Taking good photographs of the streets you explore is like pocketing your experience and gifting them to someone else. It could be a dear friend who couldn’t be there with you, or a stranger thousands of years from now, trying to understand the history of his hometown. Either way, it creates a unique opportunity for the past and the present to converse and offer insight about the future.
In the metro alone, you won’t run out of beautiful moments and corners of places to pocket and share with others. Below are some of these most popular sites:
We can safely call Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world, a training ground for street photographers of all levels. The challenge and lure here is the entanglement of crazy crossroads, tiny alleys, and unforgiving scents from street markets across hundred-year-old temples. New York street photographer Bruce Gilden did say that a true street photograph is one you can smell. Well, Binondo is packed with scenes that call to all your senses.
Those looking to perfectly capture a city’s culture and energy are better off shooting the authentic colors and textures of its street food. In Mandaluyong’s Sabroso Street Food Market, you will find the most eclectic and unusual dishes even gourmet kitchens won’t think of. Open from 8 PM ‘til sunrise, Sabroso will give you very distinct subjects of late-night carousers and night shift workers easing into their social lives, beer and Bagnet Rice Potong in hand.
The landscape of Quiapo offers scenes into the marriage between Filipino Catholicism and the flourishing commerce of the modern world. At the center of an unrelenting outdoor market stands a monolithic and miraculous historical artefact: the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, or Quiapo Church. It is perhaps every street photographer’s dream to capture this spirit of haggling and jostling fully alive and intertwined with the spirit of religious devotion.
The medieval stone walls and turn-of-the-century houses in Intramuros are not popular tourist sites for nothing. This is the spot where everything — from the crown of Manila Cathedral to the cobblestoned courtyards of Plaza San Luis Complex — is breathing with our rich and humbling history. Just imagine all the touches of new life infusing with the old that you can capture in a frame.
Downtown your usual upscale Makati is a convergence of neon-lit karaoke parlors, art hubs, and hip rooftop bars disguised as rundown houses. At night, Poblacion booms with a steamy picturesque Bohemian food scene much like the dimly-lit and graffiti-laden space of El Chupacabra. The vintage boutiques and side streets spill out nightcrawlers in charming get-ups. The side streets intertwine and bring together unwinding corporate workers, art gallery owners, foreigners, and people from all walks of life.
With all these in mind, don’t forget to schedule your shoots around Manila strategically. More than a chase of scenic landscape, it is also a chase of light and a particular kind of crowd. Great if you chance upon something interesting to shoot, but ultimately, your shots are determined and created by the story you want to tell. So what are you waiting for? Go out and create the beautiful stories the world deserves today!