Meet Elvira Manlulu – Travel Photographer

Headshot-ManluluHow did you get your start in photography?
I used to be in the BPO industry when I got my first point and shoot camera. I mainly used it for documenting trips and office events. But I wanted to more in control of what I will shoot, so when I got promoted, I bought a second-hand DSLR.
I just researched on the internet, got tips from friends, and mainly tried to use the Manual Setting most of the time. Friends say that I have an eye for photography, but I still got frustrated on not getting the shots I wanted. So, I attended free talks at first because my schedule and budget at the time didn’t allow me to take classes. I got inspired by the pros who talk during DPP events, and that made me fall in love with Photography. Honestly, I was intimidated because I didn’t have the sophisticated cameras that they were using, but I just continued practicing with my trusty entry-level camera.
When I was tapped for a paying gig, I decided that I needed to take this seriously. I took a Basic Photography class from Jo Avila, bought another lens, and shot the project. Like other starting photographers, the pay wasn’t much, but I was excited to earn from the hobby. I was still a BPO employee then, and wasn’t really thinking of doing Photography as a career.



What type of photography are you shooting and what motivated you to focus on that genre?
I like to travel. I suppose that would be my default genre. I also started a small travel company with friends, so I plan to focus on that. It makes sense for me to improve my photography so I can use it for business. But at the same time, I would like for my work also to add value to people’s lives or maybe bringing awareness environmental causes.


Did you experience any challenges as a woman entering into the photography market?
I was lucky that a friend trusted me with my first projects. I hope there would be more to come as I develop my skills. It is only now that I am trying to build a solid portfolio- not for anyone, but for myself. There are many skilled and talented photographers out there. I’m merely a hobbyist who wants to tell a story. I am someone who loves taking photos and sharing my travel experience to the world. If this leads a career in the male-dominated photography market, I would embrace it. I know I still have a lot to learn and to prove. But being a woman means I can put more soul into the images I capture. I just need to learn the techniques in order to present them better.


What has been your biggest achievement or obstacle along the way?
I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, so I really had to work hard first and set aside a budget for buying gear and other tools. I would often drool at the sight of pro-level cameras and lenses, as I cannot easily purchase new equipment. But that has taught me to make most of what I had and be able to practice a lot. I got a few more side projects to add to my photography budget. I have gained more experience, and it felt like an achievement to be able to advance in Photography just as my old camera wears out and needs replacement.



Who and/or what inspires you most?
Dreamers. I am inspired by the people who work hard to get to where they want to be. They are the ones with fervent hope to conquer challenges and carve the paths to take when others have taken the same roads.


What is your approach? Is there anything in particular you try to achieve during a shoot (for example triggering certain feelings, etc.) or are there any specific techniques you use?
I can’t say that I have a particular approach or technique already, I am still a work in progress. I merely try to capture what is there- in the best way that I can. Right now, I am trying to experiment on how to present my stories.
I like authenticity. I like capturing candid moments as opposed to directing people how to pose. When taking photos during travel, I try to capture the experience. In addition, when shooting landscapes, I try to capture something that would be worthy of being on a postcard or something captivating that can be put on a billboard.


Why is accurate color important within your workflow?
Accurate color helps show the real beauty of the subject. I respect different styles, and photographers trying to trigger certain feelings with photos depending on the lighting or the mood of their subjects, and up to processing.
It is only now that I’m learning how to process properly with the right tools. I prefer being able to show the real colors of the environment the best way I can. I certainly don’t want to disappoint anyone going to a destination who might expect an overly-edited pink sand. On the other hand, I like to use color to build up the story. Do I want to convey a happy feeling or a sad emotion, or should I build up the transition? It depends on what I feel about the images.


Any tips or advice for photographers just beginning their career?                                 
Find your passion and go from there. You certainly would be happier doing something that you love. Even if you’re shooting because of work, don’t forget to shoot for yourself. Have time for your personal projects and develop your own style.
Learn as much as you can when you have the chance. Grab every chance you get to attend photography events and listen to talks. Read magazines and check out the vast resources online. When you have decided to pursue this craft, take courses and attend workshops. Join photography groups and maybe invite friends to practice with you.