Satchmi Stories: Shaira and Von Luna
by PB Hermoso
In the season of fluttering hearts, more than a handful of the best things in life come in pairs. By nature, there are your shoes, meals, and maybe even those egg token goodies you get from arcades. As love doesn't always really call for candle-lit dinners and a bouquet of roses, we traverse our path back to home. Behind the lens and between each groove of a vinyl record, Shaira and Von Luna bond over obscure finds in thrift shops and conceptual photo shoots based off songs in their mini repertoire. We explore their mini collection of music paraphernalia, a familiar pair of boots, and a record that these siblings have bonded over in time.
Von, are you more of the record collector or do both of you collectively talk about how which records you could get?
Von: We talk about it sometimes. If I see anything I like that's cheap, I just get them. We go to a shop and run out of it with a luggage. Whenever I'm looking for old stuff, she just looks around for records.
You travel a lot. Which are the best countries to look for records?
Von: Mainly, London. There was this weird little corner shop where the entire counter is full of vinyl records. There's a basement that's also full of records. It's always cheap. The things are actually organized. So you know what you're looking for.
Shaira: There are so many records there. Second hand clothing or records. Like, when we need to go [a certain place], we need to know all the record stores.
What are your tips for travelers who would like to shop for records?
Von: Probably to leave space. If you know you're going somewhere, then you must have some extra space in your luggage because that usually happens. You see something nice. You need extra space so that the record would fit especially when you know you're really going to a nice place.
Whenever you travel, do you always buy records or were there some circumstances where you were okay not buying?
Shaira: Well… We only started. It was only after 2015, I think.
Von: There was an old warehouse thing. A hipster in Brooklyn. There were records there. We have a lot of things at home, but they're just stuff that we really have. Not a collection.
Shaira: I collect Dr. Martens. That's a collection, but this just happens.
Von: It's an accumulation, not a collection.
How did you start collecting/accumulating records? What was your first record?
Von: I remember that it's because she does a lot of retro-themed shoots because vinyl records are old [items]. There was a warehouse full of records there were only 150 each, but I'm not sure where they are now.
Shaira: I got a record for my birthday. It was Serge Gainsbourg's, because I love Jane Birkin. The store was about to close, and I saw the record, but I didn't want to spend because I'm kuripot (stingy) like that. [laughs] So, the girl I was with was also a part of my agency. The next day, she ran back to the store before it closed and got it for me. She was like "Happy Birthday! I got you something."
Do you plan to collect records now that you have your first record?
Shaira: Just borrow [from Von] for now. For a lot of my shoots, you can find either a book or a record. I like these records so…
Do you have a favorite record that was difficult to find?
Von: It's hard to find the jazz records, classic records. Back in LA, I think there was this set of Neil Young records.
Shaira: There was this yard sale, and they were just selling the album covers. They were so cheap, so, I had to buy them.
Has it ever happened when you've seen a record, but when you came back, it kinda got away?
Shaira: [laughs] We probably don't remember what it is because it's too painful.
Do you have a certain way of categorizing records?
Von: I like organizing things, but I mess them up when looking for stuff, so,it becomes a mess. After 3 or 6 months of organizing again, the whole thing causes me to flick over the records and they're back to how they were before. It's basically in my room, too.
Was there a record you got based out of the artist name or other details, but you didn't really know the music 'til you came to love it?
Von: The one who sang 'Loving You.' We played it just once.
Shaira: We were eating dinner, and it was good. We only knew the song 'Loving You.' The album was nice.
Von: I've got a couple of Simon & Garfunkel albums. They were nice.
Do you have a record that you have told yourself, "Do or die, I'll never let go of this record?"
Von: Probably not, but I'm still looking for that one specific record that when I see it, I'll go like, "That's what I really have to get." But right now, [they're either] given to me or some that I see as just nice, so I'll pick them up. It's really all in the search.
Do you ever occasionally go through his record collection if you want to 'Oh. I feel like listening to something'?
Shaira: I just like to call him whenever I need to listen.
How do you guys bond together?
Shaira: Through thrift shops!
As you usually go for clothes, and he goes for records, have you guys gone shopping where you have a certain goal for a shoot or something? Like, okay, we need items that are for this era or for this kind of style.
Shaira: Yes. Also, when we see something that I think he likes, and he finds the clothes I like, we just stock them. It's always good to have it there when we need it. I have a lot of shoots.
Is there like a telepathic bond where you get this and he gets that, then you're just going to sync with it in a photo?
Shaira: When I run out of shots, often he says, 'Wait. I have something new.'
You know how people listen to music and are like, "This is the definitely the soundtrack of my day." Have you ever experienced "Oh, I know a record that'll go with this photo?"
Von: I have a lot of her things. Whether it's from the 60s or 70s, there is a record that'll go with that era.
Shaira: A lot of our shoots are based on songs. Or artists, like Bob Dylan. Sometimes, the sequence of the shoot is the first stanza of the song. I think collectively, not just one album.
Are there records that you would like to listen to when you are constantly working on anything?
Von: Jazz and downbeat stuff.
What about those you both love to listen to?
Von: Spiral Starecase.
Shaira: The Carpenters. We do have Beatles.
Von: We have two Beatles. They're compilations.
Are there any artists that you always search for but they don't seem to have any albums on vinyl press?
Shaira: I never thought about that.
Von: I don't listen to current artists. But probably 2 or 3 artists out there.
Have you ever bought a record because of its packaging?
Von: Probably. Usually, all of our records comes in bulk. I tend to stop myself from buying things because I worry that when I buy one thing, I end up buying the whole set.
Have you ever brought a record for him?
Shaira: [I bought him] the turntable!
Von: She basically started it. 'Okay, here's a bunch of records, and a turntable.' So, here.
Every film roll develops into a story only the person behind the shutter can tell. Sometimes, photos speak for themselves. Shaira has dwelled into crafting scenarios out of songs through within her desired frames. Whether it's a board of warm hues reminiscent of a midnight summer dream, or a set drawn to depict a 70s classic, Shaira has a crystal clear vision of how it'll be creatively constructed.
What do you admire about film photography?
Shaira: The science behind it, which I still can't fully comprehend, to be honest! It's like witchcraft. [laughs]
Which cameras/film do you frequently use?
Shaira: I only use two film cameras at a time—a Zenit, and another camera whose Russian label I can't read. I am not particular with my film cameras, because I only started shooting with them two or three years ago.
What are your favorite shots or shoots done in film?
Shaira: Hard question! The ones that come to mind immediately are:
When Summer Is Gone (link: https://www.facebook.com/shairaluna/media_set?set=a.10153623147930920.1073742159.573935919&type=3), this shoot for L'Officiel Manila (link: https://www.facebook.com/shairaluna/media_set?set=a.10153781182735920.1073742186.573935919&type=3), a few photos from our August editorial and some from the Oxygen #FreeYourMind campaign (link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/shairalunaphotography/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1132437843460327)!
A lot of my film photographs are on Tumblr, so not a lot of people actually see them [laughs].
If you had to be behind the lens of someone else's camera for a day, which photographer would it be?
Shaira: I would like to be behind the lens of Roald Dahl's, because he has seen and been through many strange and wonderful things in his lifetime.
P.S. Oh and for film, I get the cheapest and most readily available ones—usually Fujifilm Superia 200 or Kodak ColorPlus 200. It's really all still quite new to me, so I haven't been choosy yet!
There's more than a handful, maybe even countless moments, scenarios, and emotions we'd all like to experience or even create by ourselves. Shaira and Von shared theirs in the form of a working tandem with two different poles that make magic happen when they attract. Home is indeed where the heart is, and it always feels good to be home.
Photographed by MV Isip
Video by MV Isip
Words by PB Hermoso
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