To photographer Colin Dancel, photography is a way to remain in awe of the world around us.
Vogue Philippines invited 10 artists to showcase what “celebration” means to them through their chosen medium. Through images, Colin Dancel celebrates the moments of life that make up the world around her.
Manila-based creative Colin Dancel is one of the nascent talents capturing a new generation of local creatives and artists. The photographer and image maker has clients that span from Carl Jan Cruz to BAGASÁO, Eairth, Pranca, and Recess.
“I’ve always wanted to do something in fashion,” she tells Vogue Philippines. “First, it was in design, then it was styling. I was in fashion school for a bit, and sidetrack after sidetrack, I ended up behind the lens, and I can’t imagine my life otherwise.”
Her style, though ever-evolving as she learns, is distinct in its ability to capture movement and sensations. Dancel’s images often are often closely cropped, encouraging us to see beyond the subject. Her hyperfocused perspective on select, stylized details allows figures to be abstracted into landscapes or planes of color.
This way, rather than photographing a person, or a body of water, she captures a breath, the sensation of sun on the skin, or the glistening webs created by light on a calm shore.
“There is no one way,” she says of her process. “A text, an image, an action, an interaction, a conversation. Something I am learning is to see things anew, always. To remove myself from it for a bit and come back to it with fresh eyes.”
For the photographer, capturing images is a way to further her constant awe of the world. She cites Mary Oliver’s poem Mysteries, Yes as something she resonates with deeply.
“Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.“
Oliver’s poem ends by wishing to always be distanced from those who think they know the answers and to keep the company of those always in awe. “Curiosity is a good driving force,” Dancel explains. At the center of her work is the desire to dig deeper, and to understand.
One of Colin’s bodies of work includes a photo narrative entitled Forms of Grief. The black-and-white collection of images is an attempt at grasping the concept of death and loss, something innate in the process of life.
She recently worked on a series for a Filipino woman-led exhibition in California called World Through Minds. “It seems such a strange notion or thought that we get to create things that will live separate and full lives outside of ours,” she says, “As if birthing them!”
For Vogue Philippines’ December issue, Dancel was featured in a story called “Ten Days of Seeing,” which invites ten photographers to explore their notion of celebration through pictures.
For her segment, she wrote “Celebration is a gentle nudge that you are not just here but you have a place in the world. It is found in moments. To celebrate something means you have something to lose.”
In terms of what’s next for the young photographer, Dancel says she’s ready to take on much bigger things and push beyond her usual scope.
“Photography has given me so much, and I always say this, the craft has opened up worlds for me. I do not think I can give it more than it has given me,” she explains. “I’d love to get to know the craft even more and see what forms and lives that could lead to. I’m sure it’s going to be an incredible one.”