By Walter Ang
Mamangun had always been inspired by beautiful pictures and was curious to know how they were created. While attending Philippine High School for the Arts, he learned the basics from his father.
"He used to be a serious hobbyist. I would look at old slides my father took from his trips. He taught me about aperture, shutter speed and film ASA (American Standards Association). It was still called ASA at that time and not ISO (International Standards Organization)," he says laughing.
"Unlike now where digital cameras let you check your work instantly, I wasted a lot of film from developing mistakes and photo paper from printing mistakes, but that's how you learn."
Mamangun also learned from photographers. "Doddie Campos taught me about push processing films, which was essential since I was into shooting stage performances."
During his time in BP, the late Noordin Jumalon (dancer, choreographer, and Cultural Center of the Philippines Dance School's dean) also shared tips and knowledge.
"He was an avid photographer. I would also hang out at the CCP Visual Arts darkroom with other photographers."
Now that he's back in Manila, Mamangun has been holding head shot sessions. "I used to be asked by my colleagues if I could shoot their head shots. For those of us in the entertainment industry, head shots are our passport to jobs and projects. Most of the time, it's the first thing casting directors would see. It's an important investment."
His background as a performer influences his work. "Any photog can make a good photo with a simple camera but understanding the qualities of light (and not just lighting equipment) transforms a good photograph into a great photograph."
"It's easier to direct and interact with actors and dancers since we speak the same language. I try to help the subject discover what look works best. It's not the same as portrait shots, which I also love doing, because some portraits are not the best ones for a head shot."
Mamangun's head shot clients have reported to him that his work has been seen by different casting directors and directors from different cities around the world.
Filipino indigenous people
Though Mamangun does all manner of photography such as commercial product shoots, landscapes and cityscapes, his passions are dance (obviously) and portraiture.
He has an ongoing personal project called "I.P. Portraits," a series of portraits of Filipino Indigenous Peoples.
The idea came about when he tried looking for photos of indigenous peoples. "I found them outdated. It's high time we 'documented' our indigenous peoples before they become completely forgotten."
"I really wanted to give something back. It's not something big. For this project, I gave out prints to everyone I photographed. It's a newfound joy for me. Seeing their faces light up when they see their photos on print is priceless. I don't have a sponsor but it would be nice to have a mobile printer with an endless supply of ink and photo paper so I can continue this project."
Prints from I.P. Portraits project are available for purchase. Proceeds fund future shoot sessions. Contact 09196970466 or visit jojomamangun.com.