage in terms of getting your name out there. When I started, I shot everything from weddings, birthdays, concerts, products etc. So my advice to people who are starting out is keep on exploring your options, have an open mind, take the path that makes it worth your while then keep working on getting better.

You have made a name in commercial photography, do you see yourself still working on travel assignments and fashion shoots 10 or even 20 years from now?

Yes, I think I’ll still be doing photography. I enjoy what I do and I love working with the best talents in the industry. I also think it’s also the only thing I can do best. You’ll never have to retire from shooting.

What kind of stories interest you?

I want to shoot stories where I think photography would play an important role – stories that are relevant to contemporary times and at the same time should be visually interesting. I am inclined to do stories that revolve around culture, identity and social issues.

Tell us about your work on Kalinga women. The challenges you had to face and the output of the exhibition?

The Kalinga story was one of those projects that I felt I needed to do because of the importance of documenting the disappearing art of traditional tattooing, and because I was born and raised in the northern region. Tabuk, Kalinga’s capital is just an hour from my hometown. I was given the opportunity to start this project last year through funding and initiative from the French Embassy’s program which was curated by Mr. Francois Cheval, director of Niepce Museum in France.

One of the challenges was that I had to explain to each of them my purpose in doing this project. At first they were apprehensive since the idea of taking their clothes off and having their portrait taken by a stranger is weird and crazy. It was also a challenge logistically since my wife and I had to hike to the different villages which are mountains away from each other. Then we went back again a few months later to give them their photographs.

Explain the name of your website Matanglawin (www.matanglawin.ph).

It was my handle back in college, long before the local TV show and it stuck ever since. It literally means eye of hawk (mata ng lawin) but it’s also a play on the word tanglaw which means guiding light or luminary.

What was the most surprising thing you’ve learned in being a father?

I had the most profound changes in life in being a father. And change isn’t always an easy thing. I think all first-time dads feel this spectrum of emotions from self-doubt and fear to excitement and fulfillment in their new role. It’s surprising how you work your way towards a place where you think you got it all figured out, and then suddenly you’re into the next chapter of your life and you know nothing about it.

In your portfolio, you have already shot memorable covers, massive ad campaigns, published books and had shows such as Paris Photo Quai in 2009. Is there anything else you still plan to accomplish or work on?

I want to continue my long-term project on the Kalinga women and hopefully get my work published. For now, I want to spend most of my time with my wife and daughter who just turned one. But I am always looking for relevant stories here in the Philippines. Given the time and chance, I’ll pursue them. I have this note perpetually posted on my desktop : “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, so long as you do not stop – Confucuis”. Thanks tumblr.

Interview by Tammy David, IPA Philippines Contributor. More of Tammy’s work on www.tammydavid.com.

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