By: Gello Ganon, John Bulanadi
"I'm just happy to help out," says Cecilia "Cez" Golez, full-time social media marketing consultant and part-time philanthropist who recently held a photoshoot for the benefit of LoveYourself.
#PopUpPortraitsPH and the Trio
Pop Up Portraits, Cez's brainchild, is a photoshoot with a cause that began in August 2015. Along with 32-year old Mica Ferrer, graphic designer, and Vince Ascalon, a 34-year old creative director, Cez, 34, jump started Pop Up Portraits in a living-room-turned-studio. Armed with tenure in photography, sufficient equipment, and a pint of spontaneity, the trio invited close friends and family to be the prime subjects of their first Pop Up Portraits project. They settled in employing monochrome as their preferred theme at the time, reflecting both elegance and simplicity.
To cap off its first year, the trio was able to raise funds for their first beneficiary, Caring Jesus Elementary School, a merit-based school at Bulacan that has partnered with Gawad Kalinga.
When asked how donees were selected, Cez replies, "I don't just randomly pick. I do exhaustive researches on my prospective beneficiaries, and I pick causes that are close to my heart."
At a studio in Makati, equipped with lights, backdrop, and a quirky crew, Pop Up Portraits opens its doors for 2016. This year, LoveYourself was chosen as its beneficiary.
Why LoveYourself? It's all thanks to Wanggo Gallaga, Cez's long-time best friend and active person living with HIV (PLHIV) advocate. Since 2009, Wanggo has appeared in several interviews. His efforts spearheaded the movement to bring the awareness of the epidemic in the forefront. But more so, it empowered other PLHIVs to come out of their closets and share their own stories.
LoveYourself popped up along one of their conversations, and staying true to her words, Cez chose HIV awareness as Pop Up Portraits' 2016 advocacy -- a cause that her friend has been championing for years.
Veering from the first photo shoot, Cez and her friends chose to portray subjects in color. Albeit set in a gray backdrop, the uniformity lies in the presence of white crates, which were meticulously adjusted to accommodate to the number of clients. It ranges from solo to a group photo with a maximum of three participants. Models can pose and express their creativity within a 30-minute time frame. The inspiration behind such is the Vanity Fair at the Oscar's, banking on portraits in muted colors and using the same props in all photographs to unify them.
The Woman Behind the Lenses
Cez, when working in her studio, is a woman in her element. She is a youthful photographer who exudes a sunny aura, easily establishing rapport with her charming smile and easygoing demeanor. These qualities lighten up her clients, loosening them up so they show their relaxed and genuine selves.
But it's not always an easy time for her during her shoots. A setback she often encounters lie in conflicts with the schedule of her clients and those who don’t arrive on time. She tries to be as strict as possible with the time slots but also maintains composure to be able to adjust to the circumstances when the need arises.
As Pop Up Portraits nears its 2nd out of its 3 Saturdays shoots, Cez sends her heartfelt message for LoveYourself: "Keep doing the amazing work of saving lives and we will be here to support you." Now a friend of LoveYourself, Cez says she is open for future collaborations with the organization, a possible opportunity that LoveYourself is also open and thankful for.
#PopUpPortraits Team with the authors
Looking back from behind the lenses beaming with her radiant smile, genuine contentment exudes from her simple yet meaningful words, “I’m really just happy I get to work with friends.”
For the PLHIVs whom she now champions, she wants to reach out and say that "You don't have to go through this alone. We're here to help make sure that you can get the support that you need."
To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org | P1,500 comes with 10 high-res digital files | September 24, October 1, October 15 | 10 AM to 6 PM | CitruSnap Studio, Unit 801 RCI Building, 105 Rada St., Legaspi Village, Makati City