Photography can sometimes be a waiting game; you spot an almost perfect scene only to find that a key ingredient is missing. The subject might be there, but the background may not. Or the background might be present, but the subject is nowhere to be found.
Such was my dilemma when I took the winning photo for the compact division of the 2014 Canon Photomarathon Philippines National Leg. I knew I have the requisite background, but somehow, my subject, a construction worker tying up reinforcement bars for a column, wasn’t acting out the image I had in mind.
This was the third time I joined Canon’s Photomarathon, an annual on-the-spot photography contest sponsored by one of the biggest camera brand in the Philippines. The rules are simple, they give out three randomly picked keywords and they let the contestants roam wherever they want. One has to be sure though that he’d be back at the downloading station before the two and a half hour deadline goes up.
Unlike the previous Photomarathons I’ve joined, the organizer forewent with the cryptic poem-like clues and went for a much simpler way of giving out the themes to shoot.
The first one went like this; circular, peaceful and fashion.
This year’s Canon Photomarathon was held at the BGC’s Bonifacio High Street. While it would probably be easy to spot a pedestrian sporting an interesting wardrobe along the Serendra area, you can bet that the thousands that joined have already photographed that.
Together with my shooting buddy, we skipped that area and went scouring the side streets of the Bonifacio Global City for something to fit the theme. We initially planned on going to the American War Memorial but they weren’t allowing photographers to enter the premises.
Nevertheless, we saw circles, peaceful scenes and fashion. The only problem was, those three won’t seem to align on one spot for us to frame them in a single shot.
Two hours went by, and still, nothing. With mediocre images, we went back to the downloading station and uploaded our not-so-promising shots; promising ourselves to do better for the next theme.
It was past lunchtime when the second set of keywords was announced; cross, exciting and cityscape. Much easier than the first.
My feet already aching, we again roamed the streets of BGC. The thing that caught my eye were the numerous construction works going around the district. Crosses can easily be found among the busy frameworks and scaffoldings, the workers perched several meters from the ground looked exciting, and yes, they’re all part of the cityscape.
So we walked, our necks strained ever upwards, looking for the perfect scene.
And finally, I found one that spoke to me.
Only thing was, the guy doing the framework wasn’t doing what my mind pictured him to be doing. So I waited, taking a few test shots and waited some more.
Until he finally went down. And all I got were test shots.
Desperate, I frantically waved at him and asked, hollering across the street to where he was, if he could just climb one more time and raise his hands when he got to the spot he was previously perched on. It took a while to convince him, but he relented at last.
I was surprised when he went all the way to the top of the unfinished column and started raising his hands to high heavens. It was definitely more than I asked for. I snapped as fast as my Canon D30 compact would allow me—which means, three shots.
Profusely thanking him, I put down my camera and stopped shooting. We still have an hour left but I knew that I had the shot. The same way I knew that I had it during the 2010 and 2011 Photomarathon.