“I started with documentary work but I’ve come to this phase where I’m questioning photography,” says Manila-based photographer Geric Cruz. “The science of it, the processes possible, and how else it can be maximized. I’m trying to dissect things, see how I can approach it as my own.” While his work often starts with the hyper-personal—his current project Eva started when his cousins asked if he would photograph his grandmother’s old house in Bacolod—his open and curious approach invites the onlooker into his world as if they were an old friend. “Eva is a catalogue of objects, people, and memories,” explains Cruz. “It’s about the afternoons of sipping hot chocolate drinks, about the smell of my grandmother’s detergent, about growing up in Bacolod, and even about the helpers and their families who grew up with us. It’s a record of our shared history, an attempt to gather evidence of the passage of time, and to remember, before things move further away.”
On working in Manila: “There’s a lot happening here. So many paths to take in terms of thought. I’d say it’s a place of feeling, and I’d say those feelings didn’t appear just now. They’re deeply rooted. You have hunger, you have poverty. And then the dark questions, the things you’ve been taught being different from the things you experience. There’s also this uncertainty—how you don’t know where you’ll be the next day, how you don’t know how long you won’t know. I kinda understood that feeling in San Francisco [where Cruz has spent time honing his craft] but here you meet people with the same feeling multiplied by a hundred. I feel lucky in a way but at the same time it can be frustrating. You see things, you see what’s happening, but there’s only so much you can do about it.”
Image from Geric Cruz’s Diaspora project about Manila Bay.
On a career defining moment: “There’s a residency that I did in 2013 that I go back to. My whole process changed. I felt more comfortable about what I wanted and how I would like to proceed with my photography. There was a certain clarity in my thinking and it gave me confidence. I became less afraid, less hesitant. My insecurities felt easier to handle. I still feel the same about my earlier work, but now a lot of the thinking comes first. It’s not like walking around anymore, shooting anything, and then later having to divide the images into groups. The message is clearer; I have definite ideas I want to communicate. Using Instagram has also changed things. It helps filter out my thought process. Because you constantly release and release images, you get know what it is you really want. Although I don’t know yet if it’s a good or bad thing, I like being able to look at the things that I am (or have been) interested in. The images might not be too serious yet but already there’s that curiosity. And it always helps to have clues about what it is about a city or a person or an event that’s pulling you.”
On what’s next for him: “I’m working on two [projects] right now. One is about my grandmother’s house back in the province (Eva) and the most recent one is about Manila Bay (Diaspora). Manila Bay is known for its history and there’s a lot of cliché surrounding it but I’m more interested in the magnetic quality of the bay – how it seems to draw people, and some who’ve come never leave. I’ve been looking for a way to get around the clichés, to present it different so it won’t look like the usual images we see, so they’d recognize something they might have overlooked. The project’s more collaborative and in a way, controlled. Sure there’s still the surprises of chance but here I’m telling myself, Why not create? Why not work from thought? What would control feel like? This is what I mean by maximizing the process, to not depend solely on chance to get the image that I want. I’m still in the early stages of both projects and i hope to finish it by next year and at the same time find a space that would be interested in exhibiting it.”