Monday, November 26, 2012

The UP Photographers Society (through my eyes)

The Society was formed in the early days of December in 2003. At first the idea was to form a club that would house enthusiasts of photography. It is to be noted that during that time, digital photography was still in the fringes of the art. There were very few digital cameras available and you can count the phones that have 1 megapixel cameras in them. The same set of hands account for the number of people you know who own these new phones.

During that time, those who knew photography we’re those who are now considered dinosaurs. Those who shot in film with cameras such as the Nikon FE’s, Canon AE-1’s and so on. Film rolls were still sold and developed by Leo’s photo in Vega or at the Agfa store across the street.

The first few days of the Society’s life was spent between Romel and I, chatting on mIrc’s #UPLB chatroom. After we realized who each other was, we decided to continue the conversation in real life around Carabao park and at the OSA (Office of Student Affairs). We sifted through old paperwork of what were remnants of the old photography clubs in the campus. What was familiar to Romel was the Samahang Manyunyut. At first we wanted to revive this organization. Hoping that echos from the past might help in making the establishment of the new organization easier.

Unfortunately, the paperwork we found was not enough to start anything. That was when we decided to go for broke and start from scratch. During the time, and I am sure this still is going on right now, the OSA just started prohibiting New Freshmen from joining student organizations. They were in full force during the freshmen orientation during the summer and the early days of the first semester to make sure this was taken seriously. Student Orgs were all under the microscope. It was a tough time for existing groups and even tougher for new ones. We have seen attempts to form new orgs to face off the existing that fizzle into nothingness the next semester. We wanted something new, something that would get different students from different courses and colleges together. Something that will not define where you are from but will determine where you will be.

Romel and I come from other organizations. At this point, we have been head’s of another organization or two and have already gone through and experienced the typical org in UPLB. We agreed that there are many aspects of student organizations that we personally detest and find unecessary. We agreed that we will not recruit from new freshmen and that our policy will strictly be “walang kupalan”. We agreed that this included no public humiliation, no unnecessary requests, orders or assignments. We wanted to make sure that if tasks were given that these meant something to the values and vision of the org - not just some vague idea about showing loyalty, determination and commitment (values that I think can’t be tested and learned in two weeks). We wanted a recruitment and indoctrination process where the face we show before the “finals” is the same face we will welcome them with as soon as they are conferred as members.

Romel’s strength was getting members. His students (former) from Pahinungod were bright and diverse. Many of them have no experience in photography. Most though were either attracted to the fact that they will be charter members or first batches of a new organization. Almost all of them had good intentions.

The true test for us and those incoming new members were building the org from the ground up. We spent a whole night thinking about a name and a nickname for the org. We spent a night designing the seal. We spent countless of nights well into the morning creating the constitution - we debated over it’s merits and technicalities. We tested the strength of the preamble - opened it to scrutiny. We had arguments over what the members will be called. We had a whole night too to plan our first trip out of the campus.


The UP Photographers Society was formed to create a venue for photography enthusiasts, hobbyists and budding professionals in the UPLB community. It was formed without the foresight that photography will bloom or explode into what it is right now. The idea is to have like minded individuals with a common interest have an experience with a Student Group, learning organizational skills, communication skills and most of all leadership skills.

The Society is designed to give an individual vital experience on how it is to become part of a working group that has aspects like Personnel, Education, Operations, Logistics, Executive and others. The plan is to provide the members with skills that they will need post college that is not learned from within the classroom. The plan was to create a group that will instill professionalism, pride in ones work, determination, leadership and creativeness.

We teach the basics of photography and eventually allow the members to branch out into practicing their specific interest from within the larger umbrella of the craft. Our goal is not to turn our members into professional photographers. Our goal is to mold future model citizens and leaders with photography and the Society as a common bond.

Photography by design is both artistic and scientific. It is both creative and technical. A great balance for the population of UPLB. We use this balance to show that our members, though hard workers are also the same people who enjoy a good time. We wanted to make sure that members know their roles as students first, members second. We wanted to make sure that in the years to come - when people come accross a member of the Society that they expect an exemplary individual both professionally and privately.


Almost ten years into the life of the organization, the Society has healthily formed a great story all on it’s own, characters have come and gone relationships built, some kept some faded away. But ten years have passed and countless of stories have been shared - all our members look back at their own individual contribution to what we all fondly call PhotoS.

We have had bad times, drawbacks and disagreements - we’ve had bad members too and decisions we probably regret - but the achievements, the successes, the great stories all overshadow that.

It has always been a tradition to expect that the new breed will prove to be better than the last. It is expected that even though there are always big shoes to fill, that the incoming members of the next year will be very happy to step into them. Just like in photography, we expect that with every new type of equipment that every new photo will be better than the last.

Ten years into our history, we are still gaining momentum. At this point in our story we are maturely adjusting our positions to accommodate the ever changing landscape of society, just like in photography - photographers adjust to the ever changing technologies of available to them.

Just like photography though, a camera is useless if the person behind the it does not have the know how to shoot and more importantly the drive and inspiration to capture that image that has that lasting impression. Just like photography, our name will mean nothing if we don't have quality members within it.  The Society hopes that every member that joins also has, just like a great photo - a great lasting and lifetime impression of his or her time in the organization.