Tags: creative director
It seems like I am starting imatiothiki from scratch here in Dubai. I follow up the same routine, friends of friends and people tagged in funny pictures on facebook, that might be nice to say hi to and maybe would make a good imatiothiki session. Endless hours searching online, but the joy, oh the joy of doing it all over again! Hyku Desesto was one of my facebook findings, through friends of friends. I think it was her profile picture that stole my attention. She had flowers on her head and looked like an exotic Lana Del Ray of some sort. On our photo date – yes a photo date with Dubai’s number one event photographer – the weather decided to grace us with heavy raindrops – yes rainy Dubai, if you can believe it! But Hyku was as sweet as sunshine, made me feel right at home and kept on talking about the adventures of being a photographer in Dubai and a mom of a super cute son at the same time! We walked around her apartment, in Discovery Gardens neighborhood, jumped a fence, walked in an empty swimming pool and laughed a great deal and, well, all I can say is I love this city and all the amazing people you get to meet here. Plus, I am so buying myself a long board. And some cool sneakers to ride in.
What was the reason you decided to become a photographer?
It was more of a life that I grew up with than a choice. My father who has always been in the film and journalism business has always tagged me along in his shoots ever since I was 5 years old. Growing up, I have always dreamed of doing a job that would allow me to freeze memories and document moments. My father has always taught me, that to be a photographer, its more of capturing moments that you see as they are. That’s why I have never done so much post processing in my photos. When I first came here to Dubai, I had never thought of being a full time photographer. Tried being someone who’s behind the desk from 9-5 but I just couldn’t stand doing standing that I don’t love or say being stuck in a chair sitting down the whole day. I first applied for a job as a photo retoucher in a studio here in Dubai and later on they gave me the opportunity to be one of their studio and events photographer. Never looked back from there and that’s when I realized, that one day someday, I want to be my own boss and do shoots that I really want and love shooting. So now, I’m slowly, step by step building that dream.
Analogue or Digital?
Pretty tricky question. Both have its pros and cons. In my field of work, I would rather say digital as it costs less. All you need is a memory card, be trigger happy and can choose shots that you like after. It doesn’t hinder me from shooting away as long as I have another extra memory card with me, I’m good to go.
How has Dubai affected your work?
Dubai is definitely is a city for dreamers and is full of endless opportunities. For the past two years that I have been working full time as a freelance photographer, I must say I have been very blessed. The most important lesson that I’ve learned is that Dubai is a city with people that you build relationships with. As friends and as clients. Once you’ve earned a client’s trust, referrals will come in easily and its just a matter of keeping that trust and giving them the best quality of work all the time with no excuses (even if you’re shooting with a bad headache).
What’s the best and worst thing about this city?
In Dubai, you can basically do whatever you want but with discipline and limits. As an open city in the middle east, we can wear whatever we want, have a beer or rum and coke after work but we should still keep in mind to respect the tradition and the city’s culture.
You mainly work as an event photographer. Any funny things happened to you during work?
Oh man, where should I start? Haha. Being a female photographer, whew, its been hard work. I have experienced being groped and licked and someone even grabbing my boobs in an event. At some point, you just have to learn how to stand up for yourself, meaning yes, I punched a guy one time in the face for doing some of these acts. Now in events, I have learned to take crowd shots before everyone gets drunk. Sometimes I still go one round of taking crowd photos when everyone’s at the peak of their alcohol tolerance but expect the unexpected, meaning learn to run and turn around as fast as you can after taking the photo haha. Being friends with bouncers in events can come pretty handy too.
What are the right tips for getting a good-vibe party picture?
Its when you put yourself in the same vibe as everyone, taking good vibe photos becomes easy. In festivals, concerts and gigs, at some point I put my camera down and dance and sing with the crowd. Then I try to understand why and how they’re enjoying that moment and I put myself in that state too. Then it becomes easy, walking in the crowd, spotting a cool group, smiling at them and bouncing with them for a while, then I take the shot. And its perfect, I get natural and genuine smiles and party faces.
You must have been to every event and club in town. Which is your favorite?
This is hard. Sandance is definitely in my list, as they have given me the opportunity not only to shoot some of my favorite artists that I’ve never thought I’d meet in this lifetime but also getting to mingle with them and watch them up close from the side of the stage. Electric Days in Tamanya Towers is also one of my favorite places to shoot as it has the rooftop vibe and the music and the crowd is different every single week. Q43 is also one of my go to places for ladies night if I’m not working. Fashion Forward is also one of the events I always look forward to twice a year. Being their official backstage photographer for three seasons now, it has opened its doors for me for potential clients in the fashion world. I also look forward to shooting events for Greygoose and Bacardi all the time as they always give me opportunities to taste the best drinks in the world and yeah, food too.
Are there any plans for doing some work in the Philipinnes in the near future?
Definitely. Everytime I go home for vacation, I try my best to collaborate with some of the events that are happening back home.
How has your style evolved since you moved to Dubai? Do you have certain outfits and gear you wear when working?
I must say, I have completely change my style of shooting since I started. I used to be this shy photographer that just stands in one corner wearing all black taking photos. Now I’m being able to apply my style in dressing up usually, sneakers and big loose shirts or if the event requires to be a bit more corporate I still make sure I have a dose of color in me, may it be a neon colored suit or shoes. My hair bun has always been my trade mark too as I’m very lazy to comb or dry my hair after a shower. If you see me with my hair down, then it must have been a girly girly day for me.
Who would be your favorite photographers?
I must say, Penn Irving is one of my most favorite photographer. His portraits has a thousand stories in it. He doesn’t only capture his subject’s photo but also their souls.
Do you think instagram is mocking true photography as a means of art?
Well, it depends on the person using it I guess. Its an easy way for people to share their people and art. There are some who are definitely giving justice to it. But definitely selfiies can never be a work of art. Some people use it to document their daily lives or shall I say the food that they eat. Some people use it to document the places that they’ve been. It just really depends on how the user uses his or her instagram account.
What will be the next best thing after selfies?
Sleepfies – people taking selfies while they pretend that they’re sleeping.
A few comments on the things pictured and said above:
Hyku makes the top five sweetest people I didn’t know, but felt so comfortable shooting them list. / Yes we had to do the outfit changing outdoors. So not Dubai, but who cares. / Sometimes shooting a photographer can be quite horrifying, but Hyku was the best photographer I got to photograph. Thumbs up for her kind words and attitude! / The longoboard is one of her latest hobbies. It has given her a fair amount of bruises, but she still loves it. Her friends tell her she’s a natural, since she found her balance on the board from day one. / I would love to share with you her amazing partying in Dubai stories… but I can’t. The things she’s seen! / She almost never lets her hair down, but did me a favor just for a couple of shots for this session. / Hyku is the youngest mom in her son’s school. Whenever she attends parents’ meetings, all the other parents think she’s her son’s older sister. / After we finished out shoot, she asked me to take a picture of her outside of her bedroom window. She always wanted a shot like this. I think it turned out pretty cool.