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Metro Channel Women's Month Special: Photographer Sara Black

We put the focus on the portraits of this talented photographer and appreciate the beauty of women through her lens

Sara Black is one of the most sought-after photographers in the Philippines. It was an industry that was dominated by men for so long, but Sara broke that stereotype and established a name for herself. She's become known for her signature style in portrait photography—she brings out the most beautiful versions of her subjects in a simple yet pure and authentic manner. And up to now, even though she has grown and changed a lot as an individual, she remains to be a Filipina photographer like no other. There is still magic and a certain finesse in the way she sees beauty through her lens—something only Sara Black can pull off.


Dawn Zulueta | Image from sarablack.com
Lucy Torres-Gomez | Image from sarablack.com


Sara recalls she was just eight years old when she first held a camera. In college, she would roam around the streets of Manila to capture the grittiness and poverty of real life. It stirred some sort of awakening within her, so after graduating from Ateneo, she knew she had to pursue photography.


Throughout her career, Sara has photographed the most popular faces in film and TV. Because of the softness and finesse in how she handles her portraits, Sara became a go-to for many beauty and fashion shoots. Many of her photographs lined the billboards in EDSA, campaign shoots for advertisements, and covers of magazines. What a game-changer it was that there was finally a woman in the fashion industry who wasn’t just posing in front of the camera; she was the woman who called the shots, who made the shots.


Image from @seethelight.bethelight


Sara’s way of approaching and interpreting beauty echoed in her photographs. It’s what set her apart from her male contemporaries. What’s unique about Sara’s photographs is that her works always brought out the femininity of her subjects, never sexually but always more emotionally.


Her two previously published photo books showcased her artistic expression and creative interpretation of beauty. The first, When I Look in the Mirror, showcased close-ups of facial imperfections, things that would typically have been edited in Photoshop. Her second, We, Love, was a bit more emotional and wanted to highlight the relationships between two people—whether friends, lovers, or strangers.


Image from sarablack.com
A campaign photo of Kathryn Bernardo | Image from sarablack.com
Wilma's photo on "When I Look in the Mirror" | Image from sarablack.com
Erich's photo on "When I Look in the Mirror" | Image from sarablack.com
Photo from "We, Love" | Image from sarablack.com


But one of her most inspiring works that really brought out her unique way of telling the story of women was her first solo show in 2018 titled "Now, She Is." It was a collection of nudes that Sara took in the last two years leading to the launch of the exhibit, showing the beauty of the female form. The photos from the exhibit declares that the female body—all its sizes, shapes, and colors—is a beautiful thing that should be celebrated.


Sara at the "Now, She Is" exhibit | Image from Philip Cu-Unjieng
Shot during the "Now, She Is" exhibit | Image from @seethelight.bethelight

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Sara shares, “'Now, She Is' has allowed me to become a pure vessel, an instrument to convey the beauty and power of the female body. For the first time I've had complete freedom to express my truth. It is absolutely liberating for me, and I hope, as people view the photographs, there will be some form of liberation for them as well.”


Image from @seethelight.bethelight


It’s been 17 years since Sara became a photographer and so much has changed since. In 2016, she embarked on a life-changing journey to India to heal and recover after an accident. There, she learned the ways of yoga and meditation, which have since governed her everyday life.


Now, her Instagram is filled with words of encouragement, techniques on mindfulness, and schedules of her yoga and meditation classes. From the busy photographer life, she transitioned into a life of peace and harmony, one that inspired her to become more mindful of what she eats and does, and be in this happier and more content state of mind.


Image from @seethelight.bethelight

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But it has, of course, also confused a lot of people. Sara says, “It's been years since I've been working on set as a photographer. And I've been getting this question a lot: ‘Are you a photographer or a yoga teacher?’ My answer to that is: ‘I am free.’ We have all been given so many talents; it's a disservice to identify yourself with one profession when you are capable of so much more!”


And indeed, her taking up yoga and meditation has given her more light and power to do what she wants to do—whether it’s to teach yoga, spread mindfulness and positivity, or take photographs. Because so many years after she started, Sara still admits that photography for her is more than a job; for her, it’s her whole life’s passion. And when you love something, it shows.


Image from @seethelight.bethelight


Sara says, “For me, there's so much joy in clicking the shutter, whether I'm shooting for a big campaign or a stranger's portrait—that moment when I click is super exhilarating! There is something so profound about capturing a moment that will never happen again.”


Image from @seethelight.bethelight