Filipino surgeon’s photos capture everyday moments in NY exhibit

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Sept. 10, 2014

NEW YORK – In today’s world of professional photography, high-tech gadgetry and having the latest DSLR camera are a must, but not quite so for Filipino orthopedic surgeon and photo artist Dr. Kups Villaruel.

His choice of camera – a regular point and shoot Lumix camera.

But the photos he capture are seen as art gallery quality works of art, as shown during his recent exhibit of extraordinary photos of people and places at the Philippine Consulate in New York.

“I believe that the camera is just an extension of your eyes,” said Villaruel. “You don’t need the expensive fancy equipment to get the photos that you want.”

Dr. Villaruel is an old school point and shoot photographer who places emphasis on the basics of photography, untouched by photo enhancement technology or software programs such as Photoshop.

“I only use available light, I don’t usually use the flash,” said Villaruel. “I started out with films so you get the discipline to frame the pictures well, kasi it’s expensive.”

Dr. Villaruel didn’t go to school for photography but he is a keen observer of people.

One photo taken in Cebu tells a story of contrasting emotions – a state of bleak and dismal emptiness to a state of joyful contentment all in one frame.

Another photo taken in France shows a young couple in love while two elderly women sitting across another table are secretly watching them cooing and whispering sweet nothings in a public restaurant.

“Pustahan tayo, maguusyoso yan,” said Villaruel. “I patiently waited until hindi niya matiis and then I clicked the shutter, looked at it, ifocus mo to, the puti of the mata nailed the picture.”

He has a natural eye for capturing not just great photos, but the subject’s thoughts and feelings show through in a still picture that tells a story.

“To me, photography is feeling,” said Villaruel. “If you cannot feel what you shoot, you don’t expect the viewer to feel when the viewer is looking at your photos. It has to come from the heart and passion.”

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