Gian James Maagad is a street photographer from Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao, Philippines. He is member of “Litratista sa DAAN” (Filipino for Street Photographer), a Manila-based street photography group. He also work full-time at a financial institution.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
I was inspired when I had the fascination of cameras when I was I kid. I always love looking at photographs. Then I had the desire of wanting to take pictures. It became my creative outlet from stress, expressing my own visual expression.
What's inspires your photography?
“The art out of everyday life.” I heard that from an interview of David Allan Harvey describing the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson.
What does it mean to you?
Everyday there are unpredictable and unscripted moments happening around us that most people would see them ordinarily, while some of us see the coherence or sometimes poetic or even mundane, and thereby capturing them instinctively with our cameras.
How did the project start?
I think I started with my interest from my daily commute from home to work and then back to home or wherever. At some point, I was drawn by the energy of the people that I encounter, and the candid and instantaneous moments that I've been wanting to capture. I started with black and white, as it allowed me to connect with myself and how I wanted to express them.
How did you approach the subject matter?
I was starting out with my old DSLR, I used to have a lot of fear. I tried to take a photo as fast as I could and hide the camera back to my bag. Then I joined the DAAN street photography group, later on I joined workshops from Eric Kim and APF (Rohit and Vineet Vohra).
From time to time, I was getting into the thought of being “invisible” and blending around the environment, and I could take pictures of people in front of them without worrying much.
What cameras did you shoot with and why?
I started with the Canon EOS 60D which my mom brought, that was wayback 2012 when I did portraits, events, sports. When I decided to become a street photographer, I shifted to the mirrorless system Fujifilm X10. I also shoot with my Fuji X100 and the latest, X-Pro2. These mirrorless cameras are very subtle yet very effective for every thinking photographer.
I also shoot film with my Voigtlander Bessa rangefinder. Film makes me slow down and concentrate more on my photographic process. I prefer shooting with a rangefinder style camera because I can still see with my left eye while my right eye is looking through the viewfinder, unlike the SLR style that it blocks your other eye. Aside from them, I also use my mobile phone whenever my camera isn't ready or it's still inside my bag.
Any anecdotes you can share?
There was also one time during a critique session from a workshop, upon flashing my selected image for the critique, everyone was silent almost like they had no clue on my selected photo, and so it was only Eric that had interpreted the photo as he was a Sociology student.
What are you looking for in street photography?
I'm really fascinated with isolation and geometry. It's something that always gets my attention. I'm also always drawn by nice contrast. There is this instinct that I'm subconsciously connected with these kind of environments. I'm striving to explore different styles especially contemporary, layers, also using animals in the frame, anything that might find like contrast, similarity, or humor.
Any closing comments?
In my hometown, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, I'm happy to have lead this genre wherein there were not much references or fellow street photographers when I started. I do lectures and small workshops to anyone interested about street photography in my hometown. Hopefully soon, I could have my own gallery and solo exhibition, and of course my own photobook.
[userpro template=card user=gjmaagad]