"Our third Artist Feature hits close to home. I met Maui back in 2003 when skateboarding was all we did, day-in-day-out. Camaraderie filled the air, we were super-infused with creative ideas and a lust to get our artwork out there. It was during these days that I had the spark to start a tshirt brand, and here we are 16 years later making that dream into a reality." - Anton Pelayo, Founder
'Like everything in life, experience is the best teacher. The best way is to go out there and keep shooting.'
Gahyao : What’s up Maui? How are you?! Tell everyone who you and what do you do?
Maui : Hey, Anton. I'm doing good,man. Coasting through life. Hmm, what do I do? I shoot photographs as a hobby and also as my livelihood. I'm freelancing right now.
G : So when we met back in '03, you were already into your photography – how’d it start? What got you into it?
M: Yep, it was around this time that I was getting hooked into photography. I took a film photography class as an elective subject in college and that sparked my interest. But the moment that really got me into it was when I developed and printed my first black and white photograph. The images weren't bangers, some of them were out of focus, the composition was wack but that moment in the darkroom was IT! Seeing the images come out of the film and printing them was magical. Hooked for life!
G: There must be a relation to your photography and studying Multimedia, was graphic design also a passion of yours?
M : Well to be honest, I didn't really know what I wanted to take up in college. All I knew was that I wanted to mess with design and computers. As time went on, I hated studying multimedia, I left the program after 3 years in college but I knew photography was something that struck a chord in me so I went back to school after a year off and took a diploma course in Photography.
G : You’re most known for your skate photography in Philippines – we know it’s not just about point and shooting someone on a skateboard – it’s more than that.. how do you prep for a shoot or how do you know what to capture?
M : It's usually a collaboration with the skater. I typically ask what the spot looks like If I haven't been there, if there's a photo or video of the spot that helps a lot in terms of pre-visualization and gives me an idea on how I'll shoot it, what lens to use.
But if it's a spot where I've already shot at, it's more of a challenge since I have to have a fresh take on it. It's a disservice to the skater to shoot the same angle as what I've already shot before. Also, what trick goes down on the spot makes a huge difference. There are times when the trick and the spot don't really jive but that rarely happens.
G : Being in Manila, there aren’t a lot of parks, how do you guys know which spots to hit for a photo session?
M : Uh huh, finding spots in Metro Manila can be quite challenging. There are a lot of promising spots in Metro Manila but It's just too congested and the bust factor is really high because of the countless security guards. Getting to the spot is also hard , you can be stuck in traffic. We usually time it when it's the weekend, early morning or late night. Lately, spots outside of Metro Manila are proving to be more exciting. It's not too blown out and people are more welcoming to see skateboarding go down.
G : Most memorable session? Or most proud photo?
M : Trip, hmmm. When a bunch of Pinoy skaters/friends went on a 2 week trip to HK. We all slept in a skate park, No itinerary, limited budget, hi jinx but super fun. That trip was amazing!
I think what made that trip so memorable was, for the most of us, it was our first time to experience skating in a different country. The spots were different to what we skate here in PH. And the skateparks, OMG, worlds apart! It was mind blowing!
G : You’re mainly behind the lens these days, do you still pick up a deck and skate yourself?
M : Affirmativo, I still do but not as much as I want to. Can't be a good skate photographer if you stop skating.
G : Where do you find inspiration?
M : I can't pin it to just 1 source, I get inspired by a lot of people & things - my girlfriend, music, art, travelling, looking at other photographers work.... Sometimes I find inspiration from the most random moments, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I just try to keep an open mind.
G: You’ve had your fair piece in the publication world – I remember the early days at Sprout and now Blunt Magazine – how’d you get into this?
M: I got involved with both of them being friends with their respective editors. With sprout (RIP), I met Sam in my hometown in Bicol when he was still conceptualizing sprout.
With Gab, I met him through skateboarding. In a way blunt was an offshoot of sprout. Both of them, the goal was to capture, show and give shine to surfing and skateboarding scene in the Philippines.
G: It must be hard to find gigs in such a small niche? Or is the saying true “do the best at what you’re good at, and the rest will follow?”
M : It's still a challenge to find steady paid work being a skate or surf photographer here in the Philippines. Although brands exist, plus more and more people are getting into surfing and skating, the infrastructure is still not in place to make it beneficial to everyone. I'm not complaining since I got into skate photography as a creative outlet but it would be nice to get paid doing it on the regular.
G : Any advise for those who wanted to get started with (skate) photography?
M : Like everything in life, experience is the best teacher. The best way is to go out there and keep shooting. It's way easier now with a digital camera and online tutorials. Learn and master the basics of photography like aperture, shutter speed, ISO and from there you'll eventually develop your own style.
Start shooting your friends & homies, go to skateboarding competitions and practice shooting there. Don't be discouraged if the photos come out blurred, under exposed... learn from it and be better. Everyone starts as a beginner.
G : You helped us shoot our first batch of skate photos, what springs into mind when you hear Gahyao (Ga Yau)?
M : Go Yew! Having a good time!
G : What’s next on your plate?
M : No major plans. Just continue shooting photos, man. Live life. Hopefully sneak in a HK trip, been seeing photos of the new parks being built out there, super enticing!
G : Where can people follow your work Mau?