CONTRAST TO DARKNESS
IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL CAPULONG
Michael Capulong is just at the beginning of his photography journey. After purchasing a camera to make family travel videos, he began to watch YouTube videos where he discovered a passion for street photography. A few clicks later he was searching for more interesting subjects and compositions. With a love for light and shadows, Michael's photos are graphic and dominated by the colour black, and as he says "more black and mostly black".
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you become interested in photography?
I was born and raised in the Philippines. I went to Singapore in 2008 to find a job. The original plan was to work here just for 5 years, save money and go back. But then, I ended up being here for the last 12 years.
The main reason why I purchased my camera is for making travel videos with my family. I was never really interested in photography, until I saw a couple of YouTubers' videos showing their photos and how they have taken them. So in October 2020, I thought of giving it a try. Then a few clicks later, I found myself wanting to go out almost every weekend just to find some interesting places and subjects to capture.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from people around me, lines and shapes of shadows created by sunlight, reflections on water/puddles, and colours created by different kind of lights.
Do you have any favourite artists/photographers? Who do you think has mostly influenced your style?
Most of the photographers I know are YouTubers. People like Peter McKinnon, Alan Schaller, Pierre Lambert, James Popsys, Gareth Danks, Sean Tucker and Mark Fearnley. But Gareth and Sean influenced my style the most.
What is it that you enjoy about street photography?
I enjoy street photography because through this, I can capture and share how I see things happening around me.
What happens when you walk the street with your camera? Explain your technique. How do people generally respond?
When I’m out with my camera, I usually walk miles for hours finding a good place to shoot. I always want to capture photos with very high contrast. Lights and shadows basically. I always prefer shooting while the sun is shining very bright. I love how it creates nice contrast in the photos. But considering the weather in Singapore, which is mostly raining if not cloudy, I’m trying to explore other types like silhouette kind of style as well. I do fishing kind of style of photography. Honestly, the only technique I use is wearing my most comfortable pair shoes and be very patient in finding the right light and be even more patient in waiting for right subject to come into my frame.
What do you want to express through your photography?
I want to express the beauty of lights and shadows. How stunning a simple shadow of an office building casted on plain white wall can be if you add a right subject into it.
And what are some of the elements you always try to include in your photographs?
As much as possible lights and shadow. And I always try to include a person in my composition. Whether it just his silhouette, part of his body or just his shadow.
How has the pandemic affected you and your photography?
I started photography during the pandemic. In fact, the situation could’ve pushed me to go into photography. Since I can’t travel anywhere else.
Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
They say - “It’s not the camera but who’s behind the camera”. But of course, at times, proper equipment do provides help in getting a proper composition. I’m using a Sony A6400 camera. I usually shoot with the 24mm prime (35mm equivalent) but I change to a wider/longer lens when required. As a beginner, I believe this camera is good enough to capture all the shots I want to take, but if given a chance to upgrade into a full frame camera in the future, then I would be happy to take it.
When you go out photographing, do you have a concept in mind of what you want to shoot, or do you let the images just "come to you", or is it both?
To be honest, when I go out for a shoot, I usually run round like a headless chicken. Walk around to find a good location with a good contrasting lights and shadows.
What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself or hope to see yourself in five years?
Currently, I’m doing photography as a hobby and do not have intention of doing it professionally. In fact, I am still considering myself as a beginner. Five years later, I see myself still doing this with probably a better gear and skill. If I can make money out of it, why not?
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
...I usually spend my time video chatting with my family back home."