Family Spaces Exhibition at Dominican University of California

I am very happy to announce the exhibition of Family Spaces at the Dominican University of California in conjunction with the Filipino American Celebration month. A portion of the sales will be donated to the Philippine International Aid (PIA). Here are the details:

Exhibition Dates: October 1- December 19, 2014

Location: Mezzanine Floor, Archbishop Alemany Library

Address: Palm Avenue San Rafael, CA 94901

Phone: 415-485-3251


Monday-Thursday 8:00am-12:00 midnight

Friday 8:00am-10:00pm

Saturday 9:00-9:00pm

Sunday 2:00pm-12:00 midnight

Working Folks

©Stella Kalaw

My parents worked the daily grind for many years. My father was a corporate lawyer and my mother was an accountant. Seeing these drawings triggered the thought when I was back home a few weeks ago. They were able to provide a comfortable life for us, saved enough money to pay for our education in Manila and in America and retire decently from the fruits of their investments made during their careers.

Artist Talk

Images above taken by Karl Castro for Silverlens Gallery

While T & I were putting together the presentation for the artist talk, I did not realize that my parents wanted to attend the event. I was having dinner with them the evening I arrived when my mom broached the subject. At first, I felt really shy that they were going to be in the same room with me but kept it to myself. Then I thought about it more and I said yes-they should go. It is an opportunity for them to understand what it is that I am so passionate about. Even my sister and my brother came to the event.

The topic I discussed was the Family as a Photographic Subject. The talk was divided into two parts. The first one was showing the progression of my work from when I began photographing as a college student in Manila until the present day. I also discussed the creative process behind Family Spaces and gave the audience a glimpse of a work in progress that also involved my family. The second portion was introducing works of other photographers whose long term projects tackle the same subject matter. I thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce various ways of telling a personal story. I just thought to do my part to share what I know and possibly inspire someone from the audience to think differently with the way they approach their own projects.

After the talk, three students approached me. They were from the same university I attended. I loved their energy and they asked a number of questions. One of them said something like we need people like you to teach at the university. Another asked if I was planning to come back to do a workshop. No one really knows when such opportunities will come. Nonetheless, it was great to hear their feedback.

When I met my parents at the gallery, both were beaming. I each gave them a hug and felt grateful that they were still healthy and able to experience this moment with me.

The Opening

Me, my sister from New York and my brother from Budapest.

Last photograph before gallery closed that evening.

It rained hard for most of the day and then it stopped an hour before the opening started. That morning, I was sitting in bed in the same room I grew up as a child and listened to the rain as it poured heavily on the roof. I smiled and remembered the many times my sisters and I would rejoice the minute we heard the weatherman Amado Pineda suspend a school day due to a typhoon landing in Metro Manila. For a split second, I could not help but think of the possibility that perhaps the opening might be suspended too. I shook my head-- nah, what a silly thought!

It turned out to be a successful event. It was wonderful to see family, old friends and relatives. My sister came all the way from New York. She had a last minute change to her flight itinerary to avoid the snowstorm in Detroit. She arrived past midnight the day before the opening. On the other hand, my brother flew in from Budapest, his total flying time was something like 22 hours with 2 stop overs before arriving in Manila the day of the opening. It really meant a lot that they were there for me.

Where we're from

Some of my images are featured on Where we're From, an online exhibit curated by Lindley Warren of

Where we're From is a project focusing on where it is that the selected photographers have grown up, lived, or are currently living. The project allows viewers an inside look at places that the artists have felt at home; letting people take a closer look at the lives of the photographers through their images and words.

Process II

Tito Phil's chair
From the Family Spaces series

I strive for an emotional honesty in my images. I think it is that subtle tug in the soul that draws a viewer to a picture. I focus on certain objects that relate to a personal narrative. I draw this from either my own memories and experiences or from listening to conversations that may hint on a meaning that I can relate to it. Sometimes, I just follow my instincts and I take the picture anyway. It is gratifying to know if later on, a personal story is revealed.


Postcards, 2007
from the series, Family Spaces

I don't know how it started but my circle of friends began sending postcards to each other every time anyone traveled. Pretty soon, I asked my family and other friends to do the same. Through the years, I've accumulated enough to probably fill a shoe box. Finally, when we moved to our new home we found a large wall to hang the postcards and mixed them with random photographs I've taken with a Lomo camera. Paco's note is one of my favorites. It never fails to put a smile on my face.