DecisiveMoments: Wedding Reportage in Black & White by Romeo J. Santos (a one-man photo exhibit titled “ DecisiveMoments: Wedding Reportage in Black-and-White,” September 2, 2001/ Edsa Shangri-La Hotel.
The Photographs Talking about art, said Cézanne, is almost useless. “The work which brings about progress in one’s own craft is sufficient compensation for not being understood . . .” he explained. “Get to the heart of what is before you and continue to express yourself as logically as possible.”
The photojournalist Miguel “Mel” Cortez now places before you this exhibition. Listen. “I consider wedding photography as another learning experience in documentary photography. I aim to capture not only the real moments but also the ‘hearts’ of my subjects,” he said. He aims to please you; most especially, himself. Yes, he has snapped Bresson’s phrase—every photographer of his generation is familiar with it, if they don’t know it by heart—but no, even if with this collection he admitted to going digital, this photographic work does not compromise artistically. That said, I see a turning point. These images, which are for all to see—artists or philistines; culturati or merchants—builds on Bresson’s phrase. Will Henri Cartier be proud or green? Mel the photographer invites you to pay attention. I succumb.
These images make many possibilities realizable, regardless of their digital origin. To Mel, they are his “interpretation of what wedding photojournalism should be—‘real moments’ as captured by a photojournalist’s eye.” They are not only decisive, as in Bresson, but also rare for they had snapped those fleeting moments in weddings. But art is long.
An artist of integrity, he is at ease with these pictures—at length, he can explain the whys and hows of selection to you—from his three-months of experimenting with photographer Dino Lara in several weddings. I’m also comfortable with them; his aversion to overworked cliché is apparent in them. “I want real moments—when I say real, I mean no ‘formal’ pictures, no choreography, no posing, no staging and prompting whatsoever—not concocted moments,” he said. “My approach—report the event as it happens, just like covering it for a newspaper—just like what I would to do to cover a rally, convention, conflict, or human drama where scenes are not staged,” he concluded.
Collectively, these images have elements that one seeks to capture everyday of his waking, wakeful moment if he considers himself a photojournalist worth his salt. These are also creative journeys—when work pursuits or pursuits of work become sources of pleasure, which in themselves are exercises in passionate patience. In fact, they are extensions of Cortez’s professional life. There is continuity from his work or vocation to self-assignments or private passion. The photos, with apologies to Cézanne, are very logical.
The Photographer Since 1994, the 41-year-old Miguel Cortez has been working as a photojournalist for BusinesssWorld. He is married to Rowena Pionilla Cortez and has two sons, Mico and Romel. He is the chairman of the Photographers Development Cooperative-Phils.(Photodev). In 1998, he chaired the Philippine Center for Photojournalism. He lives in Sta. Mesa, Manila.
(For more details about the exhibit, visit Cortez’s website at decisivemoments.tripod.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org