Spotlight Interview … Photojournalist Marvi Lacar


JRP: Marvi Lacar is a talented young photojournalist that is leaving her mark with a sensitive eye. We are pleased to share her work and vision with our readers. Thanks Marvi for sharing a moment with JRP Blog.

Marvi Lacar: It’s my pleasure, thanks for featuring my work on your blog, James. I was actually quite surprised that people other than clients and editors visit the website.

JRP: Where do you call home?

Marvi Lacar: Now that’s probably the hardest question for me. I tend to vacillate depending on my mood but sometimes when I’m feeling nostalgic (and cold), home is in the Philippines where I was born and spent my formative years, Other times I feel very much at home in the field, taking photos and meeting new people through my work. However, at the end of the day when I’m tired and burnt out, home tends to always be anywhere where my husband, Ben and my dogs are.

JRP: What led you to photography? Do you have any formal training?

Marvi Lacar: Serendipitously. I was on a pre-med track in undergrad but during my foreign study in Spain, I discovered photography. Art is to Europe as billboards are to America. They’re ubiquitous and rather accessible to a broke college student like I was. I quickly found that photos stirred deep-seated emotions in me that would have otherwise stayed dormant. So I welcomed it, I welcomed being shocked, disturbed, heartbroken, tickled, and thrilled by the images that I saw. The images piqued my curiosity and ever since, all I wanted to do was just learn …  not necessarily about biology and chemistry but about human nature, about the depths of our cruelty to one another, the resilience of children, or that bond that we all have in common despite our cultural and religious differences.

JRP: Why photojournalism?


Marvi Lacar: I feel like photography is my best tool of communication, insight and self-expression. I not only discover and learn about the outside world through my work, but I am pushed to question myself, my motivations, my Reason for being. Photojournalism is a reminder that we all have more in common than we believe. We seek internal peace, happiness for our loved ones, and desire to live and die with dignity. This job is like going through the mental and emotional exercises of therapy: facing an issue, resolving it and applying lessons learned in practice. I often tend to absorb the strength of the subjects I photograph. It sounds opportunistic in a way but I feel that my relationship with the subject is symbiotic. I hope I share as much with them as they do with me. But with children, it always feels like I learn more from them than the other way around (I am talking about my long-term projects, of course).

In essence this job introduces me to the kind of people who I want to emulate, the strongest ones, the kindest. My hope is that I could pay it forward to those who entrusted me with their stories; that my photos will result in some sort of domino effect. I understand that all I can do is contribute toward change but if one person reads a story and decides to donate a few dollars to a cause or even continues to learn more about an issue then i believe we’ve all played a part.

JRP: What would we find in your camera bag for a typical shoot?

Marvi Lacar: This is going to sound funny but I actually am not the most technical person so I now have to go into my bag and read what I have:

Canon Digital SLR 5D, (1) Canon 50mm f/1.2 (1) Canon 24-70mm f/2.8

A bunch of 4G and 2G Sandisk CF cards, camera batteries, a moleskin caption notebook and pen. A tiny bottle of Dramamine and Tylenol, lens cloth, $20 bill for emergency (been there since I first started), press pass,and sometimes my 550EX flash and the off-camera hot shoe cord.

JRP: Please describe your digital workflow and the software you use.

Marvi Lacar: After a shoot I immediately download and back up my RAW images in two hard drives. Images for each day go into their respective folders named: Date_Client_Assignment, for example 01202009_Getty_Inauguration

I edit my RAWs on Adobe Bridge.

Once I make my final selects, I tone the images on Adobe Photoshop CS3.

I save my images in a Selects folder as jpeg at the highest quality. My agency requires that we submit images at 34Mb or higher.

Finally, I back up my selects in the same two hard drives.

JRP: How do you handle image printing?

Marvi Lacar: I actually don’t print my images. I normally show my portfolio on line or on my laptop.

When I recently had to get my images printed for an exhibition, the curator sent them to Epson Digigraphie and I was very impressed with how the prints turned out.

JRP: How did you learn to “see light”?


Marvi Lacar: I’m quite sure I’m still learning. I think I see emotions before I see light. I still have to remind myself to step back, look at the big picture, see the lights and darks. My husband, Benjamin Lowy, is a photographer who has that innate talent and I learn a lot from his work, as well as from other friends and photographers.

JRP: What is the most critical moment of image capture?

Marvi Lacar: When one is able to capture emotion and stellar composition in a single frame.

JRP: Share with us any projects you are currently working on.

Marvi Lacar: I’m finishing up a visual diary that I’ve worked on about my father’s death. I have a couple of ideas in the back burner but one thing at a time. Otherwise I get overwhelmed and can’t wrap my head around any single story.

JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?

Marvi Lacar: After finishing grad school (MA Journalism) I moved to New York and decided to pursue a freelance career. I quickly found out that finding a job in the city was much harder than I expected so I resorted to odd jobs during my first six months. David Alan Harvey told me to not apply to any assisting jobs and just shoot my own projects and build a solid portfolio. Best advice to date, though it took me a few years to pay my credit cards back.

My husband tells me to expand my visual experience and look at other photography books besides photojournalism.

My back tells me that I should exercise more often.

My bank account tells me I should explore the world of advertising photography.

JRP: What advice would you share with photographers starting out?


Marvi Lacar: Don’t get lazy. Practice your eye everyday. Shoot as if you’re broke and making a good image each day means you get to buy dinner. Be open-minded. Even if you and your subject seem to come from worlds apart, there almost always is some commonality there.

JRP: Thank you Marvi for sharing your thoughts and images with us. It has been a pleasure and inspiration talking with you. I wish you continued success.

Marvi Lacar: It was my pleasure James.

JRP: To view more of Marvi Lacar’s photography please follow these links:


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