Wence Trajano: Photographing the Malolos of his time

FYA! This 25-year-old artist from Bulacan understands how being at the right place to capture the right moment is crucial in snapping beautiful photos

There is no shortage of young, up-and-coming talent in the local art scene. Most of the time, what many of these emerging artists need is a boost and the right platform to get their art out there. Social media has definitely provided one such avenue, democratizing art away from just the hallowed halls of galleries and the executively curated pages of books. Now, those who are brave enough to put their art out there just do so on their own pages. And those who truly have that special spark grow their followers organically. 

Wence Trajano

Twenty-five-year-old photographer and aspiring filmmaker Wence Trajano is one such artist. A quick survey of his Instagram would reveal an important attitude this artist from Bulacan has: He continues to explore and change his style. This is crucial, especially for younger talent, as it show a desire to continually grow—and this is why Manila Bulletin Lifestyle is including him in its roster of Featured Young Artists. 

Wence is also currently doing apprenticeship in cinematography under Pong Ignacio (“Heneral Luna,” “Goyo,” “Liway”). But in his free time, you might find him roaming around his hometown of Malolos on his bike, in his black shirt and black cap combo, searching for stories to photograph.

How would you describe your art, and yourself as an artist?

In film sets, lights are already designed, sets are pre-built, and actors bring their characters to life—my goal as a stills and behind-the-scenes photographer is to document the process of making a film. The script and genre of the film dictate how my photos must look.

In contrast, with my street photos, where I have to chase the perfect light in certain places and seek unscripted stories and its characters, I basically deal with day-to-day reality. I bike or sometimes walk around my city documenting its beauty and filth, its chaos and calm, its history, and even its quirks. I think this stems from my being sentimental. I’ve lived in this city my entire life and I’m a first-hand witness of its many changes. Perhaps, taking these photographs is my attempt in archiving the Malolos of my lifetime.

Where do you draw inspiration for your works?

I usually draw inspiration from other forms of art, but mainly from films I have seen and works by photographers I admire.

I am also fortunate with my job because it allows me to be a fly on the wall, observing various artists be good at what they do, such as production designers crafting spaces, directors orchestrating scenes, cinematographers shaping light, and at the same time, be graced with their knowledge and philosophy in storytelling.

Do you have a particularly favorite piece that you've done? Which is it, and why?

I have a lot of favorites, but it changes from time to time.

A recent favorite from my street photos is of a shot I took one evening at a mall parking lot in downtown Malolos, with the characters seemingly blocked perfectly within the frame. It also reinforces the importance of just being out there at the right place for the right moment and being patient, waiting for the perfect light, a certain glance, or a small shift in body language.

Another favorite is a portrait I took that was then used in the poster of Kip Oebanda’s film, “Liway.” It was the last day of shooting and I took a quick snap of Glaiza de Castro in between takes, not really knowing it would be used for the official poster. It was surreal seeing your work used as a reference for fan-arts and seeing it displayed in a Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) gallery during the Cinemalaya Film Festival.

What is your opinion about young people pursuing arts, whether as a passion or a profession?

It is exciting to see many young emerging artists today and their fresh takes on art.

Especially now that we are living in a digital age, art becomes more accessible. That is important because it makes it easier for artists to research, experiment, and explore different influences. It is also easier now to put ourselves out there.

Art is ever evolving and so I would always love the idea of seeing young bloods pursuing art as their passion and/or career. It is exciting to see the future of what more art can offer and how fellow artists could express themselves through various forms.

Character still for ‘Liway’

Any message you want to give to other aspiring artists?

Don’t stop learning and re-learning.

Conversations are important, no matter how casual or deep—with strangers or with other artists. Knowing diverse worldviews can greatly improve your perspective on a lot of things, and these could be reflected in your artworks.

Lastly, find a mentor who you look up to, oneyou believe will help you be better at what you do.

IG: wence.trajano | wencetrajano@gmail.com