The Lawyer is a Lensman

Published June 19, 2018, 12:05 AM


By Maan D’Asis Pamaran

Photographer of the week

Samie Asia

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His day job leaves no room for error or experimentation. As the assistant vice president of the Legal Department at Chinabank Savings Inc., and a legal consultant for the Metro South Cooperative Bank of which he was the former director, Simeon Trinidad Asia Jr. or Samie is bound by rules and regulations. It is when he is holding his camera that he sets his creativity free.

He recalls his first brush with photography. “After graduation, I worked at the Ambrosio Padilla Law Office and then transferred to The Manila Banking Corporation along Ayala Avenue, Makati during the early ‘80s. From my savings, I bought an entry-level Yashica SLR. With my camera, I tried to document the goings-on—the almost-weekly rallies along Ayala Avenue during those turbulent times, shooting either at ground level or from my vantage point at the fifth floor.” One can really get immersed in the experience, he confides, but after he got married, he had to shelve the hobby because his priorities shifted to raising a family. It was almost three decades later when he bought a DSLR to pursue his passion.

Even with his photography, family remains a focus. “About 70-75 percent of my photos are shots of events which my family, relatives, and friends have been involved in—birthdays, Christmas parties, reunions, school events, travels, among others. I like taking photographs of people. I like to capture emotions, especially happy ones. In a way, I try to ensure that my subjects are happy by making them happy.”

A photographer friend invited him to join the Framed Shots Camera Club in 2010. In 2014, he placed fifth as photographer of the year for the PhotoWorld Cup and became the club’s chairman in 2015. “I joined a camera club to be with people who shared my passion and to learn from them. True enough, most of what I know about photography was gleaned from them. I read photography books, I attended some seminars/workshops and lately, I’ve been watching YouTube videos.” He has joined only two photo contests so far, the first during the Family Day of his daughter at Colegio de Sta. Rosa and the last was during the anniversary celebration at the office. “I got awards for both contests, second and first, respectively,” he smiles.

He likes to keep his mood light, airy, and vibrant most of the time but goes for black and white if he wants to create drama. “For a photograph to be ‘effective,’ it should evoke emotions/reactions from its viewers—happiness, sadness, anger, curiosity, awe, etc. The photographer’s mood plays a major role in the creation of pictures—not necessarily good ones. This applies when the pictures to be produced are not run-of-the-mill but involve creativity or a photographer’s artistic flair. I would venture that the mood of the photographer is reflected in the images he has created.”

Because of his profession, Samie jokingly says that that half of his brain—the right side which, they say, performs tasks which have to do with creativity and the arts—has atrophied. “This is the reason why I was really challenged and at a disadvantage when I started shooting again. My profession requires logic, order, stability, and the like. My photos then, and even now, should have formal balance, vertical lines should be vertical and horizontal lines should be horizontal, and so on. I was hobbled by my training in the legal profession.”

Photography allows him to express the other side of him, and he is very much aware of that. “It has taught me to see things which I previously didn’t see—to be more attuned with and appreciate the wonders of nature. Some photographers are great graphic artists. They produce amazing works of art. They can really express what they feel through works. I do not have that gift. I take pictures to primarily preserve what I see. I don’t know how I could express myself through the pictures I take. I hope I would be able to do so sometime.”

This passion for photography is a pursuit of beauty. “I have a suspicion that humans are wired to appreciate beauty. We are naturally attracted to beautiful people, places, and objects. I am attracted to photography because I want to view beautiful people, places, and objects, even vicariously. Creating and preserving images of beauty, therefore, is a logical consequence of my attraction.”

He tells those who are starting to discover the craft to always be ready to capture a moment when it strikes. “I always have my camera with me—and I don’t mean my phone which captures relatively decent photos. If I see good light, I get the itch to take out my camera and look for something interesting and picture-worthy. If you want to take pictures, you have to have light. If you want to take good pictures, having good light will make your task a lot easier. Light is very important to photographers. This is probably the reason why God, after creating the heavens and the earth, said: ‘Let there be light, and there was light’ (Gen. 1-3).”