Rene Bernal: Best Single Photo Finalist of 2022 exibart street contest

Dear Rene,
first of all, congratulations! You are one of the 10 finalists of the third exibart street contest in Best Single Photo category. Can you tell us something about yourself and about the finalist picture?

I am an IT engineer by profession, a father to two lovely daughters and living in the city of Paranaque, Philippines. I started street photography as a hobby in 2016.

I took the photo during a solo walk near a small dumpsite that was partially burning not far away from where I live.
It was sunset so it provided good light, then I saw a group of kids playing around the dumps with toy guns, they were running and jumping around lost in their make-believe world. I stood there for a while enjoying what they were doing and waited for the decisive moment.

How would you define your photographic style?

I found street photography most interesting. Aside from being free and accessible at any time of the day, the streets offer so many visual stories. You just have to observe, anticipate, and feel that moment that is unique.
I am always looking for decisive moments or genuine scenes that tell a story.

Have you ever studied at a photography school or are you a self-taught artist?

In the beginning, I figured out how to use the camera for myself and then started shooting anything. I read a lot of photography books/magazines, watch youtube about photography, and join workshops whenever the time permits. I got inspiration from the works of other talented photographers who are a rockstar in their field. Whether it is landscape, portraiture, street or any genre that’s interesting and fun to do.

Who are the Masters of Photography who inspired you most in your photographic works?

My grandfather had a junk shop and during that time I started collecting NAT GEO magazines that I found inside his junk shop and that’s when I first saw Steve McCurry’s amazing photos and stories. Of course Henri Cartier Bresson’s works, Vineet Vohra, Tavepong Pratoomwrong, Bruce Gilden, Matt Stuart and some local photographers like Manny Librodo, Edwin Tuyay and a lot more! It’s always great to find new inspiration to keep you moving forward and shoot more.

Do you ever do Street Photography with your smartphone?

I tried, but I was not getting the right image I wanted, perhaps it’s not for me or the phone camera I was using isn’t capable.

“Shooting in the streets is indeed very challenging, particularly in an area that you’re not familiar with. Your mood should always be positive, you have to focus and have tons of patience, always be on the lookout and be able to anticipate a unique moment. Don’t forget to show respect and always smile when you’re shooting in the street. And don’t be afraid to approach your subject.”

Analog and digital photography. Do you see these as alternatives to one another or the same thing?

Perhaps, their operation is different but the outcome would be the same and so if you want to challenge yourself go analog. When I discovered photography it was already digital so I will stick with it.

Black and white and color. Two different worlds. You decided to go color. Why? Do you ever shoot in Black and white?

I normally shoot in color to show the raw reality but if I find it more interesting in monochrome then I convert it to black and white to give more impact.

Do you think Street Photography has a more documentary or more artistic value?

I think it depends on how you view it, if you are just taking photos randomly then it is more like documenting stuff.

When you take photos, do you ever have a theme/project in mind?

If I intend to send it to the contest then I follow a theme, other than that I just shoot what my heart tells me.

Do you think there are ethical limits in street photography? Do you think it’s possible to shoot everything and everybody? What is your approach in street photography?

Shooting in the streets is indeed very challenging, particularly in an area that you’re not familiar with. Your mood should always be positive, you have to focus and have tons of patience, always be on the lookout and be able to anticipate a unique moment. Don’t forget to show respect and always smile when you’re shooting in the street. And don’t be afraid to approach your subject.

What kind of equipment do you use and what role, in your opinion, does equipment have in street photography?

I have been using a Canon 60D with Sigma 17-50mm ever since… quite old but still kickin’!

If you had to choose one lens that you would have to be using for the rest of your life, which one would that be and why?

For me, any 17-50mm lens gives you more room to shoot streets, landscapes and even portraits.

“I found street photography most interesting. Aside from being free and accessible at any time of the day, the streets offer so many visual stories. You just have to observe, anticipate, and feel that moment that is unique. I am always looking for decisive moments or genuine scenes that tell a story.”

After shooting, what actions do you take in terms of processing and editing?

I use Lightroom to quickly edit my photos, first, I create my own preset then apply it to all photos and that’s it!!

Are you currently working on any project?

Nah. But I am open to any opportunities out there.

Which are your favorite photography books?

I don’t have any particular photography book/s but I love reading Natgeo magazines.

Is there a country or a city that you like to photograph more than others?

For me, any country will do since I don’t travel a lot. But I wish I can visit India, Vietnam, Japan or Indonesia because of their unique heritage and cultures.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting to do street photography?

Shoot and learn. Go out and shoot a lot, shoot whatever makes you happy.

Thank you!

RENE BERNAL BIOGRAPHY

I am an IT engineer by profession, a father to two lovely daughters and living in the city of Paranaque, Philippines. I started street photography as a hobby in 2016.

For me, photography is an extension of myself, it’s not just a hobby, it is my passion, it enables me to express how I view and value life. To tell a story from a different perspective, and hopefully to power and inspire the viewers.

Luckily, some of my works have received awards and exhibits from prestigious local and international photo contests. It’s a blessing that I always wanted to share and inspire others.

Accolades
International Color Awards 2021 – 1st Category winner
WPE International Photography Awards 2021 – Street and Photojournalism
URBAN 2021 Photo Awards – Street
Agora Hero 2020 – Hero Awards
Xposure International Photography Festival 2019 – 1st Photojournalism Award
Street Photography Internation 2018 – Finalist
EyeEm Awards 2018 – Street photographer of the year
International Monochrome Photography Awards 2018 – Discovery of the year
National Geographic’s YourShot, IPA, HIPA, Monovision, TIFA.

Rene Bernal Links:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/renebbernal/

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