Beauty Diversity » Manila Bulletin Lifestyle



By Macel Feliciano

Jennepher Exconde had always been curious about the magic of photography from an early age. She would see her father and his cousin cutting up negatives and developing the photos they have taken in the darkroom beside their house.

This mild interest turned into amazement and a realization of her God-given gift. She could hardly believe that one of the first photos she took landed in a calendar beside those of professional and world-renowned photographers.

The life-changing image was taken during a roadtrip to Bicol in 2005. Armed only with a recently purchased Olympus digital camera and with no training whatsoever, she captured an idyllic countryside scene of the country’s most iconic volcano. Mayon was basking in glorious morning sunlight with a carabao in quiet reverie on the foreground. Encouraged by friends, she posted it on a travel website where it caught the attention of the advertising agency producing the calendar. Her life from then on, took a wonderful turn.

  • Siem Reap, Cambodia (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Shikawara-go Historic Villages (Japan) (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Sapa Rice Terraces (Northern Vietnam) (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Sakura Portrait (Japan) (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Yao Hill Tribe (Chang Rai, Thailand) (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Mt. Fuji, Japan (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Miyajima, Japan (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Karen, Long-necked Kid (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Ban Gioc Waterfalls (Cao Bang, North Vietnam) (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Atomic Dome (Hiroshima, Japan) (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Ye Ping Festival (Changmai, Thailand) (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Songkran Water Festival (Bangkok, Thailand) (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Lumad Portrait (Cagayan de Oro) (Jennepher Exconde)

  • Yao Hill Tribe (Chang Rai, Thailand) (Jennepher Exconde)

“This accidental start ignited a passion that has driven me to pursue many opportunities that opened up for me. My work was noticed by ad agencies, magazine editors, and business entities,” Jenny relates.

She formally began her journey into photography by training with the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation (FPPF). With some classmates, they formed Lakbay Klik Kamera Klab (para sa mahihilig maglakbay at pumitik) eleven years ago. Her published photos and the awards she received from the club photo contests further testify to her burgeoning talent.

Being a travel agent also contributed to the flourishing of Jenny’s craft. And three years ago, she successfully merged her passion for photography and her livelihood by establishing her own travel agency, World Photo Journeys.

No surprise that she is into landscape photography. But she is also into portraiture and street photography, with a fascination for the distinctive way of life of other people groups in and out of the country.

“The most interesting subjects for me are the people, especially when they are in their native attire,” she says. “When you see the Igorot of Banaue, the Hmong in Vietnam, and especially the long-necked Karen of North Thailand in their environment, you realize that people can be different from us in the way they live but also very much the same in our basic humanity and aspirations.”

Jenny considers it a great accomplishment as a photographer to be able to encourage like-minded people to explore different locales and help preserve other cultures through photography.

“Change and modernization is so fast. The native cultures are changing and they may not be there tomorrow. My goal is to preserve these cultures through my images.  When I go to their places, I feel blessed with the opportunity to record how they live. I will always cherish that I have captured beautiful moments and can share these with others.”

A photograph is truly compelling for Jenny when it has a good narrative and can stand on its own. “One thing I learned from my travels is that you don’t really need to speak the language of another culture. A smile is understood anywhere. Beauty is universal, whatever facial or bodily decoration is worn. Same goes for an effective photograph. It will catch the attention, communicate the emotion, and be understood—even without any caption.”

What makes Jenny’s photography stand out from the rest is her point of view. She wants to uplift and inspire the viewer. “As a creative person, I am able to show others the way I see the world. We can wait for the sunset and I’m sure my images will be different from somebody else’s. I highlight the positive aspects of culture and life. I do not take shots showing poverty and the darker side of life. Thus, the mood of my photographs is one of affirmation, of humanity, and understanding.”

As a visual artist, she has three guiding principles, which reflect her own principles in life. “Be different. Respect other cultures. Respect other photographers.”

Jenny wants to encourage her viewers to celebrate life. She wants to open our eyes to the distinct beauty of our varied cultures, and the commonalities that bind us.

“I see places in different dimensions. It’s not just going to a different place, but also looking at other aspects, their uniqueness, and the changes. I also see the similarities, like the basic humanity of people, no matter where they are from. The connection we have with one another, even if we don’t understand the language.”

Through photography, Jenny entreats us to celebrate our uniqueness instead of denigrating each other’s differences. Let us appreciate each other no matter how dissimilar we may be, for underneath the surface, we find we are but men and women who long for acceptance, lasting joy and peace.

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