Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Career Woman Charisse Tinio Shares Her Journey To Making Her Company The Go-To For Capturing Celebrity Milestones
For many career women, busy is an understatement. But as it seems, Charisse Tinio, the woman behind the successful Nice Print Photography company, is on a whole different level of busy. This interview—conducted at their unassuming office where the company occupies a whole floor with a total of six rooms—was squeezed in between meetings. While waiting for Charisse to finish her meeting, I was ushered into a room whose walls are adorned with some of Charisse’s prized possessions: beautiful photographs of the celebrity milestones they had been part of over the years.
In that same room, five ladies were eagerly waiting to be interviewed by one of Charisse’s staffers; they were applicants for a frontliner position, and by the looks of it, were thrilled to have had the opportunity to possibly join such a well-known company. On one side of that room, an area with shelves overflowing with all sorts of souvenirs for special occasions easily grabbed my attention; the area is for Knotville, a “knot” so ordinary souvenir shop, also established by Charisse, alongside other sister companies of Nice Print, like premier all-in package service Exige Weddings, premier concept and styling service Style Diaries, stylish invitation and stationery specialist Print Divas, mobile bar service MargaRush, and mobile light and sound tech provider LST Mobile.
When Charisse arrived, she shared she had just come from a meeting with a couple who was set to leave for their destination pre-nup shoot. Noticeably and understandably, like many goal-oriented and career-driven women, she was pre-occupied with so many things—what with every single thing she needs to organize, oversee, and approve—but she was present-minded. It’s a skill, one that she has developed, having been in this industry for more than a decade.
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In the business of immortalizing special moments
“’Pag sinabi mo kasing litrato, photos, talagang in love ako d’yan since I was so young,” Charisse shares. “I was the designated photographer of the barkada. I was the one who always had a camera, analog pa noon, but I would bring it everywhere. I’m the type who would print photos in scrapbooks since grade school. I’m that girl. I’m that sentimental type of girl who would take photos of everything around me.”
Little did she know that this eye for the moments that truly make a special event more special is a talent that would become instrumental to her success.
A graduate of marketing and communication arts from De La Salle University, this self-confessed bibo kid seems to have been made for entrepreneurship. “Bata pa lang ako, kung ano-ano na binebenta ko. Sabi ng mommy ko hindi daw ako magugutom,” she recalls in jest. “Talagang ma-diskarte. Hindi ako ’yung lalampa-lampa lang na iiyak-iyak sa gilid. Hindi! Talagang go-getter ako.”
Charisse had all the ingredients that were essential for success: talent, attitude, passion, determination—combine these with excellent marketing skills, and you have a power woman who will continue to push the envelope and do whatever she sets her mind on doing.
Before pursuing her love for photography, she worked as a guest services supervisor at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Two years after that stint, with the support of her parents, she franchised Konica Photo Express, a photography and photo developing company, that she and husband Jibby eventually led to grow to eight branches.
But as the trends in photography were then shifting to digital, Charisse was quick to catch on and ride on the digital wave. Along with the advent of digital photography, she also noticed the trend in wedding photography after she herself got married in 2003. Slowly, she made the transition to digital first by equipping herself with proper knowledge. She enrolled in Basic and Advanced Photography classes at the DPI Studio in Makati. And with the help of her own wedding suppliers, who recommended her to cover for the weddings of some of their clients, Charisse was able to penetrate the wedding photography industry.
It wasn’t easy, though. In a StarStudio interview, Charisse was quoted, explaining, “In terms of penetrating the market, mahirap, because wedding photography was male-dominated, and usually the studio owners are the photographers themselves. I was marketing myself in a different way. I was a young girl marketing myself as a company, and I never gave false hope that I was a photographer. I just kept on saying, ‘No, I don’t shoot, but I’m opening a studio company.’ That was so foreign to them. And yet I made it. I’m happy to say I made it work. When people said it’s impossible, I told myself that it was. That was a driving force for me.”
It was in 2006 when Charisse established Nice Print, a company in the business of digital photo and video services. But establishing it is one thing, maintaining it is another. Among the challenges Charisse had to deal with was how to make people see the value of hiring professional photographers and videographers to document their special events. Besides, anyone can practically own a camera and shoot away. She had to make people see that what Nice Print can do for them is bring out the magic in every moment, exploring poses and angles that bring out the best in the subjects.
That signature style
Asked about the signature style of Nice Print, Charisse says, “It’s not boxed in one word or definition but, siguro, if I may say, we never follow trends. Ever since, I’m not a fan of that. Hindi ako fan nu’ng sobrang edgy kasi at the end of the day, you know, when you photograph a wedding, it’s actually real moments and it shouldn’t be directed. Malaki pa din ’yung paniniwala ko du’n… We don’t impose on the style we want.”
No matter how much trends all of us encounter on a daily basis, especially with easy access to an abundant source of inspirations from the Internet and social media, Nice Print has been trying to stay true to what their clients loved about them in the first place, and that is to put the “art” in the heart of every photograph or scene in a manner that speaks most about the subjects. “I always tell our team to not go that trendy route because you will go against what we believe in. And we believe in the solemnity of the wedding. We believe in the real feelings during that wedding. It should never be directed and it should never be beyond what they really are,” she enthuses. “So, we capture it as it happens—the real emotion, the real happiness, the real tears they have on that day. So, I guess, our style is really timeless, classic, and years from now, when they look back, it’s still the kind of photos they wanna see.”
Some of the celebrity weddings Nice Print has covered over the years
The go-to of celebrities
In 2010, Nice Print had the privilege of covering the wedding of Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez at Terrazas de Punta Fuego in Nasugbu, Batangas. It was such a grand event which gathered 600 guests that included big names in local showbiz. This started the string of celebrity coverage that Nice Print would, years later, become popular for. “Nag-snowball effect from there,” Charisse recalls.
Since that fateful make-or-break day (which, obviously, ended up with “make”), Nice Print has been part of numerous celebrity milestones, such as the weddings of John Estrada and Priscilla Meirelles, Carmina Villarroel and Zoren Legaspi (which Charisse even helped organize), Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera, Shamcey Supsup and Lloyd Lee, John Prats and Isabel Oli, Camille Prats and VJ Yambao, Paul Jake Castillo and Kaye Abad, Yeng Constantino and Yan Asuncion, Cristine Reyes and Ali Khatibi, Joross Gamboa and Katz Saga, Patrick Garcia and Nikka Martinez, Kian Cipriano and Chynna Ortaleza, Luis Alandy and Joselle Fernandez, Bangs Garcia and Lloyd Birchmore, Max Collins and Pancho Magno, AiAi delas Alas and Gerald Sibayan, Chito Miranda and Neri Naig, and Rochelle Pangilinan and Arthur Solinap, among many others.
For some of these couples, Nice Print is also credited for taking their pre-nup photos, an extension of the wedding photography business Charisse originally ventured in, which now make a huge chunk of the company’s portfolio even for non-celebrity clients.
What Charisse is especially grateful for is the fact that their clients turn into like family members, who seek their expertise every milestone they have—from documenting the proposal to photographing their pre-nup to covering their wedding to doing a maternity photo session and becoming part of their gender reveal party or baby shower to covering their baby’s first birthday, and so on. Charisse even said they have clients whom they have worked with since their 18th birthday party up until they've started their own families and created new memories.
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Despite helping some of her clients organize their events and make sure they go smoothly and according to plans, Charisse says becoming an event organizer is something she has no plans of pursuing. “Mark my word. Never!” Charisse quips, adding that “’Di ko na yata madi-divide ’yung sarili ko into 100 people, ibang level ’yun! ’Tsaka, you know what, I have so many event coordinator best friends and I leave the expertise to them because they’re really, wow, on top of their game.”
Charisse knows better than to spread herself too thin and embark on a whole new journey that is clearly beyond the main focus of her passion. Instead, she diverts all her energy into growing Nice Print further.
Last year, she launched The Concept Room Studio, which features themed vignettes perfect for all sorts of shoots.
They’re also getting bigger and bigger in terms of bookings for destination pre-nup shoots. “We’ve covered in 30 countries and 5 continents so far,” Charisse says with pride and joy, as she looks forward to ticking off Africa and, who knows, maybe even Antarctica in the near future.
She’s also working hard to strengthen Nice Print’s social media presence, which currently boasts of over 1.3 million followers on Facebook and almost 600k followers on Instagram. For others, these numbers may seem insignificant, but for Charisse, these mean the world to her. These are proof that what she’s doing is right, motivating her to dream bigger. “For others, they’re just numbers, but you know what, honestly, that’s hard work, pure love, sacrifices, years of building it, tears, sweat, and blood. Hindi mo mabibilang kung hanggang saan ang pagod,” she ponders, looking back on the all the years it took her to reach her status today. “Talagang ’pag tinitingnan ko siya, wow, naaalala ko lahat nu’ng gabi na hindi ako natutulog kasi nag-iisip ako ng contest kung papaano ka makakapagpadami ng followers.”
With marketing being her forte, all these factors need to be carefully planned in order to achieve your desired results. She adds, “Pati ’yung tamang oras kung kailan mo ipo-post ’yung wedding ni Dingdong and Marian, pinag-iisipan ’yun. Timing is everything.” She even shared her “buwis-buhay” moment during John Prats and Isabel Oli’s wedding in Batangas. “Naghahanap ako ng signal sa remote place. Naghahanap ako du’n sa bundok, hindi ako maka-post. Mahulog-hulog na ako sa burol. Buwis-buhay para lang maka-post,” she said. “’Di siya biro. It’s not bed of roses. It’s just, I think, anything in life, nothing is easy. It becomes easy when you love it. Pero hindi talaga p’wedeng nakaupo ka lang, tapos babagsak lang ’yung mangga. Hindi eh. You really have to work hard for what you achieve. ’Di ba talagang you reap what you sow.” In her case, all the hard work she has put in now results to a body of work she can truly be proud of and, as a definite bonus, a loyal clientele who can attest to how much they loved working with Charisse and her team.
Here, Charisse shares more tips that will inspire aspiring career women or entrepreneurs:
1. You need to be observant. This has a lot to do with Charisse’s success story. It allows her to think ahead and be ahead of others. She shares, “All the businesses that we’ve built from Day 1 are results of brainstorming, research, but you know, primarily, before you even get there, it’s actually about being observant. When I say observant, it’s because you have to feel and see what your market needs. You cannot just put a business out there without you believing that this market actually really needs it and has a clamor for it. So if you’re a keen observer and talagang you really stop and just really analyze, you know, day-to-day, what this market and what this society needs, then, you know what, you’ll never run out of ideas on what businesses to build.”
2. Treat your business like your baby. And when you do, you will take care of it the best way possible. “Ganu’n ’yung klase ng pagmamahal na meron ako sa negosyo na ito. It’s not a business, everything that I do for this company, it’s really out of love. And it’s, of course, naturally extended to the people that we service. And they feel that, that there is really that sincerity when we deal with them.”
3. Networking is everything. You need to be willing to socialize with people. Meet a lot of people. The great thing about doing so? These people may even end up as your friends, like how it turned out for Charisse. She shares, “This business has given me an avenue to be friends with so many people who have also become life-long friends. They started as clients and are now ninangs and ninongs of my kids, and I have become a ninang of their kids.”
4. Everything starts at home. If you’re happy with your personal life, that fulfilment can echo to your profession. “Number one talaga ha, balewala sa akin ’yung monetary success if wala kang success in your home. For me, everything starts at home,” Charisse says. “I’m just so blessed that I have a partner like my husband who is very, very supportive, who’s been there from Day 1 and who loves me for all the good and bad, for all the highs and lows in our lives. And it motivates you to become better each day.”
5. Think of success as just the beginning of more successes to come. Charisse shares, “Becoming successful is one thing, I always say this. It’s the easy part actually, it’s staying there that is harder to maintain… parang hindi ka p’wedeng huminto, parang kailangan mong pumadyak nang pumadyak, para kang nasa bicycle na, you know, you cannot just stop because stopping will mean na mawawala ’yung momentum mo.”
6. Stay humble. “Never let success dictate your life,” she says. “You have to be humble and you have to stay the same especially with how you treat your staff.”
7. If you set your mind on something, do it and do so ASAP. Charisse says, “Pagka inisip ko, gagawin ko. ’Pag ginawa ko, magagawa ko ’yan. Ganu’n. I’m so makulit that way. I’m very persistent. I’m very determined. When I want something, I don’t delay it. I don’t say ‘tomorrow na lang.’ No. I never procrastinate, I’m always proactive. Even with daily life. You know, my friends would always ask me, ‘Char, ano bang vitamins mo, p’wede bang makahingi niyan? Kasi nga hindi ako nauubusan. I’m so hyper. I’m so full of life, so happy with everything.”
Photos courtesy of Nice Print