By Maan D’Asis Pamaran
As a doctor working in Dubai, Gelo Santos needs to be thorough and precise. This is the same discipline that he applies to his photographs.
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“I deal with medical and surgical cases to review in my daily work as a clinical advisor for Now Health International, an international insurance and TPA company, here in Dubai. We work on a global scale in a multi-diverse environment. I can say that focus, attention to details, strong commitment, and utmost dedication are common in my line of work and my hobby which is photography,” he shares.
In his job as a medical practitioner, he has worked with private medical practice and taught in medical and nursing colleges, post-graduate review centers, and medical university in the Philippines for almost 10 years before he transferred to the UAE.
As a photographer, he has published two travel photo books: #TravelMemories and People, Places, Memories, available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. He has also had his travel images printed on Lonely Planet Asia Magazine, London-based Suitcase Magazine, and Dubai-based Illustrado Magazine – which has also named him as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf for 2017. His blog www.docgelo.com, which he started back in 2007, was chosen as Best Expat Blog Awards from Ministry of Tourism Malaysia for 2012 and 2013.
Through all these accolades, he views photography as therapy. “I consider photography as therapeutic as it is traveling for me. It doesn’t only ease homesickness but also stress and other problems in general. Taking photos allows me to immortalize a moment and document where I have been. It also provides me an outlet and a medium to express my creativity, and most importantly, it makes me happy.”
He shares that he has been to 43 countries in five continents to date and he immensely enjoys taking his two cameras wherever he goes.
He takes great pains to reach his vantage points, literally. Without a drone, he climbs church towers and colonnades, hikes on hills, goes up rooftop bars, skyscrapers, and observation decks, and takes chopper tours simply to view the horizon, rooftops, and skyline and create images of them. “There’s something being on top to view everything from above that gratifies me. Having a good photo of skyline gives me a good feeling after completing a climb of 300 to 500 steps!”
The doctor lensman reveals, surprisingly, that he no technical knowledge on photography. “I keep my pictures raw as much as possible. I don’t know how to do Photoshop or highly advanced digital modification. I’m nothing against it and I just like my images with only little adjustments on saturation, contrast, and cropping. I want to keep my actual memories with them and I wanted my audience to see, feel the mood, and somehow experience through what they see what I’ve experienced in that moment when I took the shot.”
Photography may be a simple passion that keeps him happy, but he says that he wants to have a bigger role on how he wields his lens. “I want to impart that it remains a powerful and effective medium for expression of freedom and creativity, hence we have to use it responsibly. Each photo tells our story and documents our memories. If we could use photography to indirectly inspire others to do the same or to do something positive, then our days will be happier and our world will be a bit better.”