All dougKIM photography Essays Leica Manila

Tondo, Manila | Why I Shoot in Slums

Leica Slums Manila Tondo Kids Film Photography

Tondo, Manila, Philippines; Leica MP 0.72, 35mm Summilux, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

When I travel, I am drawn to the poor areas, those people on the fringe, the disenfranchised. And beautiful women. A weird contrast, I know, but there has never been an agenda. I just go where my feet lead me and to what attracts me.

I do shoot the underprivileged a lot and I find myself questioning this periodically.

Am I exploiting my subjects? Probably.

Am I living some ethnographic fantasy by traveling to foreign locales? Probably.

A very important reason is also that I find that rich people in general are standoffish, elusive. It is a challenge to get inside their sequestered and gated worlds.

And they can be some major boring shit. Rich people drinking and dining and living is a tapestry of proper flatware, white linen table cloths, apéritifs, waiting for the parking valet.

Who would want to shoot that shit? Maybe I have a blind spot and do not have the balls or imagination to make such a setting work, to find those singular images in such a setting. But why bother?

Most every slum or favela I have been in, I get invited for tea, a beer, a joint, dinner. Please sit, my friend. You are most welcome. Tell us your story, my friend.

The rich give you nothing. Ever.

Everywhere I have been, the people with the least always offer me the most.

And I will always seek out their company.

Leave a Comment

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from - Youtube
Consent to display content from - Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from - Google