Award-Winning Photography Veteran Peter van Agtmael Leads Third vivo Imaging Academy Masterclass

vivo Imaging Academy Masterclass - Peter Van Agtmael - 2

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vivo held its third vivo Imaging Academy Masterclass as part of its commitment to providing photography enthusiasts an avenue to learn and own their masterpieces. The third iteration of the masterclass was led by award-winning photography veteran Peter Van Agtmael.

He has been a photographer for over two decades and covered several wars including Iraq and Afghanistan. Peter van Agtmael has always been drawn to the narratives behind a photograph and its historical, political, and economical reflections.

vivo Imaging Academy Masterclass - Peter Van Agtmael - 2

As a young photography student, he found himself drawn to photos with deeper meaning or significance. Photographs tell you a lot at first glance and even more if you look closer. Because of this, he prefers photojournalism over the more artistic type of photography.

To demonstrate the importance of finding beauty in the most subtle of things, Agtmael went on a photo walk to discuss how the right kind of light, angle, and distance can turn mundane things into beautiful subjects.

Photography, he stressed, is also about letting go. More than the outcome of the photograph, what’s more, important is to look closely and enjoy the process of taking pictures as a way of training one’s eye to see beauty.

Photography is memory

Photographs are universal things. They are essential in remembering the important details of one’s life, historical or they may be.

vivo Imaging Academy Masterclass - Peter Van Agtmael - photo

He creates an annual photo diary where he compiles the pictures he wants to remember the most or the ones with the most significant memories. The journal encourages him to be more mindful of the events – mundane ones like his niece sleeping or more significant ones like loved one’s last days – that are happening around him. Photographs are not a substitute for memories though but are cues to remember these moments by.

The photo diaries have also helped him appreciate the process of editing.

The joy is in the looking

Photography is a constant process of training one’s eye – of practicing mindfulness, analyzing details in motion, and appreciating the complexity and richness of beauty. What training a photographer’s eye is all about observing and looking deeply into what you’re saying.

vivo Imaging Academy Masterclass - Peter Van Agtmael

Just the process of looking closely and trying to appreciate the world around you is enough. And when a picture comes as it always does, it’s a little gift — a reward for the process of looking and the process of being mindful of one’s surroundings and finding beauty in the banal,” Agtmael stressed.

Another component when training one’s eyes is patience. Oftentimes it’s the uncontrollable things like shades of light or a random passerby that makes an ordinary scene picturesque.

Agtmael’s advice to aspiring photographers

Closing the third vivo Imaging Academy Masterclass episode, Agtmael left aspiring photographers reminders and pro tips to help them appreciate the craft even more.

The first is to keep an open heart and mind towards people. It’s imperative to have a love and forgiveness for people to be able to see through them and the stories they want to tell. Next, he stressed the importance of educating oneself by looking at a lot of photographs to understand what’s possible and determine what you care about and why.

He added that once you have figured out what is important to you, you now have to find ways to visualize it.

The third is the value of commitment and dedication. Raw talent goes a long way in the professions but isn’t enough. Having the drive to continuously learn goes a long way in a field like photography. “Overtime, one’s personal form of expression will reveal itself. But that takes time,” he said.

Lastly, he stressed the necessity for resilience. Like writers, photographers can also experience a block that keeps them from doing work. This phase, he reminds, isn’t going to last forever. As he puts it, “there is always a way through and a way out of it. Ultimately, it is the innocence and joy that brings us into photography in the first place that will reassert itself and carry you through and hopefully, with a conviction and a connection that’s even stronger.”

You can check out the upcoming episodes of the vivo Imaging Academy on vivo Philippines’ Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok.

Ram found his love and appreciation for writing in 2015 having started in the gaming and esports sphere for GG Network. He would then transition to focus more on the world of tech which has also began his journey into learning more about this world. That said though, he still has the mentality of "as long as it works" for his personal gadgets.

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