Meet the Hero behind the photo!

Headlines are being made today by the second Hero to have been voted by the people through Agora’s new voting system.

Meet the photographer who received the most votes out of the #Photojournalism Top 50 now, discover the shocking details behind his powerful photo and find out how he’ll use his prize money! ⬇️

Introducing Rene B. Bernal (aka @renebernal), our #Photojournalism2020 Hero from the Philippines whose striking photo has won him $1000 + 100,000 ⭐️s!

#Photojournalism2020 Hero: Rene Bernal

We interviewed him as part of the Top 50 to discover the story behind this shot.

See what he had to say and witness his poignant work on street children in Manila, Philippines. 👇

Rene’s winning photo: Young Guns

Tell us a bit about yourself!

“My name is Rene Bernal and I am a self-taught photographer born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines. In my free time my passion is photography and I love to capture street and visual stories. I am by profession an IT engineer and programmer, a former house painter, frustrated guitar player and father to two lovely daughters. I love the arts despite not being able to paint nor draw. Photography, however allows me to express my own vision and inspire others. 

For me, photography is a continuous journey of learning. Throughout this journey, I have somehow gained experience on how to improve my way of shooting either learning from my own mistakes or through shared ideas from fellow photographers and friends. Being a photographer teaches you to be more organized, to have creative vision, focus, and be more respectful. 

When I discovered Agora I was so excited to have a channel dedicated to photography to showcase my craft and hopefully inspire others on this global stage. I am very grateful that Agora is there to allow us to see and hear other people’s stories and to share their stories that echo in visual form.”

Where and when was this shot taken?

“It was taken on January 2018 in the area of San Dionisio in my home town Paranaque City in the Philippines.”

What emotion did you want to transmit and what’s the story behind the photo?

“I was amazed to see these children playing in a dumpsite right in the middle of Paranaque City. They were totally oblivious of the hazards that their play involved. This scene greatly impacted me and I wanted to capture it as a poignant reminder of the importance of childhood and safe environments, whilst at the same time demonstrating how these children are still able to find ways to enjoy their childhood even in the most distressing environments like this.”

How do you relate your photo with #Photojournalism2020?

“All around the world, children are increasingly more exposed to guns and weaponary, whether real ones or just toys ones like in my shot, causing a lot of worry to parents and the general public as well. This photo constitutes an authentic and unfortunately not uncommon occurrence that sends a global message and raises awareness about the dangerous affects of poverty. Agora has been the perfect place for me to document this phenomenon and to get this message out. “

How does it feel to become the Hero and how will you use your prize?

“I am completely speechless after hearing this wonderful news today! Thank you so much for choosing as Hero for the theme #Photojournalism2020! I feel so lucky and happy to have won this contest as I would like to use this prize money towards my daughters studies and donate some of it to the less fortunate children in the slums like these. Thank you so much for this opportunity Agora!”

On behalf of the entire Agora Team, congratulations to Rene Bernal for becoming the Hero & to the Agora Community for making your voice heard by voting! 👏🎉

There is a new Hero every week, so don’t forget to check out our previous winners such as the #Sustainability2020 and #Urban2020 Contest Heroes.

Questions for the Agora Community:

Did you vote for this photo to win?

What do you think about this winning photo? 🤩

Leave us your thoughts below! 👇