February 08, 2016 / 18:20 PM
At the beginning of the year, I whispered a bold prayer to the Universe. I told my Greatest Love I was willing to let go of the familiar, the comfortable to discover His unfathomable, vast creation. I no longer wanted to be cooped up in this safe space I built for myself. I longed for untouched trails to have a greater understanding of His artistry. I wanted to see, to revel in, and record His glory. And so, He answered with a powerful, resounding yes.
This week has been an incredible whirlwind of scenic views from dreamy Coron. Pastel colored sunsets, lush greens, pristine waters, and powder-fine white sand beaches…this is my reality, and it is infinitely more than what I deserve.
Dear universe, I am so glad to be alive in you.
December 09, 2015 / 12:00 PM
“What I see is that look in her eyes, the one that says she’s worthy of that stare, that all the attention is well-deserved. That’s when I click the shutter.”
(BJ Pascual, PUSH)
Through the years of taking portraits – I started in 2011 – I’ve come to photograph the same faces over and over again. My friends have always been so gracious to allow me to, if I may humbly say so, reveal parts of themselves they have not seen or they do not know to even exist.
My subjects transform right before my eyes.
It is so beautiful to see newfound courage and confidence in other people, especially those most dear to you. To be able to say that I am part of that change, even in the smallest of ways, gives me more reason to come back to portraiture again and again.
Photography, Styling, and Make-up: Elisa Aquino
Model: Samie Betia
November 29, 2015 / 12:00 PM
“How are you?”
“I’m in a really good place right now.”
Lately, I’ve been taking the time to get in touch with a lot of my friends who are younger than me, and I find that they can teach me so much about humility, faith, and love.
My perception of the three have been tainted – not stained – by experience through the years that I’ve learned to simply humble myself, step back, and start rediscovering the goodness I can only fully understand and accept through someone else’s discerning heart and eyes.
I am grateful that there are people who continue to show me that I am human – limited, capable of hurting, and prone to error. Only in this light am I able to become the best I could and I pray to be.
Portraiture allows me to constantly show people that their beauty is a gift they can fully receive and revel in. This continues to give me purpose when I am doubtful about my journey. Others have stained the idea of beauty that it no longer becomes a woman’s source of power but of shame. I pray that I be given more opportunities to share this message to women everywhere.
Thank you for your effervescent light and love, Ica. Believe me when I say that you are so beautiful!
Photography, Styling, and Make-up: Elisa Aquino
November 19, 2015 / 12:00 PM
(Makeup Revolution London Beyond Flawless Ultra Eyeshadows Palette, Ultra Blush Palette in Golden Sugar, Radiance Highlighter Palette, and Goddess of Love Triple Baked Highlighter)
(Salvation Velvet Lacquer in What I Believe, Keep Crying For You, and Keep Lying For You)
This entry has been on my drafts for a while, and I felt that it was only just to finally take the time and continue what I started.
Makeup Revolution London has been on my to try-list for months upon seeing their eyeshadow and blush(er) palettes, which are both an absolute feast for the eyes. Their products are difficult to find. My entire haul was from Superdrug in London with the help of an amazing friend who visited a few months back. The drugstore brand is also (finally!) available in Ulta for US residents. They’re ridiculously cheap – think a couple hundred bucks for a single item – so I didn’t really expect so much from the products.
Edit: I found myself drawn to Zalora’s website a few days ago and found that the brand is available there – products are sadly very limited.
The website is a riot to scroll through. If I could, I would offer my services (for free) and proofread and rewrite their horribly punctuated, capitalized, and spelled descriptions and whatnot.
Beyond Flawless Ultra Eyeshadows Palette (£8/P570)
I am awful at eye make-up, that’s a no-brainer. My day-to-day routine consists of my trusted Shu Uemura eyelash curler, my 3-month old Essence volume mascara (I have yet to replace), and my Maybelline Colorshow eyeliner in Shiny Beige I can’t possibly live without.
I try to learn how to do my eyes other than the usual way I would because really, there is no point in watching YouTube beauty tutorials on a daily basis if I don’t execute my learnings.
The Beyond Flawless palette has 32 natural colors for both daytime and nighttime. It contains mostly shimmer shadows so if you’re allergic to glitter, better purchase the other available matte palette (Flawless Matte).
They’re significantly pigmented. The colors are ravishing, especially for someone who prefers earthly tones. They stay on a pretty good amount of time depending on your use of eye primer and/or setting spray. Also, just a quick mention, they are smaller in real life so I was a bit underwhelmed when the package arrived although that gives me more reason to get other eyeshadow palettes. *winks*
Ultra Blush Palette in Golden Sugar (£6/P430)
The palette is an overwhelming collection of bronzers, merged blushers, baked bronzers, and merged baked highlighters. How can you not give the palette a chance once you’ve seen how beautiful they look (in photographs)?
The products did not meet my expectations. They were very chalky. Also, If you have scars or blemishes on your face, it may tend to highlight them and make them more noticeable.
I personally believe they work better as highlighters than blushes. What I normally do is I use a separate matte blush and then add one of the baked blushes on top to make my face look extra glowy. You can skip your entire highlighter regimen for a more natural look. Alone, they’re horrible but try the product with something else, and it changes everything.
Radiance Highlighter Palette (£8/P570)
I was so, so, so excited for the palette – not that I really needed anymore. The Radiance Highlighter Palette comes with three colors best for medium to dark skin. It conveniently comes with a full-size mirror too, as with the other palettes in this particular haul.
Instead of using a fan brush, I use my finger to apply the illuminator on the high points of my face, which the sun would normally hit for that extra glow factor. They look incredible – not as good as my Benefit Watt’s Up, of course – but they don’t last very long, a couple of hours (2-3 hours max).
Goddess of Love Triple Baked Highlighter (£4.99/P360)
This is my absolute favorite from the bunch. The Goddess of Love baked highlighter – a bestseller – is a gem. It is reminiscent of ELF’s long-lasting baked highlighters, which make you feel like a unicorn after every use.
For a pretty light shade, it looks good on my morena skin, which was a big surprise to me. Dare I say that I can actually use this every day?
Salvation Velvet Lip Lacquer (£3/P220)
I have so much feelings for Makeup Revolution’s lip products. The Velvet Lip Lacquers are ‘lip glosses’ that dry into a completely matte finish. There are 10 equally bold colors with amusing names I can probably find in a future Taylor Swift or Carly Rae Jepsen record (I Fall in Love, What I Believe, Keep Trying For You, Keep Lying For You, Keep Flying For You, You Took My Love, Black Heart, etc).
They claim to last from day to night but they transfer so easily (from being in contact with just your own saliva, water, and other liquids); the product’s gone in less than an hour. They also define the lines on your lips, which make it look horrid. From all the other liquid lipsticks I’ve tried from the market, this is the most drying. The color pigmentation is perfect – the colors are intense and true to the packaging – if only the formula was as good.
All in all, the products are okay. I’m not very sure if I’d like to purchase more from the brand in the future, given other really good drugstore choices with the same price range.
Let me know if there’s something from the brand that’s worked well for you!
October 12, 2015 / 12:00 PM
I am surprised by joy.
I look around me, and I see a tapestry of blinding, effervescent color. Fabrics designed so dutifully, flora cautiously tethered together, ceramics of all shapes and sizes molded by weary hands. Every piece is part of this spectacular feast for the eyes, and I am so, so overwhelmed. I cannot fathom the reality of the now, and I wonder, am I dreaming? Is this truly my life?
I am reminded how very little and insignificant I am – my weight, my problems. Love is greater, it encompasses my unbelief. It is greater than me. I find it in the soulful eyes of strangers, in the little acts of faith of those I know nothing about, in their diligence.
I am always grateful for the humbling gift of photography. For teaching me to see(k) something greater than myself. To see others as more beautiful than I am. To see light in dark places.
Photographs make everything so real.
They take a moment so sacred, capture it, and preserve it so that we may be able to live out its divinity again and again. It may not make sense but we are comforted by the idyllic reality that once was but now is not.
We photograph the places where we leave bits of our hearts and souls in. We photograph the people we want to always stay. We photograph ourselves to see some sort of progress. We photograph because we are nostalgic creatures who need to be reminded that life is ephemeral, and nothing ever stays the same.
This is my life, and my God, I cannot believe I am living it.