Photography is still considered a male-dominated field. While there are no definite statistics, there are some studies that paint a conclusion that there are more male than female photographers. If we take a closer look, we would find that the male-female ratio would skew more in the favor of the men in terms of (female) model photography. Maybe it's natural : that the male species would appreciate the opposite gender more. However, there are lady photographers who make their mark in the model/glamour photography genre. Focus Bulacan is proud to have one in Erika Santos.
In the truest sense of the word, Erika is a photography professional. She works and earns full-time as a photographer. She covers events with her team in Bluprint Projekt, she owns a studio (aptly called the Bluprint Studio), she has a photobooth business (Happy Penguins), and to complete her arsenal, she is also a hair and makeup artist, aside from doing all her photos' layout. Talk about being an all-in-one. Of all these, what's most striking is her work with female models. While other women shooters would not even dare to try, Erika has excelled at bringing out the appeal of her models.
Here's our interview with featured Focus member for August, Erika Santos.
Q : You have a talent for shooting models, especially female models. What do you enjoy about model shoots that’s different from other genres?
Erika : I enjoy model shoots because I can basically control everything. I have my own little world, my studio, with no pressure, lots of learning which means trial and error. I love being in my own world. Weird, no? Haha. The introvert in me, talking, being a girl, we all know that girls are so vain. They want to look good like what they see on TV or magazines. I, myself am like that. Haha. I want to bring out the girly and sexy side of every girl. That’s my goal for shooting female models. Being a hair and makeup artist is also my advantage. I have the privilege to hone my makeup skills and shoot my makeup folio at the same time.
Q : Is this really what you planned all along when you put up your own studio, to have a place to improve your model shoots?
E : I didn't plan it at first. It was just a necessity for a newbie photographer like me before. I wanted to explore and learn more. I even converted my extra room into a small studio. My only lighting setup back then were an ordinary flash and umbrella. I upgraded my studio little by little. And Bluprint Studio was born.
Q : There are obviously more male photographers who shoot female models, than female photographers. In your case, do you see an advantage or disadvantage in shooting a female model, being female yourself? Do you think you see something else that the guys don’t?
E : Being a female photographer undoubtedly has its advantages, particularly in some of the areas I work in, like sexy shoots, maternity shoots and newborns. I do believe that it helps in intimate work. I notice girly details that male photographers don’t.
Q : What girly details do you mean?
E : Girly details like, because I'm also the hair and makeup artist, I know the best angle for her because I've seen her up close. Then I already know the insecurities of the model, their flaws like stretchmarks, black underarms, love handles, and I'm also sensitive to wardrobe malfunction, and I know which choice of wardrobe looks good on them.
Q : In your opinion, are female models more at ease with female photographers?
E : Female photographers have a feminine advantage, it's a major perk. Because we're the same gender, it's easier to make them feel relaxed. The female models tend to be more sensual and daring because they feel comfortable in working with a fellow female.
Q : What has been your most challenging model shoot to date? Or should we rephrase the question, who was your most challenging model?
E : It was a client shoot. I had trouble in shooting her because of her chin and her blank expression. But in the end, I did manage it and make her beautiful.
Q : If you could pick just one, what shoot are you most proud of?
E : I am most proud of my shoot with Bluprint Babe Samantha. She was well prepared, even though our shoot was done on short notice. I saw her passion of wanting to be a model.
Click on thumbnails to view some of Erika's female model photos :
Q : Aside from shooting models, what else do you like to shoot?
E : Aside from shooting models, I so love to do newborn and maternity shoots.
Q : Shooting people is indeed challenging. How do you get your subjects in the mood?
E : Being a photographer means being a people person. Each subject must be judged quickly and an appropriate approach taken for each. I engage shy clients in conversation to help them forget the camera. But sometimes I really have a hard time on this. Because I'm really a timid person and to be a people person is a big challenge. Haha.
Q: Are there other genres you’d like to try or shoot more often?
E : I’d like to do fashion photography. I’m planning to take lessons about it.
Q : By the way, tell us how you got into photography.
E : I’m a frustrated painter, I love drawing people specifically portraits since I was a child. Shooting portraits for me is like painting. Instead of using paper and charcoal pencil, now I use camera and lights to capture the emotions of my model. I got my very first camera way back 2009 or 2010. It was a birthday gift from my parents. And that was the start.
Q : What’s the most memorable photography experience you’ve had so far?
E : Memorable experience so far? Being a photographer in a modeling competition. We shot in an abandoned hospital. And it was so creepy. I think it was my first time to do a concept shoot and having a creative team with me made it more memorable._
Q : Now that you’re making a living from photography, do you have specific goals in mind that you’d like to achieve, in terms of being a professional?
E : My goal is to make Bluprint Studio be known not only for studio rental but also as a studio specialized in newborn, maternity and boudoir shoots.
Q : Just curious, what’s your favorite lens to use? And what’s your dream lens?
E : So far the lens I like to use most is the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art series. My dream lens are the Canon 24-70mm and 135mm, and the 50mm f/1.4 Sigma Art series.
Q : We noticed that you always try to upgrade your studio. What would your ideal studio be like?
E : I want to have a complete studio. Complete lights, big space, nice and classy receiving area, complete props and backgrounds. I want my studio to be like The Stork Studio or Picture Company.
Q : What’s your message for aspiring photographers out there, especially lady photographers?
E : There are still people who are sexist. They are not into the idea of having a female photographer. That photography is a man’s job. But don’t lose hope, girls who want to be a female photographer like me. If that’s your passion, strive hard and put your game face on! Haha. After all, we are trying to make a living from the craft that we love.
Q : Please give a shoutout to Focus Bulacan followers.
E : Hello, Focus! Thanks for having me as a member. Focus is not just a photography club. For me it’s like a family who is there to support and encourage you to strive more and be better in the craft that we all love. Focus Bulacan is always welcome here in Bluprint Studio. Continue to inspire aspiring photographers and mold them to be good ones! Kudos to Focus Bulacan! Thank you! And God bless us!
Q : You might want to invite them to your studio...
E : Hi! Please like my page Bluprint Studio and Bluprint Projekt! For studio rental needs, photoshoot and makeup services just contact me at 09057936090 or PM me at Bluprint Studio. For your photobooth needs I have Happy Penguins photobooth, kindly like that page also! Thanks!
Photography is a universal art but photographers have distinct sets of skills, preferences, weaknesses, and genres. Different factors may affect your success in photography, but time and again, we are reminded that gender isn't one of them. There's no reason why a woman can't achieve what a man can. After all, the camera couldn't tell the gender of its user.
Every month, we have a feature on our members, our photography idols, and other photography issues we feel deserve a heads-up.