Good or bad, as the French would say : "C'est la vie!" (trans. "That's life!") and so shall we embrace it!

Up & Around : Decisive Moments Basic Photography Workshop

Up & Around : Decisive Moments Basic Photography Workshop

“Wow, that’s a great picture! What’s the brand of your camera?”

This is a clear insult.

One of the things I learned from our instructor of basic photography. He elaborated by saying that the quality or greatness of a photo comes from the eyes and skills of the photographer and not through the brand of the camera. It would be an insult to suggest that the equipment is what makes a photographer.

I had always had an interest in photography but never really had the chance to invest on any manual equipment (being a mom and all, this was the least of my priorities). I had always turned to point and shoot cameras that did all the hardwork with its automated features. Then came the selfie smartphones where one need not do any other configuration and the shots would look like you had just gotten out of one of the longest beauty sleeps you’ve ever had. Yes, it made everyone’s skin flawless and lips plumply gorgeous.

But somehow, my penchant for detailed photos with all its wrinkles and lines kept tugging at me. My curiosity for the manual settings of an actual DSLR camera just wouldn’t let me be. I even bought a smartphone that had manual settings but I felt like it wasn’t the same as an actual bulky camera. That’s when I decided to invest in a mirrorless camera. What’s that, you say? These cameras are the latest rivals of DSLRs because of its same functionality, features and quality output but with more convenience totting it around since it was lighter and less bulky than an actual DSLR. It didn’t hurt that it had that whole retro feel to its body that I truly love, as if it was like a camera from the Gatsby or Kennedy era.

FujiFilm X-A10FujiFilm X-A10

So there I was. I had just bought a Fujifilm X-A10 mirrorless camera and truth be told, I had no idea how to use it. I still relied on the automatic settings and felt like a huge facepalm was hitting me every time I used it. Although there were plenty of youtube video tutorials and the manual that came with the camera held a hundred pages to learn, I was still at lost. I knew the only way to master my camera is through an actual basic photography workshop.

FujiFilm X-A10

I asked around and found a photography/cinematography major who was doing house calls in the Marikina area with basic photography lessons. His offer was good but I couldn’t bank on a 3 hour session each day without a clear view of how many days/sessions it would actually take. He said the curriculum was based on the client’s learning curve. I totally agree but I was too itching to use my dear “LoLa” (that’s what I named my camera, buzz off) stat!


Luckily for me, I found a metrodeal voucher for a 6 hour basic photography workshop under the skilled mentorship of Mr. Mel Cortez (Decisive Moments Photography). He is one of the pioneer wedding photojournalists of the Philippines back in the day when DSLRs were as bulky as trudging hollow blocks. He has also been teaching as a guest proctor at Ateneo De Manila and a former staff photojournalist of local paper BusinessWorld. Since 1981, he has had extensive exposure in the fields of editorial, corporate, travel, advertising, and fashion photography. Upon reading up on his background, I knew he was the one I needed and his one day course was just perfect for an impatient noob like me.

Mel Cortez Decisive Moments
Mr. Mel Cortez

Upon arrival in their Quezon City office, I met people from different walks of life who wanted to learn the basics. There were fellow bloggers, a mom and daughter duo, a digital marketer who wanted to start selling stock photos and simple people such as myself who just wanted to continuously improve her skills.

Mel Cortez Decisive Moments

My inferiority complex stepped in when I saw that I was the only one with a mirrorless camera, everyone else had a DSLR unit. Little did I know that the mirrorless camera was all the buzz nowadays and became the talk of the town. And that’s when the master told us it’s not the equipment that matters (although he praised mine because it had great and advanced features) but the person whose skills are caressing the camera going all trigger happy. I felt relieved upon hearing this. I knew the afternoon was going to be lit from here on out.

Sir Mel taught the group basic photography starting from the manual controls to the 3 important aspects of photography and even changed the way we look at photographs. (I’ll leave out the terminologies so that he can share them to you instead).

Mel Cortez Decisive Moments
motion blur
Basic Photography Mel Cortez Decisive Moments
freeze action
Basic Photography Mel Cortez Decisive Moments
front focus bokeh
Basic Photography Mel Cortez Decisive Moments
back focus bokeh

He did mention that once you attend his class, you’ll never look at photos the same way again. You will then be able to criticize works with proper lines and shapes and if subjects were causing tension to the onlooker. The workshop was light, not dragging at all and you would be constantly asked to tinker away with your camera to do some test shots. The teacher student ratio was 1:8 and had a lot of activities enveloped in laughter to keep the ZZZZZs at bay.

Decisive Moments 6
horizons and mirroring should be straight

It was an amazing experience I must say, to learn stuff like these from a photojournalist who does not do the whole pose and snap technique. He believes in telling a story through the candidness of each photo shot, the uniqueness of each look or stare of the subject and the subtle messages you can see in each body movement captured.

Basic Photography Mel Cortez Decisive Moments
OOMFP! there you go. lol

I know that what I gained from that 6 hour session was only the tip of the iceberg and is nothing compared to hours of lessons in actual school setups but I am ecstatic that I can use LoLa to the best of my ability now that the manual controls are no longer alien to me. My food shots are going to be more detailed and my candid shots are going to be less blurred. For a Php1,250.00 voucher, I think I got more than I bargained for. Thank you to Decisive Moments and I hope to get more free time to enroll in your other level photography workshops.

Below are some of my photos taken after I had undergone this workshop. I think a pat on the back is in order. Hihihi.

Basic Photography Mel Cortez Decisive MomentsJomalig Island 25Jomalig Island 86Patis Tito Garden Cafe 13Patis Tito Garden Cafe 25Rainbow Dreams Cafe 13Rainbow Dreams Cafe 49Sulyap 20Sulyap 39Sulyap 40Sulyap 47

If you want to experience Mr. Mel Cortez’ fun yet comprehensive basic photography workshop, I believe there is still an ongoing metrodeal voucher or you can also get in touch with him at the following channels:

09175057358 / 09082686661

FujiFilm X-A10

Decisive Moments Basic Photography Workshop

Experience 4/5
Staff 5/5
Curriculum 4/5
Price 5/5
Overall 4.5/5

’til our next up and around… c’est la vie!

Feel free to like and comment on this post, share on your social media accounts or bug your barkada for your next city activity!

*this is not a paid advertisement. this review is from my personal experience only. Please read full disclaimer for this post here.


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