Falling in Love Again: The Firestarter Workshop by Jeff & Lisa


The past few weeks for me was a roller-coaster ride. I had a lot of ups and downs culminating into a decision last February that I would quit professional photography altogether. My family, my friends, even myself were against it but I thought it was a hopeless cause. It felt like I was drained not because of so much work but because of the lack of satisfaction in what I was doing. I did not want to be the most popular or most well-off photographer in town. All I wanted was to create photographs I could be really proud of. But I felt that my photography turned into just finding the next job and making money. The love burnt out.

On the process of selling all of my gear, I found myself always looking, reading, being in love with the stories and photos of the photographers and videographers I look up to. There was still a tiny spark. I could not shake it off. I really wanted to photograph and share love stories like them. And then I stumbled upon Firestarter.


Firestarter is a wedding photography workshop by Jeff & Lisa Photography. I was introduced to Jeff & Lisa’s website back in 2010 when I was still not shooting weddings. I was looking for someone to make letterpress calling cards since I really wanted something like that. I searched on Google and stumbled upon their website. I didn’t order the calling cards though because I could not afford the price. XD


Anyway, Firestarter is not about what settings to use or what gear to take into weddings. It’s about finding yourself and finding meaning in what you do. I needed my fire to be reignited. It was perfect for me. The only problem was it was already fully booked. I was at a loss. It was just like the Nelwin Uy XOXO workshop that I missed last year. But I still emailed them anyway. Lisa answered my email but she was sad to say that they really could not take me in anymore. She really wanted to let me in after hearing my story but they thought they couldn’t handle more. She told me though that Nelwin will have another workshop this year. I felt sad but still very thankful especially now that I know Nelwin will have another one and I can start stalking him every single day. Haha. A few days later, I got to sign up for the XOXO workshop the same time Lisa emailed me that Nelwin just posted about it.

Another few days later, Lisa asked me if I still wanted to join Firestarter. They stretched their personal limits for me. I was thinking at first if I could still afford it since I stopped accepting bookings. I emailed her to give me time. But they did all of this for me, how could I say no? A few minutes later, I emailed her again and told her I WILL GO. I’ll go. Bahala na si Batman.


I went there and I got lost. It’s been around 2 years already since I was in Metro Manila. The venue was in the Peninsula Manila hotel and I assumed it was in the Manila Hotel near Intramuros. Buti na lang manong taxi told me kaagad na may mali sa sinabi ko sa kanya. XD

Aaanyway… The Firestarter workshop was very inspiring for me. I didn’t go there to know how they process photos or what settings they use. I was there to be inspired, to know if what I’m doing is right, and to see what’s next for me. And I was not disappointed. I was inspired by the stories of the people I look up to and by the experiences of my classmates. We also got to shoot a gorgeous couple, Kat and Paolo, and gained insight on how Jeff & Lisa works and why they do things the way they do. I got a lot of handmade stuff that I soooo love! I think I’ll buy a Fuji Instax din! At sa wakas, I got Jeff & Lisa’s letter-pressed calling cards as well as the cool calling cards of Nelwin, and Jason! I made friends with very nice photographers too. The most important part for me though was I learned to just be myself and follow what I love. Firestarter lit up my heart.

I fell in love again.

Here are some photos I shot from the workshop..


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And some behind-the-scenes fanboy stuff!









Oh.. Lisa came from the same place as I am, Ozamiz City! I was so surprised! And even more surprising was that she and my sister knew each other when they were younger. I knew the Philippines was small but not this small! :)


Firestarter Workshop by Jeff and Lisa Llarena of Jeff & Lisa Photography

Guest Speakers: Nelwin Uy, Jason Magbanua, Benz Co-Rana of Weddings@Work

Gown by Veluz | Bouquet by Vatel Manila | Hair & Makeup by Chichi Sotomil | Shoes by Sugarfree | Calligraphy by The Fozzy Book

Couple: Kat and Paolo | Venue: The Peninsula Manila

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