Her passion for art started at an early age, and she fell in love with photography when she got her first camera in elementary school. However, like many artists, she was told that there was no money in art and decided to pursue a different career path.
She went back to photography when she purchased her first digital camera in 2003. As a mother with a young baby, she started Cubrix Photography during the recession in 2008 and posted on Craigslist with her son as a sample portfolio.
Today, she specializes photographing in newborns, marriage proposals, weddings, and Bar Mitzvahs – “pretty much the milestones of their life” as she says. Madeline’s unique perspective on storytelling in photography and her empathy for others makes her work truly stand out.
In this interview, Madeline shares her most memorable moments as a photographer, how her Filipino heritage shapes her work and her personal and professional goals as an evolving artist.
PURSUING ART DESPITE ADVERSITIES
I was born & raised in Pangasinan, Philippines. Art has been a huge part of me growing up. My loving mother thought I had a great left hand when it came to art and sent me to art class at the early age of 7. Since then, I can see art everywhere through my eyes. I developed an interest in photography when I was in elementary years, my first camera was Kodak Ultralite (Film).
Throughout the years, I was told, there is no money on art. So, I have set aside my passion and pursued a different career path. By 2003, I purchased my first digital camera. Photographing became my hobby again, I would capture the beauty of nature, my favorite being sunsets.
I started Cubrix Photography when the recession began in January 2008. My first child was only 1-month-old back then when I started taking his photos with little to no props. With no incoming income from my previous web development firm, I have to rapidly think, my camera was my only valued asset I have left which makes money. I immediately started posting on Craigslist LA/SF/IE/OC – on a daily basis with my son as a sample portfolio. That’s how I first started to get my first batch of clients.
By 2nd quarter of 2009, I drove to San Francisco once a month to sustain my daughter’s baby formula & diaper supply for Dylan & Kyla. There was a season, I had barely any bookings and I was forced to sell some of my photography equipment so we can go to Costco to buy our necessities. By the year 2009, I was nominated and rank the top 5 out of 32 portrait photographers in Los Angeles. LA City Voter. The awards continue 2011 (3/57), 2012 (1/61), 2013 (1/45) & 2014 (2/29)
Expertise picked Cubrix Photography as one of the top 23 out of 1,336 newborn photographers serving Los Angeles (2017 & 2018)
As of today, my business runs based on “referrals/word of mouth”, I average 10-14 sessions per week including newborns, baby milestones, family, headshots, marriage proposals & special events. I still travel to San Francisco yearly, expanded to Great Neck, NY for the past 3 years, and travel 2x a year. I am currently I’m on my 4th batch in the newborn + children Photography workshop in Manila Philippines this July 2023.
INCORPORATING STORYTELLING INTO PHOTOGRAPHY
I was once taught by my first mentor, Alex Hernandez from Lifetouch, “Paint with light”. You may have some astonishing pictures that are technically perfect; however, there are two more elements that make a strong image even much stronger. The images should evoke strong emotional feelings in the viewer’s psyche.
CAPTURING MORE THAN JUST PICTURES: THE MOST MEANINGFUL MOMENTS AS A PHOTOGRAPHER
So many, I feel each session, event, or newborn workshop I photograph was all memorable for me. But there were few who really stood out the most. As a portrait photographer, I trained myself to be emotionless despite what was happening during the time of the documentary.
I had this newborn session many years ago, while I was doing my craft, out of the blue, the mom started crying. Her husband passed away recently. I had no words to say and kept doing my job. I keep telling her baby was so beautiful – her dad will be so proud of her someday.
Yearly, I teach newborn workshops in the Philippines. While I was telling my students the profits were donated to a charity that makes special shoes for claw feet babies. It was hard for me to finish my speech – I was so emotional as I taught them the importance of giving back whenever your life is very comfortable.
On a lighter note, for this one-year-old boy’s milestone, every time I sing, he gives me a bad look. When I stop singing, he will stop the grin. I don’t have a talent for singing at all!
At events – Photographing 25 Billionaires during a private meeting event – one of the guests was Bill Gates. I was so nervous I didn’t even say hi and shake his hands!
STAYING INSPIRED AND CONTINUING TO GROW AS A PHOTOGRAPHER
Surround Yourself with Success: Physically surround yourself with successful photographers. Go to photo conferences, and meet-ups, join a mastermind, and go to photography events and photo walks. If these don’t exist in your area, start them.
HOW MY FILIPINO HERITAGE SHAPES MY WORK AROUND THE WORLD
Filipinos have extremely strong cultural empathy. I would like to think that we would never have been able to succeed across such a varied portfolio of countries (across six continents) without embodying this very strong Filipino value.
PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL ROADMAP AS AN EVOLVING ARTIST
Personally, to stay healthy and be able to photograph my children’s newborns. To be able to get grants and build 20 libraries per year for our children’s charity – JollyBox Philippines.
Professionally, to be the first South/North East Asian Nikon USA Female Ambassador. To achieve a Master’s in WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International ), currently at the associate level. To continue to teach newborns workshops in the Philippines on a yearly basis.
ADVICE FOR ASPIRING PHOTOGRAPHERS
An artist will always be an artist, in spite of everything. Pursue it, no matter what. No Matter what, you are emphasizing that you are definitely going to do it, even if there are obstacles or difficulties.
CONNECT WITH MADELINE
Whether you’re a fellow photographer or simply an admirer of stunning visual imagery, connecting with Madeline through social media and exploring her photography portfolios is a great way to stay up-to-date on her latest creations and gain inspiration for your own creative pursuits.