5 Debutantes Share the Concepts Behind Their Pre-Debut Photoshoots

by Katrina Golamco   |  Feb 14, 2021
Image: (LEFT TO RIGHT) FACEBOOK/Vintage Dream Photography, FACEBOOK/KJCGPhotography
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Every year, debuts are getting trendier and artsier than ever. From the event’s theme, the debutante’s dress, and most especially, to the pre-debut photoshoots, debuts keep on flourishing birthday by birthday. And it makes sense because this kind of day is a once-in-a-lifetime, most awaited grand moment for most teenagers (and super supportive parents!), so might as well go all-in, right?

Surprisingly, this year’s debutantes refused to be the typical grand debutante and embraced their creative roots in creating their dream pre-debut photos. Despite the COVID-19 limitations, these 5 debutantes, with the help of their relatives and hired photographers, made their visions come to life and showed how liberating and wonderful it is not to confine oneself to society’s mainstream standards and explore personal creativity.

Here are some concepts that might inspire you for your own pre-debut photoshoot!

Their favorite movie or TV series

Gwen Mendevil, Studio Ghibli Concept

For the past weeks, Gwen’s pre-debut shoot has gone viral because of her striking choice of a concept. Fans of Studio Ghibli expressed profound admiration for her photos because it accurately captured the essence of the scenes of these renowned films.


Studio Ghibli has been part of my youth; I grew up watching Hayao Miyazaki’s animations… his works became my distraction in this fast-moving world, through his eyes I saw life in a different view that rebuilt my definition of what life should be and every character he created leaves a heartfelt message that until now I still have within me,” she shared.

For months, Gwen quite had a hard time looking for a photographer who shares the same vibe with her when it comes to envisioning the outcome she had in mind. Luckily, she found Vintage Dream Photography. The team explained how they made an effort to rewatch all the Studio Ghibli films and obtain the specific props and locations needed for the shoot.

watch now

Lei Ann Magbalot, The Queen’s Gambit

Inspired by the latest Netflix massive hit series The Queen’s Gambit, Lei Ann channeled Elizabeth Bennet’s strong feminist personality through wearing the same clothes and imitating Beth’s unforgettable pose.

She shared how she came up with the idea, saying, “I wanted it to be vintage-ish and something classy. Tapos nagkataon po na Elizabeth and I have the same hair so sabi ko puwede. Let’s try it, malay mo naman bagay sa akin.”

Lei Ann’s resourcefulness also paid off! She made use of her and her friends’ old clothes and even shopped at ukay-ukay­ stores for her props and other pieces of clothing needed. Indeed, creativity can save you up to thousands of pesos. *wink*


An homage to the Philippine culture

Rose Mae Combinido

It is rare to see cultural themed pre-debut photoshoots nowadays, so seeing Rose Mae’s debut photos is a refreshing sight. The whole concept belonged to her uncle and sister, which was inspired by their province’s culture. “Since we live in the province, it suits the location of our shoot. Not everyone has the concept of being a proud Filipina, and that’s what made us do that concept as being a province girl and a proud Filipina girl.”

Ultimately, being simple was the whole idea of the shoot. She and her relatives took advantage of the DIY dress she made for school and used it for the shoot since it had a personal touch and bears a lot of memories in her life. For her, using that dress they made personally is the most special way to commemorate her 18th birthday.


Simple and natural

Valerie Arao

We can all agree that pure and authentic beauty is a timeless concept. And Valerie is one of the few brave ladies out there who can effortlessly pull-off this theme. She shared, “The concept is simply about the expression of myself - who I truly am and who I can be. From a young girl turning to be at her legal age, I expressed from that shoot a more responsible version of myself.”


She believed that you do not have to have grand parties to make your day special; sometimes, girls just want serene and intimate celebrations. With that said, Valerie did embody “less is more” in her shoots.

“Honestly, the materials I wore aren’t new. I believe that this time we should really consider practicality and that spending [for] a debut is not about wearing the most expensive dress, jewelry, or shoes. I believe in my heart that the best way to spend the day of turning to legal age is wearing the best smile and feeling genuine happiness inside my heart and thankfulness to God for having another year for me to cherish.”


These next generation of ladies are quite the role models for their peers by supporting Filipino culture, sustainability, simplicity, and creativity.


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Katrina Golamco
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