As The Cips

Kean. Chynna. Stellar. I first called them “The Cips” after their wedding and it stuck. You will see, this blog post is different from the rest because here, there is history and an ongoing relationship with the subjects. Treat this as a walk down memory lane.

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In the order of my life, first, there was Lara (Chynna as others know her). We’ve been through a lot together. Through the different phases in our lives, we experienced each other’s realities and truths.

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We splashed scattered thoughts on the walls and captured them together. Lara’s work was actually was a huge inspiration when it came to starting my writings.

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Without judgement or ego, we conversed. Together, we could just be. Then after a while, came someone named Kean.

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I am in no position to divulge their whole love story to the public, but let me just say that I feel honored to bear witness to the growth of their love, and family. Seeing their love from my perspective made me stronger.

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Love survives tears of stormy rain and gives one reason to smile the weather away.

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Ever since we were in school, I relentlessly captured memories. As my one friend aptly described before, “Bibili lang ng siomai, may dala pa siyang camera.” So, I shared what I had of Lara with Kean. Our shared memories captured through a lens aka our high school album.

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Remember that joy is greater sincerely shared.

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Then came Pea (Stellar)!!! And I became a her godmother.

The day these photos were taken, I was so happy I had playmates! Naturally, I whipped out my camera and had an instant photoshoot.

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No make up, no intended styling. Just with the Cips, as they are.

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Goofing around, and just being the best kind of friends – with authenticity and sincerity.

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And most importantly, true to form regarding who they really are.

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Sometimes, I wonder about Peanut. What’s in store for this child who has such talented parents. I know not what is in store for her, but certainly something bewilderingly beautiful.

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AS: Cher

AS: is a spinoff of my “As…” Series. A = artist’s and S = sitting. Traditionally, models seated for artists in paintings and such during the olden times. In this case, it is when I capture someone who is not by-definition a “model” in the sense of the fashion world. I get so many comments like, “You only shoot models?” and “Of course your photos will turn out great, you have pretty subjects.” Let me tell you this, it’s all a matter of perspective. Yes, I only shoot models in the sense that whoever I photograph becomes a model (mine). And let me say this AGAIN, there is beauty in everyone and everything. It’s just a matter of perspective!

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Meet Cheryl Tiu, a woman whose passion lies in promoting cross cultural understanding through the exchange of food.

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Her accolades are numerous, but what I want to shed light on here is her beautiful soul.

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I first met Cheryl during a shoot for The Philippine Star, with so little time, we hit it off talking in the elevator. Then time passed and we both found ourselves in the city called New York. I went to Harlem with her for the first time (because, true to form, there was a restaurant there that piqued her interest). It was quite an adventure.

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Then we went to spend time at Chelsea, which I loved. We took some photos at the High Line, and one of the photos she took of me, I used as my profile photo for my first solo show, Lucid Dreaming, last April 2017. Full disclosure, I am hard to please when it comes to photos of me because I am my own biggest critic.

Anyway, living productive lives, it was only during this shoot we saw each other again. We caught up and it was wonderful.

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Our time together was business and pleasure combined. Got to shoot AND catch up. How wonderful!

So there, cheers to all the naysayers who only thinks I shoot fashion models. Haha! Lighten up, you’re beautiful in your own way. But remember, you attract what you are.

Model: Cheryl Tiu
Make up: Lindsay Co-alog
Hair: Mel
Photos: Ritz Marie

As Karolina

Welcome to my “As…” series. Where I capture beings as they are.

Meet Karolina, a Lithuanian model currently in Manila.

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While waiting for the rest of the team, I decided to do some shots with her without any make up and she obliged. Those are the best kinds of models, to be honest. Comfortable with themselves regardless of what they are wearing and able to brave the camera with bare faced strength.

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As I delightfully played with light, she danced for me.

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After a while, I let her lay down and rest.

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Before facing another battle, one must be still.

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And listen to the forces unseen. To voices that whisper and spirits that speak.

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They will make you remember that, this battle you have already won. Before being who you are, you were one of the whisperers from the unlocked skies. Re-member with yourselves and speak of the war that has passed with love for what it was.

Model: Karolina (Elite Manila)
Stylist: Chris Lee
Photographer: Ritz Marie

As Stig

When I first started out as a photographer, the only elements in the shoot would be the model and myself. As time went on, I was unable to mount these types of shoots anymore. Because models would’t want to be seen “as is” – they would always ask for a make-up artist and stylist and the works. Quite demanding, actually. For an unpaid test shoot. I got tired of it and I gave up and stopped asking models to shoot with me one on one. I’d schedule shoots with a lot of people on set – sometimes there can be too much sound going around.

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Then Stig came along. The original plan had all these other creatives involved. But as destiny would have it, they had to reschedule. I messaged him to trust me and resume with the shoot – he gladly obliged.

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I decided I would dedicate the day to get to know Stig and shoot him. And boy, did we vibe. Look closely at these photos and you will see a conversation of souls – free of ego, full of consciousness.

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I came as Ritz and him, as Stig. No one and nothing else mattered. The present was lived and captured. Both honest about who we are to each other, common ground was found. Found in the trials and victories of life are valuable lessons we uncannily noticed.

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Moments of particular fondness drew us closer.

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He shed himself in front of the camera and right before by eyes – it was a spectacle to watch him transform.

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Model: Stig (Elite Manila)
Photographer: Ritz Marie