Diving into summer ready skincare with this Canadian creative duo!
We caught up with Canadian creative duo, model Sherilyn Wen and photographer Amanda Bernardo of The Photo Essays to learn about their creative process and what went into this dreamy Birch Babe beach side photoshoot!
The photoshoot included some of our go-to sustainable clean beauty items for smooth, healthy, dewy summer skin! Explore them on our Summer Ready Skincare Collection here!
More about how they met, came up with the idea for the photoshoot, fell into these creative passions, what #LessFussMoreFun means to them and of course their fav Birch Babe products below!
- What made you want to become a Photographer?
Amanda on becoming a photographer: I started playing with cameras when I was eleven years old. It started with disposable cameras and random pictures of play structures and landscapes, to eventually getting a digital camera and capturing my friends and events. I loved photography because at heart I’ve always loved storytelling, whether it be capturing a photo, a collection of words on paper or speaking on stage to an audience. I’ve worked in each of these areas over the years but in 2019, I decided to take my photography one step further, expanding my love of photography to clients and furthering my studies to learn more about this amazing craft. To be able to share our stories in various mediums in a beautiful thing, but sometimes it can be harder in words and easier visually and that’s what I love about photography. What I really love is being able to tie both together.
Sherilyn on modeling: I’ve always known that the modeling industry is harsh and that it takes a lot to stick with it. To be honest, I started modeling because I like a good challenge. Since starting, the industry has taught me many life lessons. I’ve learned how to collaborate with different personalities, network in a business setting, and most of all, handle rejection when I don’t book a job. Modeling also lets me meet people of all different backgrounds and skill sets. I’ve met girls who’ve modeled in India and New York Fashion Week, designers who’ve worked for the White House, makeup artists who own their own content creation studios, and all sorts of people in between. Although I’m in school and modeling full-time is not a goal of mine, I believe that the skills I’ve gained through these experiences cannot be taught through a textbook. That’s why I do it—to learn and grow every day.
- How did you both connect? Is building a community a part of your creative process?
Amanda: Community is so important to me, especially in the realm of storytelling. Our communities have so many important stories to share, and sometimes ideas to invent new stories. When Sherilyn reached out to me to be part of her Birch Babe story, I was happy to be a part of it. It not only allowed me to connect with someone in my community but also allowed me to support her in sharing her story as a model.
Sherilyn: Funny thing is, Amanda and I were planning to work together about a year before we actually did. When the opportunity for Birch Babe came along, our goals just happened to align. I wanted to break more into the commercial and beauty side of the industry, while Amanda wanted to take a step away from family clients to be more creative. In that sense, building community is a huge part of the process, because both parties need to have the same vision to make the final product cohesive.
- How did you get the idea for this shoot?
Amanda: Sherilyn had some Birch Babe products and wanted to capture them outdoors. When I looked at the Birch Babe brand, it symbolized this natural brand and experience that reminded me of clean and calm feelings the beach can bring with it. We often love our skin best post beach day, that glow that fills our skin with new beginnings and adventures so it felt natural to lead this creative shoot at our local beach.
Sherilyn: With Amanda’s bright photography style, a few on-camera laughs from me, and Birch Babe’s love of the outdoors, a beachy sunset shoot seemed to be a good fit. We put together a mood board and the rest, as we'll say, is history!
- What was the most fun, unexpected or curve ball during the photoshoot?
Amanda: Whenever I work with new clients, the first few shots can always feel uncomfortable or nerve wracking as they get a sense of how I work and being in front of the lens. Working with a model, this is less of the case given their experience in front of the camera. Even so, working with photographers we can all take a different approach - sit back and let the model do their thing or offer a bit more prompts to land a certain look. I think the mix of both our styles complimented the shoot and you can see in some of the photographs the natural laughs and moments that resulted from that.
In terms of curve balls, when photographing in a public space you can’t control those around you! So you may be getting ready to snap a shot, and suddenly an older gentleman enters the frame and starts to stress haha It happens! But as a photographer we learn to work around it!
Sherilyn: There are so many unexpected things to navigate behind the scenes that aren’t captured in the “highlight reel” of the final photos. In this case, getting the perfect shot involved climbing over rocks to optimize the angles, sitting awkwardly on pebbles and smiling like it was comfortable (do it for the photos haha!), and lining up the sunset while avoiding people in the background. It’s all part of the fun! The more challenges that arise, the more rewarding it is to see the final photos.
- What are some of your creative goals with your craft? What would you LOVE to work on next?
Amanda: As a storyteller at heart, in writing and photography, I’ve been working on a long-term goal of publishing my next book - Chasing Motherhood. This book has been a long time coming, with a long time still to go, but captures my own personal struggles with endometriosis and PCOS in my journey to becoming a mother. As part of this, I also plan to include the stories of other women on their roads to motherhood, which will be captured both in writing and portrait photography. I still have a lot of work to go, but recently started collecting the stories of others and feel so incredibly lucky to be trusted with their journeys. It has made me feel less alone in my own struggles and inspired more than ever to get this project done so others feel less alone too.
You can learn more about this project here: https://amandabernardo.ca/chasing-motherhood/
Sherilyn: When it comes to my craft, one thing I pride myself on is my versatility. At the same time, it’s also an area that I constantly work on improving. I don’t like boxing myself into one look because it closes so many doors for job opportunities. Instead, I push myself to venture into a variety of genres—sweet and wholesome for commercial, cold and mysterious for editorial, fierce and strong for fitness, subtle but sultry for swim, you name it. When I first started modeling, I thought posing was the make-or-break. However, I didn’t realize the role facial expressions play in telling the story. Now that I’ve started doing beauty work, it’s less about pose changes on the macro level and more about micro-level adjustments—the quirk of an eyebrow, a change in the eyes, a lift of the chin, or a parting of the lips. It takes practice for sure, and it’s something I’d love to gain more experience in.
- Any fave Birch Babe products?
Amanda: I love all natural products so finding a company like Birch Babe that shares in this value is amazing! I have the All Natural Deodorant in 'Lavender & Lime', the Leave-In Conditioner and the 100% Organic Face Oil coming in the mail so I'm pretty excited to try those!
Sherilyn: My favourite Birch Babe products are all bundled up in the Glow All Day 3-Step Skincare Bundle! The Gentle Face Scrub leaves my face feeling squeaky clean, the serum gives a glow from the inside out, and a few spritzes of the toner is the perfect finishing touch. When a brand is committed to sustainability, has such positive energy, and offers such lovingly made products, what more can you ask for really?!
- What does #LessFussMoreFun mean to you?
Amanda: My skin, like many others, has always had its ups and downs, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to be comfortable with whatever skin I wake up to. Less Fuss More Fun means less worry about what my skin might look like on any given day, and more living and having fun without being held back by my skin or insecurities.
Sherilyn: Skincare can get fussy when you don’t know exactly what chemicals go into certain products and how they can affect your skin. I love that Birch Babe uses all-natural ingredients so people can worry less about potential issues and have more fun with their routine. Plus, Birch Babe is all about the on-the-go lifestyle, so you can take the products along no matter what kind of fun you’re having!
Be sure to follow these two and reach out to work with them below!
The Birch Babes