In Focus: Joram Bennagen

One quick glance at his Instagram account and it is hard not to see familiar scenes. 

You may be looking at the pictures for the first time, but there is that feeling that you have already seen some of them before: While waiting for the bus or jeepney on your way home. Inside the train station. During those times you looked up to admire the breathtaking sunset.

Everyday scenes. Sometimes taken for granted. Captured in beautiful snapshots. 

Photography by Joram Bennagen.

“Nakakarelate din yung ibang tao sa mga nakikita ko [other people can relate to the things I see],” Joram Bennagen explains why he likes shooting scenes from everyday life.

Joram usually takes photos when he is commuting to work, from Quezon City to BGC, and back. He admits it can be a bit risky to bring his camera out in the streets; having a mirrorless Fujifilm X-E3 with a Viltrox 85mm attached helps since the relatively small size does not attract too much attention. He also tries to avoid “sketchy” places and he usually shoots where there are other people around.

Photography by Joram Bennagen.

Last August 2020, Street Photography International’s (SPI) Instagram account featured one of Joram’s shots. 

I was standing in line to get to the bus in BGC last year,” Joram recalls the time when he took the chosen shot. It was actually not the one he posted on Instagram back then, but he saw a better one from the set when he was reviewing his old photos. It coincidentally matched SPI’s theme for that week: Reflections.

He was asleep when they posted the photo, and the number of Instagram notifications he had upon waking up the following morning – the likes and new followers – surprised him. 

“After a long time na tinatag ko sila trying to get to their page… kaya pala! [After a long time of tagging them, trying to get to their page, I realized it was actually possible!]”

Street Photography International featured one of Joram’s photos.

With limited opportunities to go out while Metro Manila is in Community Quarantine, Joram used the time to go through his editing backlog. 

He eventually missed taking photos, so he tried to make do with what he could see from their home. “Buti na lang pwede ako umakyat [good thing there is a place I can go up to]. I can still see the sunset, sunrise, minsan may mga moon shots ako [I also have shots of the moon], but it’s still not the usual,” he shares. 

Once the pandemic is over, Joram does not have any particular photography goals in mind. He just wants to find more chances to take photos, compared to before when he would tell himself, “Sige ok lang, next time [It’s ok, I’ll take it next time.]”

Photography by Joram Bennagen.

Given the chance to talk to his 2017 self, back when he was just starting out in photography, Joram would tell him that “You have to think first before you ‘click’.”

During those times, he would mostly just snap a picture every time he sees a beautiful scene, not giving it much thought before pressing the shutter. Three years since, he has learned the technical aspects of the craft, as well as editing and color grading using Adobe Lightroom

“It’s like if you’re going to say something, you have to think about it first.”

He paused for a second, thinking of the right words to end his message. “Tapos kailangan may puso [And then it has to have heart]. If you’re passionate about something, do it with all your heart.”

On the other side of the camera. Photo from Joram Bennagen.

— 

***Check out more of Joram’s photos on Instagram at @jorambennagen and @jorambennagen_.

// by Francis Abad

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