To say that the rise of Dookie Ducay as a celebrity fashion photographer is meteoric would be a gross understatement. To wit, the 31 year-old phenom has spent seven years in the industry, churning out breathtaking photos for some of the top brands in the country.
His love for photography took root during the early days of social media, when Multiply was the most popular platform used to showcase photography work. Dookie was inspired by the professional photographers who posted their fashion and portraiture work so much that he began to relentlessly pursue photography as a hobby: pestering his father to invest in his first DLSR, using friends, family, and virtually anything that he could shoot as a subject for practice, and enrolling in various photography workshops to amp up his skills.
His hobby would then turn into a profession when the unfortunate demise of his father led Dookie to question his corporate career. “Hindi ko masusupport ang family ko kung magwowork lang ako sa office.” Using some money from his father's retirement fund, he set up a small studio with a provisions for a living space for himself. “I started shooting people, collaborating with amateur makeup artists, hair stylists, stylists,” recalls Dookie, “The rest was history.”
Having a solid foundation of photography basics is a much better edge than expensive equipment. “Train your eyes first before investing in expensive cameras. You can use anything to capture a great image,” shares Dookie, “For instance, in the July 2017 issue of Metro Magazine, I captured those images using the Huawei P10 Plus. Expensive cameras are just tools; it's more important to develop a good eye and great taste.”
Wielding the Huawei P10 for the entire photo shoot came with its own set of challenges. For instance, it made precision lighting a bit tricky. Dookie found a way to work around this by employing a variety of lighting sources. “Gumamit ako ng mixture of tungsten, flourescent, and video light. It was a very technical lighting setup.”
Having similar features as a DLSR camera allowed Dookie to wield the mobile phone with artistic freedom. “For the beauty shots of Pia, I used the Pro setting of the phone para mas ma-control ko ang light,” shares Dookie, “I can adjust the shutter speed, the exposure compensation, the auto focus and the white balance.”
His philosophy for editing photos are largely for touchup and enhancement. “For me, kelangan makuha mo na ang final photo na gagamitin sa shoot mismo. Sa RAW palang, kelangan maganda na sya. Konti nalang dapat yung gagalawin mo sa post production,” relates Dookie. “I used the RAW format in the phone settings for capturing my photos so I can adjust it in post production. RAW kasi acts like a negative: kung overexposed or underexposed ang photo mo, pwede mo parin i-adjust using Photoshop.”
High end retouching is also a skill that Dookie advocates young photographers to learn, adding that this is an edge that could set them apart from the rest. “Learn how to use Photoshop. I retouch my own photos. Maarte ako sa colors. I tend to go for sharp, clean images. Mas gusto ko yung may tone,” he shares, “Maarte din ako sa skin. I go for a natural look, yung may texture pa rin yung skin.”
With the power of a DLSR camera in the portability of the phone, it suddenly becomes that much easier to pursue photography as a serious hobby, a great jumpoff point for individuals looking to get into the profession. Dookie shares that the greatest enemy of budding photographers are sometimes themselves. “Minsan madi-discourage ka, lalo na kapag yung mga final output mo ay hindi yung na-imagine mo. Don't stop shooting.”
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Photographs by Dookie Ducay