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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Xyza Bacani Photography: Rising HotShot

UPCOMING  AND RISING HOTSHOT XYZA CRUZ BACANI  is  the atypical,  not-your-stereotype Filipino domestic worker   who  -- after a  hard day's work taking care of babies or cleaning windows and floors and washing dishes -- would go malling and share gossip and sob stories  with fellow OFWs  in Hong Kong.  

Bacani  chooses to always go through the  untrodden paths,  the  maverick's  route.

Armed with her  unusual weapon  --  not the floor mop nor the broom,  but  her  zoom lens and camera --   she would click away in successive ticks just like holding an armalite,  winging it  like a pro,  doing  what looks to art critics like  a   Vivian  Maieresque take on urban street photography.   She  clicks away  in  true-blue  ferocious  abandon,   invading  privacies,  her voyeuristic  artisty unleashed in   maverick  fashion.

She tells it like it is,  just like her photography.  "I  have  the attention span of  a kindergarten kid,  I don't want to be stagnant.  I hate boredom, and I  am easily bored," Bacani says, explaining herself,  but no apologies there.  It's like this woman,   who comes across strong  as  a  woman   with a lot of  guts and chutzpah,  has nothing to apologize for.  Either take it or leave it,  she says.

Through  her  blogsite  she writes away ,  as if speaking to you and me up close,  knowingly conscious of more than a thousand growing number of followers dodging her  thoughts , feelings,  and perspectives on living and loving life.

Bacani writes:  " I woke up this morning light headed and excited. I haven’t  been  like this for weeks now. The stupid emo shit is over ,  I guess. I just need to focus on things that (make)  me happy. And what else can make me happy but photography?   I shoot and shoot until my fingers are sore. I checked my photos awhile ago and I  can say  I  shoot my feelings away. One interviewer asked me what differentiates  me from other photographers, I laughed (at this),  because,   is there such a thing?   Aren’t we all different?  All  I   know is  I  shoot with my feelings. I will explain that soon. So yeah,   Happy Sunday everyone. Keep spreading the love. Apir!  ( "Up here"   "High Five") 

"Being accepted is huge happiness for me,"  she says,  grateful for all the global  attention .   "So guys,  just stay happy,  keep on spreading the love,"  she  writes to her growing audience through her blog site.

Clearly, this woman of the world has brains, and no-nonsense flair for courageously showing the world what she is made of, and who she is.  Her art photography has indeed caught the attention of worldwide media and art critics alike:  from The New York Times,  to Vogue Magazine Italy Edition,  to  photography awards given by CameraPixo Photography Magazine last January  (hailed as "Most Inspiring Photography",  Urban Photo Magazine,  and  also featured by Hong Kong-based Localiz Magazine.  

With worldwide media catching up with Xyza,  Philippine  media also had her doing the TV interview rounds via Skype: GMA 7 Network,  ABC 5 and its online site,  and also featured in Philippine Daily Inquirer.  On a recent TV interview by ABC5's  "Good Morning Club",   she  smiles but complains that the interview was "too early" for her,  displaying much childlike candor and candidness, chuckling in between answers and questions.

This early,  art critics are comparing her to American street photographer Vivian Maier,  who spent  most of her childhood in France, but went back to Chicago working as a nanny for forty years -- living her passion and dream scouring the streets of  Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles  during the  50's and  60's ,   and  coming up with more than  150,000 photos of people and human-interest snapshots.    

Maier received critical acclaim only years after her death, when Chicago historian John Maloof exposed her art, with her  posthumous art exhibits shown worldwide in Europe, North America and Asia,  and became subject of documentary films,  and several books. 


Bacani  shrugs the idea of the comparison with  Maier,  saying  she wants to be known for who she is.  Without any  argument,  she has the advantage against the former  :   with  all the instant publishing  of  her works in social media networking sites,  no  need to wrestle with  lost negatives,  developing photos in dark rooms,  and  all the hustle-and-bustle of  20th century  photography that  Maier  had to wrestle with.



Black and white photography,  meantime,  remains  Bacani's  favorite theme:   she says that with its variety of moods  --  curiousity, melancholy mien, quirky flippant moods ,  or her traversing the humdrum mediocrity of life and juxtaposing it  with her innate artistic humour,   she  gives color to the cliches, and the daily boredom of routine.  

"I  like the moods and the drama  behind  black and  white photography," Bacani  says.   "I shoot the ho-hum, the mediocrity, the cliche," 

She talks about  her  so-called urban exploration,   wherein  she invades each urban scene with much artistic gusto and aplomb,   capturing  the  reality of poverty,  the  no-mincing-of-words truth and  in-your-face brutality of austerity,  of innocence,  of  sadness,  and the  rarity  of  little details in each daily routine  of everyday living in Asia,  in Hong Kong,  in the Philippines,  in Singapore , and in every nook and corner where she unleashes her Xaxa artistry.  



Bacani  reveals that she has  discovered a variety of  lessons  in  her  experience and foray in street photography:   that there is a need  for  her to read  , since  "an empty brain  means a blind eye" ;  and that  she should also keep an open mind to maintain the artistry in photography.   "Adapt or die, " she says.

"Photography is a medium that keeps on evolving.    The dinosaurs died during the Jurassic (Age),    so don't be a dinosaur,"  she says,   "Even though you are not in the mood to shoot pictures,  just keep on  shooting,  and find out what makes you  click,  then shoot.  Nothing beats experience, "  the rising photographer says.

She further notes:   "Also,  one should shoot more than one frame ,  since "two is one,  one is none".    And lastly,   "don't  be an asshole,  since nobody likes assholes for a long time...  And don't take yourself  so seriously.  You might be a good photographer,  but there will always be someone out there better than you.  Keep that in mind."     


She may  be fully aware that  as a young photography artist  at  age 27,  she has a lot going for her , also a lot of self-improvements  for her craft.    Bacani  narrates she is banking  on  her own  self-analyses,  self-criticisms,  and  self-improvements  for  her artistry to  just keep on getting better. 

"I have read an article about  defining your style in photography,  and  I agree with it.   As for my style,  (thinking about it now),  I'm not even sure if I have one.   I just love to shoot anything that pleases my eyes."

"My  photographs are  visually pleasing,  and  I'm talking about colors here. Most the  street (photographers) I know  post in black-and-white,  but  some colors are just too attractive to convert in black-and-white."

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Photo: happy birthday kenneth louis :)  DSC00369
DSC00285  DSC00434

"I also go for minimalism in photography.  Minimalist,  that's me!  That's my personality," Bacani  says.  "Every photo I take with minimalist (characteristic) is actually (showing) myself,  that's my own signature,  my very own way  of introducing myself to people..  Also,  I make sure that  people can relate to my works.  I'm not a fan of  too complicated photos  that need  a PhD  Degree to be understood.   I just want my photos  to be able to be related to by people.  I  want my photos to trigger something in them."

Bacani  further writes:  "  My photos are  very  interesting,  using lights, 
using people,  using motion from the subjects.    I don't want my  photography  to be  "cute",  because  only  dogs and cats are cute.  I'm not even cute so why should my photography be cute?  CHuckles.  And  I never want my photography to be just "nice",  because "nice"  is boring!  Enough said."



On one of her blog posts,   she  lets her heart on her sleeve.   Meet Bacani  up close and personal and getting  comfy  with sharing her heart to the world.

"I've  got a confession to make. Ive been rejected gazillions  of times,  but I never give up.   Not me,but my photos (were rejected).    Yet it felt so personal at first,   and it hurt.    It pained my humongous ego.   Being human,  (we cannot help it)   when we feel like we did our best and it should be enough.  When it comes to taste and preference,  (it's supposed to be )  "to each his own."

"The rejections  taught me a   lesson though, that  not everyone will love the photos  we (think are best). What might be the best work for us,  (could be perceived) as  ordinary by  others.   I  have been submitting  two photos daily  for one magazine,  and within the same year,  only two photos were accepted."



" But part of my personality is  that  I  never quit.  I learned it from CAT in high school  and ROTC in college. Quitters never win they say,and it's true!  I took it as a challenge. There was a time  when I did not stop submitting even though all of  (my entries) got rejected. I did not listen to the annoying voice inside me,telling me to stop and look for another pool that will appreciate my images.  That time,  I  just kept  on submitting  my works."

"It may  be shallow to some but it feels like victory to me. Here is the link.
"What im trying to say is,never quit! Never lose hope! Tomorrow is another day and hard work always pays off. Happy shooting and keep spreading the love."



Bacani  further  reveals herself:  

"Sometimes I'm  quite attached to some things I own,  like my old Chuck Taylor (which)  has been with me for more than ten years. I can not wear it anymore  but I still keep it.   Well, just because (they) were   my first Chucks! I always keep the “firsts” in my life except my first boyfriend whom I  can not even remember his last name now. Lol"

 "And then there's  my first Red Pocket (lucky money) , my  first T-shirt which I  bought with my own money. This past few days,i dug my closet and i discovered my 18-105 nikor lens. I was like  my first baby,  but  then I was horrified when I saw the dust and mould eating it away. I wanted  to save it but the guy at the Central Station  said it  would   cost $HK1,200    for cleaning,  but that cannot  work for me.   I'm  sorry,   but  I'm  broke. It reminded me to let go of things which  I  don’t use, or which I don't need in my life anymore. " 

" Just like my Fuji camera  which i just dumped away and forgot about it,"  she further writes.   She writes about her past cameras like they were her ex-boyfriends,  which she says, get "dumped away" by her.

Photo: ©xcb

 "I walked with him (Fuji) yesterday, i even attached my good old 20mm nikor lens just to excite myself. I was really planning to sell it but the value of  Fuji cameras go down easily. Maybe because they release new cameras every week or every month,   so i don't have a choice but to use it.   It was  a good walk,  and  I got  some "ok photos"  (with the old Fuji camera) , and it still works  good with its own "Ninja moves".  
Later, she decides to call her old Fuji camera as  "Ninja".

"Oh yes,  I'm  gonna keep him. Except for  its  bulky 18-55 lens that costs  $HK 5000 ,  which,   when I  try to sell it on second hand thrift shops,  the shop owners would  price it for only  $HK 1,500   --  even with the warranty and all. I almost cried,    but a little bit of money is better than another moulding lens on my cabinet.   I will never buy another gear again that i don’t really like 100 percent next time. Stay happy and awesome everyone. Much love."


One thing  which I found as  surprisingly pleasant and striking was her  good sense of humour and light-hearted wit,   more of an eternally youthful take on  life:    cheeky,  even bordering  on  the irreverent, the detached,   the tongue-in-cheek  perspective of  a young woman  who got not so good cards but is playing her cards well.    She  can even be flippantly funny and goofy  ,  as she writes on one of her blog posts last Father's Day. 

"My father never imposed  on   us  --   his children  --    that it is  our responsibility to take care of them when they  are  old.    All he wanted  is for us to be in a good place,   happy and healthy with our own family someday.  I  promised   myself that  I   will give him all the good things in life   which  he never  experienced  when he was young due to poverty." 

" My father   is the eldest in the family and being the eldest,    when his father died,   he took over the responsibility  of  taking  care of his siblings. As a father,he  taught  us the meaning of family:  that  we should always have each other's back  ,  that   we must support each other as brothers and sisters ,  and to  always help the one who would be   struggling in life."

"My father  has   a big heart that even idiots tend to abuse sometimes. He loves his wine,  yes,   but that's the only thing he likes. He never smoked,   and he never womanized. He loved my mother for 26 years faithfully.   He also   loves  his only grandchild and would be  spoiling  her sometimes.    We call him  Papa,  Pops and Papitoh.     He is a  funny guy although he looks so serious ,   and he may  not be perfect for others but for me he is perfect:    the only guy i know who will love me  until  the day I die."  

"To all the Dads,  the  soon-to-be-Daddies ,  to the moms acting like fathers: Happy Fathers' Day to all. We humble ourselves today that once, we were your orgasms."