Photo Op Photographer Spotlight:

Andy Samaniego

Although it is often said that those who can’t do teach, but there is no truth behind that adage in the case of our Photo-Op Spotlight Photographer for this round – Andy Samaniego. Having roots in managing a local Kodak dealership with his brother, his interest in photography was sparked by being involved in the business, learning the ropes along the way, and being able to handle a Nikon F80, a film camera that paved the way to who he is today, a successful professional photographer and educator.

A professional photographer for the past eighteen years, since the new millennium, Andy was a graduate of BSBA Marketing at the DLS-CSB in the year 2000. But before earning his degree, Andy has already seen some action in the photography industry by way of aiding his brother to manage their Kodak dealership. This allowed him to be exposed to their shop’s clients, giving him a glimpse of the basics of ISO, lenses, and other technical aspects of photography. He was also able to see their clients’ images with creative outputs, including double exposures and even participating in various photography contests. This ultimately gave him the “go-signal” to dive into photography.

With the advent of digital photography in the early 2000s, Andy was inclined to become a professional photographer and joined various camera clubs such as the Wedding and Portrait Photographers of the Philippines (WPPP) and Society of Portrait Photographers of the Philippines (SPPP). Along the way, he also pursued a career in teaching in his alma mater in their School of Design and Arts (SDA), and the Philippine Center for Creative Imaging (PCCI), where he presently remains an instructor.

He also became a Marketing Consultant for Homeschool TV, an online video channel featuring homeschooling families and other related content. This led to the move to join Homeschool Global full-time as their Marketing and Production Head and then Director of Events, where he was able to apply his knowledge and years of experience in the events and production industry. Today, he continues to expand his professional portfolio into video production and social media management consultancies.

As a man who juggles numerous hats – photographer, educator, and consultant, among others, is no easy feat. But we at Photo-Op have pulled through and we had a brief opportunity to interview him. We initially asked him, being a photographer with many creative pursuits, what genre does he specialize in. He succinctly answers, “I specialize in portraits and products, and my favorite subjects to shoot are people. Every person is unique and has a story to tell, and when you capture that character and emotion in a photograph, it warms the heart and gives your clients a wonderful memory.”

 

Taken with Nikon D300, Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 lens
Taken with Nikon D300, Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 lens

When asked what the best thing is about being a photographer, he shares with us, “What I most enjoy about being a photographer is meeting new people while being able to travel and have unique experiences in these new locations. I also enjoy engaging with my clients, getting to know them better, and even learning from them as we chat about family, work, and life in general.” Photography is indeed a social activity, and Andy truly embodies this fact of his career.

 

As a photographer, he believes that having a fundamental knowledge of lighting is tantamount to being an effective lensman. “I mean, that’s where photography got its name,” he humorously adds. The impact of your photo on your viewers and the concept behind it is also something that a photographer should mull about.

When asked what inspires him to take photos, Andy shares, “They’re the subjects that I shoot of course. If they move me or I can relate to it, I press the shutter. In the case of portraiture, giving a photograph to a person means you are giving something of value to them, something that is appreciated, and it is part of making memories.”

Taken with Nikon Z7, Nikon 85mm f/1.8 S

Being a photographer for the good part of nearly two decades, Andy has truly imbibed the photographer’s lifestyle. He shares that “photography motivates me to constantly learn and innovate myself, especially my skillset, push the envelope of my techniques, and encourage me to further my abilities. It drives me to be more creative, competitive, and brings out the best in me.”

A highly respected professional in the industry, Andy sure does have a lot of experience while on a shoot but one shoot he fondly recounts to us was when a client kept on thanking him constantly for days after the event, appreciating the photos he took.

He shares, “Normally I get a couple of ‘thank you’s, but this client expressed her gratefulness many times. It’s certainly very encouraging to hear that your work was highly valued and cherished by the clients you are serving.”

When asked what his advice for young budding photographers, eager to join the industry, he has this to say, “Learn the fundamentals until you’ve mastered them, always find a source of inspiration, and determine and understand your purpose for doing photography (why you do what you do) – this will serve as your compass to point your career and craft to the right direction.” Being a prolific artist of still and moving images, Andy has opted for the Nikon system since the beginning of his career, with the Nikon Z 7 being his current favorite workhorse, able to deliver outputs truly he is proud of.

For the hundreds of thousands of frames Andy has captured through his career, we asked him what his favorite photo was, however, he confidently answered, “I do not have just one favorite photo per se, but what makes all my images my favorites are when I photograph people who are close to me, like family and friends. There’s a more personal connection to them, and that’s what I tend to treasure most.”

The Philippine photography industry should indeed be a lookout for what Andy Samaniego puts out next, whether it be another glamorous portrait shoot or flawless product photograph, one thing is for sure, as a man who continues to innovate himself, his output is better than his last.

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