Expressions of Authenticity

Published November 5, 2018, 12:16 PM


By Macel Feliciano

Roy Villalobos has come a long way in capturing the secrets of the smile. A native of Batangas, he’s now based in Bangkok pursuing his two passions—photography and teaching.

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“I love to shoot portraits. People are so mysterious. I love capturing their character. My favorite subjects are smiling children. Because I’m a teacher, I love to photograph kids for they possess the most beautiful souls,” shares Roy.

Capturing authenticity is what attracted Roy to portraiture. He initially found it difficult, but with constant practice and the right attitude, he’s mastering it one click at a time. “I love to capture images portraying genuine emotions. I prefer black and white over color because they more fully reveal the feelings of a person.”

He loves black and white so much that he created a photography page filled with the delightful smiles of children dubbed, “The Happy Photos of Teacher Roy.”

Like many lensmen, Roy started with a point-and-shoot camera to immortalize his children’s childhood. Giving in to the lure of photography, he bought his first DSLR camera. But like many love stories, he was in for a surprise. “My first DSLR was a second-hand Canon 550D. I was disappointed at my shots. I thought you’ll instantly produce stunning images with a DSLR. I was wrong. I needed to buy expensive body and lens to create amazing photos.”

It took a year for Roy to grasp the basics. His desire to hone his craft came to pass when he met his mentor. “Meeting my inspiration in photography is one of the best things that happened to me. He didn’t just share how to capture beautiful images and his post-processing techniques, but he also introduced me to the world of professional photography and how to handle and shoot models. He still hasn’t stopped inspiring me.”

His efforts haven’t been in vain. His photos are acknowledged by multiple photography groups. “I’m affiliated with the Bangkok Photographer’s Group. I join online photo contests to sharpen my skills. I won numerous awards from online photo contests. Winning a silver award in a portraiture contest is my best recognition so far.”

For Roy, an effective photograph successfully conveys the photographer’s message and highlights genuineness. “It is well-composed but not too technical. There’s a perfect combination of light, shadows, and contrast. It captures the authentic expression of the subject, especially the eyes.”

There are two principles Roy lives by: the right attitude and passion. “If you possess the right attitude, you’ll look for every possibility to produce eye-catching images. You’ll find ways to improve your skills. Many photographers are hired or become famous not just because of their photos but their good attitude. As for passion, your extreme interest in photography will lead you to a comfortable position. If you shoot for money, you’ll find it hard to satisfy your clients, even yourself. But if you shoot because it’s your passion, the feeling is priceless.”

People are gradually noticing Roy’s talent. More people are commissioning him for events and there’s a steady stream of Thai celebrities wanting to collaborate with him.

He considers these as rewards to his hard work, but he really wants to share his know-how and encourage the next generation to reach the pinnacle of success.

“Every photographer wants to be famous and wants his photos to be recognized. I’m one of them, but my ultimate goal is to see my kids transform into professional photographers. I want them to be the Manny Librodo or the Annie Leibovitz of their generations.”