It’s likely that you have seen and have been captivated by one of her beautiful images. Sheila Catilo has the uncanny ability to capture a person’s inner light – and every photograph she takes glows with genuine emotion.
For our Mother’s Day edition of Style Stories, we’re putting the spotlight on the woman behind the lens who will shed light on what a career in photography looks like and how she uses her photographs to empower modern moms like her.
On personal style: “I would describe my style as comfortable, fun and feminine.”
“While I love wearing neutrals when I work, I also love wearing bright and pastel colors. I love clothes that are easy to wear and pieces that allow me to move. Aside from being a photographer, I am a mom of three and most of my day involves being up and about – driving, carrying things, chasing a toddler, being on the floor with my camera, doing arts and crafts, reaching for something or being someone’s playground.
Sheila wearing the Lira embroidered blouson from Offbeat Alley with (1) Daisy earrings and (2) Mita bracelet trio
On what she wears on a typical day: “Something comfortable like a soft top with jeans or shorts with strappy flat leather sandals. Then I accessorize to dress up the look a little bit. I love how a pair of nice earrings or a statement necklace can take my regular errands look to smart casual.
Sheila wearing the Isola eyelet dress from Offbeat Alley with metallic strappy sandals from Saltwater Sandals and (3) Dahlia earrings
Some of Sheila's favorite sandals include these from Saltwater Sandals, Meigan Collection and Renegade Folk
Sheila's picks: (4) Vinca 2-layer necklace (5) Chestnut hoop earrings (6) Dahlia floral earrings (7) Eve bracelet set (8) Berry bracelet set (9) Flaxen drop earrings (10) Canary druzy necklace (11) Tuscan Sun 3-layer necklace and (12) Pelican acrylic earrings
One of Sheila's favorite colors is turquoise and some of her favorite accessories (like her pair of specs and Heyjow tassel earrings) come in this color
Sheila favors functional bags with a bohemian flair like these from Aranaz and leather accessories brand Ni Qua
What's in her make-up kit: sunblock from Etuded House, lippies from Bobbi Brown and Happy Skin, and a couple of essential oils from Doterra
On what a typical day looks like: “I don’t really have a typical day because of the nature of my work. But what seems to be constant is waking up with kids on our bed. If they’re still asleep I use that short window in the morning it as my personal time to read the Word, pray and plan my day. If I’m not rushing to go somewhere, I prepare breakfast and eat with the girls before leaving the house for a shoot or errands. The rest of the day is dictated by what kind of photo shoot, meeting or event I need to attend.”
Sheila wearing the Isola eyelet dress from Offbeat Alley with (13) Mita bracelet trio and (14) Lazare necklace set
On how she discovered her passion for photography: “My dad gave me a point-and-shoot camera when I was 9 and that was it! Most of my allowance went into buying film and having my photos processed and printed at the local photo lab in the market. In high school, my uncle let me borrow his old SLR and taught me how to use it and that brought my love for photography to a whole new level.”
On her early days as a photographer: “I never considered photography as a career before. It was more of a hobby I really enjoyed doing. But soon after ending a short-lived career in a TV network, I found myself in-between jobs and was at a point in my life where I was just waiting for calls from companies I applied to. During that time, I would get last-minute shoot assignments from my sister who then worked for a PR guy. I would do behind-the-scenes documentation for brand campaigns, cover high society events, take photos of real estate properties in Antipolo and Laguna."
"I would commute almost every day with my camera from Cavite to wherever I needed to go without knowing how much I was going to be paid. I was a small girl who didn’t wear make-up and wore jeans and flipflops to work that sometimes people didn’t take me seriously or believe that I was the photographer. But the high I got from the experience of shooting, seeing my photos published, meeting new people and learning on the job made everything worth it and made me realize I might actually have a shot in this field.”
On her current projects: “One of the things that motherhood and my job gave me is a wonderful community of women - people I've worked with and have grown meaningful relationships with just because we have something in common: we are mothers. When I was a new mom, I relied on books and on the internet when I didn’t know what to do. It was such a huge resource and yet I felt like I was still clueless and alone. And now I find myself doing projects to connect and empower moms so that they will also have the experience of growing with each other."
Sheila wearing the Nyes gingham tube top and skirt from Offbeat Alley with (15) Eve bracelet set and (16) Cider earrings
"One of the passion projects Leona Panutat and I are doing right now is called Project LILO. In this age when social media seems to have a picture-perfect view of motherhood, we want to show what motherhood is really about – how it’s messy and exhausting yet beautiful and rewarding. We want to tell moms out there that even when we feel like we don’t have it all together, it’s going to be okay.”
“I’ve also teamed up with Mommy Mundo for a campaign called #Mompowerment, which we are launching next week. This campaign is all about recognizing the impact moms can create in their own unique way at home and in the work environment. Sometimes we underestimate our power to create the change that we want to see in this world. It’s a great reminder of the fact that we can shape a whole generation – and it starts in our very own homes and in the life of every person we encounter in our community."
On what keeps her inspired: “My family. People I work with. This beautiful world the Lord has created for us to live in.”
Sheila wearing the Marina 2-piece swimsuit from Coral Swimwear with (17) Auburn hoop earrings
Her advice for aspiring photographers: “Just keep shooting. Make the most of every opportunity to grow in your craft. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and learn from new experiences."
"I read somewhere that the camera can’t make a good photograph any more than a typewriter can write a great novel – and it’s true. How you see things and share it through the images you take make you the artist that you are. Your eyes are the best instrument you have – not expensive cameras or big lenses or filters. Be intentional about what you shoot. Find your purpose as an artist so that it’s not just a job but something more meaningful."
Sheila matches her printed swimsuit from Agua Brazilian Swimwear with (18) Madeira mini hoop earrings
On what's next for her: “My family and I are planning and documenting our journey to a new home, which we are praying to come soon. Career-wise, I want to make it my mission to teach families to document their memories. That way I know I’ve imparted more than just that pocketful of moments in pictures, but a habit they get to keep and enjoy with their loved ones. And maybe a coffee table book or two. Who knows.”
Follow Sheila on Instagram: (@sheilacatilo)
Photography by Jorem Catilo (@jorem)
Clothes from @offbeatalley
Accessories (most pieces are from our Island Girl Blush and Golden Glow collections to be released soon):
(1) Daisy earrings
(2) and (13) Mita bracelet trio
(3) and (6) Dahlia earrings
(7) and (15) Eve bracelet set
(9) Flaxen drop earrings
(14) Lazare necklace set
(16) Cider earrings