Michael R. Cruz is an official Fujifilm X-Photographer and very humbled to be part of a prestigious list of photographers around the world.
Some of them are his photography heroes so he’s quite proud of that as well.
Recently, he has won 3rd place in Emarati Skyline Category at Al Mansoor Photography Awards, one of the major photography competitions. “I usually don’t join competitions but this win inspired me to join other major competitions.”
Not complete without a camera
Since he was small, he was already possessed by a passion for arts. “I loved to draw and participated in various on-the-spot painting contests when I was in high school.”
He discovered his love for photography in 2009 when he bought his first DSLR. “It was a Canon 450D and it changed me forever for it became an extension of my eyes. I think, I carried a camera almost every day since 2010. I am so used to carrying a camera that if I don’t have one, I feel like I am not complete.”
About two years ago, he started shifting to mirrorless cameras like Fujifilm X series cameras since they are smaller and lighter but offers the same image quality.
A moment in time
Some say, photography is capturing a moment in time; but for this Filipino achiever, it goes beyond meanings.
“Not only has it captured a moment in time but it should also capture the emotions of both the subject and the photographer. This is why, I do all my post processing and I am not one of those photographers who shy away from this topic. For me a photo taken by a camera is just a “machine” interpretation of that scene, I have to include my own touch; and this I feel makes my photos my own. I can only do that through post-processing.”
“I usually don’t take vacations before but now, I try as much as I can to travel and document it. I usually end up with over than 100 GB of photos per week.”
A style is something all photographers aspire to have. For Michael, he loves two things – architecture or landscape and portraits. “A lot of my portraiture work are leaning to more creative approach since I do a lot of composite work and most of them look quite commercial and edgy. They are always vibrant and I use digital blending or Dynamic Range Increase (DRI). This is done by manually blending different exposures to create a very close representation of how our human eyes sees it but with more magical feel to it.”
Creativity is key
Michael is in talks with other photographers here in UAE for collaborative work which he hopes will come into fruition after the summer. He is also planning to create more content that will help other photographers. He also posts a lot of gear reviews on his website and some are published in different photography magazines as well.
To those who wish to follow his footsteps, he has a lot to say: Do a lot of research before you buy something; check written reviews and check video reviews because photography can be an expensive hobby. A good approach is getting a capable camera body (doesn’t have to be the latest one) but get the best lens you can afford. If you can’t afford a new one, get a second hand or used gear. Just bring a more experience photographer to check the items before getting them.
“There’s no point on getting a new gear with substandard quality or cheap third party lenses. You can get cheap alternatives for other things but not on Lenses. I learned the hard way.”
“Don’t let your gear limit your creativity. There are a lot of great photographs out there that has been taken by the cheapest gear. In photography, creativity is a key.”
“Dubai is probably one of the best cities around the world and sometimes we forget that we are not going to be here forever. We should think long term and try to save as much as you can but at the same time enjoying what this beautiful country has to offer.”
A lot of photography masters alive right now considers this time the Golden Age of photography and I feel the same way. Right now is a great time to be a photographer because there are a lot of gear available that makes photography more fun and involving.
Success could mean many things. For him, “success is when your photo becomes the same as what you have imagined it to be. I think that’s the best way I can put it, since when I was starting out, I always end up with a photo that is not the same as how I envisioned it to be. That being said, he is close to the top compared to when he was starting out.”
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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.