A creative person will always have a heart for imagination and creativity. Some can express it through one form of creative medium while others can channel it through different arts.
Julius Calzo, before he became a fervent photographer that he is today, originally fell in love with arts and drawing during his younger years. Still an uncertain boy then, he just went with the flow and tried exploring other ways to channel his inclination to imagination and creativity.
His first encounter of taking pictures was unexpected. It was year 2004, he was a high school student then when his brother received a digital camera from their parents as a gift but it turned out Julius was the one who enjoyed using it more. He would always find himself holding the camera, clicking and taking memory shots of family members during out of town trips and bondings. He enjoyed taking photos so much that he didn’t mind if he is not inside the film. Photography found him and he fell in love with it in return. This was the beginning of his relationship with his intensifying passion — taking photos and finding deeper message beyond colors and images.
Photo by: Julius Calzo, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand, 2020
“Every time I would see potential subject or place to capture I get fiercely excited. Whenever I found a perfect spot that will give me chance to produce beautiful photos, I can literally stay on that place for hours and I don’t mind getting soak under the excruciating heat of the sun or in a freezing weather. As long as I can take the shots that I want, I can withstand everything.
“It feels so good. It is actually more than feeling good…it’s euphoria,” Julius passionately described how he feels during his creative process.
He also added, “I cannot leave the place without getting the shot that I want because of my ‘photography what ifs’… What if I won’t be able to go back on that place? What if I do but the elements that I saw are not there anymore? I don’t want to waste chances.”
How did you get proper trainings in photography?
Julius, a Hotel and Restaurant Management graduate got his training in photography through Focus Bulacan, a group of photography enthusiasts and practitioners based in the province of Bulacan, Philippines shared how he started to get into the real thing — becoming an expert photographer.
“I am a member of Focus Bulacan and this is where I learned how to really use a camera — about shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and other intricacies for better captures. In this group, I also learned how to stand and speak in front of people. They would send me to schools to teach photography. Not only I was given the chance to help by sharing my skills, but I also benefited from it as it taught me to believe in myself — that with my love for taking pictures, I can help and inspire others especially the young ones.
“Then my friends Elena and Jing introduced me to another group based in Manila called ‘Juan Portrait’. Some of the activities they facilitate are teaching the youth how to take photos and provide ID’s (identification card) to schools located far from commercial establishments that produce ID cards. What I love about being part of this group is, more than helping through my love for photography, my heart is being filled with love and inspiration from the children I met.”
Photo by: Julius Calzo, Binondo, Manila, 2015
Who are your inspirations and mentors?
Inspirations and mentors play a big role in every creative person’s pursuit to his craft. Most of the time, they are those who impacted our creative styles. Julius disclosed that he has few inspirations who helped him become accomplished in the field of photography.
“I could say that in my course of becoming a photographer, I owe almost everything to Jay Salvador, a street photographer who diligently taught and guided me every step of the way.
“When it comes to travel photography, my inspiration is Jer Sandel. Then Jilson Tiu, a street photographer and photo journalist, is my inspiration to have my own unique style when taking pictures. I admire him for producing pictures of streets by just using the available light,” he explained.
Although he is a flexible photographer, Julius is most enthusiastic in street photography because he can explore diverse subjects that are often ignored and overlooked on ordinary days.
“In street photography, you can frame interesting subjects by just your naked eye. It cannot be manipulated by adding or deleting elements that are present and I like it because it challenges my creativity,” he said.
He also added that one of the best feelings as a photographer is when he sees people get to play and widen their imaginations by just looking at his shots. It is like helping them develop and explore their creativity.
Photo by: Julius Calzo, Mendiola, Philippines, 2019
Moreover, now that he lives and works in New Zealand, his access to wide range of subjects is quite limited. For this reason, his current practice is more on mood photography.
How do you process raw pictures?
“When it comes to processing I adjust little on colors just to get the mood that I want to convey in the picture. I don’t usually do major editing because I want to make sure that post processing will not overpower the original elements of the subject.”
Lessons we can learn from this story
Love and passion. To be successful in pursuing photography, love and passion must be present because these are the values that will make you keep going when things are not easy. When you love what you do, you will do everything to be one with it.
Mentors and nurturing community. No one is born perfectly good in what he does. Mentors and support groups are important to hone your skills. They clarify your reasons why you do things that you do. They inspire you to keep going. They strengthen your sense of commitment to take actions.
Be diligent in improving your skills. Practice, practice, practice. It may be easier said than done but do practice. There will be hindrances that will discourage you but do not give up. Persevere.
Julius loves and honors photography. The journey is not easy but he did not give up. He believed in himself. Taking photos will always be part of who he is.
Photo by: Julius Calzo, New Zealand, 2020
Photo by: Julius Calzo, New Zealand, 2020
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ABOUT THE WRITER:
Madylene Tuazon is a writer and the founder of Creative Thoughts. Her mission in life is to co-create valuable works through writing and encourage creative people to embrace their gifts and share it to the world.
She says, “There is a strong urge from the core of my soul that I have to let my thoughts, wisdom and stories out through a platform that is accessible by people all over the world.”
She is from Manila, Philippines.