I typically cover stories of health and trauma.
I remember collecting photographs when I was nine, sifting through old family photos and making albums to showcase them. I didn’t pick up a camera till I was eleven, and then took many images of friends, wanting to preserve my childhood memories. After saving up to buy my first DSLR in college, I taught myself, learning from many people and books.
Over time, I gathered that photography is more than making beautiful images. It also offers an opportunity to impact the world through storytelling and I wanted to be part of this movement.
I had to photograph a diplomat for my first assignment and the experience was disastrous. It did, though, offer me plenty of room to grow. I learned to be upfront about my skills and experiences, to communicate better with my editors, to invest more time in planning and to caption my work better. I think the most important lesson was not to be too hard on myself.
Since I am drawn to stories on health and trauma, I am affected by those assignments in many different ways. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was working with survivors of sexual trauma. During this outbreak, I transitioned to working with the front line healthcare workers risking their lives every day. It is hard to take in their difficult and emotional stories, but I draw strength from their resilience and courage.
Self-care, whatever this means to you, is essential to be able to pursue and find longevity in this work. I also realised very early on to focus my energy on the stories that moved me. It’s very easy as a new photojournalist to get derailed with some setbacks, but as long as the fire in you is alive, there’s nothing stopping your pursuit.
There are so many photographers I really respect, including everyone behind Authority Collective, Diversify Photo and Women Photograph. They have all challenged us to consider how we view and photograph the world. They also offer an amazing support network. I also respect Hannah Reyes Morales, who has paved the way for many Filipino photojournalists.