Mind / Relationships

On the Job

Some people can’t fathom that I left a stable job as an Account Manager in an advertising agency, for a lower paying job as an Editorial Assistant for a men’s magazine (the Esquire June 2014 is out guys!). The jump wasn’t easy but as cheesy as it may sound, whatever I miss in my bank account, I at least earn in experience. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

An outtake from the Woman We Love shoot in Baguio with photographer Ynigo Santos.

Working in a magazine is no glamorous thing, but it’s like filling in a complex coloring book with a 64-crayon box. It’s creating beautiful things and telling damn good stories with some of the brightest, most talented creative people from the industry. The important thing about telling a good story is that it cannot be done alone. A good story needs a good team, and this means building a strong synergy with the people you work with. From the photographer, to the writer, to the makeup artist and the stylist, all of these people must be 1) good at what they do, and 2) you must be able to work together for that one vision. I remember we had to shoot model Kate Bautista once in Baguio for our woman feature in Esquire Magazine. I was in charge of writing the story, so I decided to interview the model in front of the entire group instead one night over beers so that it was less formal and more of an inuman. She ended up sharing the most personal stories of her life, and we were all so moved that even the photographer felt inspired to translate her stories to the shoot. That’s the thing about these kinds of things, you need to be able to inspire each other, and bounce ideas off of each other (even the stupid ones), and all of the energy combined will produce magical work. This is true for all of my other shoots. It’s a thrill to work in teams like these because, imagine working with photographers you idolize, and then knowing that you both came up with work together. It’s addicting!

Sitting down with Dr. Mahar Lagmay (left) and Esquire Editor in Chief Erwin Romulo (right). Dr. Lagmay of project Noah shared how he tried to warn people of Yolanda’s wrath a few days before landfall, and how nobody really listened.

I also get a lot of inspiration from my editors as well. My Editor in Chief, Erwin Romulo, is one of the brightest people I have ever met. He challenges me everyday to think stranger, weirder, something less predictable. Sometimes he shares with us some of the works he has done in the past for other magazines, so that we are pushed to come up with better ones. Having a leader like that is important because you can’t just be satisfied with, “pwede na ‘to.” You have to want to be “wow-ed” by the work. The cover is good—but is it brilliant, he would ask. And we always have to strive to be brilliant.

One of my memorable interviews and learning experiences was sitting down with the tax collector Kim Henares. She offered me merienda after the shoot.

Being a writer and being out in the field also allows me to learn things from my subjects. When I interview people, I am always inspired by their stories and I feel like sitting in front of them and listening to them open up to me is a classroom that cannot be replicated ever. Some memorable experiences for me was talking to Atom Araullo right after Yolanda struck, and sitting down with the infamous tax collector Kim Henares.

What our Esquire wall looks like, which tracks down the pages that we have accomplished every month.

I don’t really think of the job as work because I feel myself growing each and every day, learning from the people around me. Whether its from my Editor pushing me to think higher, my Art Director giving me tips about composition, whether its a celebrated photographer I am collaborating with, or even a subject who is telling me their story—being around these people is like everyday nourishment. It’s good for you. When you’re finally in that environment with them, walking amongst them, having beers with them after a long shoot, or throwing ideas over coffee after lunch, you can’t help but feel a glow and feel an ever-burning inspiration inside. It’s like you just want to keep thinking of new ideas. It’s like you just want to keep creating. You’re always on the lookout for stories, and you want to be able to tell them in amazing ways. And although experiences like these can’t appease your hunger like food can; money doesn’t always fill that gap in your heart either anyway. Life will always have tradeoffs.

About the Contributor

Kara Ortiga works as an Editorial Assistant for Esquire Magazine, and is a columnist for the Young Star section of the Philippine Star. She struggles to live a riveting lifestyle, and her new obsession is the Myers-Briggs personality test.

See all of Kara Ortiga's posts →

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