Tell me about where you grew up and how your childhood influenced your ideas about creativity and what was possible.
I’m an island boy through and through. I was born in a province in the Philippines and grew up among sugar fields, green plains, and ocean. Much of my weekends were spent on the beach and our parents loved taking us to fiestas. Early on, I was very much exposed to arts and colours, and this has influenced my work a lot.
Describe your path to what you’re doing now.
My journey as a photographer is very unconventional. I had a short course in film photography when I was in university, forgot all about it after I graduated and got reacquainted with photography a few years ago. I never got the chance to assist anyone and was mostly self-taught. I learned a lot from making mistakes.
How did you get into photography? Was it an outlet to express yourself?
When I was young, I spent most of my free time watching movies. My dad subscribed to a lot of newspapers and magazines including National Geographic, Newsweek and Time. All of these introduced me to a lot of strong visuals and imagery. I grew up looking up to Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, Steve McCurry and Irving Penn. I wanted to be like them. I’ve always wanted to be a photographer.
Have you had any mentors along the way?
Yes, and it is called mistakes. Haha!
If you could go back and do one thing differently, would you?
I wish I had the balls to take risks and start photography way earlier.
What do you do for fun?
Wandering and getting lost.
That said, where do you see yourself in the next few years? Are any current personal projects you’re working on?
I try to live my life one day at a time and I don’t like to look too far in advance. I am in a midst of doing a personal portrait project and I’m hoping to launch it before the year ends.
Do you listen to music while you’re working? Any playlist worth sharing?
A lot! At the top of mind are Mac DeMarco, Miles Davis, King Krule, and the soundtracks of Virgin Suicides and The OC.
What advice would you give to a young person starting out—or are there any insights you’ve had over the years?
Follow your heart and pursue your own dreams, not the dreams someone else has for you.