Cheng Ortaleza: Captured in Frames. Copped by Choice.
July 1, 2014

There are those who are already contented with getting their shoe photos taken, those who enjoy sharing the captured imagery to their friends to get compliments and approval, but there are individuals who'd also love to immortalize the shoe images their own way and what better way it is to go behind the camera themselves?

Being the man behind the lens is a unique experience. You are one with your subject, you are focused, the same focus that this guy had when he was fiending for pairs that he always wanted. He is also a serious specimen for what we'd call a conscious sneakerhead- knowing his priorities rather than forgetting all about them just for "heat" pairs, he knows what he wants and how to get them, WHEN HE COULD.

After all, they are still shoes.

Always armed with the camera as he is equipped with a nice pair... and yes, he rides the MRT in them!

Meet Cheng Ortaleza, as Shoephoric as we all are, he chooses to combine his love for shoes with the fine art of photography. Friendly but certainly opinionated, he regularly shares his knowledge as a moderator for Nike SB Philippines and is a part of LMS, a sneaker collective between friends.

Let's gather round as we get to know more from this month's Shoephoric... Cheng Ortaleza!

How did you get your hands dirty on the sneaker game? Is there any pair that you'd consider your first love?

I was blessed to have chances of buying rubber shoes every time my Dad comes home from abroad but it was only during my high school years that I sort of found a liking for sneakers. I would consider the Adidas Superstar my first love because during that time, Limp Bizkit and front man Fred Durst was everywhere. I did not hesitate when I saw a pair in a local department store and from then on, that shoe became my first and only sneaker of choice. I even made it as subject of my term paper in 2005 simply because Adidas celebrated its 35th anniversary of the shoe model and the collaborations that came out with it were just insane.

In 2008, I really went in on the sneaker game. A long time friend and social networking site Multiply made it possible for me to get to know Nike SB which back then was not an easy thing to get. It was the colorways, designs and concepts that made me decide to look for a way to get a pair. Soon as I got my first pair of Nike SB, I did not stop. Met people, made connections and now, here I am.

My obsession with shoes really died down significantly over the years but back then, there was no sneaker I want that is not hard for me to get. I was so into shoes back then that I was diligent in going through thrift shops I come across whenever I commute. I would even go on a whole day just thrift shop hopping from Taft all the way to Caloocan.

There was this one time way back 2009 that I preordered a pair of Nike SB Blazer. Since down payment was only Php 1000, I didn’t hesitate. Weeks passed and the shoes arrived, but I did not have the cash yet to complete the payment. I was so desperate in finding a way to settle the payment that I went to our safe deposit box and got the bank passbook that my Dad and I shared. Without permission, I rushed to our bank’s home branch and withdrew the amount I needed. Soon my Dad discovered it and he just told me that the money I took from our account was intended for his medication. I felt bad for what I did and from then on, I took sneakers a bit less serious.

How do you define “Quality over Quantity?”

Most people take this line literally but for me, it means having control over impulse tendencies. 50 pairs is not a lot for those who can afford it, 5 pairs is already more than enough for those who cannot keep up but the value, appreciation and satisfaction that the 5 pairs hold to the owner is what really and should matter. 

Aside from shoes and photography, what else are you preoccupied with?

Right now, I’m a full time Multimedia Developer of e-learning materials for Stream Global Services now Convergys Corporation. I also take part in doing graphics and promotional stuff for Solecity Pilipinas, a local brand, since 2010.

What is your most prized shoe among your stash?

It’s got to be the Nike Air Max 1 Atmos Elephant.

What is the pair that you’re still aiming to get?
On top of my head, Nike SB Dunk Low Black Supreme, Nike SB Dunk Low Denim Forbes, Nike Footscape Woven Rainbow – Black, a donor pair for my Atmos and a pair that I can shoot hoops in! Haha!

Seeing you involved in sneaker photography, where do you get your inspiration from?

Even before I owned my first DSLR, I have been following a lot of photographers, groups and blogs in Flickr and in Tumblr. I would constantly check out their works and look for resources on how to accomplish such. I eventually got to know some of them, shared tips here and there, and applied them whenever I can. Seeing finished outputs of people I follow in Flickr and Tumblr gives me the drive to go out, experiment and shoot – not just sneakers but anything that captures my attention. Photography is something that you have to practice in order to learn and get better but it also involves appreciation of works of others and turning that appreciation into something that will inspire you.

Do you see music and art as integral parts to the culture? Why?

Yes, definitely. Just look at how I got into the Sneaker Culture. My experience best shows how the three correlates with each other; it started with a band that I liked which led me to look for that same sneaker their front man used to rock and that same sneaker was designed by different artists to commemorate its 35th anniversary. You can see those three – Music, Arts and Sneaker Culture working together and bringing something that people of different background recognizes. 

Define NSB PH... Tell us more about it.

Basically, it is a community that Kim Francisco a.k.a. Solecity started that aims to widen the shoe population’s knowledge regarding Nike SB here in the Philippines. With the emergence of different sneaker groups on social media, primarily Facebook that is about Jordans, Lebrons, Kobes and basketball shoes, Kim thought why not create a group that is all about Nike SB. We are strict in implementing rules because we wanted future generations to value the importance of authorities. We try to be as fair as possible in handling the group despite our busy day time job schedules.

Give us the background on LMS... Who is the current lineup?

Basically, Team LMS started with a group of friends (Mackie, Mon, Ryan, Carlo and Marc) who met each other via NikeTalk. They were technically the "Last Men Standing" over a drinking session in a graduation party that reached up to 5 in the morning. From there, they met individuals sharing the same real passion in collecting, no drama, no BS, whatsoever. As of late, most of us are busy taking care of our respective careers, family and even businesses. I really can’t say that there is a lineup because we do not really see the group as a competitive sneaker group but rather a circle of normal individuals who share the same roots.

If you were to create/design a dunk based on your personality, how would it look like?

I’m really not good in designing things but I think my Dunk will be as simple as it can be – nothing fancy. Just like me.

Any advice you can give to beginner collectors?

Please keep in mind your personal preferences in choosing a certain pair or shoe line to collect. Like what Forrest Gump said: “There's an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes.”

Don’t be so deep into collecting that you will have a hard time finding a way out of it. Always know your priorities in life and always keep in mind – THEY ARE JUST SHOES. I can’t stress that enough. One last thing, research… research… RESEARCH. You’ve been blessed with technology, so make use of it.

Shout outs?

First of all, thank you Shoephoric crew for this opportunity, my girlfriend Boni who is patient enough to deal with me every time I rant here and there; Solecity boys – Kim, Mickie, Cyrill, James, Dozign; Team LMS – Jason, Carlo, Mon, Marc, Leo, Aris, Jon, RR; HoH – Kuya Dein and Vonkee; Ms. Paloma Esmeria; Dex Laxamana; my buddies in the US, Jan Rotilles, Mike Dimaculangan, Ant “SharpShoeter” Aquino, Emil Manlutac, Krys Fabriquier; Elite Photographers, hope I can shoot with most of you guys soon; Nicolas Goossens; those that like me and those that doesn’t like me and to everyone I met, talked to and stared at. Haha!