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Trading Places: When The Photographer Becomes The Model

Two shutterbugs take turns in front of each other’s cameras
by Mars Salazar | Sep 12, 2017
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Not everyone’s lucky enough to be able to do something they love for a living, especially if their passion lies in the arts. The starving artist stereotype still holds true, especially when you’ve got a market oversaturated with millennial creatives all aiming to make it big. In such a cutthroat industry, you’ve got to have guts and grit to succeed. And though petite photographers Andrea Beldua and Mandy Martinez look like they can be blown away by the wind any moment, make no mistake: these ladies have paid their dues to their craft and won’t let anything stop them from taking the perfect shot. 

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What’s your favorite subject to shoot?

Mandy: It would probably be my friends. For me, it’s still the person that makes the photo, not the fancy styling or the makeup and everything. So for me, my favorite would be shooting my friends.

Andrea: I think what I love doing best is shooting backstage during fashion shows. It’s everything combined: I love shooting people, I love shooting clothes, and I love capturing moments. It’s the energy—it’s capturing the energy and the kaguluhan before the actual show. And I love that, when they’re all changing and everyone’s in action and everyone’s taranta, and there are clothes and makeup strewn everywhere. It’s like a glimpse talaga into how the industry really is.

How would you describe your shooting style?

M: I don't really know if I have a style yet, but a lot of people have told me that they can tell my style from how I edit it, because it looks like it's shot with film—something like that. But I'm still experimenting and seeing what works for me.

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A: I think my photos are mostly cinematic and film-y. Very moody. I think you can tell my photos were taken by a woman, it's really my branding talaga.

How can you tell if a photo was taken by a man or a woman?

A: When I look at a photo, I would be 90-percent correct when I say na alam ko na kuha ng babae o kuha ng lalaki. Lalo na when the model is a girl, like how shoots usually are. Like, our idea of sexy is very organic in the way na it's sensual. When a man directs a model’s pose, sometimes, I can tell talaga because he’ d make her move or sit differently. That's not how she sits. That's not how she places her fingers or her hands over her knee. Small things like that…mas malambot ang galaw. Mas matigas ang kuha ng lalaki.

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How do you make women more comfortable in front of a camera, especially when she’s wearing something sexy?

M: I would compliment her a lot. Usually, when I'm shooting bikinis, I'm gonna be in a bikini as well, so it's not awkward, and also because I don't want an ugly tan with a t-shirt on me! But yeah, if it's indoor, and it's for a bralette or something, I usually just keep on checking. I'll be like, 'Are you okay? Is this okay? Do you want to cover up?'

Has a guy ever hit on you while you were shooting?

A: Yup. Happens all the time. If I’m attracted to the guy, like if he’s my model, I feel like sometimes it creates a certain kind of tension that translates well in photos. But other times, it’s just, ‘Yo, this is weird man. Can we be professional about it?’

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M: For me, it’s more of like the bystanders, the random people around, but no one who’s actually part of the team or something.


So how was your experience during this shoot?

M: Exciting. I’ve never had this kind of shoot where I was shooting another female photographer while she was shooting me. [To Andrea] Have you ever done that before?

A: No, never. This is the first time.

M: It’s so fun!

A: Yeah, ‘no? Kasi we get it eh. Like, we have a rapport. Like, we’re both photographers and we both kind of know how to move and how to direct each other.

M: We kind of just know what the other person wants already. We just need to say something, and she’ll be like, ‘gotchu.’

A: It’s so easy, and I wish we had more time!

M: And it’s a nice experience when the model freaks out about the light just as much as you do. 

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How does it feel to be in front of the camera for a change?

A: Mandy’s always in front of the camera. 

M: It’s weird, but in a way, it’s a big learning experience. It’s a different kind of nervousness, I would say. Because when we’re shooting, we’re thinking about the shot, and when we’re modeling, we’re thinking about how we’re going to look. So I guess, I don’t know. It’s weird, but I bring that awareness with me about how I felt when I’m shooting other girls, so I can direct them better because I know what’s going on in their head since I’ve been in front before.

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A: I think it’s super fun, but also at the same time, I was worried that I would overdirect myself, like I would be super aware because I’m super anal about shit. I felt like I was going to be microdirecting, which I tend to do a lot when I ask other people to take photos of me. But when we got started, I was like, ‘You know what, I trust Mandy.’

M: Aww!

A: I trust her. So I relaxed, and it felt really great to put that kind of trust in another artist’s hands, and I could let go in a way. Because I’m always so tense, like, I want to get it right, you know? I thought I was gonna be like that. I was worried. But I had so much fun!

To read the full story, grab a copy of the September 2017 issue of FHM Philippines.

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*Some minor edits were made by the editors.

Photography Andrea Beldua & Mandy Martinez Makeup Gaile Palma Hair Iwa Ajinomoto Styling Kristine Toribio

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