Jef Anog had the rare chance last year to collaborate with London-based celebrities wearing the beautiful creations of greatly talented international Filipino fashion designers – Furne One and Ezra Santos.
The images were used as the cover stories of Arabian Woman magazine for their April and June 2014 Issues.
He did an advertisement campaign for another widely-recognized Filipino international designer Michael Cinco and the photos have been published in Forbes magazine.“Working with these well-known and loved designers makes me more visible in the fashion industry. I am glad and proud they’re Filipinos too!”
He uses Nikon D7000 with 24-70 Nikkor lens in most of his shoots.
Capturing one’s soul
This native of Sariaya, Quezon believes that in still life, photography is capturing one’s soul and emotion at a certain moment before it is forgotten, to make it last forever. In fashion, it is the expression of the dream or the fantasy, translated into one image.
“My focus is in fashion photography and this is what I really love to do. I am always excited when I get bookings for a fashion shoot. My style begins with my dreams and fascinations. Then I gather inspirations from the performing arts and other artists and take an element there which I think is good to become part of the picture that I have in mind. Of course, the strong connection to my subject is the final key to get the perfect picture.”
A visual masterpiece
Before moving to cosmopolitan Dubai four years back, Jef already was in possession of his first DSLR gear. “I spent my idle time on online tutorials about photography technicality. For that, I consider myself as a self-taught photographer as I practiced on my own without any intensive collaborative coaching. There are a lot of workshops out there, and not to discourage nor discredit anyone, I just wanted to figure things out by myself.”
He recalls that his first project was to make a modeling portfolio and the outcome paved the way for more jobs. “The client was so happy with the result that I got booked job after job. Keeping a steady online and social media presence also helped me a lot in getting my works noticed in the Dubai market.”
“Becoming a photographer was not in the cards for me previously, but I was always fascinated with fashion and how photography turns it into a visual story and masterpiece once combined with artistic elements.”
Work is a passion
A typical accountant finding his way through the corporate world, Jef was wondering whether it was the right time for him for a career shift. “The decision was a huge risk, a leap of faith in fact, as it needed a huge career change.”
At first, photography was just a hobby and as I improved myself on it, it became another way of earning extra dirhams. When I saw the good business opportunity and the promise of earning much higher than my salary, I decided to leave my job and stand on my own as a freelancer. Now that he’s fully engaged with the profession, it feels so great because “my passion is my work, my work is my passion.”
“I have the work that keeps me on track as an artist while earning a living.”
Jef’s inspiring moods come in various forms. “I am always inspired by other people’s stories regardless of nationalities, upbringing. What I look for are stories of inspiration, of rising up from circumstances like a person from an underprivileged background becoming successful in life.”
“As a person, as a photographer and as a breadwinner, I am always inspired to do good things by using the talent that I have. Knowing that I have touched a life through my art, is worth everything to me.”
Most of his shoots are inspired by these great fashion photographers – Steven Meisel, Steven Klein and Annie Leibovitz “I really love doing theater acting, reading poetry and staring at still life forms of art with hidden meanings. It is the reason why I am also fascinated with editorial images. Those intriguing photos inspired me to create my own craft in photography – a photo with unique compositions, beautiful lightings, a bit of drama and multi-layered meaning is always my goal in taking a single image.”
A happy life
For him, success means having a happy life and he’s completely in belief that there’s is no formula for it. “You get up in the morning and go to bed at night. In between, fill it as best as you can – be productive and passionate in whatever you do.”
While Jef shuns from being compared to his colleagues in the industry, he admits that there had been times when he was asked how he fared. “No artist is alike. Each artist is different from the other. It’s not just about the lighting technique or workflow, the most important aspect is how I visualize the picture that I am going to capture. The totality of one important moment, expression and composition in a single frame, which can never be reproduced, is the justification of one artist. It may not be the same for others.”
To those who are inspired by his success and wants to pursue a career in photography, these are his lines of wisdom.“Just be good and passionate in whatever you do. Chase your dreams in the right and proper way along with prayer and you can never go wrong in achieving your goals in life.”
“My advice is to shoot, shoot and shoot. The more you shoot, the more you grow. Dare yourself to try new things and learn from it. There is no other learning that you can acquire better than from your own experience.”
Jef admits that he’s still a work in progress but with his passion, he will continue to carve a niche in this profession.
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THE BLOGGER. Ulysses Espartero is a journalist, historian and book author who traces his roots from two Philippine jewels – Laguna and Antique. While in Dubai, he enjoyed his expat life documenting the struggles and victories of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. In 2014, he released Precious Gems in a Desert of Gold, the first and only coffee table book about Filipino achievers in the United Arab Emirates. Connect with him on facebook.