Photographer Focus

Gabrielle Salonga

@gabriellesalonga

My first camera was basically attached to my hip since the age of 11. I was eager to turn photography into a full time career, but sadly began falling out of love with it. I believe it rooted from the rise of social media - for a while, it felt like dozens of photography pages were popping up in my Facebook and Instagram feed. Being competitive, I felt like it was a game to see who got the most 'likes' or who shot with the most popular girl/boy at the time. It didn't feel like I was winning. That sounds really stupid now, but to me as a teenager it was extremely discouraging. I began taking less pictures and by the time I went to university, I'd only take my camera out for behind the scene shots for the film sets I was working on.

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Then 2 things happened. 

First, I came across Ben Thomas and his Chroma series. I'd never seen colour used like that before, the vibrance allowing reality to look so beautifully surreal. That led me down the rabbit hole of discovering other people like Matt Crump, Lino Russo and other similar photographers. 

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Second, my dad moved to Dubai for work. 

When you look out of a plane window and see skyscrapers sardined in the middle of a desert, you already know that the place is an oddity. I visited back in January 2017 and it was honestly thanks to this city that I shifted my style of work and decided to try something new. I just fell in love with the architecture and wanted to capture it differently. I was also obsessed with the combo of pink and blue at the time because of Pantone's Colour of the Year in 2016 and ever since then, I've been hooked on making things as colourful as possible. My style has now grown to include a lot of other elements inspired by subreddits I frequent, like r/VaporWaveAesthetics, r/Outrun, r/Cyberpunk and r/glitch_art. I just love the escapism and how other-worldly a picture can become and I love coming across other artists who are so insanely talented! 

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Nothing makes me happier now when I receive messages from random people saying how much they like my work, or when people tell me they know when a photo is mine because of how it looks! To all those who've done that - thank you so much. I hope you know how significant your support is. It's changed the way I see my own stuff and you have helped me separate worth and social media - I no longer care about numbers. Sure, there are still a lot times of doubt but I'm glad I haven't given up on something I absolutely love. I can't wait to learn more and see where things take me. 

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Photographer: @gabriellesalonga