Interview by Allyanna Anglim, based in Hong Kong
Joseph Pascual, a Manila-based full-time photographer-blogger, describes himself as 75% Chinese and 100% Filipino.
25-year old Joseph first got hold of a camera in 2002 when his grandfather gave him a point-and-shoot camera. He has since done shoots for popular Filipino publications like the Philippine Daily Inquirer and local fashion and lifestyle magazines such as Rogue. Joseph has also collaborated with creative agencies on projects for Pandora Jewelry and Tomato Clothing.
I met Joseph when we were both freshmen at the University of the Philippines and he had just begun to explore photography. I remember many random but important and philosophical conversations shared with him about life, love and school. Joseph impressed me with his voracious and insatiable appetite to feel, experience and create.
I caught up with Joseph recently after years of non-communication to do an interview for Art Zeen. His passion for photography was apparent as ever. We talked about the innate meaningfulness of the photographs he takes and the difference between taking photographs for one’s self and for others.
Joseph Pascual: I think it’s the willingness of someone to be placed in front of my camera and it is the ability to capture them for a moment and connect with them in a very meaningful way. At university I started taking portraits of my friends and anyone with a story before, in-between and after classes. By the time I graduated I already had some clients who have seen my work through freelance projects that I had done or through my blog, so it was a natural transition from a hobby to eventually becoming a full-time job.
Art Zeen: How would you describe your photography style?
Joseph Pascual: It has a photojournalistic element to it, like a documentary of events in photographs. I’m also very drawn to disrupting people’s expectations of what photos should look like. My work is actually two-fold: the photos I take are nostalgic and evoke some sense of sadness because all photos capture past moments and all I have are photos to show for these memories; the second part is writing about them and giving them a sense of justice. This is why it takes me a long time to upload photos to my blog; I need time to think and write about how my photos make me feel.
Art Zeen: What is your favorite photograph?
Joseph Pascual: I don’t think I have one. Even when sometimes I don’t like some of the photos I take, they’re all part of this big collection and documentation of moments in my life and these are all memories I value.
Art Zeen: Do you think the meaning of photographs has been redefined today in the age of mass communication?
Joseph Pascual: Yes. Taking photos nowadays doesn’t mean you have a camera. It means you have a phone and access to a social network. I see photography as something that increasingly plays a role in how we interact with our friends in the online world. It also gives people an avenue to express themselves and channel their creativity.
Art Zeen: According to Forbes (2013), one of the most popular photo sharing apps has about 130 million monthly users uploading 45 million photos and videos everyday. What do you think of that?
Joseph Pascual: I don’t tend to share pictures that I take on social media. I don’t even have an Instagram account. With the immediacy of the internet, people nowadays have so many different intentions with photography – to capture memories, to remember something or to immortalize something. I don’t have a problem with people sharing photos on social media but I really disagree with taking photos for the attention that the photos get. You’re supposed to love and care about what you do, not what people think about you through your photos or what looks “good”.
Art Zeen: You love taking portraits of people—have you ever allowed anyone to take a portrait of yourself?
Joseph Pascual: Thinking about it now, I have never and that’s funny. It would be an honor to have a good portrait of me taken by someone. But I don’t know. When I take photos of other people, I think, “Let’s take a really nice photo of you so I can remember you.” But with myself it’s more of, “If you want to know me, we’re already talking now or you can just look at my work; what else do you need from me?” I think that’s a strange paradox of how I see people and how I wish for them to see me.