Cover Photo: VJ Villafranca

A team of Filipino photographers are putting this art form, front and centre and keeping it top of mind

Fotomoto is a photography collective founded by a team of vibrant visionaries who see a bright and bold future for this art form in the country. The founders include a roster of respected photographers: Neal Oshima, Paco Guerrero, Wawi Navarroza, Tom Epperson, Veejay Villafranca, Jes Aznar, ESL Chen, Apa Ongpin, Gio Panlilio, Raena Abella, Edric Chen, Tammy David, Miguel Nacianceno, RJ Fernandez, Sandra Palomar, Jason Quibilan, and Jake Verzosa.

For them, the objective propelling Fotomoto is to promote Philippine photography through the lens of the team’s shared experiences. Its founders who are seasoned photographers themselves bring quite a lot to the table; they hope to encourage discourse about the Philippines by way of their own personal diversity, analysing gender, socio-economic status, age and geography with this project.

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“Love of photography is the unifying factor. The beauty of it is that we come from different practices of the craft—from art to fashion to photojournalism; thus, our collective knowledge and experiences contribute to the strength of the team. Our common perspective is that we should do something to contribute to Philippine photography and not just for ourselves,” says Aznar.

Setting out to ignite conversations about photography’s role in our lives, in December 2021 Fotomoto rolled out their inaugural project: a multi-venue exhibition in a variety of restaurants and retail establishments around the metro to make art more accessible. Without 100 participating photographers and around 300 prints, they definitely made an impactful entry.

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“We curated based on the merit of the image alone and our collective responses to each one. After all the submissions were in, each image was stripped of its accompanying information such as its title and the photographer’s name. With over 300 images and only close to 14 of us, we really had to rely on our intuitive responses,” shares Panlilio. They purposefully curated “blindly” to allow the photo to speak for itself and to not be swayed by any personal biases for the photographer behind the lens.

But what’s next? Fotomoto is planning a variety of educational programmes in the pipeline. Looking to the future, Ongpin says that they plan to execute this event annually, and even expand it nationwide, plus include more components to further their reach. “We will also probably open a permanent online gallery with images for sale,” he adds.

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Aznar tells me that they “hope to do bigger iterations of this project in the coming years and to be more inclusive. With workshops, portfolio reviews, and guest peers from all over the world.” He says that they “do not want to keep this event all to ourselves.” “We want everyone to copy it and do their own photo festivals in their own localities,” he adds.

Building on that, Villafranca shares that he too “hopes that other regions can take part. We’d like to see more work from our colleagues outside NCR.”


To learn more about this photography collective, click here.

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