1. Introduce yourself and the style of photography you think best represents your work (fashion, conceptual, fine art, dark art, new born, etc.)
I'm Mike Alegado and I do conceptual and fine art portraiture based in Manila, Philippines.
I've always been fascinated with photography, but I started taking photos seriously with a DSLR on 2012. I would go out and just take photos of everything just to practice using the camera, but I knew that I wanted to take photos of people. I am completely self-taught with photography I didn't learn how to use my camera from someone but instead taught myself how thru countless knowledge available in the internet. When I Was learning how to take photos by watching videos online and looking at photos in the internet I found the works of Joel Robinson and Alex Stoddard in flickr and was inspired to take self-portraits to practice even further. I also loved the surreal aspects of their work that I started trying them out and thinking of concepts to shoot.
3. What inspires your photographs?
A lot of things inspire my work but mostly I am inspired by nature and the beauty of it. You can see it in a lot of my work where there would be plants and trees because being surrounded by nature fuels the creativity within me. There are even times when I would be stressing out because the location is in the city and there isn't a lot of plants there.
4. Where are some of your favorite places to shoot?
I love shooting in the forest or any woodland area but I live in a very suburban location in Metro Manila(one of the most polluted areas in the world) so you might imagine my woes when trying to find a location. Some of my locations though are quite near but some take about a couple of hours or more to reach. I also like to hike up mountains and take photos at the peak. There is nothing more fun than trekking and taking photos!
I mostly make conceptual photos and try to keep putting out new work because that is how I can improve myself and also grow as an artist. I also like to photograph fashion photos or editorial but I'm still learning how to do them and I'm taking baby steps with this. But my passion lies in Fine art portraiture I really love to be able to tell a story and portray emotions in a single photo from my imagination and share it to the world!
|"Chasing the Idea"|
I have so many favorites I can't choose just one because it's so hard! But one of my recent favorites is the photo "A new world" because of how much fun it was to take and the story of how I took it. The location for that is an actual mud springs in a dormant volcano where I hiked to take photos. The thing is though it is actually fenced up and no one is allowed to come near the boiling mud maybe due to some accidents from the past. There were countless signs of warning not to go near the water and not to inhale too much of the air cause of the sulfur coming from the mud. I wanted to shoot inside the fence so checked if there wasn't anyone around and was paranoid enough to check if there were any hidden cctvs haha. THANK GOD it's still not high tech there haha. Then I placed my props, tripod and camera in through and actually fit myself under the fence and covered the barbed wire with a shirt so it's not so hard to go through. I had to hurry up and set up my shot and poses while making sure not to be stupid and fall in the mud. After I got what I needed I hurriedly packed everything up and changed clothes. I was even able to take another photo near the place and not a soul in sight. When I was leaving the place thought there were some Korean tourists that were going there but I was all done and no one even knows what I did.
|"A New World"|
I want to the viewer to be immersed in the photo. I want them to question why and think about the photo. I want them to feel what the subject is feeling. These are what I usually want people to feel when they see my work.
8. What gear do you use? What's your most used lens and why?
I use a Nikon D90 with a 50mm 1.8 lens, a tripod and an IR remote. My most used lens is the 50mm 1.8 primarily because it is the only one I got, haha. But even though that's the case for the price I got it for, it certainly is a very nice lens. I almost always shoot with it open wide and it gives me that amazing bokeh and blurred background giving much emphasis on my subjects which I really love in my photos.
9. Who would you say is your favorite photographer? Why?
My all-time favorite photographer is Tim Walker. I absolutely love his work based on storytelling and impact with such elaborate set designs to achieve the full story of the image and really immersing the viewer into photo. I also love Brooke Shaden's work on creating surreal images that look like paintings but are actually photos on a whole new level.
I did when I was starting out, where people would tell me that it's really hard to do what I wanted. I overcame this by working hard and practicing every day, studying what I need to know and improve what I lack in by challenging myself from time to time. Eventually everyone around me now support what I am doing and really try to help out whenever they can! I think if people see that you are genuinely passionate about something you can channel that passion unto others and they can't help but try and help you achieve that goal.
11. Do you plan on doing anything with your photography or do you shoot just for fun? (If you are planning a future with your work, please explain where you want to go with with)
I do somewhat have a plan for my work, but most of the time I shoot for myself and I use this time to learn something new every day. For me photography is a constant learning experience which started from day 1. Right now I feel like I still have a long way to go before but in the future, I would like to be able to show my work in a gallery and maybe publish a book with my work. I think having to see your work in print is an absolute joy for every photographer in the world. Especially if it’s hanging on someone else's wall.
|"Ready To Fly"|
I read the book "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho, and the story of an individual who left everything to pursue his dreams was just amazing. And one of the quotes that really stood out for me was this:
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
It's not just about faith but also working hard for what you believe in and what you want in life and sooner or later that hard work would be paid off. Another quote from the book is “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” And it's not just in failure but in everything that we do. If we keep being fearful of something then we won’t be able to achieve what we really want to do.
|"The Rejuvenating Springs"|
Whenever I go out to shoot I try to bring everything that I can possibly use for a photo. I would sometimes have a photo idea planned out and sometimes no plan at all. When I arrive at a certain location, (which is almost always found by exploring unknown places) I would just sit down and take in the environment and be one with it. Doing that relaxes my mind and ideas for photos would come to me unexpectedly. And when these inspirations come I try my best to make it happen before I lose the chance to do it. It is that moment that I would always remember after doing a shoot, the feeling of being there and not be distracted by taking photos but instead know the feeling of the place and when you do, you would get a clear picture on how you would capture it or use it for your own stories.
14. What would be the best advice you could give to a new photographer?
|"The Overdue Letter"|
I always tell myself not to be afraid or not to be fearful. If I give in to this fear of failing or fear of getting lost somewhere then I wouldn't be able to achieve anything at all. I would just be stuck here in my bed and do nothing. So I would say, don’t be afraid and take the risk because if you don't then nothing will ever happen, but if you do then there's always something that would come out of it. Even if you fail at something (which I have experienced countless times) you would earn valuable experiences and learn new things. Don't be disheartened by it because in the end, it is you that is growing through action and all because you didn't give in to fear.
15. Any final words you'd like to say?
Expect hardships when pursuing your dreams and passion. It is what makes it all the more satisfying when you achieve something from what you love to do. So don't give up and strive for it.
Thank you so much Mike for giving such wonderful detail for each question! I really enjoyed your story about your "favorite" photo. I have so many crazy stories just so I can get the shot I'm wanting. It's a crazy life we choose but it's a fun and adventurous one for sure! :D
Other links you can find Mike at: Tumblr/blog: http://mikealegado.tumblr.com/
Other links you can find Mike at: Tumblr/blog: http://mikealegado.tumblr.com/