Mexico Evening 1 (June 20): Solstice Celebration at the Mayan Riviera with locals & hippies

Posted in Accomplished Projects, Projects, Uncategorized on June 23, 2010 by Josan

I found the Solstice celebration at Sacbe, such a holistic experience. The atmosphere just had that feeling of home. I was really exhausted from lack of sleep from the trip, but I was so stoked when Les told me that  there was going to be lots of hippies, artsy peeps and yogis in the event. La vie boheme! 😀

I wasn’t really expecting much, but at the end of the evening, my jaws dropped from the amazing performances by the artists part of the show. I was fascianted by the wide range of talents and the performers ability to multi-task one talent with another.

One of the performances was a group of ladies & later on men playing the drums while dancing. The original video wasn’t as dark as it got converted in youtube so you can’t really see the other drummers in the background. It was awesome, because there was a live flute musician playing in the background, the music by the flutist was so beautiful. 🙂

Mayan drummer

These masked drummers below were the ones behind the ladies in the youtube performance. The 3 sets of drumming performances presented in the show were authentic Mayan performance, and it felt special to be introduced to the Mayan performance art through these drumming performances 🙂 since I enjoy dance meditation facilitated by spiritual native drummers in Vancouver.

Girls drumming

The drumming performance was ended by a Mayan drummer who played drums on fire, before the fire dancers  presented their stunt.

Fire drummer

I got so mesmerized by the first fire dancer that I forgot to make some photos, but I did take some photos of the 2nd fire dancer and some videos of the other fire dancers.

Fire dancer # 2

There were four fire dancers who performed during the Solstice celebration. I have a few videos of them. Here are some of them.


June 20 (Sunday): Mexico. Fresh out from the airport free flow writing

Posted in Accomplished Projects, Projects with tags , , on June 23, 2010 by Josan

Out of Cacun airport

Growing up from the Philippines, I knew how it was like being in a tropical country. It’s been 7 years since I came back to my home country. My house mate owns a land with a palapa in Sacbe, a jungle in Cancun. He also has a time-share to 5-star resorts around Quintana Roo State area. When I found out a couple of months ago that he was coming over to Cancun this month, I jumped in to join him for a little bit with tropical dreams. A 10 day adventure with a fantasy of doing underwater photography of people. When I stepped out of the plane in Cancun International Airport, I felt like a fried egg from the humidity in the air. Les waited for me at the airport’s cafe watching soccer while eating ceviches. I just had to have those ceviches so when he asked me if I wanted the rest from his big platter of leftover ceviches, I jumped for it. No resistance. Just gobbled it. I was stuck in Edmonton Airport the night before, and I was planning to sleep under one of those rows of chairs in the airport, and be right in time for my 6:30 am flight to Cancun the next day. I didn’t get any sleep at all since at dawn is when the cleaning people bring out their noisy cleaning machines to disturb the isolation of the airport. Ahh. Adios sleep. I just decided to do some studying for my yoga teacher training. I was able to accomplish a lot of reading, but the uncertainty that all the information just read stayed put in my head was doubtful. Without any sleep, I looked forward to the idea of breakfast in the airplane amidst airplane food’s reputation of horribility, instead we only had an option of cookie and tidbits with drinks. So ceviches when I landed in Cancun was just plain awesome.

Snake separating highway

The surrounding area had some sort of nostalgia. A tiny bit like Manila with its similarities. The humid weather and aggressive taxi drivers harassing potential passengers. The Mayan people look so much like Filipinos: dark, short and pudgy nosed. They were warm with that mix of flirtatiousness and all-smiles. Well, that’s where Filipinos originally came from through boat hundreds of years ago, from the Mayan Riviera…so duuuhh… Every couple feet within the airport vicinity I got hit on by these flirtatious young Mayan men, they were pretty persuasive flirts, but instead of feeling harassed, I found them hilarious, so I joked with them and laughed off their flirty wordyness.

The drive to the resort was interesting. The nostalgia got disrupted when I saw vast spaces of Westernized and commercialized resorts and animal sculptures in the middle of the highway. Manila didn’t have much vast space based on how I remembered it. It didn’t have big thousand acre  resorts and it didn’t have big snake sculptures in the middle of the highway.

Main entrance to the Royal Hacienda Resort

Entering the resort vecinity

Royal Hacienda entrance

Entering the resort vicinity

The Royal Hacienda’s Grand Coral entrance was fancy. It was touristy and grand. The colors made me happy, since fun colors have a way with me. It looked comfortable, but I had to admit, I was worried of the idea of being stuck in resort mode. I wanted to see, hang out and mingle with locals in a non-pretentious atmosphere.

Another angle of the Royal Hacienda

Royal Hacienda 1

Jacuzzi at Royal Hacienda

My inner hopes came true when Les told me that we were going to the solstice performance celebration happening all day, during my 1st day in Cancun. it was an event at Sacbe where he gave me a short tour of his palapa, and we watched the evening shows. The performances by local performance artists were top notch. It was AMaAaZING! I had soOoo much fun. There were lotsa white hippies from Playa del Carmen. I met a couple of Les’ local artist friends, they were quiet a diverse of characters. 🙂 It was a good beginning for me in Cancun.

Josan is gone for 12 days

Posted in Projects on June 19, 2010 by Josan

Hello there,

I am in Cancun, Mexico right now pursuing one of my dream goals in life, which is making beautiful photos of people underwater in a tropical setting.  If you are interested in checking out updates of my photo shoot there, continue on checking this blog

I will respond to your message when I get back in Vancouver on June 30. Enjoy the beautiful Vancouver summer! 🙂 xo.


References for Underwater Shoot in Cancun

Posted in Photographer/Artistz Spotlighted on June 6, 2010 by Josan


Sam Champion on BP Oilpocalypse

Brian Skerry‘s Underwater photoshoots for National Geographic

Jeremy Jackson on How We Wreck the Ocean


Jason Leopold on How come BP is not under criminal investigation?

Fishing Jones on Bluefin Maul Bait Ball

CAPIC’s 2nd Annual Portfolio Speed Review Event

Posted in Photography Events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2010 by Josan

It was an opportunity to have 5 minute face-to-face speed feedback from art & creative directors from renowned art companies & design firms in Vancouver. It was my first portfolio review out of Emily Carr ever… Oh no..It’s the 1st one in Vancouver, the 2nd one in Canada, coz I had a portfolio review in Toronto under Magnum New York 2 years ago 😛 I have so much going on right now juggling my day job as an assistant extraordinaire for 3 neurotic (they all know they’re neurotic) & quirky (their quirkyness has some awesomeness in it, depending on the kind of day.. I guess) ladies, my yoga teacher trainer course and the readings/projects/homework required to be accomplished before the next yoga ttc weekend next month, print designs for my roomate’s burlesque business, getting ready for my very first solo exhibit at the Bees Garden at Kitsilano, editing/creating/collaborating some float mounted prints for the newly renovated Blenz Coffee Shop at Granville St & Davie St  aaand the on and off fight with the darn flu and conjunctivitis whose stubborn insistence of blooming their hideous existence in the worse possible times and scenarios is close to waning me to the closest mental ward, if there is ever one left available in Vancouver. It led to the unfortunate result on the lack of preparation for the important and educational event that I was hoping will help further my career pursuit to fashion/fine art/engagement photography. I did learn a lot though, while shrinking on my seat whenever I have to seat across one of them big guys in the art/design industry in the city at this event.

I was told by most of the art & creative director panel that (as I already anticipated), I could have done better with my book presentation. It would have been better if my work was in a polished and bigger book. I placed my postcard sized underwater photographs in a hand-made book I did at Emily Carr 2 years ago. I already knew how hideous it was, but due to lack of time and…cash flow for the time being (from investing on prints..where I still owe money to my printer..lots of em and the bottomless pit of monthly bills and debts  with student loan included). I felt obliged to toss in my work where it doesn’t fit in. Totally bad move. I really wanted to shrink. I couldn’t get myself to buy another portfolio and didn’t have the chance to make a book coz I already have a whole bunch of usable archival portfolio books at my mom’s place that I haven’t had the chance to pick up just yet, and I was once again too broke to create and print a book. I Hate it when I find myself falling head forward into that starving artist mode, except I wasn’t as starving as I was way back when, since I’m doing a work trade deal in my art mansion commune where the deal involves providing me free food.

My underwater photography, I felt got criticized a lot, especially since my kind of work lacks the polish crisp look art directors are usually eyeing. There was a diverse of feedback. Some spoke a whole lot about presentation, some where giving suggestions on how to frame the people in my photographs, some were very technical while others were just about the look and feel of the work.

Halfway through the proceeding, I literally wanted to leave.. take off from all the overwhelming constructive feedback I’ve received, mostly negative. I was convinced I heard all I had to hear especially since I felt like a squished up cockroach under the feet of the big guys. I stuck up for the next 30 minutes with wrinkly nose (in the subconscious of my mind). I got commended for exploring/experimenting the self taught process of underwater people photography. I was told that the collage aspect of the photographs was not done well & that the images were tooo super imposed, since you can super impose images to a degree, but my work had sooOoo much layers going on, too much elements they’re not done well, since it seemed like I used photoshop as a crutch…apparently. I was told that the style of photography I’m aiming for is a niche, in an art director perspective, a challenging one to market in the Vancouver art/design scene.

Dean Ponto a freelance senior art director who works regularly with some of Canada’s top ad agencies such as Palmer Jarvis DDB, like the others, criticized my super imposing/layering work, but suggested that I investigate water and ways I could do on camera manipulations and coming up with ways to play around it in the natural setting. I know that already though. I have the imagination for that. I just don’t have the right pool to do that (I’m usually doing the shoots in public pools and private pools where the swimming pool is shared with tenants in a townhouse/condo setting). Within the landscape of my conceptual ideas, I would play with food coloring and floating water proof disco lights I have. There is the unlimited possibilities of beautiful flowy fabrics that I oh-so-love and props! Lots of them! There is also using strobes above water & in the water… waterproof make up on my models… I know that. I don’t have resources just yet. I can’t afford the resources, just yet. I think that for the limited resource I have and for someone really new with this sort of photography, I did a good job.

James Bateman, a creative director for Karacters Design Group suggested that I dont focus on the staging too much and develop a way of thinking when it comes to my photography. He said that the underwater images is a very defined path, that I have to blow up my horizons in different photographic work. To explore different styles of photography. I did that already, and for the longest time I’ve been tapping on different genres of photography from studio photography, to architectural photography, to street photography, to photo tableaux, to portraiture. I tried different camera formats too from medium format, to 35 mm, to 4×5 bellow cameras. I haven’t tried them all, but I’m convinced I’ve tried a lot of approaches to photography to have a feel and to make the decision that I want to focus on portraiture, photo tableaux, fashion and engagement photography underwater… the question now is how do I make the market come to the little art town of Vancouver for my services? Especially since the film industry boom had seemed to have dropped down here in Vancouver, and a lot of film/photography affiliated industries are heading to L.A.

Ben Hulse a principal designer of his own design firm said that my photography is very art-based. It seems to be the kind of photography that will probably only appeal to the artsy sort of people. He also suggested to do  more of a play of light on subject rather than super imposing too much. He encouraged me to try to get close to my subject, maybe tighten the frame, do a close up or play around with cropping. It was mentioned to me over and over again too throughout the duration of the portfolio review, to play around with cropping and framing.

In fine art photography, it’s okay to have your signature in the image, as long as it’s in an appropriate location. In commercial photography, it’s a Big NoNo to have your signature on an image. My photographs had signatures on them, so I repeatedly distraught the big guys with this fact, this is next to the fact that I super imposed my images and had so many layers going on. lol.

I was told by one director that it was unfortunate that I came after another photographer who apparently did a waaAay better job with the underwater shoot than me Yes it’s true, his was polished, not as super imposed as my images. His model had full make up on and posing for the clothing line underwater, a fashion shoot for the clothing line Plenty. What if I don’t like the ultra clean polished look? I like the painterly, organic, expired film print sort of look. I was told over and over again that there has to be application for my work too. It had to have a purpose. A use. *Sigh* There’s millions of art that is made everyday and not all of them have any purpose at all. Just something that is a conceptual expression or a beautiful piece to decorate the house, office or establishment of some sort.

Chris Peacock, an art buyer and account manager for Cossette, an advertising agency in Vancouver exclaimed when he saw my photography “This is FREAKING BEAUTIFUL…It’s cool styling…it’s to inspire. What’s my use for it? I dont know” *Sigh* There goes the word again. Use. I cant help start questioning my photography’s use in this world at large.

Matt Warburton, a principal designer said that my photographic niche is pretty limiting. If I want to shoot people in the fashion industry and get clients in the engagement industry, he suggested that I shoot people in different ways. How I should shoot them in different environment, like the woods, in the skate park, and in the middle of the street. He thinks that the collage style I implemented was not done well, since it had so much elements going on, unless I was really good at it, I should pursuit it.

I was having migraines from all these overwhelming feedbacks when a beautiful red  rose fell from the sky with the words from Vida Jurcic, a principle designer of a design group Hangar 18. She was the 4th to the last of the jury and I dont know if it was pretty transparent on my face that I look like a crushed cockroach. She acknowledged at 1st that she knows that I received a lot of feedback on my work, probably most of them not so good, but she really thought that my photography was unique and how she really liked my photography. She thought the images were beautiful. Instead of telling me that my book sucked, she gave me suggestions on how I could present it better in the future. She envisioned me keeping the images the postcard size that they are now. These images are in a bigger book with huge white borders or white background and the book is a landscape sized book or a square portfolio. She thinks that the photographs are better on a matte finish, so that the images look classier. Of course like the rest, she told me to take out my signature. She thinks I have a beautiful signature and it will look better embossed or dye cut in the very front of my book/portofolio. She suggested that I should save up the money for it, and embossing it on white vinyl or a leather cover will give it a nice touch with the Victorian feel that my images have.

The last gentleman in the jury Mark Busse thought my photographs were beautiful too. He asked me if I’ve ever worked for the fashion industry. I said No. He asked why? Because I dont know how to market myself. He told me to check out his blog on How to sell your work as a photographer. I checked it out. It gave me a couple of good pointers. Im glad that like Vida, he encouraged me to my underwater photography pursuit. He told me that I was a beautiful girl with a niche and a talent that I should just go for it, since it’s an idea that works.

Etsy tips from etsy blogs. Blurb tips from lurb bloggers

Posted in Advices/Tips from Others with tags , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by Josan

Etsy blogger Cindy Lou on How to get buyers to buy from your etsy online gallery through google analytics

Also Etsy seller Analiyese on more Etsy tips and more

Photo tips in etsy Before & after photos of products

Quit your day job tips from RedRubyRose

Quit your day job series

Blurb on a winning book

A spotlight on photographer Drew Gardener and Del Sol duo

Posted in Photographer/Artistz Spotlighted on May 22, 2010 by Josan

A spotlight on photographer Drew Gardener and his use of Ranger elinchrome strobe lights in full day light. I looked up where you can purchase them in Canada and you can only get them in Toronto, none in Vancouver 😦 They are mighty expensive too ranging from $1800-$3000 Canadian. Apparently according to Mr. Strobist, it is a better purchase compared to the Profoto 7B since it has better watts per second when it comes to on-location photo shoots. If I have the money to spend after my underwater photography gear (which I havent purchased yet due to financial budgets), I want to invest on these big guns, the updated Ranger RX Speeds.

Next on the spotlight is the awesome Del Sol husband and wife duo for their underwater wedding coverages. I am in the process of saving up for a Canon 5D Mark II which Im thinking of getting from Leos Camera (unless someon knows of a better location with a better deal to purchase it from while having good warranty access) and an Ikelite housing for the camera. When I have done that I would like to invest on an ultra wide angle lense like the one the Del Sol crew is using for this shoot.

Softboxes I’m looking at: Elemental, Lastolite

Photoshop tutorials to check out: Dustin Snipes, Scott Kelby

Web randoms:

Geeky thing I want for my birthday 😛 lol ~ Imagelab instant slide scanner

Mockery of French Canadians accent ~ Tetes a Claques