VISUAL ARTIST Geloy Concepcion knows that he doesn’t need to travel far to capture that decisive moment. He encounters these moments everyday while walking the streets of Manila, taking photographs or doing graf ti art on these very streets where he grew up.
After nishing his tenure at the 7th Angkor Photo Workshops in Cambodia, the longest running photography workshop in Asia, he came home to nd “beautiful and honest” stories in his hometown of Manila. After notable works such as Black Nazerene, which follows the famed procession and documents the faith shown by its participants, he nds himself working on his most personal work yet entitled Reyna Delas Flores. This project touches on the lives of the Manila Golden Gays, who through Geloy’s photographs have found their own unique stories to tell.
What fascinates you the most about visual arts and photography?
What fascinates me about photography is the concept of capturing a moment of reality. I also like painting, because it is like creating a moment you can never see in reality. I noticed you do commercial work for clients yet still find the time to tell stories through your photo essays. How do you manage to balance your work with personal work? Yes, balance is the key. They say that you have to feed your vices. My vice is creating. I do commercial work to fund my personal projects. Of course I have to live too, but I only take enough. I don’t ask for much.
Why did you choose to become a photographer?
I was interested in street art during my rst year of college. I was given the chance to visit different places in Manila and meet different kinds of people. I was inspired by the stories of those people and I wondered how I could tell their stories using another kind of medium. That was where my desire to become a photographer emerged.
Could you describe your artistic process to us?
Most of the time, my works are based on what I see on the streets: the details of street scenes, the people, how they live, and Filipino ingenuity.
“They say that you have to feed your vices. My vice is creating. I do commercial work to fund my personal projects.”
So walking outside and talking to people are big parts of my process.
I first noticed your photographs in the Black
Nazerene photo essay. What can you tell us about that experience?
I am a devotee of the Black Nazarene, so that is why I thought about doing a photo essay about it. I admire people who have strong faith regardless of what religion they have.
Most people see Manila as chaotic, scary, dangerous, and dirty among other negative things.
Maybe those are true but shooting in the streets of Manila is all about perspective. I always try to see something beautiful and honest when I walk around: the lights of Avenida and Malate, Manila Bay, the tambays of Tondo, kids playing at San Andres, colorful clothes along a clothesline, the train tracks at Pandacan, and chaotic jeeps. Sometimes when I walk along Quiapo in the morning, I look at the other people walking and I can see in their faces that they have a mission they need to accomplish to survive that day. Isn’t it beautiful? Shooting in Manila, you just need to talk to the people and always smile.
What’s your favorite picture that you have ever taken? Favorite project so far?
Any of the pictures from my current project entitled Reyna Delas Flores: The Manila Golden Gays.
I also recall that photographers are always on the go. What keeps you going?
The idea of meeting new people keeps me going. It is a never-ending experience.
You mentioned in your “Dear Hanoi” photo essay, that you will continue learning. Do you still feel the need to constantly grow as an artist?
I am only 23 years old. I have so much to learn, a lot of room for improvement and mistakes. We always need to grow not just as artists but also as human beings. I always think that before being a good artist, I must be a good human being rst.
Do you follow or collect other artists’ work as well? Who are your favorite artists?
I wish I could afford their artwork. Being their friend is enough. My favorite local artists are Elmer Borlongan, Jake Verzosa, Mm Yu, Veejay Villafranca, Egg Fiasco, Jose Soriano, Santi Bose and many more. For international artists, I like ARAKI, Basquiat, Mary Ellen Mark, Roger Ballen, and Muhammad Ali. When you go out and shoot, do you have a goal in mind on how a photo should look or feel?
No, I like to surprise myself.
What would you be if you weren’t an artist/ photographer?
I would be a soldier.
What’s next for you? Will you continue to create images in the future?
I will spend my lifetime creating. Always. All ways.
Sammy Caquioa, Tattoo Artist. Pureza Manila 2014
Reyna Delas Flores: Manila’s Golden Gays 2015” Al “Carmen dela Rue” Enriquez, 73, from the series “
Untitled from the series “AMA: Black Nazarene” at Roxas Blvd., Manila 2013
A street barber at Escolta Manila 2015