It was curiosity that led renowned fashion photographer Shaira Luna to open the e-mail she received around September 2017 with the subject that simply stated, "IV OF SPADES." The name didn’t ring any bells, but after reading their letter, which expressed how she “has influenced their band” and they “wish that someday we could meet or collaborate” with attachments of their group photos and a link to the "Hey Barbara" music video, she felt a spark. Shaira knew it was an e-mail she had to reply to, immediately.
Drawn to their retro aesthetics and disco groove, the photographer instantly got hooked and started binge-watching videos of the band online—when something clicked. “I love telling this fact,” she begins. “I searched and clicked one gig video after another—then realized that their bassist was the kid on a noontime show music competition I had been so impressed by!” Still giddy with this fact, their first collaboration happened two months after. Fast forward to present, this pursuit formed not just a bond—and friendship—between them, but also a strong creative brand that connects their art to the audience. It was a collaboration that we didn’t know we needed—until it happened.
Shaira, in her tender years in photography, was a regular in the gig circuit, shooting several performances starting way back in 2004. Her experience as a music photographer was her backbone, admitting that this journey led her to thrive in her present work. Music, history, and pop culture are her main inspirations and references—and it’s such a statement that IV OF SPADES reflects her style. “All the influences I mentioned really manifest and come out strongest when I shoot the boys,” she shares.
“Whether they are doing it subconsciously or not, the way they merge fashion, imagery, words, media, their youth, and most importantly, their unquestionable musical skills and talents, create such an interesting treasure trove,” Shaira reveals, adding, “The best thing is that, at the end of the day, they are brothers who can cut each other's hair, borrow each other's shoes, or zone out with The Sims.” This convinced her that it’s more than just giving it a shot—it’s a partnership that’s for keeps. A year later and still counting, both creative parties have gone a long way together.
A typical scenario of their shoots would consist of overflowing bags of Shaira's archive of clothes, a given theme, and everyone watching the boys play dress up. She admires how Zild, Blaster, and Badjao exchange ideas and even style each other’s clothes. So whether they’re going for a ‘rehearsal look’ or a ‘Bowie-meets MCR,’ the excitement on set is high as they gush over fashion and go over who-wears-what.
It’s such as delight that Shaira already has the boys in mind whenever she does her favorite pastime which is thrift shopping. “It’s automatic for me to buy clothes for them!”
The trio has also been very supportive of her other endeavors, like gamely appearing in the first chapter of her book entitled Playing Long After Us and gracing its launch with a 3-song acoustic performance.
IVOS continues to forge ahead as musicians with the release of their debut album CLAPCLAPCLAP! last January. But Shaira, who’s been there throughout the journey, had her fair share of progression along the way, too. “I'm just grateful to be able to witness and hear their creative growth, and to continuously translate that into a visual form that we can share—not just to their main audiences, but to those who see my work with them, as well,” she muses.
Working with the band also pushed her out of her comfort zone, taking a leap of faith in directing the "Take That Man" music video, with almost a million views in less than a couple of months since it launched on YouTube. “That is one shoot I can't forget,” the photographer recalls. While she creates short videos for fun (check out their Tambay videos if you haven’t yet!), taking on this director role is sort of a breath of fresh air. “It was the simplest production in a grand location—the boys, their families, and me and my brother filming and jumping around while trying to figure out how to make a music video! Great times,” she adds.
In our recent interview, IV OF SPADES labeled Shaira as their dream collab-come-true. So we asked Shaira—what are your dream projects with the band? “I imagine shooting a fashion collection designed by them,” the band’s "Ate" answers. “That's an exciting thought and hardly even far-fetched! It will most likely be a niche market given their out-there sense of style, although I know for sure I'll wear whatever they churn out.” And maybe when the kids turn into OPM legends, she teases, they’ll unearth all unreleased, archived photos they’ve taken throughout the years—and publish them into a book.
RELATED: #ChalkLovesIVofSpades: IV OF SPADES Opens Up About Their Transition To A Trio And What Came After
Other than these memorable moments with IVOS, Shaira treasures a learning she got from the three-piece group. “I always say ‘oh wells’ are better than ‘what ifs,’ and they reinforced the idea that it's always good to take chances, and that it's okay to change,” the shutterbug says.
And all these began and led to here and now, thanks to that e-mail. “That personal touch, the constant evolution, and love for telling stories has made our working relationship one that I have already added to the favorite, enriching chapters of my photography life,” she ends.
Check out some behind-the-scenes footage shared by Shaira here:
ALSO READ: #ChalkLovesIVofSpades: IV OF SPADES On Their Journey To Producing 'CLAPCLAPCLAP!'
Photos and video courtesy of Shaira Luna