Patrick Ong / Member Interview

During the day, I am part of the world of entrepreneurship. However, in late 2009 the moment I exposed myself and began to appreciate Mother Nature’s beauty, it was like love at first sight for me. To be able to bring home amazing photographs of the location which I can proudly share to my family and friends plus the exhilarating adventures of rediscovering picturesque sceneries, exploring her beauty, patiently waiting for the ideal lighting and capturing it all at the perfect moment are the reasons why I love doing it.


Manila, Philippines

What inspired you to become a photographer?

The passion for capturing memorable moments using a camera is what inspired me to be a photographer. I can still vividly remember the times when I was younger, when my father was still very much into film photography. He would always carry his bulky bag full of gears on each and every out of town or out of the country trip we made as a family. I also remember the numerous times when he would call me near, telling me “Son, don’t you move nor breathe for a few seconds here. You’ll be my tripod now.” As the years passed, the digital age emerged and my father seldom used his film gears anymore. All his precious toys were only kept in his dry boxes, until I became interested. I wish that I could continue his journey and share him the beauty of the world through my eyes.

Tell us about your first photo that really validated your interest as a photographer.

It was year 2009 when I became quite interested in photography and decided to take some basic lessons. After a short while, an old friend who happens to be a craftsman by profession then introduced me to the fascinating world of travel and landscape photography, it was love at first site. The photos that validated my interest as a photographer was a sunset photo taken at the Northwestern coastal area, five hours drive from home.

Opening each of the images in my computer and prepping them for the world to see, appreciate and hear the story behind it are the reasons that made me want to do it over and over again.

Back when you were just starting out, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome that?

My biggest challenge is how to master this beloved craft. Knowing that photography is a continues learning cycle, reading would help me a lot to grow in this technically perplexing craft, I invested in some photography books, videos and online tutorials. I found myself being captivated not only by the many colors and hues of each shot to be taken but also I became very much fascinated by the art of appreciating the light. I started to appreciate the more methodological side as I realized how the “play of light” in a scene could make a huge difference in the expression of sceneries captured through the lenses.

What do you enjoy photographing the most?

The exhilarating adventures of rediscovering picturesque sceneries, exploring Mother Nature’s beauty, patiently waiting for the ideal lighting and capturing it all at the perfect moment are the reasons why l enjoy travel and landscape photography. Be it roaring seas, lakes, glaciers, forests, mountains, volcanoes etc., I love them all!

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?

The viewing public’s appreciation and being chosen as a finalist in some photo competitions are also gratifying accomplishments to me. However, one of my most treasured and proudest accomplishments as a photographer is being able to travel to distant territories and experience the reality of the places which I used to see only in books and magazines. To be able to meet new and fellow photographers who are also deeply rooted in this craft, share and exchange each other’s ideas are also the “moments” that I value most.

Tell us about time in your photographic journey where you failed at something and how did you pivot to overcome this?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. During my earlier years in photography, I was insecure to ask any photography related question to the pro-photographers that I look up to. I felt like they would laugh at me when I do so. I ended up acquiring unnecessary gears that I didn’t need.

I encourage every amateur photographer to just ask away. You don’t have anything to lose. And if you don’t get any feedback from them, then you know the attitude of the photographer that you look up to.

We all have weaknesses, what is yours relating to photography?

Everything should be in moderation. My passion and attitude during my earlier years as a photographer blinded me to the extent that I ignored the dangers of mother nature. There was a time where I disregarded the swell forecast just to get what I want. I lost my camera and lens to the sea that day. The whole trip ended before it even started. It was an expensive learning experience for me. I learned to always take a step back, analyze and anticipate every scene before anything else. Safety is always my priority now.

Finding time to get out and shoot is another challenge for many. How do you find the time in your busy schedule to get out there behind your camera?

I find time on weekends and at the same time compile my work leaves for an out of country trip every year.

Nailing a composite right can be a challenge. What do you think the trick is to mastering composition?

There are many books, articles and tips that are readily available online about basic compositions. I made sure to read them once in a while to refresh my learning. Create a mental template but still be adaptive to change. You won’t get what you always expect with nature as it constantly changes. Be not afraid to experiment on different compositions, angles and perspectives as a lens man. You’ll be surprised what you might discover.

There are many photographers starting out, who don't have the money to buy the camera gear they want. What advice can you give to them?

Never focus on what you want. Always on what you need. It is the person behind the camera that matters and not the camera itself. I had an experience shooting with a friend who’s using an entry level camera who can produce better images from me. Make the best out of the current gear that you have.

How do you feel photography has impacted the way you see the world?

As I deal with the pressures and chaos in the world of entrepreneurship, to which I belong, I can say now that photography is a hobby that acts as the ultimate stress reliever for me. I always look forward to what the world outside my box awaits me. No matter how many times I have captured a certain place during different instances, Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me. It is a big world that we all live in. We are merely ants living among each other trying to survive. Photography has taught me to take a few steps back, observe before we act.

What do you see photographers doing today, that if done differently tomorrow would improve their success?

Photography is an art. Art is an expression from one’s imaginative skills. Nowadays, I see a lot of photographers letting social media dictate their direction. I feel that with the influence of social media, photographers will end up doing or producing images that is far from their liking. Ending up getting confused on their vision as a photographer. Don’t let others dictate on what you want to be. Draw you visions from within, be different and stand out from the crowd.

To get your creative eye focused, where do you draw your inspiration from?

There’s a bunch of photographer’s work that I get my inspirations from. Their perseverance to get to new and undiscovered places, understanding of light, and one of a kind adventures moves me forward. Works of artists like Ryan Dyar, Mark Matternich, Ted Gore, Erin Babnik, Dylan Toh of Everlook Photography, Sean Bagshaw and Jimmy Mcintyre are the guys who I look up to!

What is your best photography related tip?

Photography as an art form is so much more than meets the eye. It is a continuous learning experience and takes time and a lot of practice for mastery. Take everything one step at a time, become an expert of your gears, discover what drives you as a lens man, and also follow the principles and workflows that you learn faithfully. Doing these will surely unleash your full potential as Nature’s agent of majesty.

What would you like for people take away from your work?

It will still vary how the viewer may see the photo based on his personal awareness, I keep in mind that my goal is to take the audience exactly back to where I was when I captured the photograph. Optimism and passion, attitude and timing are the most important traits of a photographer. All these combined would almost certainly lead to great results.

Keep in mind that an effective photograph should definitely draw the viewer’s eye and attention at first glance. The image must be interesting enough for the viewer to begin to identify the photograph’s story and be able to imagine the mood in his own mind. Also the same goes with light and colors, these are most powerful characteristics of a photograph. Those are the most pleasing elements that are often identified and appreciated.

What are some ‘must have’ items in your camera bag?

My ‘must have’ items in my camera bag aside from Camera, lens and filters, batteries and memory cards.

Cleaning Cloth – I love shooting where there is water. So cleaning cloth is a must for me to wipe off sprays/mist coming from the sea or waterfalls.

Rain Sleeve – I made sure to pack one sleeve in my bag for those “just in case the weather turns to worse”.

Waders – I never go to places without these. You can freely go into the water for “that shot” and waders has kept me dry all the time.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the ONE photography book you would want to have with you?

Mountain Light by Galen Rowell

Final question, and it’s a fun one: Life has been found on another planet and none-other than Sir Richard Branson is piloting Virgin Galactic and has put together a team of engineers, scientist, doctors and has asked you to come along to document the journey. The challenge is you can only bring two lenses and one camera body and two other items. What would you bring?

Camera Body: Any Camera

1st Lens: 1 telephoto lens

2nd Lens: 1 wide angle lens

1st Item: Laptop

2nd Item: Tripod

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