Filipino Photographer Edwin Datoc transforms from music to photography

Filipino Photographer Edwin Datoc transforms from music to photography


(By Peggy Lin)

I was raised in Manila until I was eleven. My family then moved to Australia, where we lived in Sydney. I was a late bloomer to the art of photography. I was more interested in music, playing both the guitar and piano. It wasn’t until my late twenties during my stint as a corporate accountant that I tried photography just as a diversion to relieve some stress.

I took a brief “Black & White” darkroom printing course at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney, and I was totally fascinated with the whole process, even though I was probably the worst student because I was always asking annoying questions, as nothing would make sense to me at the time. But I began to enjoy taking photos, developing film, and print- ing. I used to call it magic.

You might say I fell into fashion by accident. Wile taking the course, a model had stuck a note on the noticeboard to photograph her. I jumped at the opportunity and that’s when I discovered that I had an eye.

My passion grew for photography and my corporate ambitions slowly faded away. It was a complicated transition from accountant to photographer, but I had to do it. I truly believe it’s good to have a go at your passions, to see where it leads you, or you’ll never know. But to realize your full potential, you really must believe in what you are doing.

To be a true photographer is not a “five days a week, 9 to 5 job.” You live it, you breathe it, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Living your dream does not make for an easy life, but makes for a more interesting one. You will be more frustrated and challenged but the passion gets you through tough times, and you get to see more of who you really are.

The art of photography is dissolving. Photographers today still reflect on the true masters such as Avedon, Newton, Penn, and Bourdin, all pre-digital image makers. Digital can give you more choices but it can also limit your own point of view. You can take a photo, then it’s passed on to retouchers for manipulation and it comes back to you a different photo from the one you took.

I like to capture spontaneity; strong, sensual with slight vulnerability in the eyes. I guess my style is somewhat cinematic. I like to give my images an “experience element” to them.

I get inspiration from everything I see; from movies, paintings, travel, music, books, people I see on the streets. It’s all about how they talk and what their story is.

I love the simplicity and genius works of Helmut Newton, Jeanloup Sieff, and Richard Avedon. Their images are timeless and iconic. I admire Steven Meisel for his continuing innovative fashion images for Italian Vogue.

When preparing for a shoot, I meet with my creative team of Stylists, Make up, Hair, Set Designers, and discuss ideas as well as build their enthusiasm. The models must have the right look and arrive on the shoot with a healthy “no attitude” attitude. I then make a blue print of storyboards, shooting logistics for the day, and look though iconic fashion work, maybe watch a movie that reminds me of the look I am striving for. I always aim to give it my best and to have fun!

Next, I’ll brief the model by showing my work, what my edge is and make him/her feel as comfortable as possible. A bit of humor can go a long way to building their enthusiasm. Communication with the subject is the key to creating epic images.

Keep shooting and you will keep learning.* Aspiring photographers must visit New York and absorb the creative

Find out the photographers you like and research their work, how they lived etc., their point of view. Keep with you their spirit and ambition, and you will create your own identity.

For more info on Edwin, visit his website at