We’re lucky to have been granted with an email interview with one of the most renowed fashion and glam photographer from the Philippines namely: Yohan Dela Cruz. What got us interested with his type of photography, aside from the stunning models, is his lighting technique. It’s superb and brings out the beauty of his subjects.
At first, I was very hesitant to ask the guy for an interview. Mainly because of his stature in the industry. And Second, because of mine. I’m not as established in my field as him on his field. What goes through my mind was, he might not take me seriously when I asked for an interview. He also might think I was just scamming him. Or he might even think I’m just some fool trying to get some juicy behind the scene shots of his models.
But alas. It’s all or nothing. If I intend to be doing this thing in our next few posts, then I should really step up and conquer my inner demon and summon all that is holy. And besides, this wouldn’t be my first time to be rejected for an interview anyway. Another make or break situation.
Initial conversasion started out like this:
Me (JDO): Sir. Pwede ka ba mainterview? Salamat.
*Yohan Dela Cruz accepted your request
Yohand Dela Cruz (YDC): Regarding po san?
JDO: Simple blog post lang po sana.
YDC: what blog post? may i see ur work? ano purpose and objective ng blog post?
JDO: http://goinspire.me May portion ako jan about photography. Mostly toy photographers pa lang.
YDC: and what do u intend to do in the interview?
JDO: Chat interview lang. I know we’re both busy. So if ever, we can continue with the interview kung kelan lang may time. The interview will be about you and your works sana.
YDC: ayaw mag load ng blog site mo. I see. Cge po, pero as u said urself busy kasi so pag nagkaron ng spare time na lang. remind me na lang once in a while.
JDO: Ok. Sure. And thanks in advance. I’ll prepare some questions muna.
Bingo! Yaleluhia! I finally got to do an interview. Hooray for me. This could be a break through for me. After all, I’m no journalism graduate (I majored in Computer Management btw). Now, got to prepare those interview questions. The chat interview didn’t push through so we got an email interview instead.
An email interview has it’s advantage. It gives me ample of time to conduct it. What I find disadvantageous is that I don’t personally know this guy and I haven’t met him face to face. Meaning, I don’t know his personality. But I do know is that this guy has a professional work ethics. And, that I have to keep this interview decent. I have followed him on his fb page long enough to know that I should behave well, lest I have myself get blocked off his social media account. Or worst, like get publicly shamed for unlikely behavior. Don’t even think he’s a bad person. I mean most of us would probably do just the same to protect our own circle.
The Actual Email Interview
1. Dela Cruz is a very famous family name here in the Philippines. My grandmother is also a Dela Cruz. From where is your clan?
My dad came from Tondo, Manila, so you can say that I’m a Manila boy when I was born. I cannot recall any province from where my dad’s side came from; my mother on the other hand, is from Negros Oriental. So I guess our Dela Cruz clan are early Manila settlers.
2. When did you start your career? And how did you acquire your skills?
I guess I can consider starting photography as a hobby at the time I bought myself a DSLR camera back in August 2008. I had zero knowledge on photography back then. I’m into online forums, so during that time I’ve been active on an online forum that discusses a specific brand and model of a camera (it was for Nikon D40). The forum discusses a lot of tips, tricks and technical knowledge, not just with the said camera model, but photography itself.
Later on, some of the active people in this online forum set up a get together and we eventually formed a peer-based club group, and that’s when majority of my learning with photography started to develop. It was all about sharing and self-learning for me.
Largely through my network of models, I started getting client offers as early as 2010. I also did a bit of wedding before (with my own team), and mostly commercial and product shoots involving image models (since clients know that’s where my forte is).
3. Has photography been on your mind as a child or during your school days?
You know this may sound funny, but I’m a big fan of Spiderman since my high school days, and was a comic collector back then. You probably know already what Peter Parker was, right? Yes, he’s a photographer. Back in high school I would borrow my auntie’s old film camera whenever my friends and I would go out. But all of which back then was just for snapping pictures away, that’s it.
It was during 2006 when I borrowed a camera again from my auntie (this time a digital camera) and went on a trip to Palawan with my officemates. I took some still life and landscape pictures ala postcard, and from thereon, friends and relatives started to notice that I have that so called “eye” for photography. Then by 2008 I started having my own DSLR (in fact, that was even my very first camera)
4. What type of photography do you do?
As of the moment, I specialize in Portraiture, Fashion, Glam, and the likes. I also shoot events at the side. For professional work, I’d usually do commercial and product photography.
5. I know you do a lot of work shops, (sorry for not attending any of them, my wife will kill me) which one is more difficult, getting models or getting participants?
Actually for workshops, I’ve done just about 3 sessions on my own, the last one was back in 2013. What I usually organize instead are what we call “openshoots” wherein photographers can get to register and join the shoot while I host the models. Getting participants is much harder for me than getting models. I do, sometimes, give tips and tricks during these openshoots as well.
6. Who do you think benefits the most, the models for the exposure. Or the participants for the learning experience?
The target beneficiary of both the workshops and openshoots is definitely for the participants. For the workshops, participants get to learn. For the openshoots, participants get a chance to have these certain models to be their subject, as a lot of them get a hard time booking them on their own shoots. Some models I hire for the openshoots are on a ‘higher class’ so to speak (mostly those who have had an FHM and/or Playboy Philippines appearance). The models’ only benefit is basically the talent fee they get from these shoots.
7. With your current status in the industry, your models seem trust you. Has it always been this way?
Trust doesn’t come in a snap, we build it. I don’t know any other means of saying this but simply put – I work professionally. That’s how I am able to build up trust with these models. And the more models I get to work with showcasing my working attitude with them, the more I am able to build this up with the others. Also, I am someone very visible to them. For example, when there are events going on and models are there, I get to meet them. I am not an anonymous person and people see me all the time – meaning I’m real and legit, I don’t hide my identity at all.
8. What other forms/types of photography have you considered doing?
I started out shooting still life photos, landscapes, etc. When I started taking pictures of portraits, I started getting feedback that I take good photos of portraits, so I eventually concentrated on that field. I’ve done a bit of product and commercial photography too, but those are mostly just for client work.
9. If you were not a photographer, what do you think would you be doing by now?
Actually, I’m just a part time photographer, and I work for an IT company as my full time career. So maybe if I’m not doing photography, I’d still be the same office person that I am now, just minus that. On second thought, I’d probably be a car enthusiast too.
10. Any advice for people starting out their careers?
A lot of advice, honestly. Haha! First of all, satisfy yourself and not the other people around you. When you have satisfied yourself, then you improve to start satisfying your viewers. You may hear a lot from people telling you this and that, but remember to always “shoot as you please.” I’m not saying one shouldn’t learn from the comments and critiques given to them as that is very essential, but they also should not take it with hard feelings. Also, do not expect an “overnight” development, it takes time. Some may have a faster learning curve, some doesn’t, but still it takes time.
Furthermore, don’t let it go to your head. When we improve, we get a lot of good feedback from people but never ever let it go to your head. Photography is a never ending learning. You may learn something now, but definitely there’s still something you have yet to learn too.
End of Interview
That was a relief. We got his response over night after we’ve sent our questionare late in the afternoon. And we even got a license to use any image of his works from his portfolio to include in this post. Goodness gracious. There’s a lot to choose from. We almost had a heart attack while choosing which ones to feature. This guy was totally cool. Plus, he’s a Spidey fan too just like me.
Be sure to follow Yohan on his official social media account:
Sample Shots from Yohan Dela Cruz
Here are some of his works. Higher resolution copy of his images are on his fb page and flickr account.