By Macel Feliciano
Multi-awarded lensman, Mark Anthony Agtay, is a passionate visual storyteller.
"Creating stories through photos is what attracted me to photography. My photos are my means of self-expression and vision," he enthuses.
Hailing from Batangas, Mark is now based in the United Arab Emirates, where he works as an Information Technology professional and a freelance photographer and videographer. Mark succumbed to the lure of photography in 2011. "I was intrigued when a colleague bought a camera. Out of curiosity, I borrowed the camera and tried it. Surprisingly, I felt a different kind of bliss. Taking pictures brought me unexplainable happiness and fulfillment."
He tried his hand at portrait, events, and landscape photography. Today, he focuses on documentary and street photography and videography. "The subject I like most is people. I do documentary and street photography most of the time. For me, there is always a story behind each scene in a person's life. If you can capture it at the right moment, it becomes a memory of a lifetime."
Never in his wildest imaginings did Mark thought he'd be able to create art through photography and videography. He taught himself the basics and devoted himself to honing his craft. Joining the ShooterCada Photographers Circle or SPC further enhanced his skills. With his perseverance and reliability, he became the vice president of the SPC Abu Dhabi, UAE Chapter, and eventually, the president of the club.
Only after a year of learning and practice did he join local and international contests. His toil was not in vain. His diligence bore fruit. "I love joining competitions, serving as a challenge and a chance to develop my skills in creating better photos. One of the best recognitions I got is winning the first prize in "Abu Dhabi through Your Eyes" in September 2016. It opened a lot of doors for me and gave me international exposure. I thank God for that and every win after that."
Mark explains the mood of his images. "Every photograph's story is unique and one of a kind. For me, the most compelling characteristic is the emotions evoked by each image, as expressed by the subject and elicited in its viewer. My photos convey happiness, sadness, and contentment. I prefer black and white, but still post photos in color depending on the mood and situation."
Persistence and determination are the secrets to Mark's winning photos. "A photographer's patience is the most important virtue aside from creativity and originality in achieving envisioned images."
He gives this advice to aspiring photographers: "No matter what you have achieved in your field, always remember your humble beginnings. There is no good reason to boast. Simply keep your feet on the ground and share your knowledge with others."
Asked about his plans, he explains, "My goal as a photographer is to travel and see more places where I can practice my creativity and capture stories of cultures the way I want them to be seen." Mark considers photography not just an art form but a precious link to the past.
"Photography for me is not just a simple, framed image. It is a memory preserved, a remembrance of the past. That is why I consider it a treasure," he concludes.