The last two traveler portraits have been about travelers from Western countries – Holland and the U.S. And it is true that traveling the world, going abroad and having a what is called nomadic lifestyle is somewhat easier for people from that part of the world. But my next portrait will provide a different perspective and show that is also possible for someone born and raised in Southeast Asia. Yen has not only lived in five different countries and extensively traveled the globeb but is also an award winning photographer with accolades by National Geographic and her pictures having been featured in international publications. I find her story absolutely inspiring and I am really happy to have her on Escapology – Meet Yen Baet from the Philippines.
ESCapology: Yen, nice to meet you. Please introduce yourself to our readers here at ESCapology.
I was born in Ozamiz City in the Northern Mindanao region of the Philippines but grew up all over the country, taking up residence in beautiful cities like Cebu, Davao, and Manila, among others. Most of my childhood years were spent in Laguna and my college years in Pampanga. Clearly, my nomadic life started since birth, although then it was more of familiar circumstances. These days, travel becomes more of a choice, with either pleasure and/or business mixed into it.
ESCapology: You have been awarded a prize for your photograph “Rainy Night in Hallstatt” back in 2011. That’s already some time ago and it seems you have been into photography for quite some time already. How did you become involved with photography and when was it that you started?
I’ve always been an artist and have ventured in different forms of creative expression over the years. Photography was something I discovered later on in my life, and I attribute travel as being the reason why I ventured into it. I was not satisfied with merely taking snapshots of the incredible places I’ve visited, and wanted to capture them in a way that I can show my audience how it is to be in my place and for them to experience that same moment through my eyes.
ESCapology: Since then a few years have passed. Are you nowadays able to make a living off of your photography or do you work a regular job as well?
I am a full-time freelance photographer, and other than licensing my images through various micro-stock agencies, individuals, private businesses and companies, I am also available for travel assignments around the globe. My latest assignment was for an online booking portal where I covered a good part of London and produced a few hundred photographs.
ESCapology: Do you have a photographic philosophy or a certain away you approach the process of taking a picture?
I like my photos to tell a story. It doesn’t have to have a human element all the time to do that. It can be a static landscape or an object, but hopefully one that can evoke a certain emotion by how it is lit or framed.
ESCapology: What would be your top three tips for an ambitious amateur who wants to take the next step and improve his / her photography?
The three P’s: passion, patience, and perseverance. Passion is a given; no one who wants to accomplish anything can be successful without having a fire burning inside. Passion is what propels you to go through the other virtues, like patience and perseverance, in a breeze. There’s a lot of waiting involved in photography – waiting for the right light, waiting for the moment – so being patient goes a long way and you often get rewarded for it. And since everyone goes through the ropes and hurdles of the craft, perseverance can only make your better. Perseverance is that push that gets you one step further above your peers.
ESCapology: What is your opinion about photography contests?
Photography contests, or any type of contests for that matter, are confidence-boosters and an affirmation of one’s skills, provided that it is a legitimate contest participated by great competitors. Others join for prestige, some join for the prize – it’s one of those that is really just a matter of “to each his own.”
ESCapology: You have lived in quite a few places and each one different from the other. Which country did you like best and why?
This is not one I enjoy answering simply because I always try to find something beautiful or exciting about each place I’ve lived or visited. I don’t mind visiting Paris over and over again, for instance, but it doesn’t mean I’d forego lesser-known places in place of it. Sometimes it just depends on my mood: right now, I prefer to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle of modern cities, but I know it’s just a matter of time and I’d be longing for some peace and quiet of a lonely small town or a desolate island.
ESCapology: I know you might be tired of this question but people are really interested in tech stuff. So what gear are you currently using? Camera, favorite lenses and other go-to equipment.
I’m currently using a Nikon D800 accompanied by these 3 Nikkor lenses: 16-35mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm. I also have a Sony RX-1 as my everyday go-to camera. A tripod is always a must for me and I bring two – a tabletop and a full-size – with me all the time.
ESCapology: What are you currently working on and what are your plans for the near future in terms of photography as well as traveling?
I have a few projects brewing right now but they have not been finalized at the time of this writing so I wouldn’t want to disclose them yet. There is an exhibition in Rome I will be participating in, and possibly another one in the Philippines sometime next year. I am also working on a photography book that hopefully will find completion soon. I am just working to add more material to it. Travel is hopefully an ongoing thing for me and I don’t anticipate the time when I will stay in one place for a long time.
ESCapology: You have been born and raised in the Philippines and you have also lived abroad. I myself have traveled the Philippines for three months and instantly fell in love with it. What’s your connection to Pinas nowadays and do you plan to ever come back for good?
Right now I am in transition. I have just recently left England and will be moving back to the US in a few weeks. The Philippines is a stopover for now but I do have plans to come back for a longer stay, hopefully. “For good” is always up for debate.
I admire Yen’s work and her visual approach to photography a lot. You can check out her portfolio on her website, as well as on her Facebook page and Flickr account. Feel free to comment or ask Yen a question in the section below.
Disclaimer: All images copyright by Yen Baet