IPA features personal stories of IPA winners of past and present

Profile Carlos L Esguerra-

“With the advent of smartphones, more and more people are getting introduced to serious photography. It is exhilarating to see the number of talents in photography explode.”


International Photography Awards

Carlos Esguerra

1st Place, Night Photography, International Photography Awards, 2011

Carlos Esguerra, one of the first few Filipinos who was a consistent winner of International Photography Awards main shares his experience on how he started in photography and how he saw the changes of photography from analog to digital.

He was in the computer field for 36 years, starting as a programmer analyst for IBM Corporation in White Plains, NY, and later as founder and president of CLÉ Systèmes, Inc. for 12 years.

He studied Business and Economics at the University of the Philippines, and obtained his MBA from The George Washington University in Washington, DC.


Calatrava, Dallas

How did you get into photography?

I have been interested in photography since my college days. I was a member of the U.P. Photo Society when I was in UP, but I did not become really serious about my photography until by chance I walked into a photo gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico in October 1998. Those mural-size images of Bryce Canyon, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and many other national parks in the US really had a great impact on me. It was an epiphany for me. I decided I wanted to do landscape photography. It turned out the owner of the gallery also leads photography expeditions to those places. So I signed up for the very next one to Death Valley in February 1999.

After the trip to Death Valley, I selected two images and I had one enlarged and printed to 20×30 inches and the other to 20×20 inches. My framer in New York decided to hang the images in his shop while waiting for me to pick them up. However, after only two days, my framer called to tell me that a couple from Colorado wanted to buy the 20×30 photograph. Would I be willing to sell it. I said yes immediately. Two months later, the other one was also sold. By then, I was hooked. So every year I joined one or two photography expeditions with this same group. I then started entering local and national photo competitions, and I was lucky enough to win several Best of Show prizes. Then I was really hooked.

Palouse Sunset.

What made you join photo contest?

I began to enter photo competitions to see how my work stacked up against other people’s works.

Is it the first time to join IPA Philippines?

I joined the last two years of IPA Philippines, but have joined IPA Main for several years before.

Fall Colors of Acadia.

What can you say about the entries on IPA Main and IPA PI?

The caliber of entries to IPA Main and IPA Philippines are very high. Seeing the works of photographers from all over the world inspires me to do better. They are the catalysts that keep me striving to do better in photography.

Calatrava Valencia.

How do you define Philippine photography in terms of these entries coming from around the world?

Filipino photographers can certainly compete against the best of the world. I would like to see more photographers from the Philippines competing in international competitions. We are well behind other countries in this regard. I am very happy for the launch of IPA Philippines because it opened the door for many more Filipino photographers to join international competitions. It is a great chance to showcase the talent of Filipino photographers.

Did joining IPA add some new things on your perceptions about photography?

IPA and other international photography competitions keep me abreast with the techniques and inspiration of the best photographers from all over the world.

Calatrava Valencia.

What is your best experience in attending the IPA in New York?

It was my first time to attend the IPA Lucie Awards in Carnegie Hall last year, although I had attended the IPA exhibition in New York in 2011 when I won First and Second prizes in Night Photography and Architecture Bridges respectively in the Non-Professional category. It is always exciting to meet in person the pillars of photography in these gatherings. I have met and sat on the same table with Jerry Uelsman and his wife Maggie Taylor in Linz, Austria during the 2004 Hasselblad Austrian Circuit. I met and sat next to Steve McCurry last year in Berlin for the 4th Berlin Foto Biennale, and I met again in Carnegie Hall last year some of the Lucy Award winners whom I also met at the Berlin Foto Biennale. These are inspiring events for me.

IPA, as what its founders Hossein Farmani and Susan Baraz advocate is not really about awards and honors but a reminder of what photography really is, citing the processes and learning what the masters have gone through years of experience where the new generations should be concerned with, what can you say about the contemporary photography these days?

The quality and the diversity of photography these days are way beyond those of previous years of the analog era. If any of the old masters of photography of years gone by were to compete against today’s photographers, they may have some difficulty getting the same recognition they now enjoy. With the advent of smartphones, more and more people are getting introduced to serious photography. It is exhilarating to see the number of talents in photography explode.