Speechless. That's how many of us in the room felt the moment this strong and confident woman walked through the door armed with her awe-inspiring natural beauty, ready for her photos to be taken, no fuss or anything. In the world of fashion and beauty, her name is a familiar one. Having been shooting professionally for 13 years now, Sara Black, one of the country’s most sought after photographers, has been known for taking some of the most exquisite beauty shots, capturing women’s true beauty.
“It’s really a cliché, but beauty is from within. You know you can slap on or wear all these amazing clothes and you can have the best makeup artist put makeup on you but when your soul doesn’t scream beauty then all of that is for nothing. So it’s really a combination of putting together the external and internal part of you, and when the internal part shines that’s what really makes a woman beautiful,” the Physiogel #EverydayStrong ambassador notes. The #EverydayStrong campaign builds up on the message that choosing to be better and stronger is a daily battle, and the beautiful stories of how women rise above it.
[related: Life Peg: Sara Black, Breathing Love and Light Everywhere She Goes]
Her Most Memorable Shoot
With a career spanning more than a decade, Sara has worked with lots of celebrities and other high-profile personalities, too many that choosing one particular shoot that she would consider as her most memorable sounds like a heavy task. But after giving it much thought, Sara shares, “I would have to say when I photographed Dawn Zulueta for her 40th birthday without any makeup, like she just got up and came to the studio first thing in the morning without being all dolled up. It’s such a pleasure, and to see somebody in that stature being able to come and face a photograph barefaced, it takes a lot of self-confidence and self-esteem for a woman to be able to do that, especially for a celebrity because they’re so used to being glammed up."
But more than that, that shoot was extra meaningful because of two things, Sara adds: "She depicts the kind of woman that I admire and I aspire to be and it's inspiring for anybody to see that you don’t need all these fuss and everything to be beautiful, you can be stripped down from the bare necessities, just take care of yourself really well, take care of your hair, your skin, eat the right food. And you can face the camera and project this amazing self-confidence and beauty without any fuss.”
"I like photographing people that don’t know they’re beautiful yet, and then when they come in front of my camera, I’m able to show them how beautiful they are," says Sara.
Just like most photographers, Sara doesn't really have one particular subject in mind whom she would want to photograph again and again. For her, it's more about helping people see their true beauty through her lens. "I’ve had a lot of instances where people have cried after a shoot or become teary-eyed because they didn’t realize how beautiful they were, and that’s such an amazing gift to be able to give someone that when they didn’t know that they had this beauty, and you just help them, I mean it's not me, it's not really mine to give them, it's theirs, I just help them along to stare them in a certain way, basta it's priceless, it's not about the billboards, the ads, countless celebrities that I’ve shot, but those instances I really really treasure because you can’t buy it, there’s no price you can put in it so that’s what I love shooting the most.”
[related:In Focus: Six Photographers Talk About The Power And Relevance Of Photography In The Digital Age]
Sara, the Model
Sara’s stint as a fashion model gives her a well-rounded perspective of how to effectively capture a more powerful image. “Modeling is so difficult, I really have a lot of respect for the women who do it seriously and really pursue it as a career. I don’t regret dabbling in it though because it made me a better photographer. The kind of sensitivity that I have toward my subjects is really more comprehensive than, I would say, somebody who hasn’t been in front of the camera, because I know what buttons to push and when to back off to get the kind of results that I want.”
Life as an Athlete
Aside from photography, Sara is also into running, swimming, and biking. Talking about what she has learned from it, she says, "Wow, that I’m limitless, yeah. So I ran the New York marathon last year, it's one of the most difficult things I had to do physically and like the last 5 kilometers I didn’t think I would make it but it's so near... but you can't stop because if you stop it's more painful and then you just find this space inside of you, you just dig really deep and be like I can do this and it made me realize that I set my own limits in my mind. If I tell myelf I can’t do it, na hindi ko kaya, then I won't be able to do it but then if I condition my mind that I put the right training, I get enough rest, I treat my body well, then I can do anything and that’s really a life lesson that you can slap across the board—that goes for your relationships, for your career, anything that you want to manifest in your life you can create it with enough diligence and passion and hard work."
Sara running in the TCS New York city Marathon last year
After a biking accident, Sara became completely immobile for a long period of time that there were times when wakes up in the morning and thinks, "Wow pilay na naman ako, ayoko na suko na ako,” she recalls. But being the strong woman that she is, Sara realized that in order to get back on her feet she must help herself, too. “I came to two conclusions, do I wanna be well or do I wanna be sick? It’s that simple. If I wanna be sick, then I can stay in this bed forever and not move but do I want that? The more I’m gonna go crazy. So no, I wanna be well, and as soon I was able to push myself on that space where I decided that my choice is to be well, it all was easy. If I want to be well that means I need to be positive, I’d only consider myself fully healed when I can do run, bike, swim all at the same time. I’m working on it, I still struggle in some days but there’s no other way but up.”
The Fitspo Photographer
Sara depicts a picture of a beautiful woman inside and out. But getting in such great shape doesn't happen by just slacking off. “I’m a firm believer that there’s no excuse in practicing self-love. Whether it's nourishing your body on the outside like, you know, fixing your hair and washing your face and making sure your body is moisturized, you can do that at home, and you can also do your workouts at home."
"You get up in the morning you take care of the external part of your body and also the internal part. For a while I was doing this 7-minute workout, it's an app that you can download and it's really simple you don’t need any equipment, it just tells you exactly what to do. So for example jumping jacks for 30 seconds then rest, and then plank for 30 seconds and then rest, and before you know it's been 7 mins. You can do it when you’re traveling, when you’re in a hotel, there’s really no excuse to not just move and like let your blood flow, sooner or later you’ll just feel good, it feels good to take care of your body and you’re more productive in your day at work, when you’re not sluggish in the afternoon, you have more self confidence, it has so many benefits, really.” Judging by what we see in her, I suggest we all take her word for it.
Of course we cannot talk to Sara without asking her for on-cam tricks. Read on for her top posing tips for both men and women:
For the ladies: The Hourglass. “Basically for women I don’t like to give a 10 commandment, it’s kind of try to envision your body like an hourglass, so when you’re posing in front of the camera make sure your top half and bottom half are relatively the same size and the waist is small, so there are different ways that you can do that, you can twist your body a little bit to the side, you can put your hand on your waist just make sure you have the slimming factor towards the waist."
For the gents: The Inverted Triangle. "The shoulders need to be broad and the hips need to be narrow so really like chest out works, then maybe the hips might have to be twisted a little bit so it’ll look narrower.”
Banner and inside photographs by Gio Vibar with additional photographs from Instagram.com/seesarablack. Special thanks to Physiogel and Ley Laksamana