A Photo Tour in Andalucia

Next year we are offering Photo Tours in Andalucia, Southern Spain when we will be dipping our toes into the city of Seville, Spain’s sun dappled, fiesta loving, passionate land with the scent of orange blossom and the sounds of the flamenco guitar.  Also on the agenda is living like a local in Genalguacil, an Andalusian  mountain village seemingly sprinkled into the mountain and home to modern artists living and working alongside octogenarians who have lived here all their lives. Art works are displayed at every twist and turn of this stunning white village. Our tours will include a stay in Granada, with it’s medieval, moorish Albaicin area and the impressive Alhambra Palace. 

We travelled with Air Portugal from Miami to Malaga with a change in Lisbon. The flight out gave us 15 hours to explore a corner of Lisbon. Having never visited before we found it a pleasure, enjoying walking in the Jardims gardens, a coffee at one of the typical coffee kiosks and some satisfying warm Autumn sunshine. 

From Malaga we rented a car for a week to travel from place to place on our location scout. The first adventure was a drive into the mountains, an hours drive north from the coastal town of Estepona. The road winds up and down with spectacular views into the Genal valley, past olive groves, cork trees and sweet chestnuts. We met the occasional goat in the road who were not startled but merely peered at us as if to say ” I belong here not you” before hopping out of the way amongst the rocks.

A tourists takes photos of the scenic Genal valley, Andalucia, Spain
A tourists takes photos of the scenic Genal valley, Andalucia, Spain

In the village of Genalguacil we met Miguel, he is the Mayor of the village and a personal friend. Over a beer or 2 perched on rustic chairs outside the local Rural Hotel , where we were staying for the night – we casually discussed our plans to bring a group of photographers to his village. Miguel is very keen and proactive at bringing Artists into the village and offered ways to help including a studio for tutoring classes and an exhibition of final work to be printed in a brochure. The next morning we woke early to meet Salvadore, a friend of Miguel’s who was taking us to see some local chestnut harvesting. A great opportunity for Gary to get some authentic images of people / small business/ farming. 

After a typical late lunch with the locals consisting of  egg and meat soup, followed by tortilla we set out down the mountain for the city of Seville.

Almost 3 hours drive away Seville has been a favourite get away location for a while. Having always arrived by taxi we soon learnt how difficult it is to park a car! It took an hour to find a place, fortunately it wasn’t far from our Airbnb location. Once in Seville there is no need for a car. Everywhere is accessible by foot, the narrow winding streets have a surprise for you at every twist and turn with a cafe, plaza, decorative Spanish tiling, a church or monument. Photo opportunities abundant in the architecture, colour and lifestyle of this enchanting city. We particularly enjoy finding our way to the oldest tapas bar in town, El Rinconcillo established in 1670, not only for the great wine and tapas but also to people watch and shoot some street photography. 

Our 2 hour drive from Seville to Granada saw the scenery change again, expanses of dry arid desert land with layers of mountains as it’s backdrop. In the Spring the mountain peaks are snow capped and it possible to combine a day of sunny city exploring with a snowy Alps like hike. 

We chose to explore the Albaicin, the old Moorish quarter of the city late in the afternoon. With its medieval maze like cobbled streets to meander, climbing high in the town we got the perfect view over the terracotta rooftops. It is a neighbourhood where you can experience the atmosphere of its bars and terraces, and watch a red sunset over the Alhambra. whilst listening to the sounds of Flamenco coming from the caves.

Flamenco show in the caves of the Albaicin, Granada
Flamenco show in the caves of the Albaicin, Granada

With the curiosity to explore the coast between Granada and Malaga we spent our last night in Almuñécar a resort town on the beach. Not blessed with beauty by day we discovered a gem at night. At this time of year the town has few tourists, there are many beach front restaurants to chose from for dinner. On our to-do list was to sample some Espetas de Sardinas, freshly skewered and smoked in a wood fire laid in a boat on the sand. Carefully selecting a restaurant with tables almost on the sand we chose a table at the front, ordered our sardines and watched them being cooked. They were fresh and delicious and cost only €6. Sitting back with a good wine in a good glass, the sun had gone down, the night was warm, we toasted our successful treasure hunt.

Fresh sardines cooked on charcoal fire on beach, Almuñécar, Spain
Fresh sardines cooked on charcoal fire on beach, Almuñécar, Spain

The drive back to Malaga took us on the coast road through regenerated old fishing villages, some of which still retained charm with tastefully renovated fisherman’s huts, tidy promenades with typical pavement cafes and bars. 

In the city of Malaga where we have visited a number of times we always discover something new to us. The Cathedral, The Gibralfo castle, The Glass Museum, The Picasso Museum to name a few. This time we only had time to say hello to Picasso ( a statue of the artist sits in Plaza de la Merced) and sit with a coffee watching the people go by. Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881 in a house in this square and spent a part of his life here before leaving to study art in Madrid, Barcelona then Paris.

Now we have an itinerary for our photo tours in Andalucia but will be researching transport options using the train to travel between Seville and Granada. 

Going wild with a VW campervan in Spain

Beautiful landscapes, some sun and an open road in the Basque region of Spain. The perfect excuse for letting your hair down and going wild with a VW campervan.

Leaving the humid climate of Florida is always a good idea in August if you can get away therefore we chose to head to the Basque region of Spain. With it’s green vegetation and fertile land, mountain peaks as well as rocky coves travelling is curious yet pleasantly rewarding with a surprise around every corner. Add to this the decision not to use any organised campsites, instead we would seek out natural spots in forests, by the beach or somewhere wild for an overnight stop with the VW campervan. Of course this meant ensuring we left the spot undisturbed, removing any rubbish and choosing a location which was unlikely to bother any local residents – including animals! If in doubt we were always prepared to ask permission to park overnight.

Joined by friends in a classic 1965 VW campervan we had no plans and an open road. I wanted to capture the freedom and escapism we experienced on this road trip. Although using the technology of GPS systems to help us to an end destination was useful, we also found the old fashioned paper map invaluable to navigate our way through small towns and villages. It added to the charm of this get away from it all vacation.

Carefree moments are captured in the camera from the wind blowing our hair on the open road, baguettes and camembert cheese eaten by the road side and the sausages cooking on a gas stove for breakfast in the pine forests. Getting lost, really getting lost, adds to the scenarios with the paper map saving the day.

Nothing beats the evenings. Our skin tingles from the sun after a few hours on the beach and we have the wonderful feeling of healthy tiredness from a day of fresh air. We sit in our camping chairs with a citronella candle sipping chilled rose wine and looking forward to the next day’s adventures.

Going wild with a VW campervan in Europe may not be everyone’s idea of a relaxing vacation. But there are ways to incorporate it into a a few days away with the comfort of a proper bed and bathroom. Book a hotel on route or even better stay in a rental accomodation eg. Airbnb for a couple of days. This way you will keep refreshed while exploring and you will be meeting the locals who are always ready to share their knowledge of the area.

Our next Spanish journey is to the coastline and white mountain villages of Andalucia in Southern Spain. We are putting together our photography workshops for 2017.

See a link here to more images.

 

Aviation photography, creating engaging portraits for the aviation industry.

Student pilot standing with his light aircraft on tarmac in Barbados
Student pilot standing with his light aircraft on tarmac in Barbados

Aviation photography, creating engaging portraits for the aviation industry.

I want to build a portfolio of aviation photography to target future clients in the aviation industry. My thinking is to transfer my skills I already demonstrate in shooting luxury yachts for the marine industry, coupled with a wide repertoire of experiences shooting environmental portraiture. I can produce some stunning, forward thinking images, connecting people with their craft to ensure realism that make future clients sit up and take note.

Aerospace businesses needs to have believable aviation photography showing real people in real environments looking experienced, knowledgable but friendly to encourage their clients to trust and believe in them.

To put my claims to the test I met up with a young pilot in Barbados who is currently training for his licence. His knowledge, confidence, and energy  in this environment was remarkable, he will do well with a future of air craft ahead of him. I wanted to make the viewer feel his pride and positivity.

With his help it was quite straightforward, through the Light Aircraft Club, to gain access to a ramp and a small aircraft on the runway very early one morning as the sun came up. The only rule we had to follow was not to shoot towards the main terminal so a little time was taken to manoeuvre the aircraft into position, following this rule and making sure the light would be in the right place.

The fact that this young man really does fly the plane was an important element to capture, I wanted to show the connection and confidence he has with what he does e.g checking paperwork, safety checks. With a model this would be difficult to do as they would not be familiar with actions around the plane. I first asked him to lead me around the plane showing me what he would really do before he got in, how he gets in and demonstrating using headphones and flight maps etc. This gave me an overview of possible scenarios to shoot. Using my skills in directing people as to where to stand, how to stand, using props and body posture and communicating with the pilot I was able to get the shot.  More images from the collection here.

Eating in Tulum, Mexico.

Nachos with freshly made salsa and dips with lemonade
Nachos with freshly made salsa and dips with lemonade

Food often plays an important part of our shoots and I thought it was a good time to reflect on eating in Tulum and the great food on our recent shoot in Mexico. We arrived in Tulum on day two of our two week shoot in Mexico.

The cultural downtown is mainly one road lined with restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and bars. This is where we decided to look for a place for eating in Tulum.

Driving along the street we observed it is rustic where locals eat and people go about their business. The cooking is traditional and often on view to the public. No shiny aluminium kitchen appliances but food is freshly prepared with fresh ingredients. The juices are delicious, the coconut water comes in the coconut, the service is exemplary.

After a couple of drives up and down the street we settled for El Vegetanario, a vegetarian restaurant on the roadside where we could park the car full of equipment in view of our dining table. We chose this place not because we don’t eat meat but because it was such an inviting, colourful place, with friendly welcoming staff. Our first discovery was complimentary fresh, crispy nachos and spicy dips to nibble while drinking the local beer or lemonade. We chose homemade carrot soup and mushroom burgers, the flavours of both were remarkable without the grease and we left with a healthy feeling.  Prices are cheap US $7 per person for a meal and fresh juice or beer.

When we didn’t eat out we had our lovely talent cook with us. One morning our male model prepared breakfast, a feast of scrambled eggs with peppers, toasted slices of baguette piled with avocado and proscuitto and tomatoes basil with olive oil. A delicious feast that we lovingly named the breakfast after him, the ‘Mauricio breakfast’!

Elegant style in photography, how to capture it

Luxury travel vacations
Elegant woman on luxury yachting vacation

Classic postures coupled with clean, simple styling are the ingredients for an elegant style in photography.

Sprinkle these in to alluring locations, atmospheric lighting and the results are exceptional pictures.

When shooting in a luxury location or with a luxury product we aim to get the balance between high end and affordability to encompass various travel and leisure markets.

First, consideration is given to choice of model. Long elegant arms limbs and good posture, someone who just looks elegant in a comfortable way is ideal. Secondly, models are often asked to bring their own wardrobe. If you know your talent from previous shoots then you will have an idea of the styles and colours of pieces in their wardrobe and may be able to use some elegant pieces from their selection. However, we never totally rely on this. We will include one or two luxury items from our own collection or purchased especially for the shoot. Depending on the budget hair and makeup stylists may be onset or talent comes makeup ready. In our experience, for shooting lifestyle a subtle, natural look is perfect which most models can achieve themselves.

Finally, the scene has been set and the model is in place, stylist is happy with wardrobe, accessories, hair and makeup. Now the skill happens through the experience, knowledge and eyes of the photographer using the light at the beginning or end of the day to breath life into the images.

In these two images wardrobe was quite simple but with an elegant feel and subtle tonal colouring, layering and accessories were a key element in the first shot which has proved to be a popular image and one of our highest sellers with Getty Images. The second image has a carefree feeling to it with the woman wearing just a simple cotton dress. Using natural fibres for wardrobe choices is another trick for this type of image, the way it feels, looks and flows is more relevant than you would imagine and the model feels comfortable too!

Caribbean travel photography

 

Young afrian american woman stands waist deep in sea in antigua, feeling the water with her hands.
Young afrian american woman stands waist deep in sea in antigua, feeling the water with her hands.

Let the imagery lead you on a  journey of indulgence and immerse yourself in the glittering Caribbean sea.

Last  month we escaped to the island of Antigua for some Caribbean travel photography. We explored the beaches, bays and hideaway homes.I captured Akia, our talent, exploring the natural elements of sea, sky and land. Link to more images here.

Knowing a good location is always important for this type of shoot which would normally mean a day spent touring the island location scouting. However, I knew this little corner of Antigua from previous visits to the island. Ffryes Bay on the east of the island is one of my favourites, it has beautiful water, shallow for a long way out and a clean horizon with the sun setting over the sea. I have shot here before using a variety of different talent. I wanted to photograph Akia in the water to see the contrast of her dark skin against the turquoise water, highlighted by the low light from the sun. She delighted in the feel of the cool water, her hands gently playing over the surface of the water.

I ventured to the east of the island and found another little gem, a private beachfront cottage in Long Bay. A lovely, secluded location perfect for escapism and relaxing but most importantly it was ideal for the next scene in my Caribbean travel photography project. A jetty reached out into the peaceful breezy bay, here I took photos of Akia on the balcony and the jetty just ‘catching the breeze’ and having a real carefree moment.

For all your Caribbean travel photography needs, from production to photoshoot get in touch. With a wealth of knowledge of the Caribbean islands and an experienced team we can assist in locations, bookings, travel and final production.

 

 

A Cuba journey

Couple kissing in street in Havana, Cuba
Couple kissing in street in Havana, Cuba

Cuba is almost untouched since 1959, its beauty still visible in the crumbling buildings and in the innocence and openness of its people. With the impending possibility of increased tourism from America I travelled a Cuba journey to record the Cuban lifestyle as it is today.

I travelled to Cuba as a photo journalist to capture some Cuban lifestyle in the camera with a wide brief which excludes crumbling buildings, fat cigars or Vintage American cars – there is an abundance of that out there.  I wanted to get to Cuba  before Americans destroyed it by installing McDonalds and neon signs at every corner.  I travelled through Nassau, Bahamas into Havana as I was travelling with a US passport and advice seemed to suggest this caused fewer problems, I had no problems clearing immigration either way.

The itinerary was to explore areas of Cuba from Havana to La Boca, Trinidad, then back up to Havana for a couple of days then out to the west to submerge ourselves in the National Park around Viñales where the fields are full of tobacco plants. I planned to say in Casa Particulares, the Cuban equivalent to Airbnb, families opening their homes for 25 CUC a room for the night, followed by a hotel in Havana for a treat in the middle of the trip.

I got up at 3:30 am to catch a train to Miami at 4:45, a plane to Nasseau, Bahamas,at 9:00 am then another to Havana at 11 :00am.

As Havana is never in a hurry ( a pleasant virtue, not a criticism) by 2pm I was in a queue for exchanging money – you have to get your CUCs in Cuba, ( CUC is the tourist currency, locals use Peso) At 2:30 we were still there! I believed an American Visa card could be used in most hotels and restaurants but  soon discovered this is not so. Thankfully my wife’s trusty UK Barclays debit card saw us through the week and never got swallowed in a machine, it was all we had!

I picked up a pre-booked rental car and got on the road, getting lost leaving Havana and being stopped by police for a document check, thankfully all ok there.

The journey continued, long winding roads which wound through national park and mountains. The sea came in and out of view, another 30 mins would see the end of the road. Suddenly, on coming traffic was swerving as objects appeared in the road! Moving, scuttling and sometimes frozen to the spot, dozens of large red crabs took over the route. I tried to avoid them as many others had not, alas soon it was clear the swerving was, A. dangerous and B. impossible to dodge a carpet of crabs!

We did eventually arrive at our first Casa Particulares in La Boca, Trinidad. We were booked in at El Galeon but ended up at La Terraza – another casa belonging to a brother, great place with lots of space, bathroom, air con, breakfast etc. We ate at El Galeon in the evenings. Both highly recommended.

Trinidad is a Spanish colonial town seemingly  untouched since 1850. It was built on the fortunes from sugar plantations in the early 19th Century and it has stayed the same way as if clocks have stopped. The arrival of tourists in 1988, when the small city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, has not prevented the charm of this enchanting, quiet, sleepy outdoor museum where the clip clop sounds of horses hooves mingle with the leather faced, local cuban bands which can be heard around street corners drawing you in and making your hips sway. The cobbled streets, dusty roads, colourful buildings and red rustic roof tiles are all part of Trinidad’s soul. I hope it never changes.

While having drinks on the steps of Casa de la Musica, I met Di a single Chinese traveller taking pictures of herself with her camera and tripod. I got chatting and found out she is a freelance journalist from China and  had the same desire, to explore, photograph and capture Cuba as it is today. We teamed up and wandered the streets taking photos of Di as she explored the Historic town. We climbed the bell tower at the Museo Historic and peered down at the rustic red roofs, we listened to Cuban music and wandered in and out of the little squares and streets. We ended our morning having drinks together listening to a Cuban band at a cafe on the steps of Casa de la Musica, where we watched as the locals showed their best salsa moves and we couldn’t help but join in with the beat.

Next we headed back to the city to explore Habana Vieja ( Havana Old Town). I expected to see the crumbling buildings and historic cars which were in abundance. However, I was not prepared for roads dug up and left, holes, open drains full of rubbish, wandering stray dogs. I wasn’t getting any vibe. Tourists are constantly hassled for taxis or hotels and it takes the pleasure away from exploring. Later in the evening we did find Plaza Vieja which was regenerated and a nice place to people watch. We learnt there are 4 squares in Old Havana like this and they are worth taking a stroll to along with a meander along Mercedes a pedestrianised street ,so no hassle for vintage taxis or bike taxis.

Having dinner that evening, people watching in the street, looking up at the architecture and identifying different eras and styles, watching the men proudly cleaning their American cars, the city grew on us. It dawned on us that this place is stress free. No shop fronts, neon signs, sale signs. People chatting, kissing, holding hands, no heads buried in iphones. No heavy police presence..had we seen any? Happy, healthy people and well educated, the literacy rate is 99.8% .

 The next day I went out early to get some shots in low light around the harbour and a walk in the cool before the sun got too hot, then back for breakfast.

I decided to use a taxi for the next leg of of the journey. I liked to idea of a road trip in one of the classic American cars, with the potential of turning the drive into a photo shoot. However scouting the taxi ranks I found the prices inflated and lack of potential model appeal in the sweaty faced, bloated bellied local drivers.

Then I spotted Alejandro. Having dropped off a fare he was proudly polishing the dust off his 1959 Chevrolet Belle Aire. He was young, friendly, genuine and full of energy.  I negotiated a price ( 50 CUC ) and arranged to meet at the same place at 1pm and we all arrived on time, setting off on our road trip to Soroa, a National Park in the region of Pinar Del Rio, deep in tobacco growing country.

The following day we took a trip to Viñales, a beautiful drive through the National Park, winding roads , lush vegetation, valley and hills. We passed fields full of tobacco plants and drying huts, it was possible to see through the cracks and broken doors thousands of leaves hanging up to dry. Before heading back we enjoyed a panoramic view- and a gin and tonic, over the valley in a little cafe run from a house which we discovered at the end of a side road in the town.

The next day I summoned Alejandro to take us to the airport. He appeared as if by magic as we ate breakfast, the sound of the reliable vintage Belle Aire rumbling up the drive and our happy, enthusiastic driver leaping out with a welcome “Buenos Dias Gary!”

Link to more images here.