Photographs by Ju Astronomo and Joper Ofrasio
Words by Onin Lorente
Published on February 13, 2021
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The couple met in 2018 through an analogue group in their hometown in Legazpi, Albay. Amongst shared interests, including photography, their affair grows.
Astronomo, who considers herself as an amateur, admits that she had lost interest in analogue photography after using two rolls, “I felt that there was no emotional connection with my photos.” With the encouragement of Ofrasio, she tried another fold in naked portraiture. “At first, I was not comfortable seeing him walking around and posing nude. Eventually, I became relaxed and started giving him directions.” With bare space as a setting, limited technical knowledge of photography from herself, and sans showing face from her subject, the result is a set of images that are performative, artistic and untainted.
Ofrasio, on the other hand, is not new to nude photography. He has been taking portraits of Astronomo; at times in a dramatic play of shadow or spot-on light. He regards Nobuyoshi Araki, a Japanese photographer and artist known for his sensual and erotic works, as an inspiration. He shares, “I would like to further explore the issue of appreciating one’s body by photographing different, diverse forms.” Meanwhile, on being the subject of Astronomo, he took it with ease. “Everyday our bodies change, especially as we grow old. After ten, twenty years, I can go back to it and remind myself of how I look.”
Ofrasio’s creative experience ranges from street art to music tackling societal norms. He ventured into film photography as a response to digital proliferation, “I was born in the eighties. From that decade onwards, technology has advanced dramatically. Why not go back to film?” They both described the traditional process as “nostalgic”. This sentiment is combined with excitement when they develop their own film rolls at their home.
The couple started publishing their images on their social media accounts. “I was hesitant, particularly with my family. The first thing that they might think is pornography,” Astronomo says. She adds, “It is good to educate them that even if it is nude, it is not pornography.” Ofrasio, meanwhile, was adamant. He explained that people in the province are becoming more understanding.
The conversation went on; from their similar interests, to moving to their new house, and to their priorities in life. Somewhere along the line, acceptance was brought to the fore. Through photography and by capturing themselves in intimate moments — sometimes naked, sometimes clothed — they become more welcoming of one’s and each other’s self.
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