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JL Javier on his journey, the meaning of photography, and photojournalism

By Tricia Quintero
December 03, 2021

In an open and honest discussion with Out of Print, JL Javier, a versatile award-winning photographer whose work spans portraits, fashion, and photojournalism, shares his thoughts on finding meaning in photography, stories about some of his iconic shots, and more. 

As the variety of his work suggests, JL Javier’s career trajectory was a remarkable one. His early beginnings were rooted in event coverage with Shutterpanda (now Atlas Studios) while his first racket as an undergrad was with Raymond Ang-led Young Star. Upon graduating from college, he worked at the now defunct Rogue Magazine under Patrick Diokno. 

Then the next shift in his career was when he became a photographer for CNN Philippines Life which opened up many possibilities for him, including delving deeper into the practice of photojournalism. CNN Philippines Life Features Editor Don Jaucian labels JL a versatile photographer, and he truly is. 

Just a quick scan on his Instagram will show you that JL doesn’t just take photos; he tells stories. He has a natural eye for photography that while he graduated from a graphic design-focused program, it was photography that he naturally gravitated to. “Hindi siya parang kapag nagde-design ka or nag-i-illustrate na you’re conjuring something from nothing,” he says. “Photographs are already there. It’s your task to find it and that is so fun and fulfilling.”

When he was asked when was the last time he felt truly happy, he pointed to his B&W shot of three random kids doing backflips at BASECO. This was part of his “Neverland” photoset published last March. It perfectly encapsulates the pure bliss among the three boys--with one being the center of it all doing the backflip, another smiling widely behind him, and the last gazing up at him with his mouth full of rice.

 “It was just a quiet day ... It made me think about growing up—about being in Manila. It’s so hard to live here. It’s nice to see or share in spaces of peace that other people carve out,” he shares.

Read the full story by Toni Potenciano on Out of Print here.

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