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Why FaceTime Photoshoots Define Quarantine Photography and Beyond with Mavic De Castro
Words by Chez Cuenca
Photos by Mavic De Castro
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Artists around the world have been finding ways to shift their work into the digital space amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. One of them is Manila-based photographer Mavic De Castro, an up-and-coming photographer from the Philippines who has reinvented her artistic process through “FaceTime photoshoots”. To learn more about this talented photographer, CONVO interviewed her through Instagram to talk about her latest project titled “Quaranzine.”

Q. I just want to ask how are you? Especially as a photographer amidst the pandemic and everything's that happening right now

A. I'm pretty much lucky to be overall alright! I'm safe, however, it has been draining and tiring as a photographer to come up with new ways to be creative. The recent events with protests in all countries haven't been helpful mentally too.

Q. You said it's hard to come up with something new, so let's talk about Facetime photoshoots which you've done already. Was it something you came up with on your own?

A. It's actually not! A couple of other photographers have been doing it already but at the time the only ones I've seen were from 3 different photographers. I originally just did it to work with the models I had to cancel shoots with because of a lockdown, but then I eventually saw an opportunity to work with models outside of the country as well.

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Q. For photographers like you, I could guess how challenging it was to do this type of shoot. How did you overcome the challenges you faced?

A. For me, the most important thing is to get the model comfortable no matter what. So I talk things with them before the shoot and when we're actually on a call, so everything goes smoothly and we try to get the best results. It's admittedly more challenging though with the time difference and technical difficulties.

Q. Speaking about your models in this shoot, your subjects were people. Why did you focus on them as your subject?

A. I like having people as my subjects in my photos, and this online photoshoot idea allowed me to work with more diverse and some even more experienced models, which I find interesting to photograph and work with.

Q. I also noticed that you portrayed [your models] in a raw and vulnerable light. I actually saw on your page that you like to focus on the "real, raw, and right", so how did that play into your photoshoot process?

A. It's honestly something I've been wanting to do and experiment more, but considering the Philippines is a conservative country and most models work with fashion/commercial shoots more, it's been hard. So my first nude photoshoot is actually through facetime and it's really eye-opening! Nudity can be portrayed differently and I'm actually glad I got the opportunity to do it online first so I can take notes on it for when I can do it in real life.

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Q. Does this project have a bigger purpose? What message is it trying to portray?

A. To be honest, my online photoshoots have just been very experimental and more as a way of growing connections with brands and models all across the world, which is something other photographers have been doing. But I also want to make it a point that photography has no boundaries, and this is because I came across a much more professional photographer's post going against online photoshoots as "photography".

Q. You always made it a point to advocate photography having no boundaries. Can you tell me more about how online photoshoots can expand the way we do and think about photography?

A. This entire online photoshoot challenge further proves the "You don't need a fancy camera to take good/meaningful photos". I can definitely say that doing this has helped me think about what I like and what I don't like about a certain photograph based on my style, so in my opinion, doing and experiencing this first hand really changes some perspectives, and this is different with each person based on their shoots as well.

Q. I love that statement! Now that you've tried online photoshoots, what can you say to other photographers who want to try it out?

A. Thank you! And all I can say is it definitely is a must-try, especially for beginner photographers who haven't gone on as many photoshoots yet and are still on the road to find out what their style is. Doing online photoshoots also gives you a larger chance to be able to work with professional models who usually ask for payment for actual photoshoots, so just being able to work with them and learn from them is already really helpful for me!

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Q. Cool! I just wanna ask what's in store for you? Now in this "new normal", do you have anything in mind for the future of your photography?

A. I still really want to get back to the "old normal" photography routine. It definitely is still different to be in the same location as everyone else that you're working with on that shoot. But for now, I'm still planning to do more online photoshoots!

Q. Before we end, is there anything you'd like to add? Anything you'd like to promote?

A. Since it's a current issue, to any photographer who's attending protests both inside and outside of our country, we should all do our research first and practice proper photography etiquette. These sorts of things are meant to be documented, not fabricated. Photos speak much louder than words, and it really is our responsibility to make sure that the photos we share tell the truth but also make sure that the protestors are safe.

JULY 9, 2020

This interview was conducted and condensed by Chez Cuenca.

All images courtesy of Mavic De Castro