The year 2007 was the first time I became aware of a photographer named “Librodo”. I didn’t know it at the time, but this one person would both improve my photography and inspire me more than any other photographer I have known.
In the summer of 2008, I found out that he was holding a workshop in Quebec City, so I decided to take up the opportunity to meet this photographer. You would think someone with this much success and exposure might be a little full of themselves, but Manny was the complete opposite; very approachable and humble. As much as I enjoyed the shooting process with Manny, it was during the processing part of the workshop that would be a defining moment in my life. I literally had to fight back tears when I processed my own photos using his techniques because I saw my photography go from good to great. The best part was, Manny didn’t dictate how to process our photos specifically, instead he showed us a handful of different techniques which we could use in any way we saw fit. It was very empowering.
The following interview took place on October 22nd in Singapore, the night before the “One Asia Festival” in which Manny was a featured speaker. Special thanks to Andrew JK Tan for finding the time to interview Manny during his busy schedule. This interview has been written based on notes taken at that interview.
It is with great pleasure that I present you with “An Interview with Manuel Libres Librodo Jr.”
This is a classic example of a face that tells a thousand stories. Every wrinkle, every ring in her finger, the cataract eyes – each has a story to tell. I am very lucky to have met her.
Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in Lambunao, a small town in Central Philippines. At that time, we had no electricity but the town, which was at a very high altitude, had very interesting vegetation and scenery.
What is your occupation?
After graduation, I taught as a Language Instructor in the US Peace Corp in the Philippines. I also did a short stint as a Marketing Manager with an Insurance company before I decided teaching was my passion. After teaching for 2 years in the Philippines, I decided to fly to Bangkok, Thailand where I have been an Educator (teacher) at an International School for the last 15 years.
With my passion for teaching and photography, I focused on sharing my experiences and knowledge through my workshops which have taken place globally.
When and how did you get into photography?
From the year 2000, during my teaching stint in Bangkok, I would go for holidays and bring my point & shoot camera. At that point in time, I was always the model in my own travel photos. At that same time, I also became very active online, posting my travel photography. The turning point came after I posted my photos from a trip to Morocco, Spain and Portugal. I received very good responses on these photos, and from that point onwards, I was driven to document and share my travel works vision on line. My photography is self taught and fiercely driven by passion.
Sometimes, when you don’t show everything, you actually are telling more. This picture says it all. The color contrast, the light, the subject’s gesture – they all contribute to this very narrative picture.
Have you entered your photographs into any competitions?
Yes, I have entered numerous competitions in which I have benefited greatly, especially in terms of improving my photography skills. DPChallenge was special to me and it became so serious that I would feel pressured to plan even my workshops around the challenges for that week.
A list of some of Manny’s photographic achievements:
- Named by Scott Kelby as one of the FIVE BEST PHOTOGRAPHERS in the World in 2009 (that you probably haven’t heard about)
- His photo of a little boy in Burma appeared in the cover of UNICEF’s (Geneva) Wall Calendar 2009. A regular contributor to UNICEF since 2007 for their calendars, postcards and other items.
- His photo of a street performer in Iloilo was featured as the cover of Issue number 77 (Sept/Oct) of Asian Geographic magazine – Photography Issue.
- Second Most Popular Photographer & Most Favorited Photographs at www.dpchallenge.com
- His picture of Rosalinda was made as a poster of an International Music Festival in Poland in 2006. The same picture won so many awards in many competitions and has appeared as cover of so many online and print magazine.
- 22+ Million hits in www.pbase.com ( since 30-Jul-2004). His website in pbase averaged 10,000 hits everyday. It’s one of the most visited website in pbase from among 300,000 photographers all over the world.
- Has won countless competitions online and on print. The three sites that he frequents the most for competitions are DPChallenge, Digital Image Cafe & Better Photo.
- Chosen as endorser of Nikon Philippines/Columbia 2006
- Chosen as one of the EPSON Pro in the Philippines 2010
On which websites can our readers find your photographs?
This picture shows so much freedom from my end and the subject’s pose. I let go of my desire to frame the subject tightly and explored other possible angles. Sometimes, in our photography, we have to step out of our comfort zone.
What type of camera equipment do you own and why?
My first camera was a point and shoot (Nikon Coolpix 4500). My frist DSLR was a Nikon D70. Since then I have gone through a D200, D2X and I am currently using a Nikon D3. I use Nikon cameras as they are what I grew up with. I find that Nikons suit my style of photography, my love for bold colors and portraiture. I love the dynamic feel I can achieve with Nikon.
What software do you use to edit your photographs?
Solely Photoshop, with of course, some plug-ins.
Do you have a favourite lens?
Absolutely. The Nikon AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8G ED is what I use 90% of the time. My secondary lens is the Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR DG IF-ED. I usually only carry 1 camera body and both of these lenses in my travels and workshops.
Who says the face needs to be clean. Who says the hair needs to be well-combed. The wind was the culprit. At first I was annoyed but I eventually realized that spontaneity is the name of the game.
Do you have any formal training?
I am self taught in both photography and post processing.
Who inspires you?
There are two people who inspire me greatly. The first is my brother Jose. He is the real artist in the family and it was through him that I absorbed my artistic DNA and appreciation of art. The second person is Steve McCurry. I love how he uses light & color and how he gets into the soul of his subjects.
For those who don’t know, you run photography workshops all over the world. How long is each workshop, and what can one expect to learn by participating?
There are 3 types of workshops
- 1 day workshop (1/2 day shooting techniques, 1/2 day on post processing)
- 2 day workshops (1 day shooting techniques, 1 day on post production)
- Travel Safaris that range from 5 days to a week
By attending the workshops, Manny promises:
- Good photographic outputs
- Level up (improvement) in terms of photography skills, especially in portraiture
- To teach aspiring photographers to focus on their creative and artistic side
Some of the cities/states where Manny has conducted workshops include:
San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Edmonton, Quebec, Melbourne, Sydney, Amsterdam, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Manami, Kuwait City, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Cairo, Manila, Bacolod, Iloilo, Gen Santos, Vigan, Cebu, Davao, Roxas City, Pampanga, Cavite, & Tacloban.
Sometimes, the weather stops us from taking pictures. In this case, the rain helps us to take a better photo.
If you could travel anywhere to take photographs, where would you go and why?
I would like to be shooting anywhere in the world, but I really should have an agent in New York as I am there often.
Do you have any tips for aspiring photographers?
- Shoot from the heart
- Be spontaneous
- Try to be less concerned with the technicalities, and be more concerned with capturing the right moments
- Use your eyes and vision
- The best teacher is EXPERIENCE, so keep on shooting
How many photographs have you taken in your lifetime?
As many as the number of breaths I have taken in my lifetime. (Too many to keep track!)
Where would you like to be 10 years from now?
Someone who has achieved great photographic success. I would love to have 3 best selling books. Most importantly, to continue to be driven by passion and to always be hungry to learn something new!!
What do you love most about photography?
Photography provides a kind of “power” that can freeze a moment in time. The fact that one can freeze a moment eternally is a gift, especially since it has been frozen in your own creative way.
Thank you very much for taking the time to participate in this interview Manny. Best of luck in your future endeavours. – PhotoWeeklyOnline
Link: Manny’s PBase Portfolio