Angeline Ashlee Marquez

Some people would correlate love to an emotion commonly given to someone’s partners, friends, or family. But Kai’s point of view says otherwise, for their camera is their best friend, partner, and a way to do something they love. 

They say that pictures tell a story through imagery, in which when words are hard to find, photography is the way to express many things. Some of them hold memories dear to them and are kept forever– while some take pictures to reminisce. Photographer Imee Antonette “Kai” Ocampo (any pronouns) has undoubtedly made it clear for both perspectives, as they have created a page that showcases many photographs from specific events. 

The word “Arkaives” was a witty wordplay of ‘archives’ and their preferred name. It is e-folio photography, in which they have incorporated the mentioned word relating to it along with a personal touch, hence the birth of “Arkaives.” They made Arkaives reach a wider audience and inspire them all the same. This is all besides their personal goal of creating an online portfolio where they can freely express and show their art to the public. 

Discovering one’s passion

Before officially bearing the title 'photographer,' the portraiture had been casually taking pictures for almost all their lives, with only their small digital camera in one hand and a massive hope in the other. It wasn’t until a year ago that they took it seriously and received a DSLR camera from their parents as a gift which took them places– leading to where they are now. The shutterbug’s experiences started by taking pictures of scenery and loved ones while taking photographs of themselves. This continued until a close friend of the said photographer hired them for her pre-debut photos. They had realized that it was their passion for photography, so they started accepting private commissions and gigs and volunteering under Galing LNC’s media team; he had also been competing at the Inter School and Regional levels, representing their school. 

Pursuing the art of photography, 

Their dad introduced them to an old-fashioned camera his grandfather used and passed it to him. In an interview, they shared that their father held passion and admiration for the said camera as a child. As they inspected the photos it stored, Kai felt their father's fiery ambition. 

"Someday, I want someone to talk about my craft with the utmost adoration and appreciation just like my father did with his dad's," they said. 

The visual artist’s first camera is a digital camera, specifically the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-WX60, and it was given to her as a gift for their birthday. In contrast, their primary camera, as of right now, is their DSLR Canon 350D. It has been their go-to, especially for formal events and photoshoots. Though they still use their first camera, but only for extended trips or competitions, as most competitions only allow digicams.

Competing as a photojournalist

When they first applied for their school’s publication, Kai initially used as a creative writer and a layout artist but got recruited as a photojournalist after being recognized for his works at one of Galing LNC’s events. When it came down to competitions, the said photographer had first experienced competing last year for the Division Schools Press Conference under Photojournalism while representing their school, St. Edward School. They were able to bag third place. Afterward, they became one of the selected students to compete in the Regionals Press Conference. Though they could not secure a place, the euphoric feeling of being part of the acknowledged few was far enough for them already. In a recent event, they won as the Champion under the same category in the Private Schools Press Conference 2022. 

“I can vividly remember weeping in the school corridors after hearing about the news!” they said.

First, the latest and favorite event to have taken pictures with

Their first official photography event was an act of service for the community. The freelancer had volunteered to be a photographer for Galing LNC during the event “ChristMasaya 2021”. “I got to meet influential and inspiring people who played a big role in molding me into who I am today.” They said, coincidentally, their latest photography event traces back to their first event to which they volunteered once again as a photographer under Galing LNC for their “ChristMasaya 2022” event. 

“Despite being completely worn out after, it was all so worth it because, yet again, I was able to serve my community by doing something I love.” Kai had also expressed that their favorite event so far from all their experiences and events is the recent “Alabfest in Action” last August 2022.

The editing process

Adobe Lightroom is Kai’s best friend. After filtering and picking out their best shots, they use LR to tweak some details and to color grade. They usually lean more to cool tones because it gives out a melancholic and solemn vibe for their shots in general. Now readers may be asking out of curiosity, how does the photographer pick the said shots? Kai had developed their criteria for ‘judgment day.’ People, Angle, Lighting & Story (PALS). They quote, “Of course, in events, my main subject usually is people. Therefore, I have to make sure that they look good (they are not posing awkwardly, their eyes are not closed unless they meant to do so [performers are the usual exceptions], unnecessary movement, etc.).” 

Regarding the angle, they always try to consider the possible reaction of those in the picture who would see the said photograph. They make sure it isn’t awkward or inappropriate and must be suitable for the backstory of the photo. The editing process usually takes about 4-6 hours, depending on how many photos there are to edit and how complex the expected results are. The camera operator also mentioned during the interview, 

“The lighting is pretty self-explanatory, but I prefer bad photographs taken in low light than the ones that are overexposed, as it’s all in the editing process! Last but not least is the story. I guess it comes from my experience in Photojournalism, but I really love it when a photo is enough to tell a thousand words. Hence, I try to incorporate that goal in each one of my pictures.” 

What the future lies ahead

Kai has indeed undergone multiple shots of photos with their camera. With every flick of their finger, there is always a shot that’s full of imagery and story. As what the photographer shares, one successful 'money shot' will wash all of their doubts away. Finally, the keeper and owner of Arkaives plan to pursue film in the future as their course in college. They responded that this is only the beginning of their journey as a photographer and that they don’t ever see themselves stopping anytime soon. 

“You keep me going, and I know you have it in you too! All you really just have to do is start believing in yourself!”