The Chances We Are Offered

Was there ever a time that you decided to meet up with an acquaintance knowing and expecting absolutely nothing from it and then you leave the conversation with your heart full to the brim?

Most of the people we meet will slide down into the awkward status of semi-acquaintance to obscurity. There are some folks that you’ll meet one moment, say hello and then forget their name entirely after a minute or two. However, there are those people whose name you remember clearly. One of those people for me was Michelle.

When I first started with my apprenticeship in a big name photography studio, there were so many people in the current program that it took a while for me to learn the names of everyone. I wasn’t able to spend as much time with people because they already had their own little groups, so being the introvert that I am, I naturally observed from a distance. I learned each person’s names and followed them in their Multiply accounts.

Anyway, one of the “heavy hitters” of the batch that followed us was Michelle. She had started way ahead of most of the people in the program because she already had a very successful following before the term “following” had been used in that way. I remember visiting her site, seeing her photographs for the first time and I thought she had the most beautiful photos of kid’s birthdays. Everything was well-lit and it just had an air of freshness when you looked at her photos.

That was all that I could remember from Michelle.

Until this year when I posted the following status: “Anyone who needs a new profile photo, I’m in Baguio right now.”

To which Michelle excitedly replied, “Me zeus!”

I would like to say that I obliged her request, scouted for a location, photographed her for an hour and went our separate ways but I always find myself being surprised whenever I meet new people. I always think that whenever we meet someone for the first time, we can either welcome them with an open heart or simply take the easy way and shut them out. We have both options. And most of the time, we shut most people out–maybe out of necessity or perhaps immaturity.

I think every time we come into contact with someone new, it’s an opportunity offered. The reins are handed to us, Providence nods approvingly and says, “Give it a go.” More often than not, we stick to the groups we know and fall in love with the familiar. We talk about the same things with the same people who meet us on the same scheduled days. And we wonder why the highlights of our life pale in comparison to a four-year-old’s.

I photographed Michelle in under an hour and came away with these images that you see here. However quirky or candid you find her here, it will pale in comparison to the kind of spirit that you will find in her when you talk to her in person.

Every day, we are given chances. And every day, we make choices. The hand we reject or accept is a choice we make and not the fate we are dealt.

We talked for around 3 hours–far longer than I ever anticipated spending time with someone I barely knew. Longer than I ever thought possible because I never knew her apart from the lady who took beautiful photos. We ended up talking about our photographic journeys and how we ended up shooting what we’re both shooting nowadays. We reminisced the “good old days” and the “not-so-good days” when we were just learning the ropes. It was such a good way to start the year–to do something different, to step out of your self-made bubble of comfort and reach out and encourage someone without asking for anything in return.

The chances we are offered are sometimes few and far between. May you have an open heart and a willing spirit to take chances–to risk kindness and vulnerability and to believe that the memorable is often hidden in the serendipitous.

Ink + Paper

Beautiful writing. That’s the literal translation of calligraphy. And looking at Ink + Paper‘s work, that description is just about as accurate as you can get. I was able to witness sixteen participants try their hand at calligraphy and even though you know how to do things, even though you’ve already received instruction, nothing compares to holding the pen and writing your very first word in parchment. It really is something that doesn’t come naturally. After all, calligraphy is known as “slow writing”. And, being the artform that it truly is, it really does necessitate the kind of slowness that is required by the arts.

If there was anything that I would remember Ashley saying, it’s that you really need to practice every day. More than any skill, calligraphy is an art form and as with all art forms, the discipline of doing something day in and day out is a pre-requisite.

All art forms teach the artist something. Drawing might highlight anatomy and the wonders of the human body, architecture could very well espouse order and structure, sculpting might teach the importance of proportion, wood carving might focus on attention to detail and photography might focus on light and shadow.

But calligraphy, it teaches something intangible: patience and perseverance. It teaches the artist–especially the beginner–to wait and keep at it. It teaches those who want to learn it that there are no shortcuts to creating something beautiful. That there is no dabbling in it or wading in the shoreline.

Sometimes, you just have to dive into something and be immersed in it in order to experience everything it has to offer.

Venue: The Royal Picadilly

Workshop by: Ink + Paper

A Convergence of Capacities

Fashion photography has been one of my sources of inspiration. I always thought that if I didn’t enter the wedding photography world, I would probably be in the fashion industry as a photographer. Granted that the two are worlds apart in terms of flow, disciplines and skills needed, the one common denominator is the transformation that happens.

In the same way a bride prepares herself hours before the ceremony, the talents for the day do the same. They both go through a metamorphosis of sorts and the only difference between the two is that the model is on work mode while the bride-to-be is in all sorts of modes. (i.e. nervous, excited, sentimental, etc.)

Mika, the wavy haired chinita you see here just came back from New Zealand to celebrate her 18th birthday. It was through her sister, Patty, that I met Mika and I really hoped at the time that I would be able to photograph her when she visits the Philippines. Eventually Mika tells me that she had a trip planned and that she would love to have me cover her debut. And who could say no to that?

With Riana, she’s the sister of one of my apprentices and trusted photographers, Rain. When we were in a shoot together once, I learned that Riana really loved the idea of becoming a model. And why not? She had the height, the body type and the professionalism of a model. It was something that I really wanted to help her with–as a way of giving back to Rain’s family and simply just to help her out in her dream.

It’s funny because the forming of the team was really because of a compilation of  so many introductions. I met Deb Victa through a youth retreat; Patty, Mika’s big sister, I met in a random trip with church friends; Jelaine Chua, through a benefit shoot and Rain, through the youth ministry over at my church.

It’s amazing how small introduction can lead to a convergence of capacities and the our happenstance meetings can actually yield something beautiful when you keep an open mind and a receiving heart.

Here are just some behind-the-scenes of our shoot. <3 Be sure to check out Riana’s photos here and Mika’s set here.


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