May 31, 2023


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May be an image of twilight, nature, cloud and ocean

lito gruet
Killing The Soul by Lito Gruet

Finding something you weren’t looking for. My humble mobile photography was just intended as a diversion from all the negativity caused by so much tragedies and hatred in our world. Add to that the devastating trauma caused by the pandemic. I had no idea my simple hobby would be somehow recognized by photo groups which I joined just for fun. I guess God has His way of bringing out the best in us in times of trials and challenges.

Here is an unexpected and humbling interview from one of the leading photo groups in social media. Thank you so much to Pictures From The Heart founder Diane Audrey Datallo:


Pictures From the Heart proudly presents our interview with one of our overall October Mobile Challenge winners, Lito Gruet. Just like the phoenix, a mythical bird that burns to death and rises from its own ashes, Lito Gruet was a popular movie star in the Philippines during the 80s. He then plunged into darkness with drug addiction for 16 years. After successfully undergoing a rehab program, he was reborn to become the program’s director for 10 years.
For the last 21 years, Lito has dedicated himself to being an anti- drug abuse advocate focusing on saving the youth from addiction.
Q1: Please tell us about your journey in photography:
“I love taking photos. Way before I became aware of the basics of photography I already wanted to find the best angles and subjects.
I never took any formal lessons; I found photography to be an expensive hobby.
May be an image of tree and body of waterHowever, thanks to the advent of mobile photography, I rediscovered my passion to take “quick-draw” photos. It has become such a perfect diversion from all the negativity and desperation happening in this pandemic era. I wanted to share positivity showcasing how beautiful our world still is.
One good thing that the pandemic has brought me is the opportunity develop my skills through the patience and dedication of my coach, Diane Audrey Dattalo, as well as valuable tips from my sister-in-law, Chanda Romero and other friends into photography.”
May be a black-and-white image of one or more people, nature and body of waterQ2: Do you enjoy being in front of the camera or behind it? Why?
“When I was younger and into modeling and show business, I naturally enjoyed being the center of attention.
But now, after “retiring”, I have come to learn loving being “behind the scenes”. It’s a different experience altogether.”
Q3: Your signature style usually involves a lot of negative space and a beach scene. How did that evolve?
“It evolved by accident. Since these were the scenes available in my area, I had to find ways to create a story with very limited subjects. I had to learn how to make the most of what was presented in front of me.”
Q4: What do you see before you decide to press the shutter?
“I visualize what story I want to share to the world. The message I want to present thru my humble images. Every photo has to have a significance.”
Q5: Are you a cerebral or a visceral shooter?
“I try to be a little of both. Again it depends on what subject comes my way.”
Q6: How has the covid pandemic affected your photography?
“One positive thing that has come out of the pandemic is that urge to fight negativity and spread positivity. What better way to do that than showcasing God’s masterpiece.”
May be an image of ocean and natureQ7: What is your Holy Grail in photography? The shot that has eluded you this far?
“Capturing that image that not everyone can duplicate. That photo where the best of the best can appreciate with a thumbs up.”
Q8: How has joining groups and winning challenges in them affected or shaped your photography and your way of thinking as a photographer?
“I believe photography is a never ending learning process. Trial and error. Best way to learn is to study the images and styles of really good photographers and apply what I believe would complement my own “style”, so to speak. Joining photogroups which specialize on specific genres is a valuable learning process. Plus, I get to ask how they created that image or effect. The photo competitions give me motivation to challenge myself to become better than I was yesterday.”
Q9: I sense that you are trying to impart a message in every work you share. How much of your personality shows in these shots? What are you trying to convey to the viewer?
“There is beauty in everything. Even in ugliness. It’s a matter of perspective. I am a person who has gone thru hell on earth and back. I have seen severe deprivation and mind-boggling luxury.
I want to look at life the way I choose my images.”
Q10: To date, what is the most fulfilling part of your photography? What keeps you going?
“I am not a professional photographer . I am simply a hobbyist like many others. I do not prepare for a shot. Most of my photos are taken sometimes in haste as I walk by. But when my images are appreciated by even those who are considered legends in their own right, that’s motivation! And it sends a message saying… I can do this!”
Q11: What projects are in the works? Where do you see yourself in one year, five years?
“Never in my wildest dreams could I ever imagine someone offering to buy my photos. It blew my mind! The fulfillment is invaluable. So maybe I should consider upgrading to acquire professional equipment as I only use my humble mobile cam.
It would be a dream come try to have an exhibit with my images painted by a renowned artist ❤️.”
Thank you Pictures From The Heart Photography founder Diane Audrey Dattalo