Acclaimed photographer Shaira Luna comes full circle for the cover shoot with Gabriella Wilson.
Though Shaira Luna is known for her prowess behind the lens, she still felt disbelief when she found out she would be shooting none other than Gabriella Wilson or H.E.R. for the February cover story of Vogue Philippines.
“I felt in all caps. All caps, exclamation points,” she tells us during the final day of the shoot in December. “It’s always nice to dream about shooting such musical stars…When they said who it was, I think I part cried and part thought it was a prank,” she says, “It doesn’t happen every day. It never happens!”
A peek at Luna’s Instagram page, which currently boasts 211,000 followers, you instantly get the feel for her style. Her photos are often done in a color palette that often evokes nostalgia while capturing personalities, like Heart Evangelista and Anne Curtis, in their truest moments. She also happens to have a penchant for shooting musicians, having previously captured global sensation Beabadoobee for Vogue Philippines, as well as a whole generation of OPM (Original Pilipino Music) acts, from Moira Dela Torre to Zild Benitez, among many others.
“The first concert, funnily, that I ever watched—and this was in college, so I wasn’t shooting yet—was Freestyle in Side A, so it was really OPM,” Luna explains. “OPM for me is really a special thing. It’s very accessible and relatable. As much as I love watching artists outside of the country, I just feel like OPM is something I really enjoy and can lend my creative services to!”
It’s easy to see why Luna has an affinity for the music world. Her first foray into her work was as a band photographer, shooting gigs of friends for fun. “That was my first introduction [to photography] and what really led me to my love for it,” she says. “I don’t personally sing [or anything], so I just find it so magical how humans can do that sort of thing. I [did] play a bit of music, so maybe that’s why I have a special place in my heart for artists and singers.”
Luna has her routine before shooting a new personality down pat. To prepare, she watches as many interviews and live performances as she can find online. “The parts of their personalities that they bring out in their interviews, it’s different from what they show, for example, if it’s a special on them or if it’s a concert,” she tells us.
“You see all those facets. It’s also nice to be able to talk to them about those sorts of things so there’s no dead air,” she continues. “That makes it easier for me to shoot and I think they appreciate the fact that you took the time to get to know them a little.”
Despite having captured the likeness of innumerable stars and personalities, photographing Gabi Wilson proved to be a whole other level. “She’s not just a musician, she’s a songwriter, she’s so smart, she got straight A’s when she was small. She’s that kind of intellectual,” Luna gushed over the musician.
“This is probably one of the biggest shoots in my career.”
Our interview happened in between looks on our last day with Wilson. “I’m still nervous. Like, my hands are cold,” Luna says.
“I know her depth, and I feel like I’ve seen enough videos and interviews to know that she’s not just any artist. She makes a stand, she has her sound, she’s so confident,” she tells me before we head back into the studio. “Since she was 10, I don’t think she’s had an ounce of stage fright. She knows this is what she’s meant to do, and that’s what’s different. She’s always known. And you don’t meet people like that.”