How many of you are/were Flickr users?

I’m celebrating my second year on Instagram and one thing I like (really really like) is how most of my Flickr contacts are there. I don’t use Flickr much anymore apart from storing pictures and the occasional image from my big girl camera.

That’s something I would like to change next year. I do miss it.

I opened my first Flickr account in 2005 and I can still remember my first contacts.

Charlie Lumanlan is not one of them. He was not on that first list of contacts but he has remained one of my favorites because of his warm people portraits, and you do know how I feel about the people of our universe.

To me, Charlie has one photograph that always stays with me.

20130925-154124.jpgThis. This is Charlie how I always see him.

People ask me, is photography your hobby? is it your work/career? And my answer is NO for both. It’s a passion and my objective is not to make money out of it. It’s to please myself, and if people like it as well, then that makes me happy.

I got in touch with Charlie for virtual tea and chit chat, wanna come with?

I thought you would.

Lets sit in the corner of this cafe, it’s dark enough for warmth and coziness but with sufficient light to see emotions.
Here comes Charlie with his cameras, that look like extensions of his arms.

I guess there’s really no way around with photographers, lets talk cameras.

“I have lots of cameras but two of them I can’t live a photography life without. My Asahi Pentax 6×7, which is my primary tool when getting the job done. It always helps me produce the image I have imagined in my mind. It becomes an extension of me.”(see?)

“Also, my Olympus Pen FT, a reliable daily camera that takes half frame photos. By far my prettiest camera, also it holds a sentimental value. I bought and hunted it down with my friends in Tokyo on my first time there. It works quite nice as a daily camera because it’s a half frame, so a regular 36 exp roll would give you 72 shots!”

I get tea. The light is perfect here and I could listen to Charlie talk about cameras, film and people all afternoon.

I make a mental print of this moment.


“There was a time when I took photos and sold my prints online. I stopped that because after awhile, I felt like I was taking photos for the sake of selling prints and it was somehow affecting my style. It felt like I was taking photos with the intention of pleasing people. So I stopped that. From then on, I’ve taken photos for myself. People ask me, is photography your hobby? is it your work/career? And my answer is NO for both. It’s a passion and my objective is not to make money out of it. It’s to please myself, and if people like it as well, then that makes me happy.”


This is when it hits me, this is why I like Charlie’s portraits so much. I feel transported to the moment, as if I were there. I can feel the fragrances, the temperature, the emotion of friendship. He captures life so perfectly.

It doesn’t really surprise me that he’s self taught.

“I have never taken any photography workshops, or taken any classes in school. I’ve taught myself everything. Started shooting around towards the end of my high school years. 9 years later, I’m still at it. If you look at my style then and compare it to now, there’s a big difference. A lot of maturity created through trial and error.”

Maturity through photography.


“Everyone’s different, not just with art, but personalities, and learning styles. I’m really selective when it comes to a lot of things in life, and this reflects in my photography. I’m never satisfied with my work and I feel that I need to keep pushing myself and keep changing my style.”


Charlie shares his time between the US and Japan, which by my standards is how most humans should live, half and half, always moving and coming home. Stretching and reaching.

“A lot of my close friends live in Tokyo. And that’s photography heaven. The film and photography resources you have, the scenery, the light, the people, so much of it. Friends and family over there is what makes me keep coming back. It plays a big role in my photography.”

I have to ask, surely there’s some awkward photography moment he can share. Or disasters. Remember that one time I packed my Nikon and when I opened the lens cap I saw shattered glass? Yeah. Lets forget about that.

“I’ve had situations where my cameras would act up on me before going out to shoot, only to reveal a much bigger problem with the camera. The usual wear and tear, and then I’d have to spend a good amount of money to send it out for repair. Although there was this one summer in Osaka, I was shooting around with Nami and Shinobu and my Pentax 6×7 stopped working in the middle of the shoot. We hunted down a repair shop to lift my spirits, and they managed to assess that it was just a battery problem!”

Oh happy endings.


Charlie’s work has been featured in photography/culture websites such as Heso Magazine and a web zine called Cursive Buildings.

But what else?

“I was part of a small exhibition with other photographers in the area many years ago. It’s tough to put together a show of my own right now because of my day job. I just don’t have time. Right now, there are plans of me collaborating with my best friend and putting together a big show in the future, keep your eyes and ears open for that.”
We will.


Since my computer broke I’ve been using my digital camera less and my camera phone more. But interesting enough, more film too. Whichever the medium, photography is always with me.

“You need to be dedicated. Yes, it is and will get expensive, (film, cameras, developing) but you can’t worry about that. Also, technology is moving too fast for us. A lot of people nowadays are and have stuck with their iPhones/smart phones when taking photos and have set aside their cameras. It’s sad really. I’m not saying to stay away from camera phones and digital cameras, because I do it too but I think you gotta have a good balance of both.”

It is time to go. I wish we had more time, not forever but a long Autumn in amazing colors time.

So he leaves and I stay for a while longer, admiring the outer light, lingering on his last words.

“Be your own worst and toughest critic. That’s what I do day in and day out, not just with photography but with work life as well.”

More of Charlie.

Now go outside and click. Or stay here a while longer.