While AJ Batac’s aesthetic and attention to detail produces images that evoke the significance and emotion of the occasion – his approach is about capturing the often intimate, light-hearted moments that his subjects find the most memorable of your life.
Despite his business schedule, we caught up with AJ for our Behind The Lens series to find out a little more about the young photographer who is making a big impact in the Winnipeg scene.
When did you first think of becoming a photographer?
I have been around cameras since I was young. I used film on and off for about 15 years and I’ve been using digital for over 8 years. I worked for a photo company for more than 6 years so I was exposed (pun intended) to different cameras (film/digital), huge studios, models/actors/actresses/celebrities, and huge printers every day. The sad thing is that I honestly didn’t care or didn’t pay attention during those times. I was more interested in web design/web development. It was just in the last 4 years when I became serious about photography.
What sort of work do you specialize in?
I do portraits, boudoir, and the occasional weddings.
Did you go to school to study photography?
I was mentored by a professional photographer. I also took a course on basic to advanced photography. That’s it. Everything I know today is mostly self-taught. I learn from professional photographers every day.
How would you describe your style?
It’s as natural as possible while still capturing great poses and raw emotions.
What cameras and lighting gear did you start with and what are you currently using?
In film, I used a Sony SLR using only natural light. In digital, I started out with a Kodak 1MP with a diskette storage. I now use Canon 5D series coupled with strobes for studio lighting and regular flashes for outdoors.
What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?
My phone. It’s where I store my inspirations going into shoots. Without it, I’d be printing a lot.
Are you a MAC or PC lover?
I’m a Mac user.
Can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow?
Everything is a product of ideas although one could argue that most ideas these days are just being recycled. I still draw inspirations from existing ideas in order to set my vision. My workflow then involves like this: plan, purchase or borrow props or needed equipment, find the best subject, set up the appointment, discuss the idea, execute, refine, repeat.
What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such great imagery?
I follow industry news, follow great photographers, gather inspirations, brainstorm ideas consistently, and experiment.
What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
A recent wedding where I kept crying, seeing a pure, honest, genuine love between my couple. That is the kind of love that I long for.
Where would be your dream assignment?
My dream assignment would be the one where I get to photograph different powerful and very influential people.
What is your favourite image you have shot recently?
I can’t say I have a favourite because they all are equal to me, though some are better than others. If I really have to pick, this is the one: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajbatac/14596958263/. It’s not a great photo per se. However, the emotions behind it have a deeper meaning to me personally.
Can you describe its creation in regards to location, lighting, composition etc., also your thoughts when creating the image and what it means to you?
The photo was taken at The Forks market parking lot overlooking the fireworks. It’s a composite 8-photo panorama stitch portraying the people’s reactions as they stood there, mesmerized by the beauty of the fireworks show. I used natural light and one second exposure each. This is significant to me because it was my first Canada Day alone in a country far away from home.
What do you consider the most important breaks in your career and why?
It would be the co-founding of Pinoy Photographers of Winnipeg with Josel Catindoy. I’ve learned from a very young age that teaching is learning twice. I believe that giving back to the community has been paramount to my success.
Who are some of you favorite photographers past or present?
Vivian Maier, Bill Cunningham, and Mark Mann are the photographers I look up to.
What’s the name of your photography business?
It’s simply my name for now. In the near future, I’ll be calling it something else.