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A wedding photographer from Cagayan de Oro won third place in a national tilt that saw his entry competing with 3,000 others.
   
A black-and-white photo by 30-year-old Roger Nazar Lactao Jr. of a priest hugging the groom was the only entry from Visayas and Mindanao which won the photojournalism category in the prestigious Wedding & Portrait Photographers of the Philippines (WPPP) Photo Congress 2009.
   
There were 300 delegates in the event which was held from May 4 to 6 at SM Megatrade Hall 2 and each delegate is entitled to ten entries. Thus, Lactao’s entry was competing with 3,000 others.
   
In an exclusive interview, Lactao reported that the grand and second prizes went to entries coming from Manila. Therefore, Lactao’s entry was the only one from Visayas and Mindanao which made it.
   
It was not the first time that Lactao won a national competition. Three years ago, he won grand prize in the WPPP Photocamp 2006 for an on-the-spot photo competition. But he said this year’s contest is more challenging.
   
“Sa 2006 man gud, the models are the same so the competition is more or less equal. But this year, you get to choose your entries,” Lactao said.
   
For his ten entries this year, Lactao chose his folio wedding shots from 2008 to the present and the winning entry was done at a morning wedding only this March at St. Augustine Cathedral.
   
Lactao didn’t start easy. His achievement as a renowned wedding photographer in the region started way back when he was still tinkering with film cameras in high school.
   
Lactao, who has a degree in Business Management, was later introduced to digital photography. He attended several seminars with such internationally-known wedding photographers as Manila-based Carlito Sy and Bernard Mejias.
   
Then in 2001, he worked as a photographer-apprentice with designer Gil Macaibay. Finally in 2006, he became a full partner in Macaibay’s wedding events business – Macaibay designs the gowns of the entourage while Lactao does the photography.
   
But Lactao can also shoot at pre-nuptials and weddings of other couples outside of Macaibay’s clientele. And he also does corporate shots as well as glamour and portraitures of individual persons who are willing to pay.
   
Halt for a minute because high-quality wedding photography in Cagayan de Oro these days doesn’t come in cheap.
   
Lactao’s package comes in from a meager P27,000 to a whooping P50,000. “But it’s sure worth it because a wedding comes only once in a lifetime for a couple,” he said.
   
One of the features that Lactao is promoting as a come-on is the on-the-day editing. It simply means that immediately after the wedding, the pictures are immediately downloaded to the computer to be presented in a slide show right during the reception.
   
Lactao caters to Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Chinese weddings, even civil rites.
           
If wedding photography is quite expensive, neither is the investment of a wedding photographer.
   
Lactao’s Nikon D90 is worth P50,000; his 17-200 meter-range zoom lenses are worth P30,000; a studio setup complete with umbrella and a gadget called soft box to diffuse unwanted shadows costs P40,000; a P20,000 floodlight; and a separate P25,000 flash. All in all, its about P165,000.
   
On top of that, there are endless months in mastering post-processing styles via Adobe Photoshop CS3.
   
And of course, one cannot be successful if one doesn’t develop a network of friends.
   
“The number one technique is to always befriend your previous clients. If your previous clients are satisfied with your work, then they will in turn recommend you to their friends,” Lactao said.

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ROGER Nazar Lactao Jr.’s winning entry depicts a priest hugging the newly-wed groom in this March 7 wedding at the St. Augustine Cathedral.

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