Hi, thank you for dropping by our website! We're Dariel and Cathy--two old coots (old souls, that is) is how we fondly describe both of us. We got married quite late in life and have no kids. We each have very diverse interests but it was photography where we most found our common ground. On one of our first dates, we barely talked because we both had our cameras -- and that was one of our best bonding moments!
DARIEL: On set, I'm the left brain (and since I'm taller than Cat, the voice-activated light stand). I've always had an analytical approach to photography, as I enjoy playing with lights and figuring out technical challenges. I guess it comes from having inherited my first camera from my elder brother when he was studying medicine, and he had such an analytical approach to things that must've rubbed off when he taught me the basics.
That approach was reinforced when I apprenticed for a while with the late, great advertising photographer John Chua. John taught me to try to foresee every aspect of the shoot and prepare for it. On one of the first assignments I assisted him, he called me out for not taping down the power cords to our lights as thoroughly as he wanted. "You know, duct tape is cheap but paying for a hospital bill is expensive." I've kept his lessons to heart ever since.
At the same time, I see photography as my way of appreciating the world in greater depth, so what I look for is to bring out the inner beauty of things. If I could have my way I'd spend every day on long, meditative photo walks through the back streets of Kyoto (with multiple breaks to eat!).
As a foodie, culture junkie and history buff my favorite subjects are food and travel, particularly cultural aspects like temples and dances. You'll recognize my photos from their bold colors, dramatic lighting, and simple lines influenced by Zen. I'm also a keen observer of people, even though I'm an introvert, so my portraits catch moments when my subjects reveal their inner nature.
Like Cat, I'm inspired a lot by Old Hollywood movies, specially the noir films of the '30s and '40s, and from Renaissance paintings. Lately I've become obsessed with ukiyo-e and the exaggerated vertical layouts of hanging scrolls.
CATHY: And I'm the right brain on the shoot, always going for a concept, a story. I like photo essays a lot, maybe because I started out as a street photographer--one of Henri Cartier-Bresson's "children"--wanting to tell stories through a series of photos. Just like my old pre-photography hobby of creating miniature installations where I would gather odds and ends and put them together to create a tableau on current events. I used to decorate my room with these sculptures (I'd like to think they were sculptures of some sort) and other artworks. I happily lost many summer afternoons immersed in this creative zone.
But street photography was only a start. I was also very much drawn to portraiture. I can trace this obsession (yes, it has become that!) all the way back to my first portrait, which I made of my sister. She loved that black and white photo and later had the original 8x10 print enlarged into a painting because I had lost the negative--yes, I started out with film. To this day, my sister's photo remains one of my favorite works. But it doesn't help that I am basically a shy person so after my brief period of portraiture, I put it aside. But, whatever other genre I had done eventually, I found and find myself always going back to portraiture. Today, it seems I have come full circle.
Not that I've limited myself to just those two genres. I also like shooting travel (which can be almost about anything to me), landscape, sports, events, and still life. At the heart of it, I just love photography, period. As a means of self-expression; as a means to continue creating stuff; as means to say something; as a means to give back; as a means to document my world; as a means to express my wonder of God's creative power.
Corny (does anybody still know that word?) as it may sound, I can't get away from the fact that I do see the world through a photographer's eyes. Especially because apart from stories, I also love, love, love light. After all these years, I still catch my breath when I see that golden afternoon light hit its sweet spot. At that moment, I literally want time to stop; and because it won't, I get an ache in my heart at the fleeting beauty of it. And the same thing can happen again the next day and the same ache occurs again. It never, ever gets old.