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Portrait of Gamefowl Trainer

portrait of a gamefowl breeded

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Cock fighting is a bloody sport between two game fowls, also called cocks. These sport, if one may call it as such, are held in a cockpit. Cockpits are found in practically every populated area in the Philippines. Similar to sports, cockfighting goes in several levels, from local, regional, national and even international encounters. Bets also goes up as the level goes higher into millions of pesos. This sport is very much like Boxing, where two opposing boxers slug it out in a Boxing Ring.

This sport is earliest recorded some 6,000 years ago. In the Philippines, the earliest record is said to have been documented by Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of Ferdinand Magellan.

Gamefowl breeding is mixed with science and superstition. Bloodlines, nutrition, fighting styles of different breeds, housing, training, and the whole gamut of preparation is a serious matter. Superstition part vary depending on who you are talking to whose practices range from strange to bizarre.

I had an opportunity to photograph a breeder and a trainer in a gamefowl farm situation deep into a forested area of Iligan accessible only by foot. This farm prides themselves of champion bloodlines. The farm is equipped with facilities from breeding to fighting, including a cock pit that simulates the real world cock pit. This place may look rudimentary, but their cocks are given first class treatment as far as breeding, housing, training and nutrition–obviously, the cocks receive much better treatment than the humans caring for them.

Since the photo shoot requires some trekking, I decided to bring light duty equipment consisting of a Canon camera, 85mm/f1.2 lens, 600 RT Canon flash triggered by Pocket Wizzard in a small softbox, a light stand, and travel tripod.

The idea behind the shoot was a simple portrait of an accomplished lawyer who is also into gamefowl breeding. So I wanted my talent to wear a coat and tie, holding a gamefowl with the natural environment of the farm as the background. I also wanted to add the element of smoke in the background to add drama to the shoot.

Some things do not always happen as planned. For one thing, the talent did not have a coat and tie. So we tried a working barong tagalog commonly used by working lawyers, instead. Also, for the smoke, we lighted some coconut husk. But the breeze was just too much on that day. Another setback, but no way will we quit.

In the end, we just did the best that we can do in a given situation.

I converted the photos into black and white using Lightroom and Photoshop.

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