Elopement wedding in Apulit Island El Nido Resorts: Struan & Nedal’s elopement wedding photos x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. Apulit Island Resort, El Nido Resorts, Taytay, Northern Palawan, Philippines. Leica M. Sony A7RII. VSCO. Voigtlander lenses.
Nedal is a fellow street photographer, which goes without saying that she wanted a full-on, 100% photojournalistic, street photography shoot for her elopement in Apulit. [Absolutely no posing, I swear!!!]
Interestingly enough, Struan and Nedal met in a street protest in Sydney, so while doing the shoot, we had an intellectual exchange that revolved around varying political worldviews: from the Apartheid, to Australia Day-Invasion Day and how the Aboriginals are the most marginalized ethnic group in the world (and how the world isn't aware of it!), not to mention the ever-controversial plight of Palestinians in Israel (or Palestine, depending on which side of the fence you're on). (For the record, I'm pro-Israel - my Lord and Savior was a Jewish carpenter - but it would do everyone a favor if we just sat down and listened to each other. Respect.) Excuse me while I play my Rage Against the Machine Spotify playlist and detune my guitar to Drop D.
Influencer lifestyle portraits and fashion shoot in El Nido. Marina Bastarache photos x @redsheepphotocinema. Shot on location: Corong-Corong, Lio, Nacpan Beach and Las Cabanas, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. February 2018. Marina Bastarache for @juneswimwear and @bikinivillage.
A celebrity lifestyle and fashion shoot in El Nido featuring Canadian TV host, model and social media influencer Marina Bastarache. Sounds like a pipe dream for a guy who primarily shoots beach weddings. I was more than ready to show Mademoiselle Marina my favorite shooting spots in El Nido, but lo and behold, early morning of Valentine’s Day: "Gale Warning. All island tours cancelled."
A fashion shoot in El Nido without access to any of its iconic islands?!? Isn't El Nido essentially about island hopping in Bacuit Bay? It felt like hitting a brick wall when I found out about the coast guard's announcement. And like sea salt sans artisanal ice cream to an open wound, the weather that morning was close to perfect! Well, that was until 2PM. The thing is, even if it was bright and sunny in the morning, it could go really bad and stormy in the afternoon. Anyone who went out for an island hopping tour might not be able to make it back once the waves go pounding! The Philippine Coast Guard made a good call. Seriously.
And I thought we had it all figured out - Snake Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Entalula and both Lagoons - a private custom tour in a well-planned sequence to minimize photobombers and hordes of selfie-stick'ers; such was Plan A, with at least five sets of swimwear. We already took note what to wear and where.
Enter: Plan B. From Bacuit Bay to its bayside beaches. From island to mainland: Corong-Corong, Lio, Nacpan and Las Cabanas - all of which are worthy alternatives having their own unique charm. Am I right, @marinabastarache? *smiley*
Adventure engagement in Cadlao Island & Big Lagoon, El Nido. Peter and Alexis' adventure engagement photos x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. April 2018. Big Lagoon, Lagen Sandbar, Pinagbuyutan Island, Ipil Beach, Miniloc Island (El Nido Resorts) and Cadlao Island, Palawan, Philippines. My first shoot (and last) with the Fuji X-H1. GoPro Hero 5 Black + Shoot Dome Port 5.0 + Leica M240 + Sony A7SII + VSCO Film.
Yes. That’s it. *pause for effect*
Take it all in.
Because fifteen minutes from now, it will all change:
from calm to chaos;
from the chirping of birds - the creaking of cicadas, to the whirring of motorboats;
from the three of us sharing pleasantries, to that rowdy group tour’s quasi obscenities.
Fourteen minutes and forty seconds to go, before this tranquil silence fades away.
What just might be the best reason to stay in Miniloc - that two-hour window of the Big Lagoon’s pristine beauty - would have to wait another day.
I got a little poetic there. And this Big Lagoon thing is just one set in Peter and Alexis’ adventure engagement session in El Nido, Palawan. Sharing with you guys our 2-day itinerary.
Day One: On an indigenous outrigger boat or a bangka.
Picturesque, but going from one place to another takes 40 minutes.
3:00PM Lagen Island Sandbar
4:30PM Pinagbuyutan Island. There are no more tourists by this time, but you only have a 30-minute window for shooting because the island is east-facing.
5:30PM Bacuit Bay sunset cruise
7:30PM Starry night shoot at Miniloc Island Resort
Day Two: On a kayak. And a speedboat.
Everything is just 10 minutes away.
7:00AM Kayak from Miniloc Island Resort to the Big Lagoon. There in 10 minutes. Figuratively a stone’s throw away. Literally five stone’s throws away if you have a decathlete’s right arm.
9:00AM The tourists slowly trickle in. Time to go back to Miniloc.
4:00PM Cadlao Island
5:00PM Ipil Beach until evening
It’s quite funny that in one of her emails, Alexis was worried that they wouldn’t have enough free time to enjoy El Nido because we were shooting for two days. The thing is, redsheep shoots are free time to actually enjoy El Nido. *smiley with a wink*
Coron Philippines engagement photos: Renaud & Kat’s adventure engagement session in Coron, Palawan x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. Shot on location: Twin Lagoons, Kayangan Lake, Club Paradise and Malpagalen Island, Coron & Busuanga, Northern Palawan, Philippines. Leica M. VSCO.
From Renaud & Kat [not in verbatim] “We wanted something not just about us — something a little bit more travel adventure-y. Perhaps imagery that would compel our undecided wedding guests from France to fly 11,000 km all the way to Palawan. Something that would evoke a non-negotiable ‘OMG-I-MUST-GO-TO-THAT-WEDDING’ feeling. Like your usual photos.”
And so, here’s a little bit of something for everyone: for the “composition is king” camp; those fanatic about framing and all things geometric; or to the “emotions above all” type, adherents of the #loveauthentic and #momentsovermountains movement; from the travel-adventure-y to the GoPro dome underwater-y; foreground blur fiends; street reportage meets soft glam; team #tinypeopleinbigplaces; everything that we normally do (minus the night sky shots); all these, woven together by organic storytelling and authenticity, as always.
Elopement wedding in Pangulasian & Lagen Island, El Nido Resorts: John & Angela’s elopement / intimate beach wedding photos & video x destination wedding photographer & cinematographer @redsheepphotocinema. Shot and filmed on location: Pangulasian Island Resort and Lagen Cove 2, El Nido Resorts, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. Leica M. Sony A7RII. VSCO.
When your then boyfriend makes a song for you and eight years later, you use it for your wedding video. #relatable
On a serious note, this song, "The Island" by John Hardwick - the groom himself! - is simply beautiful and we're so honored to use it for our very first elopement film.
January 29, 2017. 7:20 AM. As I was waiting for the boat to take us to the island, I read an email from Angela that was sent the day before. The words “EXTREME rain tomorrow during our entire ceremony” leaped from the screen of my beloved P9. And all the weather apps in Androidom and iOSphere concurred: the chance of extreme rain was indeed high and very likely, borderline “a definite certainity”, right at the corner of “you’re damn right” avenue. But strangely, being a control freak and all, I felt this sense of calm that was totally the opposite of what was evoked by the dark, foreboding clouds that were already upon us. I mean, I’ve seen the good Lord calm waves, clear up skies, and grant us a Milky Way shot in what should have been an extremely cloudy, let alone starless night. [This one.] Hardcore Grace FTW. And even if it did rain, I was glad to know that John, Angela and I were all on the same page: we will shoot outdoors no matter what, and no amount of rain will drive us inside a conference room or a clubhouse. (You can still see the threat of extreme rain in most of the photos.)Fun Fact: The photos in this portfolio blog entry are 95% organic. As always, I just tell my clients where to stand; the what’s, when’s, and how’s are kept as candid and organic as possible.
Not-so-Fun Opinion: Like steak sauce or gravy to a 28-day Dry Aged Bone-in Rib Eye are intrusive instructions and contrived poses to what are otherwise genuinely spontaneous moments together.
Elopement wedding in Pangulasian & Miniloc Island, El Nido Resorts. Livio & Tsunade’s elopement wedding photos x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. February 2018. Pangulasian Island Resort & Miniloc Island Resort, El Nido Resorts; Big Lagoon Beach and Pinagbuyutan Island, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. Leica M. Sony A7RII. VSCO.
Chapter One: "Scarlet"
"It has to be perfect."
It took Tsunade one hour to put on her scarlet kimono. One hour - even with Livio's help. But I didn't mind at all. My eyes were glued to my newly purchased viewfinder, shooting almost ceaselessly as one would expect from someone seeing something as intricately beautiful as this for the first time. Everything had to be done in the correct manner, as spot on as a Marunouchi Line subway on a Monday rush hour. A wrong overlap of the fabric would imply going to a funeral instead of a wedding. And the consequence? Thankfully not utter banishment or something as dire as seppuku [ 切腹 ]. "My relatives will just make fun of me." *sweat drop*
Adventure engagement session in Siargao Island: Mace & Leda’s adventure engagement photos x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. Cloud 9, That Fallen Tree, Magpupungko, Shaka Cafe, Tuazon Point and our very own secret spot, Siargao Island, Philippines. Leica M. Sony A7S II. GoPro6 + Dome Port. VSCO. Voigtlander lenses.
El Nido adventure engagement photos: Bryan & Jade’s adventure prenup session in El Nido, Palawan x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. Shot on location: Nacpan Beach, Cadlao Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Las Cabanas and Maremegmeg Beach Bar, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. Sony A7SII. Leica M. VSCO.
Adventure engagement in Cadlao Island, El Nido, Philippines. El Nido Island Tour D travel and lifestyle photos x @redsheepphotocinema. Private island tour of Cadlao Island and Ipil Beach, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. GoPro Hero 5 Black + Sony A7R II.
I have a problem. A good one. I'm running out of shooting spots in El Nido. I've been shooting almost every week since the year started and I want to give my clients something more than my usual Bacuit Triangle: the coconut tree-lined shores of Pinagbuyutan Island, the Lagen Island Sandbar - easily the best place to shoot an hour before sunset thanks to Lagen Island's silhouette - and the third vertex, the west of Bacuit Bay sunset cruise, for inside-the-boat golden-to-blue hour shots. Those three, Cathedral Cave, and, tide-permitting, Snake Island. Secret Beach, because of sheer distance and practicality, is out of the question for after-wedding portraits.
Surely, there's more to El Nido than these spots, so I was looking for logistically feasible options that are quite near to the usual beach wedding spots: Big Lagoon Beach in Miniloc Island and Cove 2 of Lagen Island.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not tired of shooting in El Nido, and I don't think I ever will. And I've mentioned that it's always like the first time given how dynamic the lighting and weather here is. I've seen El Nido's bright sunny best and stormy/trade windy worst!
Enter: this. Tour D, which addresses two issues spot-on:
One. It features locations that I haven't been to - Bukal Beach, Cadlao Lagoon, Pasandigan Beach, Paradise Beach, all of which are in Cadlao Island, the poster boy of Bacuit Bay - and my new personal fave Ipil Beach. I've been to most of the islands in Tours A, B and C.
Two. Most are a few minutes by speedboat from Big Lagoon Beach making them feasible for post-wedding portraits.
And so I went that Sunday morning, on a private island hopping tour. Private. Trust me, it's worth every penny, particularly if you're taking lots and lots of photos.
Ah, but wait. Who will I shoot? The elopement that I'm shooting isn't until the next day, and I don't want to shoot my elopement couple Rudy and Francesca on a two-fold unfamiliar ground. First, the new locations - I wasn't sure then if they were worthy replacements of my usual favorite spots, and second, I was using a new GoPro thingie that allowed me to do those half-and-half [ half surface-half underwater ] shots that one would typically see on IG: a GoPro dome. Surely I don't want to use it for the first time on a commissioned shoot.
I didn't want to do a "models wanted" or "couples wanted" post - in the same way that I don't like mainstream advertising, announcing my travel schedule guns blazing and whatnot. Nothing wrong with it. It's just. Not. Me. (Well to each his own.)
And so, I decided to let the good Lord do His thing: put me at the right place at the right time. Qarah in Hebrew. Strong's H7136. Like what He did for me during the filmmaking workshop in Verona, Italy, or the wedding in Venice. Or those Milky Way shots in Mauna Kea or New Zealand. Or finding my missing car keys in Iceland. Or that time when I was in a van going to El Nido. Then this guy starts drawing me - beard, earphones and all - on his "Mol-uh-skeen-uh" (i.e, Moleskine). Using a just a black Sharpie. Candidly, like a taste of my own medicine when I do street photography. With artistic prowess. While on a zigzag road somewhere in Northern Palawan. And so we chatted, exchanged travel stories, and hours later, I gave them my usual "Beta" of El Nido (cocktails and tapas at Republica and pizza at Altrove!), then, after a few disclaimers, there. Done deal. Van and Aiza - a hip, like-minded and typically "redsheep" couple, ready and willing to join me in a private island hopping tour. Well that time was this time.
GoPro Hero 5 Black + Shoot Dome Port 5.0 + VSCO Film + lots and lots of HSL adjustments. Plus some Sony A7RII shots.
Adventure session with @vanhoangart and @msaiza (No, we're NOT hipsters. All three of us!). Love that Patagonia LoPro Trucker Hat BTW! Tour D, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. March 2018.
Elopement wedding in Pangulasian & Miniloc Island, El Nido Resorts. Aaron & Gaby's El Nido, Palawan elopement / intimate beach wedding photos x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. Shot on location: Pangulasian Island Resort, El Nido Resorts and Big Lagoon Beach, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. Leica M. VSCO.
Considering an elopement in Pangulasian? Here's a tip: get Villa #28.
It arguably has the best view of the resort's beachfront, and it even has its own swimming pool - perfect for that pre-dressing up downtime-chilltime that's distinctive of an elopement - and an infinity pool at that, one having a perfect view of Pangulasian's sandy cove and Bacuit Bay's outlying islands.
Oh, and one more thing: that evening was LIT! Not that kind of "LIT". The other kind of "LIT" - literally LIT (i.e., "well lit", not "this party is lit, fam!"). Thanks to a bright full moon that we saw rising from the east almost simultaneously as the sun was setting! So surreal!
Elopement wedding in El Nido Resorts Lagen Island. Matt & Elizabeth’s El Nido Resorts elopement photos by destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. Lagen Island Resort, El Nido Resorts, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. 2016. Color remastered, May 2018. Leica M. Sony A7R II & A7S II. Voigtlander primes. VSCO Film.
LAX > MNL/ENI, followed by their two-week adventure "tour des îles" from Cebu, Bohol, Siargao and finally, one night in Manila for a cup of damn good third wave coffee and a visit to one of Conde Nast Traveler’s best restaurants in the world (that Yardstick + Your Local combo) -- before flying back home. (The French Press coffee in El Nido town didn't disappoint either!)
Pre-wedding session in El Nido. Qi Xiang and Shirley's pre-wedding photos x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. August 2018. Lio Tourism Estate, El Nido Town and Las Cabanas Beach, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.
August. Right in the middle of monsoon season. What if it rains? What if it’s gloomy and all? What if our island hopping tour gets cancelled? I rest my case: rain or shine, gloomy or sunny, El Nido is still beautiful.
Destination wedding in El Nido. Janis & Zane’s intimate beach wedding photos & video x destination wedding photographer & cinematographer @redsheepphotocinema. Shot & filmed on location: Stunning Republic Resort & Papaya Beach, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. Janis & Zane (LHR > MNL/ENI). Imagery & original music for the Instagram video by redsheep. Leica M + Sony A7S. VSCO. September 2016. Color remastered July 2018.
A seemingly relentless tropical downpour. Just two hours left before your beach wedding. What will you do? For Janis & Zane, it's as simple as this: #suckitup.
After all, "RAIN" is "R-A-I-N", not "R-U-I-N." Cheesy and preachy as it may sound, what spells the difference between the two is "U".
Pangulasian Island elopement wedding photos: Chris & Icelle’s elopement in Pangulasian Island Palawan x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. January 2018. Pangulasian Island Resort and Lagen Cove 2, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. Sony A7RII, VSCO, Voigtlander lenses.
"...just to clarify: you don't want me to shoot you guys while you're getting ready? What about the rings and your gown?"
"Nah. It's just a dress anyway. Just shoot us candidly as we go hiking before the ceremony. It's one of the things that we really enjoy doing!"
...and so, we hiked all the way up to Pangulasian Island's view deck an hour or so before the ceremony - 40 minutes in total including a 5-minute 'cameras and smartphones down, I want to take this all in' moment - trading the usual pre-wedding 'getting ready' stuff (including the first look!) for something that's more worthwhile and meaningful for Chris and Icelle.
Destination Wedding in El Nido Resorts Lagen Island. Shan & Winnie's Lagen El Nido Resorts intimate beach wedding photos x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema; Lagen Island Resort and Lagen Cove 2, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.
This is *epic voice-over pause* best-case scenario, off the charts El Nido weather:
One. Warm white daylight from dressing up to the ceremony (a tad too harsh for sensitive Irish skin);
Two. That 4:00PM post-ceremony sun that enveloped Shan & Winnie as it made its way through Lagen's jagged cliffs;
Three. A near-perfect sunset, perhaps the 2nd best that I've ever seen in El Nido. The sun was a warm orange sphere as it touched the horizon.
Four. That blue hour sky, hypnotic as a dying ember;
Five. And. Lastly, a clear night sky, perfect for that "house specialty" starry night shot. Even the tidal conditions were perfect.
Fashion model lifestyle portraits. Cadlao Island, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. GoPro HERO 5 + Shoot Dome Port 2 + Sony A7RII.
Eleonora's extended summer this year: from the Philippines' oh so fine beaches this month to Milan Fashion Week in September.
Intimate beach wedding in El Nido. Piotr & Karolina’s intimate beach wedding photos & video x destination wedding photographer & cinematographer @redsheepphotocinema. Shot & filmed on location: Stunning Republic, Corong Corong, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. Sony A7RII. Leica M. VSCO. Color remastered, June 2018.
This is what I really like about El Nido: throw awfully bad weather at it and it still looks ethereally beautiful. This, and the vibe, the sandbars and sunset bars, a horizon that's never boring, and the pizza, definitely the pizza. El Nido = LOVE.
Update: It’s been more than a year and more than a dozen shoots after and I haven’t seen El Nido as stormy as this, ominous dark clouds and all. If you’re here because you Googled “el nido wedding”, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this portfolio entry is not the typical bright and sunny tropical beach wedding that you’re expecting. It has “stormy” written all over the fineprint. Still breathtaking nevertheless.
Kona, Hawaii adventure engagement photos. Ryan & Angela's engagement session and adventure session x @redsheepphotocinema. Shot on location: Mauna Kea Observatory and Kona lava fields, Hawaii (Big Island), HI, USA.
A Tale of Three Milky Way Photos
Part One: "Spoon-fed, from a Silver Platter"
Dark sky location, check.
Above cloud cover, check. (9,300 ft above sea level!)
Low humidity, check.
Good weather, check.
Away from artificial light with virtually zero light pollution... Check. Even with a bright quarter moon, you still have a fighting chance - definitely the right place to shoot a Milky Way. In fact, this is one of the best places in the world to do this. You just have to be there at the right time to shoot the Milky Way's Galactic Center: that insanely picturesque and ethereally beautiful cloudy cluster of red giant stars. And being there at the right time without planning for it? That's a God-orchestrated "qarah" moment.
El Nido Resorts: Apulit Island Resort destination wedding photos: Seph & Chris’ destination wedding in Apulit Island, Palawan x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. Apulit Island Resort, El Nido Resorts, Taytay, Northern Palawan, Philippines. Leica M. Sony A7RII. VSCO. Voigtlander lenses. Taytay is an hour and a half South of El Nido, but you’ll still get the same world-class treatment that you can expect from any of the other El Nido Resorts.
This - Seph & Chris’ destination wedding - would be my testament on how far I could go in shooting a wedding photojournalistically. Some couples would get us because of the travel factor in our photos: those tiny people-big big sky shots or those ethereal Milky Way and night sky shots; some, for the filmic quality, but Seph and Chris, they were drawn to the photojournalistic and reportage aspect. This set might be a bit too street photography-style, gritty and anti-glam for your usual Wedding Pinterest Board - body ink, alcohol, dark shadows and all. I even left out photos of the gown, shoes, bridal bouquet and the other usual wedding details for good measure. All these, because one - to prove a point, that you can be both photojournalistic and picturesque at the same time, and two - because I frickin’ love to shoot this way.
Pangulasian Island elopement wedding photos: Chris & Sarah’s elopement in Pangulasian Island Palawan x destination wedding photographer @redsheepphotocinema. January 2018. Pangulasian Island Resort and Big Lagoon Beach, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. Sony A7RII, VSCO, Voigtlander lenses. Makeup: Janka Ced.
"It took us quite some time to get to the decision to elope, but at the end of the day we wanted what felt true to us and didn't want the wedding to become bigger than us." Exactly Chris & Sarah's words.