Photographer of the Week: Jing Calonge
By Maan D’Asis Pamaran
To protect nature while traveling responsibly, the adage goes, “Take nothing but pictures.”
Jing Calonge goes one step further by helping to promote its protection through her photographs. As BS Chemistry and MS Environmental Science graduate, she currently works in the field as a consultant who provides technical assistance to companies or institutions on waste management and ensuring their compliance to regulations and waste minimization.
Her field journal, if you will, is composed of the different awe-inspiring locations around the country that her work has brought her to. “I started with a digital point-and-shoot, which was simply to document what we were doing. My colleagues and I would also often go on side trips to see more of the places we were visiting so I bought a DSLR camera for better photos. This was when my love for travel was born and my love for photography also followed,” she explains. “Photography became my way of taking souvenirs of the places I’ve been.”
Naturally, her favorite subjects are landscapes, cultures, and inanimate objects. Unlike other landscape lensmen, she admits to having struggles with long exposure photography, though. “I find it difficult to use different filters to enhance landscape photos, too. Maybe it is because I want to be able to spend more time to explore and appreciate nature.”
Her interest in inanimate objects is anchored on her introverted nature and she finds herself rather fixated on doorways. “I like taking photos of things as I found them, or subjects that would not require me to talk to them or require me to set up equipment. In my travels, I found special interest in photographing doors from different places. It’s like each one has a personality of its own. It amuses me how doors can tell about a place’s history, culture, arts and people.”
It is no wonder that she has an interest in history, as she hails from the historic town of Malolos, Bulacan. She is also a member of photography group Focus Bulacan, and makes time to join its themed contests and photo meets. As the club is an affiliate of the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation (FPPF), she was also encouraged to join the PhotoWorld Cup, in which some of her pictures have been chosen as finalists.
Her most memorable photography experience is participating in the Juan Portrait project, which serves communities who have little access to technology like photography. “Before joining JP, I took photos merely for self-gratification. When I joined this group, I realized how a photo as simple as a 1×1 ID picture can be treasured by a child who has never owned an ID card before. As someone who is not very comfortable with shooting portraits, this community of volunteers taught me a more meaningful way of taking photos of people. I observed how they interact with people and how they genuinely show interest in the people around them. Slowly, I’m learning to practice this, too.”
Ever the environmentalist, Jing wants to impress on her audience the importance of taking care of the planet. “I used to run a travel blog, where I write about my travel experiences and which I used as a medium to share my photos. I felt that it’s better I can share my photos with accompanying travel stories instead of just posting them on social media. It takes a lot of effort to maintain and write content for a blog, so even though I had to give it up last year to prioritize other things, I consider it a great accomplishment. I believe that somehow, I have inspired other people to travel more and travel responsibly by telling stories through my photos.”