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002 - The Art of Worldbuilding Through Photography

by Lucius Felimus | August 18, 2020


Why do photographers take pictures?

Each one has different reason. Some do it to capture moments and preserve them forever. Some use it as a form of self-expression. Some are in it simply to create beautiful compositions. All different photographers, all different stories. This is why photography is a highly versatile art form - where each one has their own take on how to go about photography as a craft.

But what about me, though? What's my story on why I take these pictures?

If you take a look at my work, you'll immediately notice that my style and subject matter are quite different from most others in the local photography scene. Some may call it overfiltered and overprocessed, not representative of reality, or disregarding the fundamental rules and definitions of photography. But instead, what I like to call it is worldbuilding.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I've always been obsessed with sci-fi and cyberpunk, particularly the worldbuilding aspects. It fascinates me how all the elements fit together to create vast immersive universes, and I often find myself daydreaming about being in those worlds. The only thing missing is actually materializing those worlds into something tangible. Looking at other people's work or experiencing them as characters in video games aren't enough - I have to create them myself and add my own personal touches into the mix.

In fact, one of the reasons why I became an architect is to build worlds and environments of my own creation. I guess you can say that my true passion lies in worldbuilding, and architecture is simply one of the avenues for me to express this. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy my architecture career (both the creative and the technical side of it), but the creator in me still yearns for more.

When I first picked up a camera for this project, one of the first things I had in mind is to push the limits of photography to transform scenes into something else - not just capturing them in the real world as they are. This is one of the reasons why I feel out of place in the photography community sometimes. Whenever I browse photography groups on Facebook and Reddit, everyone seems to be all about the gear and sharpness of pictures, and everyone seems obsessed with capturing their subjects in the most detailed and realistic way possible. Plus, everyone seems to be all about weddings, travel, studio portraits, product shoots, and others genres that are more "sellable". As someone who is prone to anxiety and impostor syndrome, this gives me serious doubts if I can really call myself a photographer.

But at the same time, what makes me different from most others is the same thing that fills me with a sense of pride in my own work.

I, for one, think that reality is boring - because we already see too much of it everyday. That's why I'm not a fan of "realistic" styles of photography. They may achieve technical perfection with good lighting and composition every time, but they just don't speak to my soul. I prefer something that's more surreal, more fantastical, and less grounded in realism.

Like I previously said, the goal of my photography is all about worldbuilding - because I want to materialize a world that only exists in the realm of imagination. I want to give the viewer a brand new set of eyes to see the world with. And of course - I want to transport the viewer into a time and place vastly different from our own.

While we're at it, since this is a worldbuilding project, I don't want to stop at one picture that's just "decent enough to post on social media" - the full experience should be an entire body of work as a whole. Each picture is merely but a page in a story book. I want to tell the story of Metro Manila as a cyberpunk megalopolis.

Even if people have anything to say about this approach that doesn't fit within their own personal narrative or preferences, I still do what I want because this is my art and my vision.

I don't need to follow in any big name photographer's footsteps or take their advice on which direction to go with my art - because when I do, I'm already taking pictures for someone else and not for me.

I don't need to listen to people telling me how to (or how not to) do things, because my vision is my own and they should have no say in it - only I do.

Photography doesn't have to be a reproduction of the real world all the time - it can be as super heavily edited as you want and it can still be an amazing picture. Hell, I want to take this a notch further and say that photography can be anything you want it to be.

As my friend and fellow photographer Noealz said in one of his videos -

Forget what others say, make art.

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