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It’s really funny how all of this started. I was hooked on MTV the moment my dad gave me a tv set for my 10th birthday. They say you lose a lot of time doing other things by staring at the screen, but MTV was my education. A dose of new music and amazing visuals everyday opened me up to an adventure-filled life.

I started a blog about my love for music and fashion. Eventually, a really awesome band called Rivermaya hired me to work for them. I bought their clothes and took photos of them and shared it online. Their fans appreciated as they went on to become the first Filipino band to perform at the MTV Asia Awards.

My love for music makes me happy to see all the bands perform these amazing shows. What warms my heart is when I get comments and emails from fans like me who tell me they’re grateful to have found a kindred spirit. I’ve carpooled in festivals with strangers and through the years have met people in this path that have become my greatest friends.

I always tell people that the best way to honor the bands is by sharing thoughts of why you love them. I documented this path the best way i knew how. I went to shows and took photographs of them.

I wrote my thoughts alongside these photos. Who knew this would take me far beyond any fans wildest dreams:  I was invited by some bands to sing back up vocals on their songs, I even did a movie stint as a VJ. I got to tour with bands all over the Philippines. I flew to Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia & North America meeting stars one could only ever dream of seeing. International artists have took notice of my posts and i feel giddy every time it happens.

Being around all these musicians, I even wrote a song and won an award for it!

Right now my life, like MTV is all about music. Being a fan, being in love with music can open you up to great things. I share my experiences to other fans who want to take the path as I have, telling them that the love for music is all you’ll ever need.

Because of it, my life has grown far more interesting.

You’ve played a huge part in my music life, MTV! Please let me show everyone how music can make a difference and that includes not giving up! Haha!

xoxo

Niña

 

Practice makes perfect… well, almost perfect. I’ve been in pursuit of taking the perfect shot of Ian Tayao’s frontflip for so long that it’s become a personal sport to me whenever I bring a camera to WilaBaliW’s gigs. Despite all the flip shots, this is the first photo I have with the whole band in one shot.

I know it’s a great picture, but I’ll tell you how every time I take a photo I always wish, damn I could have taken a better one if only… bla bla bla… It’s good to sometimes question your work and recognize your mistakes and weaknesses because you learn from them and they become your strength.

Before we move on with the how-to’s let me tell you a story about this picture.

You see, I’ve been practicing with a new body, the Sony A7. For this shot I used a 24-70 f2.8 Zeiss Lens. Sony A7 is the first full-frame mirrorless camera and has a feature where you can actually put non full frame lenses on it and have it cropped automatically in-camera.

I have a 16mm 2.8 which I use for everyday, but it’s not a lens for a full frame camera. The Sony A7 has a feature where you can turn on the APS-C mode (cropped sensor) for lenses like that.

Yet I wasn’t using the 16mm but the 24-70 2.8, which is full frame capable.

It was a human error on my end. I think I had demonstrated the APS-C mode to another photographer when I forgot to turn the mode off, or AUTO at least. (Haha people! Stop asking me questions kasi in the middle of an event! LOL)

So this photograph was taken while the camera was acting as if it had a cropped sensor. It was only after I took the shot when I tried to show the photo to Chaya, Ian’s girlfriend that I realized I had left out a sizeable image space that was cropped out because I forgot to turn off the APS-C mode.

I was too focused on getting the shot that I forgot about it. I would have been able to capture the whole band and not crop out their bodies. It wasn’t really my goal to take a picture of the whole band, it just to happened that I saw it was possible and went with it. You can only imagine my disappointment, haha. If only I could tell the guys to do it again, but that’s cheating.

Despite my own error the photograph still turned out amazing.

This isn’t your typical sports photography (a field that is no joke quite difficult to begin with) put those basketball players and soccer players in a dark room with blinking lights then what you have is concert photography, haha.

Now for any photographer who has tried to get their ideal shot of Ian’s flip below are a list of tips you could follow. I know there’s always that element of randomness in concert photography, but as Frank Underwood in House of Cards said, “Success is a mixture of preparation and luck”.

*tap tap*

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I’ve had experiences of shooting gigs and see authorities waiting by the wayside while crowd control hangs on the edge of chaos. I never get to blog about them, most of the time the band is always able to contain the crowd, singing one or two more songs, with setlists cut short in half. It reminded me of the time I lived in Vietnam for a while back in 2008, there was a curfew. Midnight meant complete shut down as you see authorities smoking by the window, a stern reminder that whatever business you have, it must be over when they say so.

What’s exciting about the event last May 17 is that I have never experienced seeing sound systems unplugged in the middle of a musician’s set. Unlike me, the rock scene is all too used to this sort of thing way before I started documenting it. There could be many reasons, but most of the time they’re not the band’s fault. Yet this time around, it isn’t even the crowd’s fault. I actually have no idea what happened, except that the Cavite City police suddenly pulled the power off in the middle of Greyhoundz set, stating that it was the mayor’s instruction.

It was past midnight, and if you’re a rock fan who frequents rock gigs you always find yourself coming home at 4 or 5 in the morning, meaning these gigs start late and take forever. One of my theories is that the permit for the venue was only until midnight. You might say authorities could be a little sympathetic, I think they were, although rules are rules, maybe they didn’t like the drunk host who kept on saying bad words. I didn’t like him. Whatever his script was, it embodied everything that rock wasn’t, confirming that the scene is something people should be afraid of. People think it’s all crass, but what you don’t know is that local rock is such a sophisticated ecosystem completely overshadowing whatever this whole OPM thing is.

It just sucks for some of those who travelled from other cities to check out a gig which hasn’t happened in 15 years. Everyone could benefit from being a little more organized.

As I wrote in a Yahoo! article prior to the gig, there was one other Wolves, Boars, Houndz gig last December but Basti Artadi got sick so it was just Boars and Houndz. Everyone was really looking forward to this historical event. I have no idea why no one has organized this yet. There’s even a shirt made by Stitch Apparel in the trio’s honor. It’s difficult to get the three together and if it does happen next time, it will be even more epic with all the cancellations the past 6 months haha!

When it comes to brushes with authority, it’s all because of a misguided perception with rock. Whether it’s about the permit, or it could be the drunk host. All I know is that the main bands simply wanted to play.

Rumor has it that the Mayor apologized for what happened and that he’ll have the three bands over next month most likely. I

So my photographs from that evening are a bit of behind the scenes and half a set of Greyhoundz, haha.

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What? A concert without sound? Far from it.

Sony Philippines held the first silent concert in the country with performances by Bamboo and Ely Buendia at the Rockwell Tent last Thursday May 8, 2014. A historical feat considering that no one has ever done this in the Philippines before.

What’s a silent concert you ask?

In 1999, the Flaming Lips held the world’s first headphone concert in SXSW using radio transmitters and headphones so people can hear their music through FM channels. For the Sony Silent concert, their latest MDR headphones were given out during the event which people plug in on headphone amplifiers that were available all over the venue. The music comes from the performers were in a soundproof booth set up at the center of the venue, their music inaudible to those without headphones.

Music is personal and what makes the headphone concept so enticing is that it gives you exactly what you want. Imagine listening to a live recording in your living room, the difference is you’re actually listening to it as the show unfolds and seeing the artist interact with you. With headphones, you turn the volume up or down, sing mindlessly in tune or out and the best part about it being in a packed venue is that you don’t have to hear your neighbour while they overpower the actual music. I don’t want to hear you sing. I want to hear Ely and Bamboo. Haha

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“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find… you get what you need.”

L ast March, I went to Singapore with my mom so we could both watch The Rolling Stones gig. The band is extremely important to me, looking to them as inspiration during my days in fashion. There was no better way to spend that time but with my dearest mother who has been one of my greatest supporters in my journey working in the music scene.

My friends call her “Groovy mommy” and she’s beautiful, wise and a hippie at heart. She’s more ‘rock’ than I wish I could ever be and I’m saying that not only because I find my mornings with her listening to The Doors, or Iron Butterfly and hearing stories about my uncle telling me he used to borrow Black Sabbath records from her. She’s super solid in a sense that with everything she’s been through (and I’m not only talking about my extremely bratty teenage phase) she’s become an example of love and gratefulness not only in the good parts of our lives, but most especially during the challenging ones.

It’s my 10th year in the music industry and I wanted to celebrate it by showing her what it feels whenever I travel for work, seeing all these amazing musicians that one could only dream of. There were so many things I wanted her to experience on that trip, but not everything panned out.

She has never seen me work due to the fact that most of my days are spent sleeping and my nights are spent at gigs. Taking photos of The Rolling Stones was a far fetched deal since they’re legends that could level with The Beatles. I wanted to be able to do that because I’ve always looked up to Annie Leibovitz who started her career with them and share that with mom who is a HUGE Rolling Stones fan and maybe give her a photo that I took of Mick Jagger.

Rolling Stones Singapore photo courtesy of Marina Bay Sands

Rolling Stones Singapore photo courtesy of Marina Bay Sands

Instead, I was there just to review the concert and we caught a glimpse of the tiny tiny heads of The Rolling Stones as they appeared right before the show to greet the audience outside. (Oh my Keith Richards!)

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The first Ian Tayao frontflip I took was in 2006 during the Myx Music awards. It became the benchmark of what kind of photographs i wanted to take. Yet it was only six years later that I was able to take the next flip (after a year of following the band) and realized that in 2 years, I have quite a handful of shots from all those times.

There are more photos that weren’t included in this set, but these are the acceptable ones. 7 out of these 10 I think are decent, the rest I tell myself that with the numerous times I’ve seen WilaBaliW perform live, I should have more pictures. It’s not easy to take high action shots in low light, considering most of the time I use primes. There’s only one shot here that uses flash and I’m sure you’ll figure out which one it is.

Posted this because we always pray really hard for a Ian’s safe landing every single gig. The stunt is so crazy it makes for a heart stopping moment every single time.

Happy birthday Ian, from me and Niño. (He is helping me with this new site layout haha)

 

My name is Niña Sandejas. Duly educated in fashion but would rather take photos of musicians and go to concerts for a living.

Red Horse Beer Official Rock Journalist | Yahoo! Philippines Celebrity Blogger | Sony Philippines A7r Ambassador

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Photos ©Niña Sandejas Unauthorized use is prohibited.

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