My last photography workshop in Manila was with world-reknowned photographer Tilak Hettige. I flew to manila not knowing the workshop was cancelled and had to beg the Philippine Creative Center of Imaging to push through with the activity as I had flown from the south just for it. Fortunately, Tilak Hettige agreed to do the workshop and thus, I became his 42nd Class in Inner Vision.
The workshop attracted me because it did not focus on the technical side of photography but rather it spoke of cultivating a different perspective in photographing the mundane. By mundane, I mean, the everyday activities and objects that we encounter and almost always ignore because of their availability.
As a philosophy graduate, I’ve always been fascinated in observing other people’s thoughts and reasoning
which resulted in a hobby of people watching. The curse of philosophy (as we said in school) is that you are never satisfied with the answers you get. Four years of hearing your professors asking “why” on everything has its effects and one of them is developing this need to find that which you do not know because it seems what you know now is not enough. So when I saw the description of the Inner Vision Workshop, I immediately recognized that this one stands unique amongst the others. It’s not just photography, it is philosophy as well. Perfect. I find Tilak Hettige is doing it. Jackpot.
What a perfect opportunity for me to take a peek into the mind of one of the best photographers in the world. A teacher cannot teach a student without imparting part of his soul. And for days, I soaked in Hettige’s ideas, interest, expertise and curiosities. I listened to his stories, insights, and opinions while I silently looked at his photographs slowly learning his photography signatures.
Whenever he would play clips of his works, I would imagine the man with his camera crouching, waiting like a predator for his prey. But I learned that he is swift in his captures and is capable of taking a series of perfect art photographs in a few minutes given the perfect moment. He is patient and can easily comprehend patterns. This trait is evident in his Saffron Robes: A Photographic Essay on Buddhist Monks where he traveled to 14 different countries to capture its history and significance. Despite his expertise and fame, he still retains this childlike wonder on everything.
He makes you think, he asks you to imagine. He does not dole out information and techniques but rather he allows you to discover them. It reminded me of one philosophy class where we only tackled three articles for the whole semester. It was a semester where, for weeks, I had to read an article over and over again because my professor gave us two questions that we cannot answer. How I hated not having solved it at the end of every class. He never answered it but I finished the course a better student. Because the objective of the class was not the answer but the cultivation of being able to look for one. Answers do not matter if you are asking the wrong questions. And that is what Inner Vision is all about.
I am lucky to have had this workshop before I take my leave to study in Hong Kong for my MA in Photography. I am not sure how many of my classmates have had this type of learning. All I know is, all the begging was worth it (–and yeah, i have to learn how to use a tripod!)
Inner Vision Project | Infanta, Quezon