Photographer Focus: BRIAN SERGIO

Interview by Erin Nøir

Who is Brian Sergio with and without a camera?

My life has been dedicated to compose images, with or without a camera.

During your artist talk at Thousandfold, you mentioned that your earliest influences as a photographer were classical paintings. If you did not study Painting in college, do you think you would still be doing what you do now as a cameraman? Why or why not?

Ever since I was a kid I have always been interested in composing visual images. I like drawing figures, especially comic book characters. So maybe if I didn’t take a painting course in college, I would be in advertising, photojournalism, or in comic books.

Who are the [exposed] women in your pictures—are they friends, clients, strangers? Do they ask you for copies of their photos? Do you pay them or do they pay you?

Some are friends, some are friends of friends. These are women that you see everyday and not professional models. We never had any discussion about pay. They sometimes asks for copies, which I gladly send to them.

Share with us how you learned the art of rope bondage. How do your female models feel/react towards it?

I learned kinbaku when I had a residency in Japan a few years ago. I had a friend there who taught me how to make knots and made me remember the do’s and dont’s. I first started making bondage photographs right after that with Earl “Tengal” Drilon who is knowledgeable in kinbaku and assisted me with my shoots. With women, of course they were always curious about it. So it was easy for me to explain what I’m trying to accomplish.

Have you encountered negative criticisms from older, conservative people? How do you defend your visual aesthetics to them?

There are always negative criticisms about what I do. It’s very predictable for people to question something that they don’t fully understand. But I never defended anything to them, because these people are quite stubborn to understand anything. No matter how concrete your statement is, they will always have a way to shut their doors. It’s quite frustrating but it’s best to just ignore them.

Where’s the most photogenic part(s) of Metro Manila to you?

No matter how generic this sounds, I think the most photogenic part in Manila is still Quiapo.

Aside from nudes and street, what else are you visually interested in?

People in general. I am very much interested to flick photos of random people in the streets.

You’ve mentioned that your biggest influences are Japanese icons, Araki and Moriyama. Aside from them, which image-based artists do you look up to?

There is this filmmaker by the name of Shinya Tsukamoto; Tetsuo the Ironman is probably one of my favorite films by him. Photographer Juergen Teller is also one, then Magnum photographers like Jacob Aue Sobol, Antoine D’Agata, and Bruce Gilden. Locally, I like Filipino masters Francisco Coching and Fernando Amorsolo.

In terms of making photobooks, how would you describe your creative process?

It’s a smorgasbord of whatevers or simply put, chaotic. I take photographs instinctively relying on my sensibilities, sometimes with concepts and sometimes without. Then, I try to make sense out of the photos I took like nudes and try to adopt their relationships with other photographs like street stuff. I just rely on their photographic strengths.

What comes next after PAK!?

A thick photobook but I’m still working on the title. I’m trying to make something that has 200 pages.

All photos © Brian Sergio from the slideshows, Pulls from the Prowl and Power

Brian Sergio is a Filipino graphic designer and photographer. He was born August 10, 1980 in Quezon City. He studied Art in The College of Fine Arts in University of The Philippines in 2002 and majored in Painting. He participated in a number of group and solo exhibitions locally and internationally. In 2010, he established an independed publication called “Mazinger Zine,” a DIY photo-based publication, which pushes the boundaries of pain and comfort: explicit, over-exposed, erotic, obnoxious, and irreverent.