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Student Spotlight: Dennis Sumangil Santarinala

October 17th, 2013 |

Platt College: Student Spotlight

This month’s Platt College Student Spotlight feature focuses on the beautiful photography of Dennis Sumangil Santarinala. Before attending Platt he was doing big things in the photography world and is now using his Platt education to take it to a whole new level as a digital media designer. Read on to learn more about Dennis and the valuable tips he has for students just starting out in the photography world.

Dennis on location at the beach!
Dennis on location at the beach!

Before you came to school to study here at Platt you were already making a name for yourself as a photographer. How do you plan to use your degree from Platt to help you as a professional?

I’d like to think that I was already making a name for myself. I do appreciate that I was able to contribute by sharing my work with everyone. But It was tough without a degree especially these trying times. I’ve always made reviews of schools through their students and alumni portfolio. Platt college has what it takes to help me further my skills as a designer and to be able to acquire a lot of knowledge I wasn’t able to get through experience. I hope to be an Art Director of either my own firm or someone else’s after graduating.

What kind of gear do you use?

Nikon DSLRs. Although I had experience with the 5D series. I also dealt with the Mamiya 645 with the Polaroid back. Lighting with Speedotrons, Alienbees and Profoto when I was assisting professional photographers a few years ago. Before I reenlisted back in the Army in 2010, I got myself an old Bolex 16mm camera. I wished I had the time to complete that set and produce short films with it but later sold it to this French guy in Las Vegas. I also love Holgas. Ive always been inspired with purists that still uses film especially the large 120mm formats.

What kind of tools do you use for post processing?

I’m not a fan of Photoshop filters that are downloaded on the Internet. I try to process everything in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom because it saves me a lot of time keeping consistency with sets without putting a large dent in my hard drives. But if I need to do retouching for blemishes or flaws then I would go to Photoshop.

Lei Bautista
Lei Bautista of Prettier Than Pink

Explain your workflow.

You have to know what you want and plan how you will achieve it. I have learned it the hard way showing up to a photo shoot with my camera and had no clue what to do. I used to shoot a lot of unnecessary photos then later on got better and shot less exposures per gig. The fewer selections the better. I also prefer using small 2GB – 4GB memory cards. In case one card gets corrupted at least it won’t damage a big portion of the shoot. But it has never happened to me.

Among your works, which one is your favorite?

The Almost Famous Shoot which was the reason I got the Apl De Ap (Black Eyed Peas shoot gig for M magazine in Los Angeles).


It felt great knowing I got picked out of hundreds of photographers to be featured in their magazine. Plus I only spent less than $50 on that production. It was a great collaboration with stylist friends and models. I really had a lot of fun photographing that set.

Almost Famous Photo Shoot
Almost Famous Photo Shoot

Whose work has influenced you the most?

David Leslie Anthony hands down. The guy’s a genius. I learned a lot assisting him and I’m still appreciative he gave me the opportunity to witness his workflow shooting the Von Dutch Advertising campaigns.

What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

I picked up the camera when I was already in my mid 20s. DSLRs were already born. I wanted to be in the time when there were very few film photographers and you can point out easily who the good ones are that have the real film discipline. Today, it’s just too many technicians. Not a lot of photographers.

Apl De Ap
Apl De Ap of the Black Eyed Peas

What advice would you give to other students who want to take their love of photography to the next level?

Same thing with Fine Arts, learn the history and figure out the connection between it and the camera art genre. Travel a lot while you can and expose yourselves to great photographs by going to exhibits. That’s the only way you can train your eye to see real beauty. Volunteer to assist and develop your own style. Don’t be scared in asking questions. I contacted David Anthony through Myspace when I found out he was coming to Los Angeles. It was a very good experience. According to him it was like baptism by fire for me. If that didn’t happen then I would probably still be stuck with my old bad habits. Also, create good networks and treat each assignment like you’re getting paid by a client while in school.

More Photography

Forever 21Fashion MSCBrideBriDominiqueDENPHI

View more of Dennis’s Photography on the Platt College Official Faceboook page here.

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About the Author:

Social Media Coordinator, Educational Representative and Platt College VFX Alumni. Likes bunnies, video games, cooking and taking frequent trips to Disneyland.

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