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Ruben Gutzat, guest photographer on artborghi: a peek on the Philippines

ruben gutzat on artborghi

German freelance photographer Ruben Gutzat

Ruben Gutzat opens the call for photographers recently announced on artborghi. Ruben is an enthusiast German photographer I met in Switzerland. His human sensitivity, need for exploration and love for photography perfectly melted in his reportage on the Philippines. Ruben’s words:

“When travelling, photography is not only a passive tool for helping memory or freezing beautiful moments. It is also an active tool that helps opening my mind and making connections with people. Thus, it actually creates moments and greatly expands my travel experience.”

the people of trash-coffee break

Morning coffee in Manila slum of trash – The Philippines – (c) 2013 Ruben Gutzat

Ruben visited the Philippines across 2012-2013 together with the association German Doctors ( He could follow the doctor`s work in the slums around Manila for about 2 weeks and later travelled north for some hiking in the mountains in the Ifugao/Northern Luzon region. All his pictures are shot with a Canon 5D MarkII – his lens is a Canon 85 mm / 1.8 or a 24-70 mm / 2.8. Pictures are post-processed with Lightroom and Nik plugins. Click on each picture to enjoy it full screen.

In one of the slums of Manila people live from collecting and sorting waste from one of the biggest garbage dumps of the Philippines. The “recycled” rubbish they collect is sold to “junk shops” to make a living of about 2-3 euro/day.

A woman sorting objects in Manila slum of trash – The Philippines – (c) 2013 Ruben Gutzat

This is how most of the people live in the “slum of Trash” of Manila. “The way this woman walked slowly down the stairs towards me had something proud and royal.”, Ruben says.

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Blind woman – Bagong Silang health center, Manila – The Philippines – (c) 2013 Ruben Gutzat

Although rare, leprosy is still present in the Philippines. Easy to cure with antibiotics, people living far from medical care centers ask for help too late and suffer from irreparable damage. Since the pathogen attacks nerves many sufferers loose their eyesight, as this woman did.

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Rice fields in the Batad region – The Philippines – (c) 2013 Ruben Gutzat

Ruben then moved out the city and explored the mountain area north of Manila, together with local guides. “This panorama shows Ramon overlooking the older than 2000 years rice fields of Batad. The rice fields form a huge amphitheatre  several hundred meters high. Balancing through this maze of walls is an exciting experience. To get to this spot before sunrise we started hiking at about 4 am with headlamps and reached this beautiful look-out just in time.”

For shooting portraits, Ruben skilfully makes use of a Speedlite 580ex II on eTTL-cord with a 20×20 cm softbox. 

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Rambo,  local guide – The Philippines – (c) 2013 Ruben Gutzat

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Rambo (right) and a woman weaving a carpet (left) – The Philippines – (c) 2013 Ruben Gutzat

“For one day Rambo guided me through the maze of rice terraces to the next village. Although we had many stops to take pictures, he was always very careful not to be in front of my lens. However, when we made a rest at this little shop, he found this traditional weapons and hats and he then really wanted me to take pictures of him.”

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Mindoro, Christmas day – The Philippines – (c) 2013 Ruben Gutzat

This local guide hiked with Ruben in the mountains of Mindoro island , on Christmas day 2012. “When heavy rain and wind set in and we Europeans took out our functional rain protection, he found another much more sustainable solution to protect himself.”

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The butcher’s daughter – The Philippines – (c) 2013 Ruben Gutzat

Coming back from the mountains, Ruben walked by this scene: the father of the girl prepared her lunch with that freshly butchered pig in the van.

To view more of fantastic Ruben’s artwork you can connect to his  Facebook page or to his 500pix account: or

Posted by lorenzoborghi on July 14, 2013
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. 07/14/2013

    ruben, please go back to the philippines and have another series of how rich people live and suck up all they can from these poor people. that would be very interesting to see how they enjoy living in their gated communities impervious of the dump, dirt and crime that surrounds them. we see so much of this poverty like mumbai and cambodia, it must be very interesting for a change > but overall: such superb photography and composition > and when that happens, please email me at: > i am sure it will be an eye opener because these people are very secretive and illusive to publicity. danke!


  2. 07/14/2013

    wonderful photos clearly showing the human condition..



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