Manila based photographer Geric Cruz is interviewed by Bhumika Popli on his work and his project ‘Second Star to the Right’ which will be showcased at the Delhi Photo Festival 2013.
The ‘In Conversation’ feature is an attempt to know more about the motivations and thought processes of photographers featured on Aksgar as well as other photographers undertaking narrative photography projects.
Bhumika Popli: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Geric Cruz: I’m a freelance photographer and videographer based in Manila, Philippines.
BP: Tell us something about your work chosen for the Delhi Photo Festival?
GC: Second Star to the Right happened during a residency I did in Zambales. I met those two boys there, and essentially what I hoped was to capture certain moments in the peak of a relationship while still safe from the complications of growing old. I wanted to feel or be reminded of when everything was just innocent and pure. The project was a way for me to go back to my own moments; in my case, the ones I had with my brother. At the same time, I was asking myself if I could still go back to really experiencing that kind of feeling, however aware I am of what happens when let’s say, children grow up – because they do.
BP: Why do you photograph?
GC: I never planned to be a photographer. I was given a Polaroid, I found it interesting, and from there on, it just happened. Eventually though, photography became my way to deal with my life and what was happening to me. I am not a very outspoken person and I am certainly not good with words, but with photography I found that I could express how I was feeling in a particular moment. The things that bother me, the need to talk about things that disturb me, the intimate thoughts in my head – with photography I found that I could understand these things, be healed even. My photographs are the truths I found from my personal experience.
BP: How do you remember your childhood?
GC: I’d say I had a pretty good childhood, most of the memories I treasure are those times spent in the province during summertime. Just being care free and happily committing mistakes. I particularly remember the movie “Land before time” every time I get associated with the word childhood. And watching it as an adult is a totally different experience for me. Lines from the movie become more meaningful, you relate to it more as a grown up. You see a lot of symbolisms in the movie, it becomes more universal.
I think in this project I was trying to see how I would react on certain situations, witnessing the different scenarios brought about by adulthood to these 2 boys. However being consciously aware of the complications that may occur in their relationship. I also wanted to see how the 2 boys would react to the changes happening. It’s like travelling back in time and seeing a mirror image yourself in that particular situation and time but equipped with experience. I don’t think i can say i completely remember the feeling of being a child and I think that’s beauty of it.
BP: Are you still in touch with your best friends from school/neighbourhood? What is your fondest memory with them?
GC: Unfortunately not as close as before. We’d exchange emails or messages every so often. But I’m actually pleased by the fact that we were all together experiencing those changes. I don’t have much documentation of it and so i wanted to do it differently with the 2 boys and see if it could be of help to them.
BP: What did you discover about yourself being in this profession?
GC: It’s difficult. Dealing with the balance of finding a job and doing personal work is a roller coaster ride. It’s hard to look for money and at the same time be content in creating and expressing oneself in personal work.
BP: Has your art changed you in any respect?
GC: You learn a lot from the things you see and the stories you hear. Along the course of doing what I do though, there’s this continuously developing curiosity, this different perspective; and there’s where I now try to understand things. I think my photography now is asking me more questions than it gives me answers.
BP: What inspires you?
GC: Creative environments. Creative-minded people. Good conversations, collaborations, trust, and respect.
BP: What photographic organisations do you belong to?
GC: I don’t belong to any formal one, but it’s very good that I have a support group where the people I looked up to when I was just really starting out, are guiding me now.
BP: How have the international workshops helped you in shaping your art form?
GC: I feel lucky that my mentors understood, respected, and even encouraged how my mind works. They (especially James Whitelow Delano who was my mentor at the Foundry and Paolo Picones from the Philippines) moulded me in the direction I wanted to go, even if that direction was either not, or far from their own style.
BP: How do you find your moment of calm?
GC: The calm is when and where I can think. Being away from the city, away from the noise, and just where I can reflect on things.
BP: Who is your favourite photographer and why?
GC: Duane Michals. I don’t necessarily like all of his photos but I really like how his mind and his process works. I can relate to his thoughts and I admire his courage of attempting to bravely voice out his thoughts through his photos. Seeing his work gave me an affirmation to do what was in my own head. I felt a certain conviction from him – that it is possible to do the things I was thinking of doing.
BP: Have you ever enrolled yourself in any photography classes?
GC: Not formally, but I have attended a handful of workshops.
BP: What is the best thing about photography?
GC: You can see the world from a totally different point of view. You become more aware of the things happening around you. Your sensitivity develops and you become more curious towards life, more open to experiencing it.
BP: Do you feel connected to any other art form apart from photography? If yes, which and how do you feel about those?
GC: Video art and designing found objects furniture. Growing up, my dream was to be an interior or furniture designer. Photography happened before that but I still want to see if I can do well in that field. I think I would still like to experiment with creating furniture using found objects.
BP: What are the prime challenges of a photographer?
GC: Translating my thoughts into images is challenging, but at the same time getting access, earning the trust of subjects, and arriving at a certain point of intimacy with them will never be easy.
BP: Tell us about your one emotional moment while you were taking pictures.
GC: The whole process of shooting is an emotional experience in itself. But there are times, for example, in the middle of shooting Second Star to the Right and I was having doubts, when I looked at the sky and I saw this face. I got goosebumps; I told myself to just believe, and I knew; I knew it was a sign to continue.
BP: What is your dream project?
GC: I’m not even sure what to do next in terms of projects. I usually just feel it out and see where my mind will take me. But one thing is sure: I’d wish to be able to get grants or residencies to help fund my personal work.
BP: What would you like to convey to young photographers?
GC: I’d like to tell them what I still tell myself – and that is to always pursue honesty – with the work, with oneself. There’s this thing that photography does to you. And with honesty, what happens is you develop first as a person. Recognition, awards, and grants may come, but they come second. What matters and what is most important is to develop as a person, to grow and become a better version of yourself and lastly, just believe.