“I wanted to learn that you could go back to that time of innocence and purity even now that I’ve been equipped with experience.”
Geric Cruz (born in 1985) is a photographer currently based in Manila, Philippines.
Interview with Geric Cruz
Geric, why did you become a photographer?
It happened by accident, really. My uncle gave me a Polaroid camera and I haven’t stopped shooting since. Somewhere along the way photography became my therapy. It became my way of showing people how I felt or what I was going through without having to use words. It has, in a way, become my means of documenting the different stages I was going through in a particular time in my life.
You divide your work between commissioned works and personal projects. What does each mean to you. And what do they have in common and in which way do they differ?
Personal projects are those where I felt I was most free to explore what I want without having to think about pleasing anyone else. Commissioned work, on the other hand, gave me experience, opened up connections, opportunities and of course, gave me funds that can be used for personal projects.
Is there anything in particular that you want to say with your pictures? And in other words: What is it at all that a photograph can say?
“You don’t know that things will not always be this way so you don’t fully appreciate it. Photos are my way of reliving those moments.”
Right now, photography for me is about reflection; when you are experiencing something for the first time and you aren’t really fully aware of what’s happening. Going through relationships, experiencing fights, being with family – those kinds of things. You don’t know that things will not always be this way so you don’t fully appreciate it. Photos are my way of reliving those moments – my way of going back, but this time, seeing with a greater clarity and comfort of having gone through that thing before.
Can you recall any special moment shooting pictures?
For me it’s the time when you know you have solved or figured out where your project will go, the times when you take a certain picture and you just know that you are doing the right thing. Those always resonate in me.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Starting out, I wasn’t influenced by photographers. I didn’t know much about photography so it was pretty much the works of Frank Gehry (architect), Daniel Johnston (musician), Basquiat (artist), and Francis Bacon (artist). And then when I was researching Polaroid cameras and I saw Mike Brodie’s work, his raw aesthetic really inspired me. Right now though, Duane Michals is a big influence to me.
What’s your favorite inspirational photography quote?
“Trust that little voice in your head that says ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if…’ And then do it.”
In one of your most recent projects called “Second Star To The Right” you are dealing with childhood memories and fantasy worlds that lose their magic when you get older. Why did you decide to take on this subject?
It was actually for my residency in Zambales. I started shooting the two boys as a part of a bigger project until I realized I wanted to focus on their relationship. Their youth and love for each other – and the complications of growing up – brought me back to my own childhood with my brother. I wanted to learn that you could go back to that time of innocence and purity even now that I’ve been equipped with experience. It’s like watching a scene in a movie and whenever you’re with them you never really know how one will react to the changes about to happen. You see them learn it on their own; the process of grief, time and maturity.
At the beginning of each project one often has some kind of idea in mind as to what the result could be like. Sometimes that changes along the way and the result is quite different. Was that the case and if so what did you learn during the project?
“When the project became personal, that was when everything clicked. I learned not to force things.”
As I said shooting the two boys was not my original intention. I thought my project would be generally about the relationships of different people in the fishing village, but I didn’t really feel anything with the ones I initially took. When the project became personal, that was when everything clicked. I learned not to force things. When you photograph something meaningful to you, things will just unfold.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
It’s very personal and difficult for me to articulate. Everybody goes through different things but I feel there are universal truths like love, pain, friendship and triumph that we all experience. I try to show my own encounters with these emotions and hope the truth behind them is something others can connect to.
It can be a healing process for me because as I said I am able to relive certain moments with a greater appreciation.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic language?
Pursue honesty. Photograph things that are meaningful to you regardless of the technicalities. You can figure that out later.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
After the “Documentary Workshop” in Cambodia I had a better understanding of who I was as a photographer. I learned a lot about authenticity in your work. For me, I realized photographing things close to me was the easiest way for me to be honest.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
I’m not sure. With my personal work I try to avoid being too caught up with the technical side of photography. I feel like if i just let it flow, everything becomes more natural.
What qualities and characteristics does a photographer need?
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
My personal growth – questions I have about myself and the things happening around me. Also conversations with creative and open-minded friends.
What’s the biggest challenge these days for a young photographer in contemporary photography?
The biggest challenge, for me, is to not be so concerned about genres or labels. Those can be limiting at times. Keep your head down and keep working on what you really care about.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
GUP – “Guide To Unique Photography” Magazine.
What photography book would you recommend?
I don’t have any specific books in mind but I’d recommend anyone to read about life and living; to look up writings by or about Slavoj Zizek, Charles Bukowski, or Rainer Maria Rilke even. Their examination of life, how they kept on asking and searching for answers have inspired me to ask my own questions, no matter how they outnumber the answers.
Which advice would you give to an emerging photographer?
Not to allow yourself to be paralyzed by what has come before. Keep your mind open to new ways of communicating and try everything without worrying about what others think.
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
Do you believe in fairies? ‘Cause I do.