The Day I Saw the Light


By Dr. Malbar Ferrer

It started as a simple graduation gift in college. My brother gave me a film camera quite popular at that time, a Minolta camera. It started my interest to document event with my simple film camera using a 110 mm film. It did not prosper, however, into a more serious hobby as I could not sustain the cost of the film and developing the photographs. Then medical school followed. The challenges as a medical student keep my mind off photography.

My interest was rekindled during my residency years. My brother gifted me with a Nikon F3 film camera. It also coincided with my friendship to a photography enthusiast, a co-resident who has been doing photography for sometime while working in the Middle East. He offered me lessons in photography in exchange for my teaching him internal medicine. It was an offer hard to refuse. My interest in photography grew as our friendship deepened. Friendship with another photography enthusiast, an orthopedic surgeon, cemented my interest that developed into a hobby and later became a passion.

Most of my subjects are people in his environment, a photojournalism type. I like to capture the moment where a subject is engrossed in his environment unguarded, unscripted and mostly depicting happy moments or documenting beauty in ordinary scenes. I consider it a challenge to document beauty in a mundane scenario. It trains my mind to look for deeper beauty even when it looks ordinary, and to see beauty in all aspects of life. I think that’s the impact of photography to me.

Superficially, it seems opposite with that of medicine where you look for the ugly (disease). But the final output is always a beauty, the face of a well and happy patient. Photography also trained my eyes to appreciate details. This helps in reading chest x-rays.

I got more engrossed in photography when i joined the first photo group in Iloilo, The Photographic Society of Iloilo. It is composed of professionals from diverse fields bound by their common love for photography. The group does photo exhibits in the malls on every public celebrations in the city. The group also supports medical societies’ activities through photo exhibits whenever they have conventions and celebrations. The group did photo exhibit during the PCCP Mid Year Convention in Iloilo in 2015.

Worth mentioning is the activity we did with the Autism Society of the Philippines, Iloilo Chapter where we shared the moments with autistic children and their parents through photography.

Some of my accomplishments as a photo hobbyist includes: First place finishes in the following photo competition primarily in Iloilo – Robinsons Place “What a Fun Mall” Photo Competition; Dinagyang Photo Contest, Paraw Regatta Photo Competition; and several second places and top 10 finishes.

In addition, I also won the grand prize in Getz Pharma’s “Colors of Life” national photo competition and a second place finish in PCP’s National Photo Contest a decade ago. I did two solo photo exhibits in Iloilo. The first was entitled “Colors of Light” followed by “Simple Life Special Moments” all in colored digital photos.

The proceeds of these were donated to the church. Some of my work was also featured in a table calendar. As PSI president, I initiated an advocacy for the club a free photography lessons to high school students in several high schools in Iloilo, and the documentary photo exhibit of the Oil Spill in Guimaras. The oil spill event resulted in a roving photo exhibits in the different colleges and universities in Iloilo to raise awareness on the impact of such disaster to our environment.

My moment as a photo artist was highlighted when I was featured in Manila Bulletin, Picture Perfect section as Photographer of the Week in 2007. On the club level, I garnered the distinction of being Photographer of the Year four times.

Since then, photography has become my other passion aside from being a pulmonary specialist. My camera becomes a constant feature in my professional life and my constant companion in my travels. Photography is never a hindrance in my practice of medicine but in contrast, it has helped develop my keen sense of observation and attention to details; in my patient interview as well as in reading chest x-rays.

I consider myself just a serious hobbyist with a passion for photography. On the works of professional photographers, I liked the photos of Ansel Adams, Scott Kelby and Robert Farbers, as well as the photos of George Tapan.

To me passion for the art takes precedents, an important ingredient to produce an image that sticks to the mind and touches the heart. Robert Farbers shares these words on his way of coming up with remarkable images and I quote: “…to touch the senses, to feel the image, to compose with your heart, to isolate the world around you, to capture what you only understand, that which is truly part of you alone, this is what’s most important; for those tangible thoughts called photographic images to be understood is called recognition, but recognition is secondary to passion that was responsible for creating them.”

Photography is a language of light. The day I engage in photography, is the day I saw and embrace the light.

Aug 2018 Health and Lifestyle

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