It was a case of teamwork, strategic submission of entries, and an unintentional advantage.
When couple Michael Caletina and Andrea Mariel Tormo found out who they'll be teaming up with for the LoveShoot competition, they knew they were in good hands. A photographer himself, Michael was aware two of his teammates were in the wedding photography industry. "Sumali ako sa LoveShoot kasi gusto ko ako naman 'yung ma-shoot. Para maiba naman," revealed Michael, who works in sales for a mobile phone retailing company but also shoots weddings and events on the side. In fact, it was in a kiddie party that he covered 20 months ago where he met Andrea. After the event, he asked for the client's friends for their numbers, to remind them that he's available should they need photographers for their events... but of course with the real intention to eventually get Andrea's cellphone number. Style, as they say.
Now being the photoshoot subject with his beloved, Michael was confident the team would get the shots that they want. Especially since he's already familiar with Dennis Santos and Erick Mendiola, his LoveShoot teammates who have been in the wedding industry for a couple of years now. "As a photographer, alam ko na 'yung mga poses, tapos 'yung teammates ko wedding shooters na rin," added Michael about the advantage of Team M&M (which stands for "M"ichael and Andrea "M"ariel).
Dennis and Erick, for their part, made it a point to let their two co-shooters on the team, Kat Centeno and Brian Santos, get in a lot of shots so they could immerse themselves in the art of prenup photography. "Kami kasi ni Dennis alam na namin 'yung ganung setup, kaya talagang pinauna naming mag-shoot sila Katcen and Brian para ma-experience nila nang husto ang prenup style shoot," said Erick, an in-demand wedding photographer in Bulacan and Metro Manila.
Experience was not really a concern for the team (as opposed to other LoveShoot teams that didn't have adept prenup shooters), rather it was the location that they found challenging. "Nagkaroon kami ng biglaang change of plans sa location, pero nagawa naman namin 'yung mga shots na hanap namin," said Dennis. Team M&M had three shooting sites - Ciudad Clemente in Paombong, Malolos Sports & Convention Center, and somewhere in nearby Capitol View. Compared to most of the other teams, M&M chose to stay close to home. As Erick put it, "Basta ako ang hinanap ko lang na location, 'yung may magandang puno para sa back-lit shot. Kasi gusto ko talagang gawin 'yun," referring to one of their official entries that featured the couple standing under a tree with a flash firing behind them.
"Madilim na noon, hinabol na lang namin 'yung shot na 'yun, tapos habang nagshu-shoot kami may taong nagsabi na mag-ingat kami kasi baka mabubog daw kami." It was Kat who suggested the location in Capitol View, remembering that tree from a previous shooting activity of Focus Bulacan. The X factor of the photo, meanwhile, was something the team didn't even plan. "Nagkataon may nagsisiga, kaya mausok. Ayun nagkaroon pa tuloy ng smoky effect, hahaha," recalled Dennis.
For the team's designated makeup artist, Cassandra Dockers, doing her work was a breeze. "Effortless sila, very light makeup lang," claimed Cassandra, also sharing that she was really happy when she was assigned to the team and couple (team designation was done by drawing of lots during the LoveShoot orientation), as she found Andrea and Michael naturally good-looking. The team also got help for the couple's accessories. Barbie Batimana provided complements to the clothes that the couple chose for their shoot. "Pinakita lang nila 'yung pic ng clothes nila online, tapos nagpadala si Barbie ng matching accessories," added Cassandra.
The team was all praises for Michael and Andrea. "Very game sila sa poses. Walang arte," Kat said. Asked what was the most challenging pose they had to do, the couple was in unison : the tractor shot. "Pinakamahirap 'yung pag-akyat sa tractor. Ang taas kasi," answered Andrea, while for Michael, "ang hirap umakyat dahil din sa clothes namin. May isa pa nga akong gustong akyatin, pero 'di kaya kasi 'yung pants ko." In the end though, it was all worth it as the team was able to execute the shot they had planned.
The shoot took six hours from preps (make-up) to finish. An eventful and well-spent February 25, the date that the teammates scheduled the shoot. They had to take leave from work, especially Andrea who has only been in the bank she's working in for 3 months. During the group's dinner after the pictorial session, the shooters showed the couple a preview of the photos in their cameras' screens. They felt confident that they stood a good chance to win the competition. "Tiwala naman ako sa shooters, magagaling sila eh," beamed Michael. Andrea felt the same... until she saw the other teams' entries when the previews were revealed in Focus Bulacan's Facebook page, "Maganda 'yung sa amin, pero noong nakita ko 'yung sa ibang teams, medyo nag-doubt ako kung kami 'yung mapipili ng judges. Ang ganda din kasi nung sa iba. Lalo na 'yung sa Team Coolits, ang pretty kasi nung girl."
Little did they know, their teammates already had a strategy for the judging. Before submitting the team's official entries for the contest, they screened their photos with the help of their own set of judges. "Apat kasi kaming shooters, tapos 'yung official entries per team lima lang, kaya para 'di na kami magtalo, kumuha kami ng judges para pumili kung aling photos ang gagawin naming entries," disclosed Erick, adding that the group agreed that whichever photos were picked by their own judges, they would support. For the team and its chances of winning. Team M&M asked four wedding photographers - connections in the industry - to help gauge which among the twenty photos (each shooting member submitted 5 photos for consideration) would best give the team a chance for victory, namely Jun Estacio, Bernard Aniversario, Michael Galang, and Jel Aguillon.
Team M&M's other official entries
Team M&M's entries went through a thorough screening process, ensuring that what they presented the official judges were the best from their bunch. A clever idea, to say the least. It also gave the team an impartial assessment of their photos. In the end, three of Erick's photos were selected, while two came from Dennis - a fact that Kat and Brian accepted, being team players.
It eventually paid off, as Team M&M got the first-place votes of 3 judges, while securing third-place votes from 2 more (check the results here). "Honestly, noong una akala ko talaga Coolits or Infinity 'yung mananalo, ang ganda kasi nung sa kanila. Nagulat rin kami na sa amin 'yung napili ng judges," said Erick. "Noong nagkasama kami ni Erick sa same team, sabi namin, patay tayo sa ibang teams nito. Tayo kasi nandito na tayo sa ganitong genre, sila fresh pa ang ideas. Medyo surprised din na nanalo kami," quipped Dennis. The couple, as expected, was ecstatic upon learning that they won. The good news also came shortly before they went on an out-of-town trip. "Nag-celebrate kami, haha. Sana nga kasama ang buong team," offered Michael, the photographer-turned-model.
A total team effort, from the planning to the execution, up until the screening and sacrificing for the good of the group. An effort made easier by every team member doing what's expected of them. The result? An indisputable win. And a feel-good story.
Congratulations once again to Team M&M for winning our LoveShoot competition.
Other photos :
Every month, we have a feature on our members, our photography idols, and other photography issues we feel deserve a heads-up.