Photo Educator: Teodulo Protomartir, an ongoing exhibition at the UP Vargas Museum in Diliman, Quezon City, features a wide range of images by Protomartir, considered a pillar of photography education in the country.
The showcase boasts of over 50 photographs taken by the esteemed mentor himself. Each snapshot narrates a part of early Philippine amateur photography as well as scenes and slices of life in the early 20th century Manila through the lenses of 35mm cameras.
The collection likewise consists of negatives, prints and albums that highlights the quality and culture of the Salon Photography of that era. It includes a selection from the Vargas Library and Archives that strikes a conversation with Protomartir’s work and graphically depicts the trying life in Manila during the Second World War.
A first collaborative project between UP Vargas Museum and the New Media Cluster and Photography Program of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, the exhibition attempts to define a chapter in Philippine photographic past as it showcases the contribution of Protomartir in the development of the contemporary Philippine visual language.
Protomartir (b. 1903, d. 1977) actively promoted the use of rangefinder cameras before the war and was one of the first Filipino photographers to popularize the use of the 35mm film format in the Philippines.
In the 1930s, he started a photography association, the 35mm Club Manila and had a radio show to share his encyclopedic knowledge of the craft. Photographers who had ‘liberated’ themselves from the traditional media called their exhibition spaces as Salons to differentiate themselves from the traditional galleries. This gave rise to a particular, and clearly American genre of amateur photography, the Salon style, which Protomartir promoted among fellow hobbyists.
He likewise served as the photographic consultant for the AGFA and Leitz brands imported by Botica Boie, the then-largest pharmacy in Manila.
Proto Photo Educator: Teodulo Protomartir is curated by photographer and Benilde Photography Program OIC-Chairperson and faculty member Roderick “Jay” Javier. He founded Fotofabrik, a film photography studio that specializes in old photographic equipment and processes.
The exhibition is available on view until Saturday, April 23, 2022 at the 1/F West Wing Gallery and Video Room of UP Vargas Museum.
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