It's one thing for a photographer to maintain their artistic license on projects with big brands, but to be able to influence the brand image through their unique vision and artistic direction is something else. This is what one discovers in Regine David's intimate photographs for haute fashion brands and internationally renowned magazines.
Hi Regine, please tell us about yourself and what you do.
I am a portrait and fashion photographer born and raised in Manila, Philippines. I have been fortunate enough to have lived in multiple cities through my work, such as Hong Kong, New York, and now Tokyo.
On a personal level, I love seeking out interesting people and faces wherever I go. I photograph on my phone and multiple cameras, record videos, and journal extensively.
What’s it like living and working in Tokyo?
Inspiring. The energy is electric. On occasion, the cultural and language barriers can be difficult, but I find that navigating these cultural differences can be a great way to explore growth in our creative process.
Not only do you photograph but you also educate through workshops and as a speaker at events. Why is this side of things important to you?
This is specific to my upbringing in the Philippines, but our limited education in photography was seen as something used for documentation or commercial purposes. This didn’t make sense to me. I knew how certain images made me feel, and I knew there was more to learn beyond the surface level of technical documentation. This was also the era of secretive sets and photographers being guarded about their techniques, so the chances of a young female photographer assisting on set was close to zero.
I applied to multiple art schools internationally and chose Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). I was surprised at how open the professors and co-students were about sharing their knowledge and it made me frustrated that I didn’t have the same access back home. We shouldn’t have to travel too far to learn about art. This should be accessible to everyone who wants to learn. There is so much power in how photography controls our perspective of the world, and the best way to understand is through education.
Can you share a few words about queer visibility in creative industries. Why is advocacy among creatives important, particularly in Asia?
The creative industry in general is very queer-friendly, which means we tend to be in a bubble and forget that the reality on the ground is different. It’s important to highlight how diverse we are as people, especially in Asia, where we are still fighting for inclusivity and representation. There are still many stereotypes, some negative, that need to be addressed. That said, my personal goal is to have our identifiers be secondary to being human.
Vulnerability is often a tool for us to open up and for healthy connections. Has it always come naturally for you? How can we be more vulnerable in our own photography?
I think vulnerability comes with trust. Being able to communicate is so important to being able to reach people on an intimate level. I try to give the people I photograph a chance to express themselves and be seen how they want to be seen, which allows me to also photograph them the way I see them. This transcends culture and language.
You've said, “sometimes I want to post without thinking about self-identity”. How has photography/working as a photographer shaped your worldview?
The way we photograph is very telling of our personal journey. What we think is important enough to photograph is in focus. Whether this is planned or accidental, it’s telling the world: this is what I want you to see and pay attention to. At times this can feel a little scary since it reveals so much about who we are, but if we don’t put ourselves out there we lose the opportunity to establish our place in the world.
Your relationship with architecture, culture, people, and also your choice of printing in risograph – everything speaks of a close connection with the people you work with, and the places you’re in. Does everyone you work with tend to be very open? Also, is it important to work with people and things close to you or is there an acceptable distance between you and the projects you work on?
A lot of my work tends to be intimate, so I think I attract the people who are open minded. Not everything is planned. I have a general guide whenever I shoot but I allow things to happen by chance. Sometimes these experiences might even be better than what you have in your mind.
What were your first impressions of the Diana F+? How would you compare the experience and results of the Diana F+ to other cameras you use?
The Diana F+ gives you a lot of options to play with despite working really well as a simple point-and-shoot camera, from the variety of cropping formats, to the gels you can attach, to the flash. I’ve actually had a long personal history with Lomography. When I was in high school I dreamt of saving up to buy the Fisheye No.2 – I finally bought it when I got my pay check from shooting newspaper articles in university, which started my love for playful imagery. It was my first time to use this particular camera and it was really exciting to see how my point of view would translate in this medium. I’ve used some of these images as a springboard for a new project, actually.
Who are some of your key influences?
In regards to photography, I enjoy the works of Martin Parr, Wolfgang Tillmans, Nan Goldin, Carlijn Jacobs, Matt Lambert, Nina Mikagawa, Daido Moriyama, Steven Meisel, Sebastian Faena. I could go on and on, but I also find inspiration from my friends, movies, and my neighborhood.
What is one thing you have been dying to explore further?
I want to continue my Love Motel series here in Tokyo. I find the kitsch aesthetic of love motels here so appealing.
What’s coming up on the horizon for you? What projects are in the works and what’s on your mind?
I released a risograph-based book called Fever Dream published by Bad Student Press in 2021 and I plan on producing another book this year. This time, I will be producing a book with a focus on Asian faces. Really excited for this. Oh, and an exhibition in Tokyo is in the works, so please keep an eye out for it.
Do you have any pointers for someone using the Diana F+ for the first time?
There is a learning curve to working with the Diana F+ but it’s also quite exhilarating to allow yourself to make ‘mistakes’ without thinking. Play with all the settings and have fun!
Anything else you would like to add?
I’ve been a big fan of Lomography for almost 20 years now. It’s such an honor to be part of this platform. Thank you so much for this opportunity!
To see more of Regine's work, follow Regine on Instagram.