An anniversary story that requires travel to a remote area is not an easy pitch these days, but Manila photographer Aaron Favila had a vision for a visually-driven package marking the year since the violent Taal volcano eruption in the Philippines.
With his newly acquired drone pilot license, Favila knew that drone photography would make unique still and video images of the ash-covered ghost town, the type of images usually seen in documentaries and magazines like National Geographic. He also learned that many residents of the volcanic island still remained homeless in a temporary tent city.
After getting approval for the project, he set out to deliver all-format coverage. He did extensive research of the area and made contacts via local drone pilots, then drove in the early morning to the volcano, only to find that weather was less than ideal for drone work. A local fisherman ferried Favila to the island that is home to the volcano.
The drone app told him it was too windy to fly, but Favila knew the visuals would be strong — and it might be his only chance. He launched the drone and kept receiving strong wind warnings during the flight, but he was able to keep the drone airborne long enough to get stunning photos and video.
After walking around the ash-covered island, Favila visited another area where many people still live in tents. Residents of the island, which is a popular tourist destination, lost their livelihood: livestock animals and the farmland where they grow vegetables. He interviewed people who have had to live in the tents through typhoons, excessive heat and even the pandemic, capturing their touching accounts on video, humanizing the story for an impressive one-person package.