Gender equality or gender egalitarianism has long been resolved following a series of international decrees stipulating non-discrimination among sexes…thus, the plodding emergence of the outright recognition of women to stand at par with those of their male counterparts.
Women enjoy the same opportunities, rights, and obligations just like men in all spheres of life. The general implementation of equal footing in the workplace create a more harmonious social set-up that eventually guaranteed rapid accomplishments in this fast-changing world… as job opportunities for the female populace became openly available.
Women of today’s generation, noticeably, don’t take the field of photography seriously as a professional job since they still consider it as a male-dominated world.
But the empowerment of women increasingly gave rise to the relatively growing number of those that embrace the art of photography and started to stamp their mark on the industry that was previously predominantly male.
Since beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, easily then, through the lens, a woman could see things differently from a man’s perspective. A woman’s viewpoint could paint diverse colors that effortlessly release textured enthusiasm of life via her photographs.
Filipino shutterbug Paula Morandarte, for the benefit of her earnest passion, readily and uncomplainingly took every challenge, hazard, and demand that photography might bring. “This is the only career I’ve been obsessed with since high school. I’ve tried Nursing and related courses just to give in to my parents’ insistence but to no avail. Despite their all out dissuasions and alarming counsel my strong determination remained steadfast. ..afterall, it is my own life’s calling,” the Taurus-born independent-minded photographer justifiably clarifies her side.
An archetypal exponent of a Taurean (born May 14) that is altruistic, pragmatic, and constantly craves for her own satisfying space, Paula could be sensual and tactile while fundamentally equipped with high conscientiousness in finishing whatever she said she would.
But what actually interested her into photography? “Nobody either influenced or persuaded me into this art. It was just that I started to be intrigued by the prints I saw in magazines and videos online. I would be amazed how beauty could be perfectly captured by cameras and transferred on paper or screen,” she recalls with ephemeral fondness. “During my secondary years I started to use my dad’s camera and later became more knowledgeable about photography through ‘tinkering’ my own Fuji camera until I mastered everything about the sensitivity of the image sensor, aperture, and shutter speed.”
Aptly armed with just a year course of Photography from Asia Pacific Film Institute plus her years of self-taught shooting experiences, Paula’s sterling aspiration to make it big in the field finally saw a beam of light when a an Abu-Dhabi-based company offered her an enticing job proposal after seeing her works online. Although initially hesitant and cynical she grabbed the opportunity after giving it some thought.
Her excitement and overwhelming enthusiasm nearly collapsed in frustration due to stagnation of energy. “It was Ramadan when I arrived and business was slow. Yes, I was properly paid but I was yearning to work and be updated with photographic trends… but there I was, occasionally doing studio shoots…and oftentimes, doing nothing at all,” the dismayed Paula recounts.
“I decided to move to Dubai where modernity is part of their lifestyle. My judgment paid off,” she said sounding pleased. “In Dubai I became busy. I did quite a number of corporate and fashion shoots among which were: Michelin, Sony, Grey Goose, Jack Daniels, Max Factor, Del Monte, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Maserati, Fendi, Taste of Dubai, and a lot of model headshots.”
“My two years in the open city maybe rewarding and fulfilling but still I wanted to grow and concentrate more on documentary film.” This time her tone sounded a bit ambitious with positivity. “At that time I was already eyeing New York City.”
The wandering photographer flew to the Big Apple on September 2, 2014… a dream she had long been praying for. “At first I was thrilled to be in NYC finally but I soon realized it’s hard to survive in the asphalt jungle as I inevitably combat its perturbing hustle and bustle. I was just too gratified that my Aunt in Queens graciously offered me a place to stay.”
There are much more to uncover about Paula and a set of questionnaires will give us a better understanding about her other plans and priorities.
Asian Journal (AJ): What had been your most difficult assignment?
Paula Morandarte (PM): It happened here in New York City during the 2015 NY Fashion Week. My boss, the editor of World Bride Magazine, commissioned me to cover the event and to my dismay, I never knew some photographers could be so rude and inconsiderate. Amid the congested elbow-to-elbow area someone grabbed my spot that no amount of persuasion could make him give it up for me…only to realize just because I left for a moment with my tripod made my spot available for any taker.
AJ: What are the perils or dangers does your job entail?
PM: Being a woman that I am and at 5-foot flat, going home at night with all the cameras over my back and the heavy equipment on my shoulder, not to mention my personal stuff in another bag…that’s tough and scary. I cannot afford to lose any of my equipment to looters or snatchers. My cameras are my life…without them, I feel worthless.
AJ: Black & white or colored, which do you prefer?
PM: I will always go with colored. I find black and white not real because the world actually is composed of a multitude of colors and tones.
AJ: How do you manage to work with babies, guys, and women as subjects?
PM: Well, with babies, I always have a lot of patience and my instincts should be quick since their moods switch instantly. I also sought the help of their mothers…doing the clowning and cheering, you know. As for men, I got intimidated by their arresting looks sometimes especially when they look at me straight but I managed to evade those disturbing stares by focusing more on my work…and ultimately got inspired, instead. Women oftentimes are demanding and fortified with baseless attitudes…I still tried to let them understand that I am the master behind the camera.
AJ: How do you prepare for a shoot?
PM: Well, if it’s a corporate shoot, I demand a briefing and what sort of results are they expecting. If It’s a documentary, I try to be early on the set to get the feel of the situation in order to capture reality…and if it’s cinematic, I infuse some kind of artistic touch to it.
AJ: What shooting gadget do you have?
PM: I always have my ever dependable Canon Mark II 5D… it’s multi-functional!
AJ: Who do you idolize in the field?
PM: If there’s but one person that I highly emulate in this field that would be Nap Jamir, a Filipino director-cinematographer who was my professor at Asia Pacific Film Institute.
AJ: Do you have some thoughts of leveling up or attaining higher status as a photographer?
PM: Yes, of course! I actually wanted to excel in documentary films that’s why I enrolled at the New York Film Academy. I am fascinated to compile documentations that provide factual records of genuine aspects of reality. ..then, maybe, I will eventually venture into cinematography.
AJ: What and who are your most magnificent obsession to shoot?
PM: With regard to place, I want to cover Iceland because it’s something new to me. Among things, I will go for jewelry like fine crafted rings and watches…they’re challenging since the subjects require specific lighting and angling to reveal their authentic value. But among people, easily I will have to choose Keanu Reeves. He’s been my dreamboat ever since that’s why his 1995 film “A Walk in the Clouds” is my favorite ever.
AJ: What are your future plans?
PM: I want to have my own studio in Brooklyn. I just love the feel of the brick walls, hard wood floors, and big wide windows. I could effectually and conveniently function in such workplace.
Paula Morandarte, in her innate capacity as a documentary photographer believes that she can inspire positive change and make a difference in telling a story by the aid of her camera. With the way things are going great for her time will come when she could audaciously herald that she had redefined the world of photography for women after having had creatively expressed her personal vision by being a lady shutterbug.
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