A Lesson In Essence

Essence – the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing or its significant individual feature or features

I got a quick lesson on essence about a month ago from JaJa Tecson. I’ve been working with Ja for a few years now, and every “chapter” I delve into with him becomes more complex (to me anyway) and, might I add, he’s gotten a lot harsher in his teaching methods. As hard as he is on me, however, I can’t ever say I don’t understand why he’s asking me to learn what he does. 

Photography, since I started actively being a student of it, has often been a bittersweet pill for me to swallow. On the one hand, I remember taking photos just because I was a hoarder of memories. On the other hand, there were all these technicalities that I wanted to know how to use to create (or recreate) images that aren’t just static momentary musings, but still pictures of real people who lead real lives, or real places that breathe as if they were their own person. Photography, like any form of art, is an expression of the artists, and its interpretation will always be subjective. As a photographer, that’s something that I have to remember.

It’s not always just about the right lighting, the right framing, the right subject. In essence, photography is just one of the million ways to view the life around us. 

Leia Beth

To celebrate Leia’s birthday this year, a bunch of our friends spent a weekend in a rented house up in Palm Springs. I got to spend a whole day there, and a few hours in the afternoon getting some shots of the celebrant. I’ve known Leia since our 2nd year in college (12 years now), and I’d be understating it if I said we clicked fairly quickly. Leia is a no-nonsense type of person, and thankfully, the same type of friend. She’ll tell you how awkward your shoes look or how much she wishes you’d buy a real handbag that isn’t made of waterproof material. She doesn’t sugarcoat the truth and as a friend, you appreciate her for it. She listens to all types of music, always dresses beautifully and appropo for the occasion, loves exploring the world around her, enjoys her quiet time as well as her party time.

I totally sound like I’m typing up her profile for Facebook or some dating website, but that is who she is to me, and to a lot of people, and I’m just so lucky to know her.

Ja Tecson

Geez, this way to the gun show.  Hahahaha! Jaja’s going to take one look at this series of his photos and say, “Anna G, that’s not my essence. You’re wrong.” Hahaha! And I’ll probably be forced to defend myself.  You know what, professor, you’d probably be right. This isn’t your essence, but for me, it’s a part of it. If there’s one thing Ja loves, it’s basketball…especially that really great player, ummm,  Michael Jordan =). Talk about one hard worker who reached his peak and beyond to another.

Ja, for all his wisdom and talents, is still a kid to me sometimes, bouncing his ball between his legs as he walks up and down the sidewalk. When he’s laughing uncontrollably after repeatedly punking me all afternoon, I forget what a talented professional he is.

No, these photos don’t justify Jaja’s essence; at least not as a husband, son, brother, uncle and friend. But they are, for me, a quick glimpse of a fun guy to be around.


…or as I like to call him, Zavey, who just turned a year old a few weeks ago. The essence of a baby like Zavyer is a playful one. At his age, he’s learned enough to know who his parents are, how to walk, how to commicate. Best of all, so many things for Zavyer are new to him. When we celebrated Leia’s birthday in Palm Springs, Zavyer got to play in the swimming pool for the very first time. His reaction to the vastness of the pool was hilarious. Other than bathtime, I can’t imagine what must have been going through his head.

At such a young  age, he’s in a constant position of discovery, which is what I sometimes envy the most about children. They get to discover all these simple things that adults take for granted everyday – walking, eating, laughing. Zavyer’s gotten so big so quickly, it seems. It’ll be nice to watch him grow up.

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