by Michael Kennedy
Street photography is neither a profession nor a hobby for some people. It’s existence. Ask Karlo Flores.
Like all art, a photograph needs to touch us, give us an emotion, bring us a memory, give us a dream, and lead us somewhere fulfilling.
The 39-year-old Flores recently went to Vietnam to be on the streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for authentic experience. It was as if he had no choice.
“I wanted to know how a street photographer is regarded on the streets of the major Vietnamese cities,” he said.
Whenever Flores steps away from Davao City in the Philippines, and travels abroad, he relishes the persona of the tourist.
“I always do this,” he said. “It’s the truth: I am a tourist on these occasions. Yet I feel energized and my senses are heightened. I can take photographs of everything that fascinates me - even in a slightly intrusive way.”
What Flores discovered in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is that the Vietnamese are very relaxed about street photographers - so there is a freedom to shoot everything with respectful consideration.
“It’s also very comforting to see other tourists doing the same,” he said. “This eliminates the fear of shooting strangers in an unfamiliar place.”
Because street photography is such an integral part of his life, Flores went off the beaten track numerous times and explored the alleys and warrens so common in Oriental cities - spots where tourists are rarely found.
“Many times, the locals were surprised by my presence,” he said. “I think they admired my sense of adventure - yet I always smiled, waved my hand and lifted my camera as if to say: ‘Hello, I’m just a tourist.’ Most of the time, they give me a welcoming nod and smiled back.’
Flores credits his modest demeanor as one of his best assets in the role of street photographer.
“This approach works wonders,” he said. “People are not threatened by my presence with a camera, and they become very accepting.”
After his recent visit to Vietnam, the radiographer from Davao City is quite impressed with Ho Chi Minh City.
“The place is a street photographer’s haven,” he said. “Everything about the city is a sensory overload.”
According to Flores - from the bustling city life-to-the countless interesting characters of Old Saigon, a street photographer cannot possibly be disappointed.
“But watch out for those motorbikes,” Flores said, “and be extra cautious with your belongings - cameras for instance are very expensive, and no one wants to lose equipment along with priceless photographs.”
Home: Davao City, Philippines
Calling in life: Street photographer
Hobby: Video games
Last book read: Choose your own adventure: Return to Atlantis by R.A. Montgomery
Last Accomplishment: Eyeem Street Photography Awards 2017 finalist
Favorite quote: Perfection is the enemy of creativity and success.
Profile: A hunter … I always find the right ingredients. I hunt for images that are evocative, meditative and, most importantly, reflect my thoughts and feelings. I always allow my state of mind to be the source of my vision and creativity.
Favorite drink: Jack Daniels