Twins An and En Estrada ex­pand their hori­zons through places they go and peo­ple they meet

Life for An and En Estrada is a pho­to­genic trip

Northern Living - - CON­TENTS - TEXT YVETTE TAN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY JOSEPH PAS­CUAL

An and En Estrada may run a blog called Your Evil Twin, but the sis­ters are any­thing but. They’re close: shar­ing clothes and go­ing on trips to­gether, as well as col­lab­o­rat­ing on pho­tog­ra­phy projects that have gar­nered them world­wide fol­low­ing and the op­por­tu­nity to work with mag­a­zines and cloth­ing brands.

But be­fore the sis­ters be­came pho­tog­ra­phers, they were, first of all, trav­el­ers. “When we were young, our par­ents would al­ways bring us on road trips to our old beach house in La Union. That’s where our love for beaches and sunny weather came from,” En says. “We’d also go on month-long va­ca­tions each year to New York, to visit our mother’s rel­a­tives, with the oc­ca­sional road trip to Florida for its theme parks and its scari­est roller­coaster rides.”

An and En have al­ways trav­eled to­gether but lately, they’ve been tak­ing solo trips. Al­though noth­ing beats trav­el­ing with each other, es­pe­cially since they work so well as a team, trav­el­ing with their sta­ple fa­vorite film cam­eras, the Yashieca t4 and the Con­tax 645, both best for ca­sual travel pho­tog­ra­phy, is a close sec­ond. They are both in love with film. “We are both ad­dicted to the feel­ing and look of nostal­gia. And we al­ways get this feel­ing with film pho­tog­ra­phy: the wait­ing, the sur­prises, the an­tic­i­pa­tion, and the idea of hav­ing only 36 shots in your cam­era in­stead of 1,000. We love the sound of the shut­ter, the wind­ing of film, and the whole process of de­vel­op­ing with chem­i­cals. It feels like the photo was cre­ated en­tirely by us, from start to fin­ish.

“Usu­ally, we re­search the places only to plan our out­fits. We re­ally wait un­til we reach the lo­ca­tion. Most of the lo­ca­tions in our pic­tures are un­ex­pected and un­con­ven­tional spots we just chanced upon. Weather also plays a big role in the feel of the shoot. Po­laroids de­velop dif­fer­ently in cold weather and ap­pear more nos­tal­gic,” En says. “We don’t re­ally have a strict work­ing process. Peo­ple who have seen us work al­ways say we look like we are just play­ing. I guess it’s be­cause of our ob­ses­sion with raw and hon­est things. We want to cap­ture them with­out try­ing too much.”

Trav­el­ing, for them, is a life­style, some­thing to be sa­vored first and fore­most be­fore be­ing doc­u­mented, the lat­ter a re­flec­tion of the jour­ney rather than the point of it. Be­cause of this, An and En tend to take their time, choos­ing to linger in­stead of rush, search­ing for ex­pe­ri­ences that re­flect those of a lo­cal’s. “Slow travel is way bet­ter in our ex­pe­ri­ence,” En says. “Aside from cut­ting trans­porta­tion costs, you re­ally get to ex­pe­ri­ence each des­ti­na­tion and form stronger con­nec­tions with it. Of­ten, we dis­cover off-beat lo­ca­tions while trans­fer­ring from bus [to bus] or by walk­ing and get­ting lost. We re­ally en­joy tak­ing train rides in Europe and rent­ing cars. Last year, we rented a car in Tas­ma­nia to drive to this is­land called Bruny. It was much more fun be­cause we learned how to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the car and road. Another per­fect ex­am­ple was our choice to ride a don­key in­stead of a ca­ble car to go down from the cliff to the docks in San­torini.” Their travel phi­los­o­phy has led to many amaz­ing ad­ven­tures, some of them mak­ing for awe­some sto­ries in ret­ro­spect. “We had such an amaz­ing time in South Africa. Our first night in Zim­babwe was un­for­get­table: we for­got to lock our bal­cony win­dow so mon­keys en­tered our room, stole our stash of choco­lates then left a nasty sou­venir on our bed,” En says.

Anec­dotes like this come from the sis­ters’ abil­ity both to plan for a trip and to let loose once they reach their des­ti­na­tion, to let life take the lead while stick­ing to a loose script, an at­ti­tude that fits both travel and life. As En says, “Don’t plan ev­ery de­tail of the whole trip. Al­ways leave some room for the un­ex­pected. Get lost and you will find your way, dis­cov­er­ing new cul­ture and peo­ple. We sug­gest giv­ing up a few cities on the itin­er­ary and spend­ing more time in one; never cram too many cities in one trip.”

The twin’s wan­der­lust and eye for beauty have led them to col­lab­o­ra­tions with news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines, and cloth­ing brands. In the lat­ter, they had three of their pho­to­graphs fea­tured on Top­man t-shirts that were sold on­line. That said, they say that they “feel the most ful­filled” when they shoot for them­selves. “Our fa­vorite project is still the bed­room se­ries we did back when we were still start­ing out. Ev­ery­thing was homemade: we shot each other with ex­pired Po­laroid film, took videos with a Su­per 8 in an ex­otic beach, and made sub­jects of our in­ter­est­ing friends in their own bed­rooms,” En says. “Our travel diaries and videos speak so much about us and they’re more per­sonal. Shoot­ing for other pub­li­ca­tions and clients, mean­while, is fun but you’re not re­ally in con­trol

“We don’t re­ally have a strict work­ing process. Peo­ple who have seen us work al­ways say we look like we are just play­ing. I guess it’s be­cause of our ob­ses­sion with raw and hon­est things.”

of things.” Their dream des­ti­na­tion, they say, is South Amer­ica. “We’re still sav­ing up for it, but hope­fully in the next three years,” En says.

Adrift in a world gone dig­i­tal, An and En’s dream photo project would be one de­void of the trap­pings that tether them to on­line space. “It’s al­ways been our dream to just dis­ap­pear, go on a long back­pack­ing trip or boat ride for a month, and just doc­u­ment ev­ery­thing with film. For­get about iPhones, GoPros, and dig­i­tal cam­eras. For­get post­ing on­line in real time. Just shoot, shoot, and shoot—then sur­prise your­self with film pho­to­graphs when the trip is over,” En says.

More than sis­ters, An and En’s bond as twins (they even have a made-up lan­guage that only they can un­der­stand) tran­scends friend­ship and col­lab­o­ra­tion. It’s a part­ner­ship that has given the girls a cre­ative out­let that is looked up to and ap­pre­ci­ated by many, and it gives them the op­por­tu­nity to bond more with each other even as they dis­cover them­selves. “Aside from hav­ing twice [the amount of] clothes, shoes, and friends, we’re never alone. We think Your Evil Twin wouldn’t be the same or as suc­cess­ful if we weren’t twins in the first place; Your Evil Twin is alive be­cause we al­ways have each other to check and bal­ance. We work as a team, so our out­put is some­how a re­flec­tion of our bond. We’re very lucky that we get along so well and share the same ideas, but still man­age to bal­ance these things out with our dif­fer­ences,” En says.

The best part about run­ning a suc­cess­ful blog, they say, is the sup­port. “Get­ting sweet mes­sages from girls around the world telling us how we’ve in­spired them to travel and get into sports,” En says. “It’s so cool to be able to reach out to so many peo­ple through so­cial me­dia, in­spir­ing young kids to live their dreams and ex­plore the world around them.”

The twins hold 9-to-5 jobs in their fam­ily’s con­struc­tion busi­ness, some­thing that not a lot of peo­ple would guess from their globe-trot­ting ex­ploits. “Other than the fam­ily busi­ness, we’ve been busy with sports,” En says. “An is into surf­ing and long­board­ing; you can find me en­joy­ing WODs al­most ev­ery day in my CrossFit Box. That’s pretty much how we spend our free time when we’re not trav­el­ing. We make it a point to keep phys­i­cally ac­tive.”

An and En say that they are putting blog­ging and print pho­tog­ra­phy aside for a while this year. “We feel like we’ve al­ready ac­com­plished our ini­tial goals in those fields. Most of our friends and fol­low­ers have been sug­gest­ing that we start our own cloth­ing brand and swimwear line, and we’re look­ing into that this year,” En says. “But in all hon­esty, we re­ally don’t know what’s in store for us; our email just sur­prises us with new projects. We didn’t ex­pect to grow this much when we started, but we’re def­i­nitely cook­ing up some­thing be­fore the year ends.” What’s def­i­nite, though? “Another travel video for sure!”

“It’s al­ways been our dream to just dis­ap­pear, go on a long back­pack­ing trip or boat ride for a month, and just doc­u­ment ev­ery­thing with film.”

On An: Back­less tar­tan dress, Va­nia Ro­moff, info@va­niaro­moff.com.ph. On En: Tar­tan blazer, P4,649, and trousers, P2,199, both Sfera, SM City Makati.

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