Richard Balonglong
From Accidental to Highly-Skilled  Photographer 

Shot details: Pentax K-7, 1/6 sec, f/4.0, 10.0 mm, ISO 200 
Richard is a photographer based in Baguio City, specializing in social documentary, culture & travel, and news. He works primarily as a photojournalist; corresponding for a daily nation-wide newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

 

 

Kitbag: Clik Elite Reporter Bag, Pentax K-7 with Grip, Pentax K-01, Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5, Tokina 28-70mm f/2.6-2.8, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8, Pentax M 50mm f/1.4, 3 Stops Graduated Square Filter, iPad 2 WiFi+3G, iPhone 4s, Camera Connection Kit, Apple Charger and Cable, Pen and Small Notebook, Press ID Card, Small Rubbing Alcohol, 500ml Water Canister, and a Hand Towel.

Shot details: Pentax K-7, 1/30 sec, f/4.5, 10.0 mm, ISO 400 
Shot details: Pentax K-7, 1/350 sec, f/8, 10.0 mm, ISO 400 

When and how did you venture into Photography?     

 

Before I had an interest in photography, I was a young avid painter; always interested in drawing people, objects, and landscapes in different kinds of medium.

 

Then in 2003, I grabbed our family’s old-plastic-unknown-brand point-and-shoot 35mm film camera to use it to take photographs of me and my friends on a trip to a beach in San Juan, La Union. One sunrise on the beach – hung-over from the previous night’s drinking spree with my buddies – I grabbed the camera and just took photographs of my friends, people around, and the scenery.  I tried to apply compositions that I use in my arts skills.  I took pictures until sunset.

 

After developing and printing the film at a photo lab in Baguio City, I was surprised to see the results. The results I got made me realize that I can do art in photography and that sparked my journey into the world of serious photography.

 

I fell in-love with photography, and I decided to work at a simple photo studio in Baguio City to start earning some cash to buy a better camera. In that studio, I held and used a digital SLR camera first for time.  It was a Canon 300D with 18-55mm kit lens.

 

The studio had no actual photographer; the store staff would just take turns taking pictures of walk-in customers. The studio had a standard preset setting, which they used take ID pictures, standard portraits, groups and wacky shots. I tried to understand every button and number from the camera, as I had absolutely no idea what they were for and what they do.     

The day I finally earned enough cash, I bought my first and very own 35mm film SLR camera with two lenses.  It was a second-hand Pentax SF7 with SMC Pentax-M 28-50mm f/3.5-4.5 lens and Astron 70-210mm f/4-5.6 lens.


Eventually, I gave up my job at the studio and studied photography on my own, reading photography books from the city’s public library and consulting with my friend who was a Mass Communication student. It took me some time to understand and master the basic principles of photography, as film, developing, and printing was costly and time consuming. 

In 2006 – dozens of images and films later – my cousin who is based abroad helped me purchase a brand new Pentax K110D, a 6MP APS-C DSLR camera with 18-55mm kitlens.


From the day I owned my very first SLR camera, even without a formal training or education in photography, I’ve never left the house without my camera. Photography has become my passion and my life.

 
Shot details: Pentax K-7 with PENTAX-F 28-80mm F3.5-4.5 lens, 1/2000 sec, f/5.0, 50.0 mm, ISO 640 
Shot details: Pentax K-7, 0.3 sec, f/4.0, 12.5 mm, ISO 200 

Why Pentax? What made you decide to use it?

When the time came that I had enough budget to buy my first SLR camera and went out camera hunting, I got a hold of the Pentax SF7.  It just felt so right in my hands and it felt like a solid camera. It was like “love at first grip.” When I decided to shift to digital, I chose Pentax DSLR so I can still use my old manual lenses on it, as I have invested in K-mount lenses.

 
Shot details: Pentax K-7, 1/500 sec, f/4.0, 13.8 mm, ISO 400 

Favorite shot of your own and why?

I don’t really have one single favorite photo because every shot is a favorite, for different reasons. But I do want to point one of them out; it’s called the “Making of Bagnet”. It’s one of my favorites because I love the lighting that sets the warm morning mood of the smoky place of work, while the cook is backlighted as he’s sprinkling some water.

 
Shot details: Pentax K-01, 1/1600 sec, f/4.0, 10.0 mm, ISO 400 

From where do you get your photographic inspiration?

My photographic inspiration always ends up coming from the skills of Henri Cartier- Bresson who is also known as the godfather of street photography and the father of modern photojournalism. Though I’m not into black and white photography, I was inspired big time by his book, “The Decisive Moment”. The images there have taught me to become more patient when photographing subjects and capturing them in their most decisive moment in their own place and time; capturing the mood that tells a story no matter who or what the subject is.

 
Shot details: Pentax K-7, 1/500 sec, f/4.0, 10.0 mm, ISO 100