Mhar Villaester is a Filipino photographer who’s dedication in his craft is admirable. He is currently living in Singapore for 5 years now. He believes that each of us tells a unique story and photography is one of best medium to share this story. Photographs emulates a way our mind freezes a significant moment.
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One look at Mhar’s portfolio is like a step into a colorful and imaginative story-telling. Often dreamy, playful, cinematic, and rarely static. His photographs lean towards to tell story of human experience both in an imaginative and documentary parlance. He is a self-taught photographer who has been shooting for almost more than a year. Driven by curiosity and the incessant need to create and tell a story, it gave birth to ARCHETYPE IMAGES by Mhar Villaester.
Growing up, he excelled in academics, music, and other extra-curricular activities. He is a graduate of Psychology, Religious Studies and Law. He views photography primarily as a process, an exploration and a story telling. For Mhar, the act of curation as more important than the individual photographs. His process involves deconstructing and reconstructing photographs, combining different crops, colors and angular vantage points.
One of his models, Ian De Guzman, finds Mhar as a great photographer. He is gentle & encouraging in directing his models. At first, he would ask what is the models’ mood and what are their ideas for the poses. They would brainstorm from there, igniting an exhilarating model-photographer tandem. Ian also added that his post-processing skills is very fast and with great quality. He would get the models’ opinion about the photos before publishing.
Here is a quick interview with this gentleman about his love for photography:
How did you develop an interest in photography?
Mhar: Photography is my first love, I fell in love with photography when I was in High School as photojournalist. As a cliché you always forsake your first love, thus I pursue Psychology, Religious Studies, and Law. It is only when I relocated here in Singapore when I rekindled my love and hate relationship with photography.
Why love and hate?
Mhar: Photography is savoring life at 100 frames per second, intently. It a risky passion as it fuels your creative imagination. And it’s an endeavor that is worth pursuing with determination and force. Because getting better at photography can further your creative output and growth in your work and personal life. In other words, the better photographs you capture, the more you thrive. But on the other side of the pendulum there is a risk of burning out.
What was your career path? How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing it? Is it full time/part-time?
Mhar: I think there is no such thing as a part or full time when you talk about your passion; Photography for me is one of them. Photography for me is more a teacher and not a career; it teaches the pain and joy of each story.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
Mhar: I am privileged to meet a lot of great photographers, I listen when they share and their ways-of-working. I was also blessed to build friendship along the way with fellow photographers. I think most of what I know about photography especially the technical aspect and concept, I learnt from a good friend of mine, Urico Mondelo. I considered him as may mentor and needless to say he is my number one critique. I do research on the project or portfolio I like to create. From the make up, styling, location, mood, and story I want to tell; a mood board.
Do you have any formal training?
Mhar: I am a self-thought photographer when I started. But I did enrolled for Diploma Courses in Photography both here in Singapore and distance learning courses.
Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
Mhar: I am really drawn to portrait and documentary photography. There is an enigmatic sense in each portrait and frame
Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?
Mhar: Each photographers has their own approach and style, thus I give brevity and value to each published or unpublished pictures. I personally like Annie Lievobitz and Sebastiao Salgado.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Mhar: To use sunblock when doing outdoor photography..LOL. Seriously, the appropriate use of shutter speed, ISO and aperture.
Do you collaborate well with second shooters or assistants?
Mhar: Categorically, Yes I am.. LOL I am hard to work with. I have my own demons to appeased. I can really be demanding. My approach in everything I do is ; Patience and spiritual fortitude. But if it fails physical violence may find it salutary (Lol)
How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of the camera onto the film, chip or paper in just the way you want?
Mhar: As a photographer you should now what you want, you need to be decisive on what image you envisioned to produce and what story you want to tell.
What technology/software/camera gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best, as you photograph?
Mhar: My armory is very basic; a notebook to draw the story-line I want ; a Canon 60D; my lenses are 85mm f1.8; 35mm f1.4; 24-70 f2.8; 50mm f1.8. I used Lightroom CC to make some adjustment.
What motivates you to continue taking pictures economically, politically, intellectually or emotionally?
I am driven by curiosity and the incessant need to create. I try to draw my subjects into my world, and creates an intimate and singular point of view from both in front of, and behind the camera. The best photography starts where you are and emanates out