Tony Oquias likes nothing more than being in some unfamiliar place, documenting its people, surroundings, activities and yes, even, and especially, the passion of those he chooses to photograph.
Tony Oquias’s romance with photography began in high school where he pondered a career in photojournalism. But along the way towards that dream, he discovered his writing abilities, which momentarily took his mind away from taking pictures and brought him to the frenzied world of advertising as a creative director. He just swapped his high-paying and comfortable world three years ago (after 18 years) with his lifelong photographic passion.
His late entry in photography though is somehow forcing him again to shift gear from commercial work, although he said it’s still his bread and butter, into the realm of documentary. "I think it’s part survival instinct, which I learned in advertising but, more so, part of the passion I wanted to pursue since high school, Oquias declared. He adds: “Technology has created what I call ‘mass experts’ in photography almost overnight. There are practically thousands of photographers in the Philippines today who are really good, compared to say, five to ten years ago. And the numbers are growing every day. And all of them are swarming in the high-paying and glamorous wedding, fashion, and advertising markets.” He confides that he still needs to be in these markets but his heart is really in documentary. “It’s also a way to position myself. Right now, I don’t know any photographer in the country seriously taking this route, maybe because it takes time and there’s no money in it,” he laughs, quickly adding: “But I don’t believe there’s no economic value in the genre. I’ve just developed a multimedia product based solely on this where companies get to promote their products and corporate image, the subjects get to communicate their needs, and I get to contribute, however small, in effecting change through my work. For me, that’s happiness.”
In addition to documentary and multimedia work, Tony Oquias does freelance creative work in advertising and PR. He may be contacted at tony [at] tonystill [dot] com. You can view some of his work at www.tonystill.com.