A Rekindled Love for Photography

Mhar Villaester is a Filipino photographer who is currently living in Singapore for 5 years now. He believes that each of us tells a unique story and photography is one of best medium to share this story. Photographs emulates a way our mind freezes a significant moment.

Mhar Villaester is a Filipino photographer who’s dedication in his craft is admirable. He is currently living in Singapore for 5 years now. He believes that each of us tells a unique story and photography is one of best medium to share this story. Photographs emulates a way our mind freezes a significant moment.

Click here to read about the project that we have done together: Curated Secrets: ‘What It Means To Be With You’

One look at Mhar’s portfolio is like a step into a colorful and imaginative story-telling. Often dreamy, playful, cinematic, and rarely static. His photographs lean towards to tell story of human experience both in an imaginative and documentary parlance. He is a self-taught photographer who has been shooting for almost more than a year. Driven by curiosity and the incessant need to create and tell a story, it gave birth to ARCHETYPE IMAGES by Mhar Villaester.

Growing up, he excelled in academics, music, and other extra-curricular activities. He is a graduate of Psychology, Religious Studies and Law. He views photography primarily as a process, an exploration and a story telling. For Mhar, the act of curation as more important than the individual photographs. His process involves deconstructing and reconstructing photographs, combining different crops, colors and angular vantage points.

One of his models, Ian De Guzman, finds Mhar as a great photographer. He is gentle & encouraging in directing his models. At first, he would ask what is the models’ mood and what are their ideas for the poses. They would brainstorm from there, igniting an exhilarating model-photographer tandem. Ian also added that his post-processing skills is very fast and with great quality. He would get the models’ opinion about the photos before publishing.   

 

Here is a quick interview with this gentleman about his love for photography:

How did you develop an interest in photography?

Mhar: Photography is my first love, I fell in love with photography when I was in High School as photojournalist. As a cliché you always forsake your first love, thus I pursue Psychology, Religious Studies, and Law. It is only when I relocated here in Singapore when I rekindled my love and hate relationship with photography.

Why love and hate?

Mhar: Photography is savoring life at 100 frames per second, intently. It a risky passion as it fuels your creative imagination. And it’s an endeavor that is worth pursuing with determination and force. Because getting better at photography can further your creative output and growth in your work and personal life. In other words, the better photographs you capture, the more you thrive. But on the other side of the pendulum there is a risk of burning out.

What was your career path? How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing it? Is it full time/part-time?

Mhar: I think there is no such thing as a part or full time when you talk about your passion; Photography for me is one of them. Photography for me is more a teacher and not a career; it teaches the pain and joy of each story.

How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?

Mhar: I am privileged to meet a lot of great photographers, I listen when they share and their ways-of-working. I was also blessed to build friendship along the way with fellow photographers. I think most of what I know about photography especially the technical aspect and concept, I learnt from a good friend of mine, Urico Mondelo. I considered him as may mentor and needless to say he is my number one critique. I do research on the project or portfolio I like to create. From the make up, styling, location, mood, and story I want to tell; a mood board.

Do you have any formal training?

Mhar: I am a self-thought photographer when I started. But I did enrolled for Diploma Courses in Photography both here in Singapore and distance learning courses.

Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?

Mhar: I am really drawn to portrait and documentary photography. There is an enigmatic sense in each portrait and frame

Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?

Mhar: Each photographers has their own approach and style, thus I give brevity and value to each published or unpublished pictures. I personally like Annie Lievobitz and Sebastiao Salgado.

What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

Mhar: To use sunblock when doing outdoor photography..LOL. Seriously, the appropriate use of shutter speed, ISO and aperture.

Do you collaborate well with second shooters or assistants?

Mhar: Categorically, Yes I am.. LOL I am hard to work with. I have my own demons to appeased. I can really be demanding. My approach in everything I do is ; Patience and spiritual fortitude. But if it fails physical violence may find it salutary (Lol)

How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of the camera onto the film, chip or paper in just the way you want?

Mhar: As a photographer you should now what you want, you need to be decisive on what image you envisioned to produce and what story you want to tell.

What technology/software/camera gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best, as you photograph?

Mhar: My armory is very basic; a notebook to draw the story-line I want ; a Canon 60D; my lenses are 85mm f1.8; 35mm f1.4; 24-70 f2.8; 50mm f1.8. I used Lightroom CC to make some adjustment.

What motivates you to continue taking pictures economically, politically, intellectually or emotionally?

I am driven by curiosity and the incessant need to create. I try to draw my subjects into my world, and creates an intimate and singular point of view from both in front of, and behind the camera. The best photography starts where you are and emanates out

Discovered A Gem From A Trial Shoot

Whenever there is an opportunity to invite, I’d always grab the chance. It always feels great to share. Furthermore, I always feel that there’s actually more potential individuals out there but they just don’t get much opportunity. Some of them are my friends and one of them is named Princess. 🙂

Princess, 28 and a true-bloom Filipino, is a friend I first met from our dance group – The Filipino Dance-Club Singapore. She is not as active in dancing as I am because her work schedule is quite tight. She is working as a Pharmacist in Singapore. Recently, I invited her for a TFCD photo-shoot and I am very glad that she made time despite her tedious schedule at work. It was a very last minute call from the photographer and we did not have much time to prepare our clothes, make-up and everything.  But everyone was on the go and managed to catch up. I was supposed to do 3 looks but since Princess was on joining, we agreed that I will just do 2 and Princess will do 1 look for a start. But while we were in the midst of the shoot, she was doing really great so I suggested that she should do 2 looks and I’m fine with 1.

The photographer was quite surprised because she seemed like a Pro from her facial projections to how she had to position her body and everything else. She is too good for a first timer. She then humbly shared that,“I have a modelling experience in Philippines 5 years ago. It has always been my dream to become a well-known model someday and I am really happy for this opportunity. This will allow me to bring back & unleash the inner model in me. This is also a great way to uplift my spirit from the thought of having to work and live away from my loved ones plus all the stressful environment at work.”

18881859_897650843744329_5526125787371837944_n.jpg

PrincessAbby00990
A classy natural beauty

Princess is very flexible in a way that she will really do no matter how challenging the poses that the photographer suggests her to do. According to her,“I need to cooperate well or even improvise some ideas because all we want is to come up with a great photo.”

We were starving during the shoot because we didn’t manage to grab dinner as we had to catch up with the booked schedule of the studio right after work and we needed to get everything done within 2 hours only. It was really quite exhausting. Princess also lost her way going to my place. But gladly, we managed to pull it off and came up with great photos. Two thumbs up to the photographer, Din, for a job well done (as always)!

PrincessAbby01163
Flaunting Curves
princessabby01166.jpg
Extraordinary Chicness

The shoot was few weeks ago and I’ve been really wanting to write about her in my blog. As she shared her lovely photos on her Facebook account, her friends and family were very happy for her. Well, they have a reason to be proud. Princess is a one gorgeous, strong yet humble woman. She has taken such inspiring step for daring to go beyond her limits and grabbing the opportunity despite the constraints. It was a great privilege to be able to discover the other side of her other than dancing. She could be a perfect contender for the next Dream Top Model Season 4.

Indeed, she got it all to be a certified ‘Abys Raider’. Her story deserves to go ‘Into The Abys’ and come out to the world to inspire! It is never too late to chase for your dreams. I cant wait to see more of you, Princess! 🙂

Below are more photos  from the shoot. Enjoy!

 

Models: Aby & Princess
Make-Up by: Aby
Styled by: Aby
Photographer: Din

THE STUDIO

18952901_897649090411171_6537498475302999040_n

We did the shoot at the Pixel Photography Studio. I must say it is not that big. According to the photographer, he was having hard time to find perfect angles because the space was limited. He cannot move and play around. But overall, the place was GREAT! The staff was also very welcoming and friendly. They have almost all the things ready including the make-up area with all the make-up tools, accessories, hair blower, costumes, props  and everything else. We played our own choice of music while doing the shoot. It was very energizing. The place was quite cozy. You can make yourself comfortable on their some sort of ‘lounge area’ watching TV while waiting for your turn to shoot. I love most is the relaxing ambiance coming from the artistic layout in every corner of the place.

Feel free to check Pixel Photography Studio‘s facebook page. It could be a perfect place for your next photoshoot!

Din.jpg
With the Photographer, Din