We had the good fortune of connecting with Saige Estacio and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Saige, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
The most common misconception I’ve encountered surrounding modeling is that it’s simple. That models show up, get their picture taken, collect their payment and leave. Firstly, it truly is a collaborative team effort between photographer and model to create great content. A lack of communication or even trust in each other’s abilities can be very apparent in the final product. But also, from a modeling standpoint, there’s the pre-shoot wardrobe check (what’s flattering? what fits the theme? what colors fit the mood?), pre-shoot photographer check (do I trust this photographer’s work ethic?), being mindful of what poses work best for your features during the shoot, being able to state boundaries based on comfort and expertise level, and the list goes on. I’ve been modeling for almost 8 years now and am still challenged by different projects and people. It’s all about being able to grow in the industry…thinking you’ve learned everything there is to know about being a creator is when you stop truly creating.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a freelance model is finding my “why.” Why do I want to create? Why do I want to capture different looks? Why do I want to share my work with others? For years it was actually very unclear and incredibly superficial. It’s so easy to get caught up in the game of it all. The recognition, the shoutouts, the compliments, the inquiries…it’s all so fun to experience but only lasts so long. And unfortunately, some people in the industry will do their best to exploit that desire. But as I began working with photographers like John Allen who gave me space to experiment, I realized that modeling became a release. It’s a release from the day-to-day, it’s a release from trauma, it’s a release from my own head. And that’s what I want to convey in my photos. You’ll notice looking through my profile I don’t expose much of my physique in my work. That comes from a place of wanting to show more than what people can see. In the past I have used my physical appearance to distract from a whirlwind of pain and confusion occurring underneath. And my personal conviction is to be vulnerable in a way that no longer distracts from my soul. I have stories. Good and bad. As we all do. And I think the world could use a little more sincerity…especially in the platforms of art sharing.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ve been in Sierra Vista for over 20 years so this one is easy LOL. First let’s take a hike. The hikes in the area are a perfect way to get introduced to the diversity that is Arizona landscape. Then we’re headed to Urbano Coffee. Not only is the coffee outstanding, the aesthetic is adorable, calming, and homey. Next we have to go to Bisbee, I KNOW it sounds like a cop out but how can you not?! We’ll grab some pizza and cocktails at Screaming Banshee and take a walk through old Bisbee…maybe stop by a couple breweries and bars along the way!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
John Allen has been a cornerstone in my growth as a model. Feeling comfortable, encouraged, and valued are just a few of the many things that John has provided to me and all of his clients I think without realizing it sometimes. He has an unmatched passion to not only become great, but to truly enjoy the process as his journey continues. John is a humble master and I can’t thank him enough for taking a chance on my 2 years ago. Paul Callahan launched me into the freelance world while he himself launched himself into the photography world. We learned a lot from each other just through collaborating, and have been encouraging each other’s work since 2017. It’s rare to work with photographers/models who truly just want to see you grow and I’m thankful to have met and worked with Paul even if for a short amount of time. My dear friend Shelbi Strube is my literal backbone within and outside the industry. As a small business owner herself, she understand the importance of remaining true to your values and standards as we grow on our own paths…and she has kept me spiritually grounded through all of my endeavors, successful or otherwise. I would not be the human I am without her. Lastly, my husband Aaron Estacio. For someone who doesn’t see much of my work besides the finished product, he is my number one supporter. I am thankful for having such a free and positive space to be able express myself creatively without judgment or condemnation. It is an experience I can’t say that I’ve always had, and am beyond blessed to get to include him in my creative processes!

Instagram: @essjayyy_

Image Credits
@r2digitalimages @torey_photo @jhn.aln

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.