MADS BAJARIAS | Photographer Sayote Queen's "At The Beach" feels like one of those fuzzy, enigmatic dreams you sometimes get on hot, humid nights after listening to a lot of downbeat jazz blues. It's unglamorous yet cool. Restrained but not dull. It appears flat but there's a deep vibe going on.
The standard beach-related imagery that we see in pop culture with their focus on upbeat youthfulness or idyllic charm can get a bit tiring: buff bodies vying for attention with sunsets, bikinis, fire dancers, tattoos, hammocks, fishing boats, interesting bits of driftwood, sideways-leaning coconut trees, leather-skinned fishermen, loud watersports, airfare discounts, shiny happy people showing off their toys and other artifacts of so-called "beach culture" and "eco-tourism." Sometimes, one can't help feeling that beaches have become just a glammed-up venue to buy and sell merchandise, show off one's sexual desirability and "chill out."
Such is not the case in Sayote Queen's "At The Beach." In this piece, she blows away the beach cliches while exploring notions of timelessness and nostalgia.
For once we get a beach photo without the kind of "cool" peddled by Lonely Planet and other purveyors of eco-tourism. Stripped of any adornment, spartan-like in simplicity, "At The Beach" is so uncool that it's actually cool.
Sayote Queen answers a few questions about herself and "At The Beach."
What concepts and feelings were you trying to evoke with "At The Beach"?
SQ: Before I start processing a photo, I think of how I want the final picture to look like. Here I wanted to come up with something timeless and vintage. I also wanted the viewer to focus on the person on the bottom left of the photo. I wanted the viewer to feel that everything in this world is of great importance. The world may be vast but one thing or one person can make a difference. That's why I chose the quote by Blaise Pascal.
How long have you been taking pictures?
SQ: I have been taking pictures since my father bought his film SLR camera when I was still in high school. Back then, DSLRs were too expensive and film developing was too expensive for a student. My interest waned and I focused more on poems and illustrations. I wasn't very good at them though (Laughs).
In college, I was a member of a photo club but I wasn't active back then because of my studies. In my last year in college (2006), during my nursing review, I didn't have any nursing books with me. Instead, I had with me a photography book which I read over and over again to learn the basics. That's when I started taking photography as a serious hobby.
Tell us about yourself.
SQ: I'm 27 years old and a registered nurse. But if anyone would ask me, I've always wanted to be an aeronautics engineer or pilot. I live with my daughter and husband in Baguio City. I am into macro, black and white, and nature photography. I admire the works of Noli Gabilo, Gordon Wiltsie and Yousef Khanfar. I also want to try infrared photography. I love reading National Geographic and I've always dreamed of being able to go to places... to immerse myself in the culture of people and tell their stories through pictures.
Through my pictures, I want to show how rich Philippine culture really is.
Where can people go to see your work?
SQ: Many of my photos can be seen through my Flickr.
Thank you very much!