Describing his adolescent years as young and reckless, Aarone Benj Guerrero Mariñas, feels that he examined his priorities and reinvented himself after arriving to Dubai. Now, the breadwinner of the family, his career is set right as a budding sports photographer.
“I pressed the reset button after arriving in Dubai in June 2015,” shares the 20-ish Filipino expat with Khaleej Times. “I came to Dubai because my aunt told me that this is a land of opportunities for young people.”
Benjo, as he is called by family and friends, deserted his happy-go-lucky life and worked as an office boy at his aunt’s company, JK Sports. He was in-charge of cleaning the office, making coffee and running errands. He was happy to have an independent financial status, but yearned for more.
Benjo’s naturally curious mind, caught the attention of the company’s Canon EOS70D camera, and he started clicking pictures to document the several tournaments run under the company’s banner, ‘Jazzville Basketball League.’
“At first, I really struggled with my shots: framing was incorrect, lighting was poor and I missed many important action shots,” says Benjo. ” But I continued my effort. I asked tips from friends and patiently studied the craft on YouTube. I learned to correct apertures, ISO settings, shutter speed and various techniques employed by seasoned sports photographers.”
“Eventually, I became confident with my photos, and I also learned videography and video-editing. I became the official photographer of JK Sports and on the side I earned extra by doing video shoots. My latest project was to help film a video commercial for a Dubai hospital,” he shares proudly.
“Now, I earn substantial income to send money back home to my father and support my two sisters (aged 19 and 13) for their studies,” he adds.
Benjo has one regret though: he still has to finish college.
He spent only one year in college and has not completed his freshman year. Twice he shifted schools and courses. He first enrolled as a business tourism student then took up computer studies. His aunt had supported him with his college education, but he was not keen in studies, during the time. He chose to be a vagabond until his aunt gave an ultimatum to either shape up or ship out. He chose the former and moved to Dubai and the rest became a story of transformation.
Benjo now wants to take a formal course in photography to enhance his skills and serve as a role model to his younger siblings. He says: “My dream is to become an accomplished photographer and I’m very happy to be in Dubai. This is a place, I’m sure, I can turn my dream to reality.”