weekly photo prompt: solitary flower

Something I photographed earlier this year, on an exotic island cove where Spanish Galleons used as a safe harbor during the onslaught of the Pacific Ocean storms.

I had wanted to show the simplest of Philippine flowers in an uncluttered but technically complex photographic setting, and this was the result.


photographed on location at the Puerto Galera Yacht Club, Mindoro, Luzon, Philippines, 2013.


daily prompt: home sweet home

having spent the whole of yesterday at the home of a world-renowned sculptor, I made it a point to do my own found art photography somewhere and somehow in his home.

eventually i decided on two images, this one being his housecat, which made sure i noticed how friendly he was.

incidentally, today’s daily prompt was a request for artists to talk about what they would miss most when they are away from home.  and pets usually take the top spot.

i personally miss my chow chow, chubby.




daily prompt: travel

Daily post: travel.

This was the morning after arriving in Baler, Philippines, on their peak season, without making reservations.

Having been relegated to a farm hotel far far away from the beach, the only thing we were looking forward to was a hot cup of coco.  But apparently hot water was not in regular supply here.

Coming from a long layoff from found objects fine art photography, I arrived with the intention of rekindling the interest in the found objects I used to take.  This is one from that series.

Paul Yan


“Huevos ala Kapuluan Vista Resort”

I recently chanced upon a marketing workshop for restaurants, whose primary aim was the pursuit of digital technology techniques. One thing just crossed my mind. They excluded food photography as part of the marketing mix; keep in mind the audience were Restaurants.

As a professional photographer specializing in food, the first thing I make sure is that the client is on board that the photograph is PRIMARILY their first contact with future customers, and as such, would really serve them well if they can prioritize the photography component versus other efforts. makes sense, right?

Here is a shot I did where the client had to bring me in from 18 hours away, just to do their food shoot.

on photographic “rules” and why I tell my students that I don’t teach “rules”.

Predicted Behaviour.  That’s what happens when beginners hear you say that “it’s supposed to be like this, or like that” and pretty soon everyone is doing exactly what they “selectively heard”.

Specifically, I am talking about two very common “rules” they will have read or heard somewhere, but minus the context of the entire conversation.  1) the rule of thirds, and,  2) avoiding using the center to place the subject in.

People very often will unconsciously drop the context of the entire discussion and just remember the keywords, such as “only amateurs will place the subject in the center” and commit that to memory; forgetting such other contextual words such as BALANCE, which in composition means virtually the rest of the world.  Professional Photographers such as myself will usually have a way of putting balance into the shot once we start moving the subject out of the center square, because we remember that there HAS TO BE BALANCE somewhere.  We do not just move it out because we read it somewhere that only amateurs do that.   We do not.  And you should not.  Unless there is a compelling reason to do so, other than just reading it somewhere.

For those of you lucky enough to have attended my compositional class (day 1, the creative side of photography for serious hobbyists) there is a reason why I had you take 4 photographs of seashells and electrical tape, alone, with a 180second time limit.  This is to show that given certain shapes, the composition is primarily dictated by the shape, as well as it’s positioning. You cannot simply just avoid putting a solitary subject outside of the center square just for the heck of it.

The same goes for THE RULE OF THIRDS.  We professional photographers do things visually because it makes the viewing a little bit more exciting.  But often, all the amateur photographer sees is just that the subject has been moved to one side, and does not see that we have usually ADDED a secondary subject on the other side to create BALANCE.  So, a shot by a beginner hearing only the RULE OF THIRDS will have the subject positioned to one side but WILL PROBABLY not have a secondary subject to balance the entire composition.

Understand the context of the rule before actually committing it to memory.

So now you know why I do not teach the RULES.

(all my Philippine students who comment on this post will receive a GROUP VIP tutorial on COMPOSITIONAL THEORIES, for free) 

on “carrying your camera around” every day…

oh, that is certainly the best way to get familiar with your new camera.

yes, that is highly recommended.  especially if what you bought was a small but very capable portable, such as an olympus or a canon, or a sony.  not that i endorse a specific model, but usually those manufacturers making the big bulky SLRs are coming out with small portables that are as capable as their bigger units.

the primary advantage for carrying it with you often is that you get more familiar with the specific operation of your camera, assuming that you will get the time to bring it out, every now and then.  assuming it stays in your bag the whole time, sort of negates the point of bringing it with you.

from experience, the user interface of each model varies massively, so you will really need to build up your familiarization time with it.  sometimes when you need to adjust the intensity of the flash, you just cannot find out where the controls are, and that gets really really frustrating; and usually i will get a call at around this time.  “teacher Paul, where do i adjust it?”  and all you will get out of me is a hearty laugh.   🙂

now, for those experiencing problems with composition, it will be a good time to practice by photographing details at your place of work.  composition isn’t really on the same level as particle physics (although for the compositionally challenged, it is…) i strongly suggest that you start with one simple subject (either possessing a strong graphic shape, or color) and then build a couple of shots with it.  go back and redo the plates I asked you to do, before.  practice practice lang.  hahah

please leave a note if this helps.

Jesus Paul C. Yan



When do I use the “M” or Manual setting?

When do I use the “M” or Manual setting?

As I grew up with automation (my first camera was a canon T70 equipped with all the amount of automation you will ever need), and seeing firsthand the evolution of technology, I often tell my students that in this day and age, when technology is for the most part “smarter than beginners”, that when in doubt, use “P” for program.

Using manual does not make you more professional than you already are (although to a lot of hobbyists it does). Manual simply means you have the time (and hopefully the brains) to figure everything out for yourself, and make creative decisions based on your knowledge.

So, here is when I personally use M.

1) studio/outdoor settings when I have to use professional strobe lights.
a) because they usually work on a certain specific setting.
b) shutter sync speeds of cameras have to be considered, as well as the aperture
required by the powerful strobe.
2) in ambient light situations where I am required to use a specific shutter speed or
3) in continuously lit situations, where I have a specific preference for again either
shutter speed or aperture.
4) when the safety shift just becomes too bothersome. (it resets within a few seconds)

what if you need to control the brightness of a scene? doesn’t it make sense to use manual?
1) the camera provides a brightness compensation function via the +- compensation buttons. and once advised about your brightness preference, the camera remembers until you change it.

what if I am using an external flash unit mounted on the hot shoe?
1) all the more reason to use Program. all adjustments to control the flash unit will have to be via the camera on Program setting. Once you fidget with it manually, it becomes a hit and miss method.
2) control the flash via the camera settings, not via the flash power settings. in theory, the camera settings overrides the flash settings; not the other way around.

Doesn’t using Program on such a beautiful scene take away the value of a photograph?
1) oh really? Shouldn’t the value of an image rest principally on the beauty of the image?

If the camera can do what you want it to do on Program, then why bother to still use Manual?

Jesus Paul C. Yan
the Paul Yan Chronicles, 2013


As I can’t seem to edit the “about” page, i decided to just write a new post on it.  Sorry for the horn-tooting.   🙂

He is a published photographer specializing in architectural, travel and glamour photography; earning his first magazine cover in 1995.   His photographic book credits include the Fookien Times Philippine Yearbook 2004, the U.N. funded book on the current state of the Philippine environment published by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communications, titled Our Environment Today; The Art of Photography, published by the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation in 2007, and the Epix ‘05 Photo Imaging Exposition.  His fine art photographs have also graced several corporate desk calendars.  He has also been featured on Mabuhay Magazine, the in-flight magazine of Philippine Air Lines; and on Gadgets magazine.

He is a multi-award winning photographer of The Camera Club of the Philippines, having received the Photograph of the Year award four times in a ten-year period, in three separate celluloid disciplines.  One of his early works, a photograph of a stream of light breaking through storm clouds and casting its golden light on a solitary nipa hut in a field of green, was displayed at the National Museum during their group exhibit to commemorate the CCP’s 75th anniversary.  This photograph, which was christened by Director Maning Borlaza as “Act of God”, was also awarded as a finalist in the 2005 Epson photographic competition.

Paul received his primary and secondary education from Xavier School Greenhills, the school of choice of the Filipino-Chinese community.

Paul was educated at the University of the Philippines where he holds a bachelor’s degree for Broadcast Communication.

Although principally self-taught in photography, he has had massive technical and personal interaction with the country’s top professional photographers.  Paul was trained in the golden age of film as a Large-Format specialist, working with both field and monorail technical view cameras.  His diagonal focus portraits and fine art images are produced mainly with Speed Graphic and Sinar 4”x5” equipment.

He attributes his photographic awakening to two international icons, British Michael Freeman and Filipino CLIO award winner Emil Davocol.  Freeman, through his books, for the technical fundamentals, and Davocol, for the evocative style he showcases today.  He credits Martin Westlake, another British photographer based in Asia, for his shift toward large format view cameras, and for shifting his aesthetics towards diagonal focus images.  He regrets the demise of celluloid, but has morphed quite easily into the digital age of imaging.

Professionally, Paul describes himself as “an advertising photographer with a very strong visual anchor in Fine Art photography”.  His commercial and advertising work often showcases an interaction of technical skill and candid imagery.   He also holds the distinction of selling out a collection of clothes within seven days from first display of his fashion billboards.

As a believer that the best photographic products are not necessarily the most popular and the most expensive, Paul is the product endorser of Profoto brand professional studio lights in the Philippines, since 2006.   He currently endorses the wireless high-power professional strobe system for outdoor fashion shoots.

In a recent worldwide photography tournament sponsored by Garuda Indonesia, Paul is rated at the top 5% of the world, finishing in the top 200 from a pool of over 90,000 photographers; perhaps the highest-placed finish among Filipino photographers as none reached the finals.  He is rated at #2 in the Philippines for architectural photography by Pixoto, a worldwide stock photo agency.

Paul is also a writer, having served as the Editor-In-Chief of the Viewfinder, the award-winning publication of The Camera Club of the Philippines He writes under his syndicated column, The Paul Yan Chronicles.  He has also produced a photo folio for the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation, Inc., titled The Art of Photography, as a commemorative companion for Photoworld 2007.  Paul was also the Editor In Chief of the Xavier Alumni Times, from 2007-2009.  He has an internet presence at http://www.photographerinmanila.wordpress.com.

In 2006, Paul completed a personal donation of an entire professional wet-process darkroom system to the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation in memory of Mr. Oswaldo Cruz.  The facilities of this darkroom shall be made available to amateurs and hobbyists for the purpose of elevating the technical standards of Filipino photographers.

As part of his advocacy towards improving the technical proficiency of Philippine Photographers, Paul conducts special public workshops, lectures, and hands-on shoots.  In the past year, he has conducted around 10 public workshops including one for the Philippine College of Physicians and two for Philippine Foto Week. This adds to the public workshops he has previously done for the SM Malls group on “Professional Portrait Photography and Advanced Lighting Techniques”, a lecture on the history of photography for UNESCO, and another lecture for Photoworld Asia 2011 on “Alternative Visualizations” where he was one of only four Filipino lecturers.

He trains his own pool of photographers, lighting specialists, and assistants, and so, literally speaking, has the deepest bench in the country.

He has also very recently come back from a six-week advocacy project in Baler, Aurora, photographing the local surfers as well as the beautiful vistas in the area.

In 2011, Paul was nominated and shortlisted as The Outstanding Filipino, for Art Excellence.  The TOFIL awards is a project of the Philippine Jaycees Junior Chamber International (JCI) Senate.

Paul is currently Managing Director of The Paul Yan Experience, Creative Director of 4:29 Digital Art Studio, and previously Managing Partner and Creative Director of YTV Digital Broadcast Group.