Mel Cortez: Anticipation and good timing
Sunday Inquirer Magazine/29June 08
SOME wedding photographers create a semblance of unguarded moments by staging and directing their shots. Not Mel Cortez. “I take, not make, pictures,” says this lensman who also describes himself as a photojournalist. A good wedding shot, he says, captures images that can be called decisive moments. Aside from composition and lighting, waiting for the right moment is key, he explains. “Anticipation and timing in pressing the shutter must always be considered in shooting wedding photographs,” says Cortez who adds that he prefers to shoot his subjects in their preferred background or scene.
“My approach is to capture my subjects discreetly and unobtrusively, as if I’m covering an assignment for a newspaper or magazine. I make it a point to avoid shooting simulated, directed or staged scenarios in weddings because it doesn’t conform with my principles as a photojournalist.”
Cortez’ background as a photojournalist for BusinessWorld propelled his similar approach to wedding photography way back in late 2000. Eschewing the usual style of traditional wedding photographers, he started a style he calls "digital wedding reportage" by DecisiveMoments Photography. “Back then, the words ‘documentary, photojournalistic, candid storytelling’ were not as common in the jargon of wedding photography,” Cortez recalls. The photojournalistic approach has since been adapted by other seasoned wedding photographers, he adds.
From “socially relevant subjects” such as poverty and the environment, this founding chair of the Philippine Center for Photojournalism, Inc. made a 180° turnaround to documenting weddings, which now occupies 95 percent of his time.
Fortunately, says Cortez, “my decision to switch from photojournalism to wedding photography was not only accepted but also recognized by my colleagues in the business as another medium—a continuity, in fact—of my role in advancing photojournalism in the country.”