Bulayo Wins Photo Award

Ashley Matuszak

Pioneer photo editor Aldrin Bulayo receives the Henri Cartier Bresson photography award for his work “Mehserle Brings Misery,” which was on display at the juried exhibition held last week. Photo : Haiming Jin

Aldrin Bulayo, 26, a CSU East Bay photography major has finally found his niche in the field he is most passionate about, and is ready to take on his dreams after graduating this quarter.

“Once I found out CSUEB offered a photography major, I decided to take a chance with it. After my failed attempts with business and nursing, I wanted to get into something I knew would make me happy.”

Bulayo loved taking pictures since he was a child, and has always used photography as a creative outlet. Finally doing what he loves, he feels optimistic at the possibilities ahead of him. “I would love to be that go-to photographer for a major newspaper or magazine. Hopefully one day, I’ll get there.”

Bulayo feels, in many circumstances, it is important for his subjects to feel comfortable in order to get the right shot. Photographers have to get up close and sometimes invade personal space. His approachable demeanor and warm smile work greatly to his benefit. It isn’t difficult for Bulayo to strike up a conversation with a total stranger, or have a good rapport with someone who has been known to be difficult.

“For things like portraits, If they aren’t comfortable, I’m not comfortable,” said Bulayo. “If I’m not comforatable, I’m not doing my job right.”

Portaits used to be Bulayo’s favorite thing to shoot, but in the last year, he has gotten more interested in journalistic photography. In 2010, Bulayo joined the Pioneer Newspaper and in September, became the Photo Editor.

Bulayo has shot a lot of Bay Area Events in the past year. The Valentine’s Day pillow fight, the San Francisco Pride Parade, and SJ Eats Food Truck Festival, to name a few. Bulayo has taken many photos for The Pioneer, capturing the perfect image for the accompanying story.

“I’ll never forget my first assignments—The Hayward Farmer’s Market and the painted utility boxes around Hayward,” said Bulayo. “The way I felt when I saw my pictures in the paper for the first time will be etched in my mind forever. Priceless.”

Recently, Bulayo’s work for the Pioneer has gotten some recognition. On Monday, April 25, Bulayo won the Henri Cartier-Bresson Photography Award at the Annual Juried Student Exhibition on campus for his photo, “Mehserle Brings Misery,” depicting a policeman bringing a young man to the ground after the Mehserle verdict in the 2009 Oscar Grant case.

Once Bulayo heard when the verdict was being read, he wanted to make sure he was in Oakland to capture the reaction of the people.

“I felt like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience something like this,” said Bulayo. “I couldn’t pass up the chance to photograph the event, even though I knew of the potential danger it entailed.”

Bulayo remembers the protest and riot very well, and said it gave him his first real taste of what it was like to be in the center of the action for the sake of journalism.

“At first, everything was peaceful. But as soon as the sun went down, things got intense. The moment that Foot Locker got broken into was the moment when all hell broke loose. I kept on the move, trying to follow the action but also stay safe.”

Well on his way to success, Bulayo is humble and yearning to learn as much as he can before he graduates. He is quick to name professionals in the field that motivate him, but says that photographers he personally knows are the ones that bring him the most inspiration.

“Whether it be my friends, teachers or people I meet on the street, they push me the most to become a better photographer, whether they know it or not. For that, I’m thankful.”

ALL PHOTOS BY ALDRIN BULAYO