Hersley-Ven Casero is a multidisciplinary visual artist based in Dumaguete City, Philippines. When he's not in the studio creating art, Hersley-Ven will be out on the streets with camera in hand, capturing that little piece of the absolute randomness of life. He is fascinated by how a stranger moves and interacts within their environment, creating a snapshot of the everyday mundane and turning it into an uncanny moment of magic recorded by Hersley-Ven forever as a tangible piece of art.
When and how did you start getting interested in photography?
As a child and into adulthood, I have always been fascinated with creating images through art. During my time at Foundation University, I was lucky enough to be sponsored equipment and mentored by LA
Times photographer Luis Sinco. Upon graduating, I worked for a while as an Art & Photography course teacher, and also conducted - along with Sir Luis, and Magnum Photographer Eli Reed - a series of South Pacific Photography Workshops attended by international photographers. I have since spent the last 16 years exploring the world of photography and continuously learning each day.
Do you have a favourite quote/lyric/saying that resonates with you the best?
“It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera…they are made with the eye, heart and head.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration from people, experiences and daily life.
What do you want to express through your photography? And what are some of the elements you always try to include in your photographs?
I am fascinated by the fact that every time I click the shutter in front of a stranger moving and interacting within their environment, I have caught a little piece of the absolute randomness of life, a snapshot of an otherwise unremarkable moment in history, that is timely, comical, tricky to the eye or just plain beautiful.
Who are your favourite artists or photographers? Who has mostly influenced your style?
Luis Sinco, an award-winning Los Angeles Times Photographer. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Nikos Economopoulos, Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey, Joel Meyerowitz, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, Vincent van Gogh and Georgia O’Keeffe. Just to mention a few.
Has your style of shooting changed since you first started?
Yes. I embrace change and believe in evolving as you learn and experience more. I’m constantly trying to learn and improve and hone in my skills and style. There is always more to explore and discover, and the world is constantly changing around us.
Where is your favourite place to shoot?
I love to travel, and photographing a new place and along with it, its unique people, architecture, culture, movements and light. However, I’m learning more and more - particularly during this lockdown period - that you really don’t have to go very far to find a good picture. I’m learning as of late to rediscover new magic in the mundane of my own backyard.
How does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length? What would you say to someone wanting to start out in your genre of photography?
I’m a versatile photographer. My first serious equipment was sponsored by the Los Angeles Times - zoom lenses and heavy-duty DSLR bodies. For my most recent purchase, after a lot of research and consideration for the way in which I use my equipment, I opted for a Fujifilm camera, and a Prime lens equivalent to 35mm focal length. The best equipment you can have is the one you have. You can always start from somewhere. If purchasing expensive equipment is out of your reach for the time being, I believe in making use of what you have available and it will give you pictures. The reason I chose the Fujifilm – and the advice I would give to someone starting out in Street Photography – is that, as well as being a great camera, it is compact, lightweight and inconspicuous.
Do you prefer to shoot alone or with friends?
I enjoy both for different reasons. For me, shooting alone is like a meditation. It’s when I’m at my most focused and serene. Shooting with photographer friends can also be a really fun experience though, as you learn from your peers and bounce ideas off each other along the way, and it can really freshen things up to get a different perspective on things.
How long have you been involved in the artistic world before photography?
My whole life I have been an artist, or at least fascinated with creating images. I started as soon as I could pick up a stick and draw abstract creatures in the dirt. I continued to draw and paint throughout my school years, and my artistic skills earnt me scholarships all the way through my education, until completing my degree. Coming from a very humble background on the outskirts of a small town in the Philippines, art was really my ticket to many opportunities that I may not otherwise have had, and is still my profession as well as my passion to this day.
Are there any books that you have read that have inspired your creativity and that you would like to recommend to us?
My background is really in Fine Arts, and I love reading books about art history and the life stories of artists who have made an impact on the creative world with their works. One of my all-time favourites is ‘The Book of Modern Art’.
‘The Decisive Moment’* by Henri Cartier-Bresson is a photography book that really inspired me. ‘Magnum Magnum’* featuring the works of the legendary Magnum Photographers was a fantastic read, and I would also highly recommend ‘The Suffering of Light’* by Alex Webb.
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Are there any special projects you are currently working on?
For the last few months, I have volunteered to officially document the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in my home city. I have been recording the empty streets, the community efforts, and people’s moving personal stories every day since the quarantine period began here in Dumaguete.
*Editor's Note: Read Hersley's story about this project here on the website.
What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself or hope to see yourself in five years?
This is a hard question to answer, as the world is full of uncertainty these days, and you never know what’s around each corner. All I know is that I see myself still creating, and still clicking the camera shutter wherever I go.
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)...
Paint! I like to stay in the studio, listen to soothing music, make art, and watch inspiring documentaries with my equally creative partner.