Philippine Photography Promulgated At Last!

Congratulations for the first batch of certified Filipino photographers! Written below is my understanding of what certification is all about:

Remember when commercial photography then was revolutionized worldwide by digital “film-less” capture around the start of the year 1999? It was both bitter/sweet to the taste to the market: bitter because it rendered conventional photography as obsolete and expensive; and sweet because it was cheaper and more instantaneous!

A decade later on November 5-6, 2009 in the hallowed halls of the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation, Inc. (FPPF) was conducted the revolutionary, first-ever, national assessment on Basic Photography National Certification (Level) II! The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) through Senior TESDA Specialist Ms. Mercedes E. Javier supervised the assessment in tandem with moi, the first accredited assessor (by endorsement) for Photography NC ll. TESDA is the Philippine government’s national arm in setting the standards in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

My congratulations to the famous, power-casted Press Photographer of the Philippines (PPP) who bravely and boisterously trooped to the FPPF studio with their president in Mr. Gerald Carual of the Laguna Times publication. They pass the assessment as the first group of photographers to be certified. The next day, November 6, two photography lecturers in Mr. Edwin Celestino and Toti Abdul of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, School of Design became the second batch to be assessed. Congratulations to them too!

Like the digital revolution that swept everybody by surprise, national assessment was met with bitter/sweet reactions too. And that can be good because it shows that our industry is indeed thriving! It can be bitter to some accomplished photographers; and sweet to others who want their credentials recognized by our government (and other countries we have bi-lateral relations with) without spending much time and money to go to a prestigious college. However you may view it, it is certain that TESDA is taking photography seriously through its humble efforts to professionalize the teaching methodologies and practices of all academic institutions offering photography. Although the first-ever and historic AB Photography Photography degree program in the country has just been offered by the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, School of Design and Arts-with Mr. Leo Santos as chairperson, abide by the laws of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Assessment is a voluntary initiative-especially for existing industry practitioners. However, assessment becomes only mandatory for those trainees who are graduates from programs/institutions registered with TESDA (those qualifications with promulgated Training regulations). The promulgation of the Training Regulation is always industry driven: it is up to our experts in Philippine photography to establish and update our training regulations that define the minimum standard of competency requirements of a photographer (worker) in our industry.

Since photography involves technical skills that can be measured, TESDA will assess a candidate based on direct observation with oral questioning on four Core Competencies a candidate must demonstrate: 1) Operate camera and compose a subject, 2) Setup studio light, equipment and accessories, 3) Perform post-capture processes and 4) Present finished products. Digital photography is preferred due to its expediency during assessment. Assessment centers will provide camera, studio lights, accessories, computer, printer, mounts and other supplies. But any candidate is allowed to bring their own digital camera.

So, on-the-spot, within less than two-and-a-half hours, you will have to setup your DSLR, shoot a model with glamour lighting, download and perform basic enhancements to your chosen image. After enhancing a photo for printout, you must first demonstrate basic slideshow presentation skills. Then after, the candidate is tasked to print their enhanced photo at 8”x10” size and mount it on illustration board. All the while the photo assessor asks you basic, technical questions. It’s either you pass or fail only-there are no magna-cum laude awards here. If you have you basics right then there is nothing to fear. If in doubt, then get a refresher course or workshop on basic/advance photography somewhere.

Anyone who passes the NCII assessment gets certified for five years in the qualification they applied for. For now TESDA offers free assessment to the public. I say, grab it while you can!

For queries, application for assessors and/or photography assessment centers please visit for more information.

Filipinos are one of the best of the best photographers in the world! We can be glad that government is doing something right regarding our industry-our passion. Three cheers for the FPPF under Ms. Eduviges Huang for galvanizing known and learned Filipino photographers, educators and business personalities in the industry establishing Photography NCII with the future in mind! It’s revolutionary indeed! And a revolution is no tea party, according to Mao. Mabuhay ang litratistang Pinoy!