In most arguments against photography as an artform, there’s always the focus on how more technical and scientific and less gut feeling and instinctive the entire process can be. For some, when one spends more time tinkering with numbers and technology, the less of the artist’s soul will find its way in the piece. Therefore, they believe, the process kills the supposed art. And yet you have someone like Nino Jim Bacalso who utilizes a branch of mathematics, geometry, to amplify the beauty of the streets he captures.
Nino made waves when he won first place, not to mention Photographer of the Year in 2016 by way of the International Photography Awards, specifically in the category of Deeper Perspective, Non-Professional expertise. His award-winning entry was aptly named “Wet and Wild,” and it was a series that celebrated the Thingyan Water Festival in Yangon, Myanmar. Using a Fuji X-Pro2 camera, he bravely took on the week-long cultural activity, the locale’s celebratory precursor to the New Year, plunging into the challenge of people splashing water on each other out in the open streets of Yangon. His camera’s sacrifice weren’t for naught, however, as he did end up with more treasures to bring back home for the entire world to see.
Nino has always been inspired by how humans interact with their surroundings and vice versa, which is evident in his work. From the streets to skateboarding, the Singapore-based Cebuano effortlessly detaches the human element in his photographs, only to intensify its presence against the disparity of a sharply defined cityscape. There’s less tinkering, and with the exception of geometry, less science involved than what one would initially believe: He prefers natural lighting and shooting things as is, candid, current, on the spot. Through high-contrast black and white, he removes distractions by way of colors in order to focus everything on the story and the emotion that the subject and the scenery organically bring forth.
His peculiar approach to capturing images has earned him a multitude of awards and accomplishments. In 2016 alone, he bagged second place in the Canon Photo Marathon; first runner-up for Singapore Lights Camera Action Photography Contest; finalist for the annual Best of Photography Contest in California; finalist for the Street Photography Awards (sponsored by Lens Culture USA); and finalist for Singapore Heritage Photography Contest. He also made appearances in the Lucie Awards, the Tokyo International Foto Awards, and the October issue of Transworld Skateboarding Magazine Japan.
Nino Jim Bacalso is also part of The Mirage Collective, a unique collaboration among international street photographers including Cambodia’s Serey Siv and Japan’s Reiko Yagi. Like his peers, he holds a distinctive approach to his craft, which earned him a torrent of praises from fellow photographers and audiences alike.