Jikka Defiño, SA 21-U
“Binigyan ako ng camera eh.”
That is what KJ Rosales said when I asked how he came into photojournalism.
Kriz John “KJ” Rosales is a photojournalist who works under the Manila Bulletin. I met him last February 17 for a tag-along project in our COM 149.9 class entitled “A Day in the Life of a Working Photojournalist.” Since this was my first time to experience hands-on photojournalism and upon realizing that I’d have a key informant with me at that time, I thought I’d use this same experience for this participant observation project as well. That way, I’d be killing two birds with one stone.
I texted him Tuesday, February 12, and asked if he was available for the tag-along project the next day. He said it was okay, but it would be a lot better if I were to tag along on a weekend. We agreed to meet that coming Sunday, February 17, at the Central Police District in Kamuning. He gave me no definite time for arrival, but he said he’d prefer to have me tag-along with him in the morning since his shift ends at 3PM.
I arrived at around 9AM at CPD. The moment I entered the newsroom, I saw my blockmate Shar who was also to tag-along with another Bulletin (now resigned) photographer, sir LJ. We left the newsroom after a short formal introduction.
There were five of us in the Bulletin vehicle: sir KJ, sir LJ, Shar, and the driver. While in the car, Shar and I took the time to ask a few questions regarding the backgrounds of our assigned photojournalists.
We first headed to the People Power Monument but since it was a short trip, we had to cut the ice-breaker interviews short.
When we got there, we only spent five minutes inspecting the place as the driver (who was also the one telling us where the news is – he listens to the radio at all times) told us to hurry and go to Commonwealth because there was a “public construction” going on. We got back to the vehicle and went straight to Commonwealth. The driver took all sorts of shortcuts possible. He was overspeeding at times and the ride was quite bumpy but he said it was all for the sake of the news.
We arrived at Commonwealth at around 10AM. It was very, very sunny and humid and I found it uncomfortable to shoot in such conditions. But since I was really eager to do the tag-along, I followed everyone after they got out of the car. It turns out
that the “public construction” was actually the removal of the old UP Gym footbridge. There are two bridges – one old and one new. The workers said they had to transfer the old one to Fairview because it was already too short f
or the newly-widened Commonwealth. I remember finding this statement odd because I thought they should’ve just built the new one in Fairview. The rewidened part of Commonwealth was only about five feet wide so building a new bridge right beside (and I mean really, really just beside) the old bridge made no sense.
But I was not in the mood to ask a lot of questions so I kept shooting. I realized that when shooting news photos, it was so much harder to find good angles.
At random times we rested, and when something interesting was happening, all media suddenly clusters in one spot to get a good shot of the event. This also happened in the next two events that we covered.
We then went back to the People Power Monument since news arrived that the volunteer cleaners from the Philippine Powerwash Corporation were already there. They were cleaning the monument for the coming People Power Anniversary. We took a few photos and we didn’t stay as long as when we stayed in Commonwealth.
We went back to the CPD newsroom to organize our files. There, I got the chance to interview sir KJ more. He also showed me some of his past works and photographs. I learned a lot about him and he also gave me hints on ethics and photojournalism fieldnotes. His photographs were bold, with eye-popping colors, but he told me that that was his own technique. I should experiment with what I like, then if I find a shooting technique that I’m comfortable with, that’s what I’m supposed to use all throughout. If there’s one thing that struck me during the whole interview, it’s this:
It’s always good to be uniform because that’s what will make someone unique, but never limit yourself with what you can do.
“Hindi pa uso ang digital nun. Mga film film pa lang. Maswerte nga kayo, digital na ‘yang [camera] ninyo eh. ‘Tsaka afford niyo nang bumili. Etong gamit ko, hindi pa akin ‘to. Sa kompanya ko lang hiniram ‘to.”
We ate lunch in the newsroom. “Atenista kayo di ba? Nakakahiya naman sa inyo. Pero ito, nagpaluto kami.” We went to the dining room – a very small room of wood and old appliances. It had a weird smell since there were lots of cats roaming around, looking for food. “Presenting: ang pagkain ng media persons!” They served us our lunch and we had pinakbet and galunggong. I was never really picky with food so I still enjoyed it.
After luch we went to gateway to cover another event. It was the GRLA Leaders Forum and the special guest was Cardinal Tagle. The shooting ambiance was a lot different – it was more like events and portrait photography – the stuff I’m used to. However, I found it hard to adjust that afternoon since I got slightly conditioned by the shooting that we did in the morning.
We left at around 3:00. Shar and I asked our photojournalists if we could offer them a simple treat, but they refused. They said that they were overtime and they had more work to do. We said our last thank you’s and the group split near the mall’s entrance.
Note: That morning, the photos which sir KJ took were mostly silhouettes of persons fixing bridges and cleaning monuments. In the afternoon, he took photos of Cardinal Tagle which I saw were published when I read Bulletin last Tuesday. ☺