Photographer of the Week: Kennon Caliwanagan
By Maan D’Asis Pamaran
With his family based in Alaska, Kennon Caliwanagan, then a nursing student at the Perpetual Help College of Manila turned to photography as a way to lessen his feelings of isolation.
“Thanks to social media, I was able to join photography groups. I joined group photowalks, photoshoots, pretty much anything that allowed me to connect to fellow artists,” he shares.
Now that he has relocated to join his family, he is continuing his photography journey by capturing its sites. “The adventure of exploration and appreciate the beauty of nature is what I would say the ‘high’ that I get from photography,” he explains. “It may sound a lot of work but I enjoy everything from planning to hiking and camping. Once the first light breaks in and touches the land, all the hard work and lack of sleep just fade away, other photographers call it golden hour, I call it ‘magical time,’” he smiles.
Kennon specializes in fine art nature landscape photography, drawn from the grand scenes of the mountains to the intimate details. “Being in Alaska, I am fortunate to have access to locations by just driving. Every moment is gold, even just standing in a distance, in awe by the presence of mountains, towering and reaching the clouds.”
Wildlife shots were influenced by his travails, as it was not one that he wanted to focus on initially. “I realized while taking in the landscape that this is their home and I would be honored to be captured a photo of them in their environment,” he adds.
With his most memorable photography experience being able to witness and capture the amazing Northern Lights dancing in its greens and blues against the night sky, his latest quest is to expand his skills to take photos of the Milky Way. “The way landscapes transform almost completely during the night amazes me and it also helps me expand my productivity in location when I go on trips.”
More than recognition, his pursuit is fueled by a true passion. “Photography is my creative freedom; it is my way of seeing deeply the world around me. The best thing about being a landscape photographer is that it is unpredictable and makes it exciting,” he says.
There are tools nowadays that photographers can use to aid with planning, but speaking from experience, he adds that it isn’t always accurate. “Northern lights may now show up even though forecast said it will be active or it may be too cloudy to see it or the moon is too bright causing light pollution. Forecast may have predicted a good sunrise but just before the sun had a chance to come out, some rain clouds rolled in. Guides are there to aid and to heavily depend a shooting day on forecast may lead to disappointment. I prefer to photograph when the light is good but that doesn’t mean I look away when the light is bad. Light doesn’t always present itself as good and my mindset when I go on locations is that when the light is good then great, if it is not then I’ll get to appreciate it more when the conditions are better.”
In the era of social media, his most important principle as a lensman is that likes and shares do not define if a photo is good or bad. He cautions, “social validation should not be the bulk of why a photographer creates art. Photographers should embrace their creative freedom and boundless vision because these make their art unique.”