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Tondo, Manila | Why I Shoot in Slums – Chasing Light
All dougKIM photography Essays Leica Manila

Tondo, Manila | Why I Shoot in Slums

Leica Slums Manila Tondo Kids Film Photography

Tondo, Manila, Philippines; Leica MP 0.72, 35mm Summilux, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

When I travel, I am drawn to the poor areas, those people on the fringe, the disenfranchised. And beautiful women. A weird contrast, I know, but there has never been an agenda. I just go where my feet lead me and to what attracts me.

I do shoot the underprivileged a lot and I find myself questioning this periodically.

Am I exploiting my subjects? Probably.

Am I living some ethnographic fantasy by traveling to foreign locales? Probably.

A very important reason is also that I find that rich people in general are standoffish, elusive. It is a challenge to get inside their sequestered and gated worlds.

And they can be some major boring shit. Rich people drinking and dining and living is a tapestry of proper flatware, white linen table cloths, apéritifs, waiting for the parking valet.

Who would want to shoot that shit? Maybe I have a blind spot and do not have the balls or imagination to make such a setting work, to find those singular images in such a setting. But why bother?

Most every slum or favela I have been in, I get invited for tea, a beer, a joint, dinner. Please sit, my friend. You are most welcome. Tell us your story, my friend.

The rich give you nothing. Ever.

Everywhere I have been, the people with the least always offer me the most.

And I will always seek out their company.

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