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The beauty of festivals through different lenses

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

Photographers during The Gathering I in Binondo, Manila

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Binondo is considered as the Chinatown of Manila, and also the oldest one in the world. It is known for its commerce, finance and business type of activities. It’s also a good spot for tourists, where they can just stroll around.

The Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, will take place on February 1st, 2022, marking the start of the Tiger year. The date of Chinese New Year varies from year to year, although it normally falls between January 21st and February 20th. The date is calculated utilizing the Chinese Lunar Calendar, which is primarily based on lunar and solar cycles and is typically 21–51 days behind the Gregorian calendar.

Key Lunar New Year activities are celebrated here. These include dragon dancing, fireworks, and food trips. Streets are usually filled with people because that’s their way of participating in the festival.

The celebration of Lunar New Year is also very memorable for some photographers. As we all know, photographs can keep so many memories, and Binondo has been witness to many visual storytellers from newbies to professionals.

Here are some stories from photographers who had photowalk experiences in Binondo during the Lunar New Year.

Raymond Tahueco is a seasoned Street Photographer also known for his street photography books
Raymond Tanhueco

Perspective of a seasoned Street Photographer

For a known street photographer like Raymond Tanhueco, photowalk is a social activity of photography enthusiasts where photographers gather to walk and snap. It can be done by group, or even an individual photographer.

Since the pandemic has limited us from some of our physical activities, photographers rarely take photos outside nowadays. Raymond admits that his memorable photowalk in Binondo was before the time of the pandemic. He was overwhelmed with the amount of people but he enjoyed taking photos.

Raymond loves taking photos of people enjoying the colors of festivities. He says that every corner, interesting things happen. Dragon dancing shows are in almost every corner of shop fronts, not to mention the number of bursts firecrackers make, on-the-street fire-eating shows, and the sound of loud drums and cymbals banging.

He says one challenge for him is mainly taking photos because of the crowd. Furthermore, choosing a perfect spot is difficult because you‘ll have to find a unique perspective that’s different from your fellow photographers.

His favorite spot in Binondo is Ongpin Street.

Image by Raymond Tanhueco

“I love the whole stretch of Ongpin and almost every branching side street in the area because I am always optimistic that a nice picture may just be lying in there somewhere, waiting to be captured.” Raymond added.

A Photowalk Leader’s unique perspective

For Jayce Bryan Pablo, photowalk is the way of discovering new places and people. This reflects his experience because 2 years ago, he had a memorable photowalk when he discovered fellow photographers.

Jayce Bryan Pablo

He felt the unity of his fellow photographers because they knew each other’s perspectives. Even after the photowalk, these people kept asking when the next photowalk would be.

Photographers at Kuang Kong Temple in Binondo during The Gathering – PhotoNation's first photowalk in Binondo

Personally, he likes the spot of Kuang Kong Temple in Binondo. He was also amazed that the temple was also loved by some tourists.

Photographers at The Gathering I, PhotoNation's first photowalk in Binondo

Because of how big the celebrations are, some of the participants who joined the walk often get lost, and since there are other photowalks going on, they tend to get mixed along with other the teams which makes it more interesting.

Registrant logging in the mobile web-based photowalk platform using the QR code

But something that sets PhotoNation's photowalks are how creative the organizers are. We have an active map tracker that tells the attendees where the walk is currently, and at the same time, an immersive mobile web-based app where the attendees can access it using their smartphones. This web-based app tells them the history, best food trip ideas, activities, and even suggested angles and shots you can take during the walk.

Registration is simple too! All you need to do is present your QR code that you got from the FB event page of the walk. It's paperless, and very quick! You even get a free set of stickers when you join!

And that's not all! Everyone gets to have a free waterproof Born In Film Tvek wristband – the kind they use in concerts. With it, it becomes easier for you to make knew friends knowing who are part of the walk.

But In a pandemic setting, they say, it became even more challenging due to face masks. With a mask on, it‘s harder to show the emotions of people.

As a photowalk leader, one advice he recalls that he shared with team is:

“Enjoy the walk and event. Respect all the people that you’ll encounter.”

Analogue Photography is alive to this day

The rise of modern cameras helped photographers explore new levels of photography. But despite the use of digital cameras, Bryanne Japzon proved that analogue photography deserves a spotlight.

Bryanne Kyle Japzon

Here are some of his shots:

Bryanne prefers using them because of the basic settings. It can also be a good start for starting photographers to learn the fundamentals and eventually try digital photography.

"There’s a difference when using an analog camera. Compared to digital cameras, you cannot see a preview of your shots. This is one of the technical things in analog cameras which is hard to adjust."

The biggest challenge he encounters in using analogue cameras, especially during Chinese New Year events is having limitations. Aside from not having a preview of your shot, it’s hard when you don’t have an extra film.

His favorite spot in Binondo is the front of Binondo Church. It’s a busy spot. It‘s also near some establishments and other great places including the plaza and other old architecture.

Bryanne taking photos during The Gathering I in Binondo, Manila

In a pandemic setting, he admits that it’s hard to take good shots.

“I think yeah because wearing a face mask, especially during these times, is a must, and I admit that one of the best photos anyone could take is a simple photo of people enjoying the events during Chinese New Year. And it’s sad actually to just see, like, a plain Binondo right now. I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s not that fun anymore, unlike during pre-pandemic years.”

Indeed, photographers play important roles to capture moments in every place. For Raymond, Jayce and Bryanne, regardless of the camera and your role as photographer, there will always be an opportunity to take great shots. Because the beauty of every scenery–especially during Chinese New Year – can be appreciated in every angle, and in any way. Happy Chinese New Year!

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