Based in Spain, Don & Helen document weddings all over the world. Don grew up poor in the Philippines and he understands how to be happy even with very little possessions. Helen, Don’s partner in crime, was inspired from a young age to create. Making photographs to Don & Helen is like stopping time - it’s the artist observing the subject and the scene, and incorporating emotion into a photograph that forms part of who we are - a gift for when our memories fail us. Pretty impressive approach, we think! Don & Helen’s work speaks humour, spontaneity and most importantly, the emotional connection to a moment captured in their frame forever.
1. What does making images mean to you?
HELEN: It means having the power to stop time. So over the years when our memory begins to fail, we will always have something to remember, where we came from, who has gone through our lives and where we are going.
DON: Creating meaningful images is a way to express the way we see things, the way we feel emotions. It´s an extension of who we really are, what we shoot, how we shoot, and why we shoot says so much about ourselves.
2. What is life to you? What it should be?
HELEN: Life's a journey of ups and downs but we always try to enjoy every little detail, appreciate the people around us and above all be grateful for all.
DON: Life is gift from God that we should value and appreciate. Life will be a lot better if we start thinking less about ourselves and start thinking more about the welfare of others.
3. How does where you live influence your creativity?
DON: I was raised by my grandparents in a slum area in Manila, Philippines. We were very poor and I personally know what it means to be hungry but when I think back those days when I was a kid growing up in a depressed area, playing in the streets, collecting bottles and newspapers in exchange of a peso, raising my 3 siblings. I don't remember being sad, I remember being happy thinking that tomorrow will be a lot better than today. I don't have any photos of myself growing up nor of my grandparents to whom I owe my life because our “improvised home” always, always(!!!) caught fire every year. Then I came to the Canary Islands and met a beautiful lady, my best friend and my life and my workmate Helen. She taught me in many many ways how to be truly happy!
HELEN: I grew up in a very quiet island where you can leave the doors of the houses open all day, we played in the street all day without having fear of anyone. My father is a craftsman and I worked with him since I was small and grew up watching him create out of nothing precious figurines. This made me want to create new things. My mother is an entrepreneur and she let us choose what we wanted to learn... dancing, sewing, learning language, cooking, skating etc. And now with Don, my eyes are always being opened every time we visit new places, meet people, new customs, new traditions.
4. There are a lot of professions out there - why be a photographer?
DON: I studied nursing in college, worked as an theatre actor and dancer and a glass artisan. Now we have been fully dedicated as photographers for 4 years. It all started when a friend was looking for someone to document her wedding - I volunteered without thinking - at that time I wasn't paid, I wasn’t a photographer. I didn't know how to use a camera, I didn't have a camera. So I borrowed a Sony point and shoot, went to the wedding, then to my surprise my friend´s father had hired a real photographer. The question was, should I shoot or just let the pro do their job? I shot and shot and shot!!! After some months Helen prepared a scrapbook of the images that I took, we went to the couple to give our humble present. To our surprise, they cried and cried while looking at my crappy images. I was so embarrassed how bad my pictures were. Later they explained why they were crying - it was because their photographer had lost all their wedding images… That is when we realized we wanted to be “real photographers”!
HELEN: It came without planning, just started as a personal experience and we liked it ... Now we only work in photography. When I was small I wanted to be a vet but I didn’t like to study a lot, didn’t want to get involved in a university degree for years. So I graduated as a director of construction and decoration. I worked very little on thats. All my life I have been very closely related with arts and crafts from my family tradition, going to fairs and tradeshows was amazing. When I met Don we worked as Hawaiian dancers in a show. It was a lot of fun!!!
5. Are you creatively satisfied at the moment?
HELEN: sometimes yes, sometimes no.
DON: At the moment Yes.
6. What do you like to eat?
HELEN: French fries and chocolates!!!
DON: Oh yeah!!! I love Mexican and Japanese food XO
7. Describe your path to what you’re doing now.
DON: Always have a balance between work and living. We work to live, not live to work. We are always learning to give more importance to what matters most in our life.
HELEN: I second that!
8. Have you had any mentors along the way?
HELEN: My husband, At first he told me how I should improve my shooting, he had to... but most of the time I ignored him. LOL!!!
9. Do you shoot with your left or right eye?
HELEN: Right ... Although I should try left ... They say that will increase the creative part of the brain :)
DON: Right eye and sometimes I have both eyes open.
10. Where do you see yourself in 10 year’s time?
HELEN: We do not know what will happen the next week ... so I don’t think much about it, maybe we will be in a different country, learning a new language, maybe another job but I’m hoping to enjoy new adventures with my husband.
DON: I see ourselves doing missionary work in a remote area where the need is great :)
Bonus Q: Do you think the gear you use affects the way you photograph? Why?
BOTH: Yes it affects the way we photograph. Our gear should be like an extension of our body, we have to be comfortable using it and we have to know how to use it very well. But we are more emotional junkies than gear heads.
- 5d Classic,
- 2 x 5d mark II,
- 2 x 6d,
- 3 flashes