By Maan D’Asis Pamaran
Nature has a strong appeal for Conrad Villavert. Growing up in San Jose, Antique, his immediate surroundings offered captivating glimpses of God’s creations which engaged his senses.
“I love finding myself in the wilderness immersed in the soft breezes of fresh mountain air, enjoying the sounds of the flowing river and the gushing waterfalls and hearing the brilliantly-plumed birds sing,” recounts Conrad, who is now working in Elk Grove, California as a healthcare worker.
It was this constant commune with nature that inspired Conrad to venture into photography. “I bought my first DSLR in 2007 and since then I have been travelling over the US, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines to capture some of the best sceneries in the world. I also enjoy capturing the best sceneries around Antique where I was born and grew up to help promote tourism in the province. I delight in sharing the beauty of God's creation with my friends and family by capturing these images with my camera.”
Camera in tow, he is drawn to bodies of water. “My favorite subjects are waterfalls. I am smitten by them, for they are mesmerizing and taking my stress away. I spend some time each year travelling alone to different locations to see and experience these enchanting waterfalls. Some of my favorites are the Ban Gioc Falls in Vietnam, Kuang Si Falls in Laos, and Sekumpul waterfalls in Bali.”
His main interest is landscape and nature but he also likes to capture the dynamism of human movement. “My most memorable moment in photography was during the 2018 Dinagyang tribe competition where I met many photographers from all over the country,” he recalls.
He has been in photography for 15 years and yet still doesn’t consider himself as a “pro,” having not joined any competitions or joining any organizations. “It is just a hobby. Sharing my captured images with my loved ones and friends on social media brings me joy. I also share photography and travel tips on my posts from time to time.”
He believes in presenting his subjects in the raw, whether it be the arid graben of Death Valley, to the churning waters of waterfalls. “I like photos that look as natural as possible, preferably taken early in the morning or late in the afternoon with minimal enhancements. For me, an effective photograph is one that educates and sends a strong message to the viewers. One that captures their imagination and transports them to the scenery you have experienced.”
Nature soothes him, and this reflects in his works. “I believe that a photographer's mood can greatly influence the outcome of his shots so it is best to be calm and relaxed fully enjoying the moment.”
Even though he calls his photography a hobby, the avid Antiqueno shutterbug also considers it a way of life. “There is a discipline to it, like martial arts. I rise early to catch the sunrise and stay late for sunsets. I have sleepless nights in capturing the Milky Way. I travel to different places to capture sceneries, people, arts, and culture. These are just some of the things I love about photography. I am still learning. I will continue to travel and to follow my passion of capturing images and sharing these with the world.”