Tuesday, July 6, 2010

BRANCHING OUT ] Sound designer Corinne de San Jose's fine art photography


What's with the fascination for dead trees?
To be honest hindi ko na rin alam. Medyo weird na nga eh. It probably started when I was a kid and I wanted to learn how to draw, so my parents bought me a drawing book. In the first few chapters, the book teaches you how to draw a silhouette of a dead tree. It was so easy to draw. I’d get lost drawing branches and twigs. Medyo hypnotic. And actually, I never finished the book so for the longest time it was the only thing I could draw. And ever since, every time I see a dead tree, i have to look. It pops out to me. And then i picked up photography and whenever i see one i have to take a picture.

Are these new images, or images taken over a long period of time? When did you start taking photographs of these trees? Where are they located?
The large prints (there are five), the ones taken at night, were taken early 2009. I started working on this series during a class I took at Silverlens under Isa [Lorenzo, the photographer, and owner of Silverlens]. Then I set it aside muna and started working on my first show. It felt unfinished pa. After my show, I showed them to Rach [Rachel Rillo, who is also a photographer and Isa's partner at Silverlens] and started shooting the rest na.

When I was shooting I had these self-imposed rules. And one would be that I have to shoot within Metro Manila lang. I wanted to look for these trees where it wasn’t so easy finding them. I would’ve had more trees to choose from if I allowed myself to shoot out of the city but it felt important to me to look for them here. So 'yon. Parks, villages, sa tabi ng daan. Basta within manila.

How did you get into photography?
In college. We were required to take three units of photography for Comm Arts. I loved my first photography class right away! I think I ended up taking 20 plus units in photography/photography-related electives. Hindi pa kasi uso sa La Salle ang photography majors non.


Do you remember the first photographs you took? What were they like, and what were they about?
I remember digging up my dad’s old rangefinder with my sister when i was about 12 or 13, tapos we shot black and white photos of each other from our bedroom. We used aluminum foil as a reflector. Ang pangit ng photos so we put back the camera in its hiding place. In college, it was a portrait of a friend in different lighting situations, as a lighting exercise for class.

You recently had a show before this, what was that one about?
The title of the show was It All Goes Slo-mo. The short answer is, I intended to shoot the view from my window, but I ended up shooting just my window. For the long answer, here’s a link to the work with the artist statement.

What camera do you use? And did you use film for these photographs? And did you develop them yourself?
I use my Canon 40d most of the time, lalo na for advertising/product shots etc. For this series, I used that, and a film camera, a Rolleiflex 3.5f. I did not develop the film myself, i brought it to a lab. The last time I developed my own roll was mga four years ago na.

How do you begin your day?
Go online tapos a cigarette and coffee.

And how do you end it?
A cigarette ulit.

Who are your influences in photography?
I love looking at old black and white photos of the masters. I can’t say I like one person more than anyone. Been looking at works of Siskind and Szarkowski a lot lately. (And of course there’s Ansel Adams, but that’s like the equivalent of a beauty queen saying she wants world peace. Plus, bumababa ang self esteem ko after looking at his stuff.)

Corinne de San Jose worked as an audio engineer for many years, and did the sound design for the acclaimed independent films Endo and Baby Angelo. Corinne's show, Some Die Young and Some Die Old, opens tomorrow evening at Silverlens Gallery in Pasong Tamo Extension.

All images by Corinne de San Jose, courtesy of Silverlens.

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