Work It!

My brief career as a model began with a meeting at a Starbucks in the old walled neighborhood known as Intramuros in Manila.  I was a little nervous, wondering if I’d be able to pull this off, but I knew I was in good hands.

I got to know BJ (Bien Joshua) on a photo walk in Manila shortly after I arrived in the Philippines.  We have kept in touch through social media and he asked if on my way through Manila I could help him with a project he was working on for his digital media class.  I did not hesitate to say yes.

BJ, the photographer

BJ is 18 and is in his second year towards earning his degree in multimedia arts at a university on the outskirts of Manila.  He is pursuing his dream of having a career in multimedia arts.  When he started the program, he did not own a camera and borrowed one for his projects, but recently he was able to purchase one.  Despite the pressure of completing the many projects required for his classes and the constant worry for him and his family to make tuition payments, BJ has a positive attitude and works extremely hard.

This project focused on presenting the daily life of a subject.  BJ had asked me what my interests were and, based on my answers, planned an afternoon of shooting at several locations.  We walked all afternoon, moving to different locations in and around Intramuros.  It was a great chance for me to see some sites I hadn’t seen before.  

A lost tourist
Taking shots outside the cathedral
We took many shots before I could start eating.

After eating, we walked for about a half hour to the National Library.  It was BJ’s first time there, and we were both surprised by the experience.  The plan was to shoot me reading between stacks of books, but we were worried that photography would not be allowed, so we had to be discreet about it.

The library was under renovation and looked more like an abandoned building than a library.  We were told by the guard to go to the second floor for a pass.  After logging in on a computer and setting up an account, our pictures were taken and we were allowed to enter a room that actually had books in it.  

It took a while to find the books.

It wasn’t as simple as walking between the stacks and taking some shots.  We weren’t allowed to browse, but had to use the online card catalog to find a specific title before going near the books.  BJ found an appropriate book, “1000 Photography Tips.”  We had to take a picture of the screen showing the call number, title and location before being helped.  Finally, we had everything we needed and were sent to the “rare books” section upstairs.  

Another librarian was there in a large room filled with books, but not accessible to visitors.  I had to sign in, leave an ID and fill out a form in order to finally get the book we were “looking for.”

We still had no access to the stacks, so we sat at a table with a bookshelf behind me so BJ could do his work.  It was easy to sit and read while he shot away, and luckily the clicking of his camera did not draw unwanted attention from the librarian.

Reading a rare book

Our final stop was Manila Bay.  BJ had an interesting point-of-view shot planned, but we had trouble executing it.  In the end, he took some silhouette shots of me holding my computer.  The sun was setting and the local street children were swimming in the bay while people walked up and down the sidewalk.  

Walking the runway
Blogging at the bay

Despite the great time I had with BJ, I don’t think I’ll be pursuing a modeling career.  One day was enough for me.  I was glad to see some new sights in Manila but the best part was getting to know BJ and learning about his dreams to work in multimedia arts and travel the world.  He is a humble, kind and extremely mature young man.  I have great confidence that he will be successful and hope to see him again during our travels.  

Comments (16):

  1. Vicky Ann Deledda

    April 2, 2017 at 07:15

    Tim, this is magnificent!
    I was wondering who took the first photo and then I read on. I think your modeling career and photos for the day deserve merit-10! What a great experience in the library- some similarities to our casino “moment”.
    BJ would also make a good model and I hope that he is successful. I better not be late for church writing this, but I must admit- I was glad to finally be first reading your blog! Great beach photo- number 1!

    • Tim Flanagan

      April 2, 2017 at 22:11

      Congratulations on the first comment. You must still be on Asia time! I didn’t want to embarrass BJ, but I agree he could make a living in front of the camera as well as behind it.

  2. Diane Weisman

    April 2, 2017 at 08:35

    Hi Tim,
    I love that you always have an adventure, large, small or in between. You meet the most interesting people.
    Take care,

    • Tim Flanagan

      April 2, 2017 at 22:12

      It’s definitely what makes this trip memorable. Makes me realize I should meet more people back at home.

  3. Linda A Wight

    April 2, 2017 at 08:58

    Very clandestine! Hope he gets an A. Love the picture walking on the beach with computer (missing the scenary ) . Also enjoyed the description in the library and the picture of you reading the book. I’m glad you’re a teacher and a traveler. Also need to get going to church, in my prayers and thoughts. You brighten up my day! LInda

    • Tim Flanagan

      April 2, 2017 at 22:13

      Your comments brighten up my day! Hope you got to church on time.

  4. Rosie

    April 2, 2017 at 09:17

    Good morning Tim.
    I just mentioned to Stacie it has been a few days since you have posted and poof, this morning an email arrives! She asssured me that as a traveler your days are full and exhausting nonetheless exciting and posting is not always a to proirity.
    The people you have met and the places you have been continue to be so interesting. I hope someday you and BJ meet again. By the way, I agree with Vicki Ann—10 for your modeling and those photos.

    • Tim Flanagan

      April 2, 2017 at 22:18

      Wi-fi issues are usually what delay my posts, but sometimes it is because I’m having too much fun! Thanks for reading!

  5. Lori

    April 2, 2017 at 09:37

    What a wonderful post!!!!! I think you are ready for some magazine work!!!! This post made my day! Miss you!

    • Tim Flanagan

      April 2, 2017 at 22:20

      Miss you, too! Thanks for being such a faithful reader. Vicky Ann is your new competition for being first to comment.

  6. Betsy Zarella Flanagan

    April 2, 2017 at 10:22

    Great job! Now you’re ready for “Travel Magazine- Plaid edition”
    We miss you xox

    • Tim Flanagan

      April 2, 2017 at 22:21

      I’m leaving a trail of plaid behind me in the Philippines as I give away old shirts and reduce the weight of my bag!

  7. Millie

    April 2, 2017 at 15:15

    Just when I start to worry, another great story arrives and I am rassured all is well with you.
    BJ- Beautiful photos.

    • Tim Flanagan

      April 2, 2017 at 22:23

      I’ll do my best to stay on schedule with my posts!

  8. Cindy Cassidy

    April 4, 2017 at 06:52

    Work it super model! Before even reading your post, I was immediately drawn to the silhouette picture of you with the laptop. That one is worth framing! I guess it must be weird for you BEING the subject when you’ve been the photographer through most of your travels!!
    Say Cheese!! Cindy

    • Tim Flanagan

      April 14, 2017 at 05:58



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *