Works

Mikee & Sam

Most people remember something romantic when they talk about a meeting of hearts. You hear stories of one person meeting the other in a coffee shop or perhaps bumping into each other in the workplace. For Mikee & Sam, it all started with socks, of all things. Mikee’s coach had asked Sam—who didn’t know Mikee at the time—to hand him a pair of socks. It was an odd request. Too odd for a girl to oblige to—but deliver them to him she did. What Sam didn’t know was that it would set off a series of events that would eventually lead to the photographs below.

One of those moments was when Draco, Mikee’s best friend in college, asked Sam who her crush was in order to fish out information for Mikee. Draco went as far as randomly sharing a “fake crush” to Sam so she would also open up to him. With things going as planned, Sam replied, “Gusto ko yung kasama mo palagi, si Mikee ba yun? Ang bait niya eh.” If the scene could have been scripted any better, angels would have sung hallelujah in unison. The odd thing about it is Draco didn’t tell Mikee immediately about the serendipitous news because he knew there would be so many opportunities for the two to meet. And when Sam and Mikee formally and officially met during a victory party, there was no stopping their story.

After a months of getting to know each other, Mikee and Sam finally became boyfriend and girlfriend and started a challenging journey. One of the couple’s most difficult challenges came when they were both professionals already as they found themselves sustaining a long-distance relationship. Mikee would pursue a career in Canada while Sam started teaching in Singapore. It was during these trying times that they would learn the true definition of love.

They learned that not everything new they discover about each other was necessarily good nor enjoyable. In patience, they learned to be more understanding of each other as both would learn how to adjust to each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. In kindness, they learned how to speak gently after having disagreements. Mikee would call Sam’s phone over and over just to be able to fix a misunderstanding or even just to apologize. They are just about the gentlest souls that you will ever meet yet when it comes to fighting for the survival of their love for each other, these two are warriors in every sense of the word. In most cases, they didn’t expect it, but every little squabble or quarrel that they went through, every time they would patch things up and say, “Let’s fix this”, every decision they made in order to do the right thing, would be a direct reflection of how they fought for the relationship.

In 2015, the couple finally tied the knot in a civil wedding. It was a leap of faith as they would still be living and working in different countries even after their civil union. And even though they spent more time apart than together, they endured so many cold, lonely nights wishing for this day to come.

Every successful couple’s timeline will be littered with challenges. Mikee & Sam’s story is no different. They have literally gone against the odds of time and space and have come out the other end stronger than ever. Four years of being apart after being married to the love of your life is no easy feat—even for these two. They had their share of frustrations and trials yet when asked if it was worth it, I don’t think Mikee & Sam would hesitate to agree that it was. Both acknowledged that they knew they were right for each other because they didn’t hold the other person back.

After getting to know them, you would easily conclude that they’re two of the best people you’ve met in this world. Both are easy to get along with and have hearts of gold. I only met Mikee a few weeks before the wedding but what struck me about him was he was just as kind and as Sam. If you’ve ever uttered the words, “These two were made for each other”, then it would apply to them with a few more superlatives describing the two. However similarly-molded both are, they would be the first to tell you that they have had their share of differences.

Some of the most significant realizations that I’ve had have come after I’ve witnessed how two people face their wedding day. Mikee & Sam’s day started out literally with overcast skies which didn’t bode well for the rest of the day. As the chairs were being set up outdoors, it started to rain so the stylists had to make a decision of moving everything under the tent. To some families, it would be both a logistical disaster, perhaps for some brides, it would have been considered as a huge wrinkle on their big day, but for Mikee & Sam, they focused on the big picture because for them, the only essential thing for them that day was they were finally together. Looking at how they responded, it simply humbles you and forces you to refocus on what really is important in your life. Some couples like Mikee & Sam simply let go and allow God to direct everything in their lives–from the intricate to the insurmountable–and these two modeled that completely. You can’t help but hold a conviction that no matter what happens in their future, a bright and triumphant story awaits.

Most of the love stories you hear during weddings are highlights. Yet we forget that before everyone’s “Happily Ever After” moment, several behind-the-scenes happen. People fight, some people break up and get back together, while others—like these two—spend years apart. These are the kinds of moments that you never forget: the ones that make you stronger even when your heart and soul are breaking each and every day, longing for the one you love. Love isn’t easy and it never will be. It is not for the faint-hearted. If you aren’t willing to risk everything in love, then you’re not doing it right. It never thrives with any “Plan B” because if you’re not willing to give a person your all, then you’re not loving them with your all. I guess that’s what’s so mysterious about love: effort doesn’t guarantee success. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try with everything that you have. Mikee & Sam reminded me of how it’s okay to have a different love story than others—and being different from the rest is exactly what makes yours more beautiful. They taught me that just because things are difficult doesn’t mean that you should give up with what you have. Their dedication reminded me that even though you’re totally different in your taste of music or movies, the only thing you need for your love to grow is to see the other for who they really are and to celebrate them. Not “despite” of the differences but because of them.

To the silent fighters–the ones who do not know the meaning of giving up, the relentless and the tireless as well as the lovers of the long game, may you always celebrate the pauses of your life and love fiercely in the moment.

Your love is on the way.

 

 


Mikee & Sam’s Prenup

One of the few venues that I love shooting in is The Mango Farm. My love for nature aside, the appeal that the venue has to me is that it just has so many places that you can use in a shoot. You have walkways and walls and trees to use aside from the obvious places around the garden. But what draws me most to this place is the fact that given the right weather, you will just about have some of the best light that you’ll ever see. The rustling of the leaves when there’s a breeze and the peeking of sun rays through the leaves above lend to a kind of ethereal motif when the photographer knows how to use the light.

Mikee and Sam are two people who aren’t as keen on having themselves photographed.  As with all of the couples who trust me with their photos, these two are as shy as they come. Sam, whose photo I took a couple of years before, was actually shy once I started snapping a few photos to begin the session. Noticing this, I instructed her to just have her hug Mikee and not mind me as I would give them space to settle in as the shoot started. Both Mikee and Sam started opening up and enjoying their shoot once they were allowed a few candid moments here and there.

I realized that they are my people–the kind of couple that I love photographing. I find that whenever I encounter couples who resonate with my style, I notice that they aren’t professionally trained and that they always seek the guidance that I give during the shoot. It’s as if the kind of patience that I have continues to call out to those couples who have absolutely no idea what to do during a prenup shoot. Most of them have only seen a few pegs here and there in Pinterest but aside from online pegs and whatever photos they’ve consumed leading to the day of the prenup, all they know about an engagement shoot is all theoretical.

I found that when couples allow me to guide them and find where they are most comfortable, drawing out their natural smiles eventually follows. These are the kinds of expressions that only a relaxed person is capable of giving and it is founded on trust and a collaboration between photographer and couple. And even though it was the first time that Mikee & Sam were photographed professionally, everything came out as beautiful as could be.

Enjoy Mikee & Sam’s set at the beautiful and picturesque Mango Farm.


 

 


Cholo & Faye

By all means, these smiles should never exist; and I’ll tell you why in a minute. If you had just visited this entry and had only seen the following scenes and had taken them at face value, it would seem like a common collection of typical wedding vignettes–the preparation of the blushing bride in the morning, the bridesmaids surrounding her in ecstatic glee and a beautiful portrait of the newlyweds. Yet to Cholo and Faye’s families, to their friends–and most of them are actually their fans–these photographs do not just tell a story. They speak of a miracle…one that can only be God-breathed.

Their journey begins with a breakup of sorts. Cholo and Faye were in a long-distance courtship however, they could not make it work so they called it quits. It wasn’t something that they could support. The absence was too much, so to speak. The lingering feeling of wanting to just reach out to that one person who could “make it all better” was unavailable. Their lack of ability to see each other face-to-face whenever they would want to eventually took its toll and a romance that essentially started since high school had to end. How do you even stop talking to a someone just like that? To someone who you envisioned you could spend your entire life with?

After the breakup, Faye held on tight to the possibility of them trying again even after the courtship finished but Cholo, on the other hand, handled the heartbreak quite differently. He moved on to someone else after things turned sour. The knight in shining armor found another damsel and he left his first love.

That was the backstory that most of his friends knew. It was a cold, dark and silent truth that both of them needed to accept at the time.

Yet you know now this doesn’t end there because the True Author of their hearts never put the pen down.

He merely paused.

Sometimes we place periods when God only means to place pauses. There is a distinct difference between the darkness that happens to transition one scene to the next and the fade to black that happens before a movie’s final credits. “The wait” is most misunderstood out of all phases in our lives as sons and daughters of God simply because the duration isn’t known to us or anyone else. We can choose to enjoy our journey and call it a blessing or we may choose to see it as a barren desert. Cholo might have found a temporary oasis after their breakup and Faye wandered alone in her own kind of wilderness, yet both eventually were found by God when He met them exactly where they were.

Faye, in her heartbreak, rediscovered her heart as it was romanced by her Maker and First Love. She actually prayed that if Cholo wasn’t the one, then she wanted all of her feelings for him taken away. She wanted a peaceful surrender of her life and lovelife to God. She would soon discover that re-surrendering her lovelife to Christ was worth every bit of her fractured heart because she found the love she needed and the comfort that she longed for. Strange as it may seem, Faye found her self worth while walking with Jesus in her personal wilderness. In His presence, she saw God mirror to her who she really was and saw herself as God sees her–loved, adored, precious and worth more than anything in this world.

Faye turned 24 and she woke up as a different person. Yet, like all Daddy’s girls who would ask their father for something special, she asked for one thing. She prayed, “Lord, surprise me.”

Cholo, on the other hand, found that if it was not Faye, it wouldn’t be worth pursuing until the end. Like a piece building up to a crescendo, both found out that they were going to be invited to a wedding of a common contact. Cholo decided in his heart that this time, he wanted to pursue her. He didn’t throw out that term lightly because he knew he was up against miles of separation again. In his heart, he despised the distance and the lack of connection of a long-distance relationship but he knew that in order to bridge the chasm between their hearts, distance had to be a non-factor. Cholo didn’t want to hurt Faye again. It would probably break him even more if it happened again. And so as much as Faye did, Cholo lifted their relationship to God and waited for October 24th–the day they would meet each other again.

Picture this: Faye dressed elegantly as a wedding guest and Cholo donning an outfit fit for a groom. The idle time was enough to iron out what needed to be ironed. And they did exactly just that.

“I want us to try a long-distance relationship not because I badly want it but I want God to be in charge of everything. I want him to run the show,” Faye said.

Cholo was surprised and at that exact moment knew that the Faye that she left before was nowhere to be found. He knew that she was ready and that she had God on her side.

You remember that surprise that Faye asked for earlier? This was when it would happen.

After realizing how different Faye was, Cholo prayed right then and there for guidance from God, knelt down and asked Faye to be his girlfriend on the spot.

She said, “Yes” and the rest, as they say, is history.

Out of all the things we can worry about, we worry about the simplest of things. We ask if we will ever find “the One” or if we will ever get a job where we can be happy with or if we can ever get out of the rut that we’re currently in. I have prayed for the same guidance that Cholo asked God that day. And God always pulled through for me. Most of my heart’s desires would come–maybe not during the time that I wanted it but there are times when I can remember praying, “Lord, it would be such an amazing thing if I photographed a couple here” and then it would eventually happen not out of my skill or my doing rather because of God’s grace in my life. The couple below is a testament of God’s faithfulness and how He will always pull through if you put Him in the center of your life. To be honest, there were times that His faithfulness even exceeded mine because He would lead me to places and people that would eventually remind me of His love for me.

This entry isn’t for everyone. It isn’t for those who need flashy effects or amazing angles. The photos here might not blow you away with its artistry but if you gaze into each person’s eyes, you would only find one thing.

Love.

From the friends who gave their unwavering support to the parents of the couple who lovingly laid hands on their children.

From the amazing set of suppliers who lovingly crafted the coziest setup that they could to the perfect weather everyone experienced the entire ceremony.

All of it resounded love in its purest and most disarming form.

May you find love in the right time when you place love in the center and allow its Author to write it in the exact way He had always planned it.

 






 















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