Photographer Spotlight: John Crisostomo


Wildlife Category January 2020 Winner, photo in Pulau Ubin Singapore by John Crisostomo

As ASIAN Geographic’s annual Images of Asia (IOA) 2020 Photo/Videography Competition looms closer, submissions to our IOA Monthly competition – the precursor to our annual event – are pouring in. We have received stunning photos across the categories, and are now featuring our monthly winners in an exclusive interview!

Below is our interview with one of this month’s spotlight, John Crisostomo, the IOA Monthly January 2020 Winner in the Wildlife category, selected from December 2019 entries.

AG: What is the story of your beginning and journey to creating great images?

JC: I have been interested in photography for a long time, but it was not until my early days as an AB Literature student did I get my hands on a camera. Around 2008, my mother brought home a liquidated film camera from her company: a Nikon F4 with two old zoom lenses. Prosumer DSLRs were already popular during this time (at somewhat affordable costs), but as I had no means to afford them, I had to make do with what I have. I saved my allowance and worked part-time in a fast-food restaurant to afford rolls of film and to have them processed on the local shop. I have been into skateboarding for most of my life during this time, so most of my early photographs were about the skateboarding culture itself, consisting of action and lifestyle shots.

The feedback loop was slow as I had to shoot at least five rolls of film before getting them processed (to make the most out of the cost), but it was always exciting to see what I got only after it was printed.

AG: How would you define your style and concepts you enjoy to explore?

JC: I shoot pretty much everything, but during the past few years, I have been into travel and outdoor photography. I have been taking photos of Singapore’s nature parks for about two years now, and I have a growing body of work that I would like to see published in the next few years. I am a bit reluctant on sharing them on popular social networks, as I believe the compression in these sites does not do the photos justice.

Another interesting concept that I am exploring at the moment is blurring the line between landscape and action sports photography. This is a work in progress and is proving to be more technical and involved than anything I have shot so far, but so far I am learning a lot.

AG: What is great photography to you, and are there any photographers you would like to work with? 

JC: Great photography for me is something that I do not just double-tap, scroll and forget. The photo will be something that I will scroll back to and scrutinize for several minutes. It has to be something that will make me engage the photographer, to ask more about the story of the image. It has to be something that I will remember to search for in the years to come, to show to my friends if a conversation about a similar topic comes along.

If there is a chance to work with a mentor, I am looking forward to learning from Paul Nicklen, Thomas Mangelsen, Cory Richards, Jimmy Chin and Corey Rich.

AG: What is your preferred imaging gear to work with and why?

JC: As I am into mountaineering and sport climbing, I prefer my photography gear to be light as I also have to bring climbing gear in my pack. This is the main reason why I switched to a mirrorless system. For multi-day hikes or climbs, I just bring my 24-105mm f4 as a one lens quiver. Otherwise, I bring both 16-35 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 and some speedlites to give me more options.

I mainly use a Sony a9 mirrorless and the lenses I have mentioned are all Sony: 24-105mm f4G, 15-35mm f2.8GM and 70-200 f2.8GM.

AG: What is your next Asia destination to explore and why?

JC: Japan’s Chubu Sangaku National Park! I have always been fascinated with Japanese culture so it is a bit biased, but my interest has intensified further when I got into outdoors and mountaineering. Taiwan’s Baiyue (one of the Top 100 Peaks) is a close second as Taiwan’s aboriginal culture has piqued my interest when I first visited Taroko National Park last year.

AG: Can you share more about your current and upcoming projects?

JC: I am currently editing my Singapore nature parks collection and playing with the layout to turn it into a self-published book. As for my action photography project that I have mentioned above, I would probably share details in my Instagram account later this year.


Congratulations once again to John Crisostomo for being the Images of Asia (IOA) Monthly January Winner in the Wildlife Category! You can check out John’s Instagram page here.

Read about the other four January Photographer Features of Images of Asia Monthly Winners:

1. Black & White Category Winner, titled “Caravan”, by Abhishek Nandy in Ladakh, India
2. Photojournalism Category Winner, titled “Worship of Eid celebration at Taj Mahal on 12th August”, by Ann Chanporn in India
3. Landscape Category Winner, taken in Uttarakhand, by Akshay Upadhya
4. Street/People Category Winner, titled “Zen It Out”, by Zon Hisham Bin Zainal Abidin, in Sabah, Malaysia

Follow Asian Geographic Instagram for latest updates.

Love shooting photos of the vast and beautiful Asia? Submit your entries today! More details of Images of Asia Monthly here.


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