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.

 

Our visual story of luxury travel

Women enjoys quality time having breakfast morning light on balcony.
Women enjoys quality time having breakfast morning light on balcony.

True luxury travel is a great experience but t is not necessarily defined by the thread count or star rating.

Today every bodies idea of a luxury vacation is different. For some people it will always include comfort and high standards of accommodation, food and service. For others it’s getting away from it all in a cosy, hideaway cabin or starting the day with the perfect cappuccino in a local cafe.

We are working on a project to show luxury travel in pictures. Our first scenario describes the high end resort hotel experience. A sophisticated woman enjoying the luxurious amenities and services in the resort. To complete this story we also photographed her at the start of her travel boarding a private plane and again gazing out of the window.

For this photo production to be successful we were organised and prepared.

A genuine location and delicate styling were important to capture that sumptuous realism of a luxury experience. It was not to be too lavish. The audience should believe this experience could be within their reach. For this shoot the location was in a luxury resort where we had all the amenities on hand. A scout the day before enabled us to pinpoint exact locations for each shot and secured towels and covers for the sun loungers. Styling was soft and natural, using quality products both model’s own and from our wardrobe supplies.

We started outside early in the morning for two reasons, first to capture the beautiful soft light of the morning sunrise and second to avoid too much people traffic. We moved indoors to a hotel suite – space was important for a wider shot and also room for crew to set up equipment. The images capture the woman with an air of freedom and nature, engaging with the experience and building happy memories. 

Ask how we can dazzle your clients with a teaser sizzle reel for social media and advertising requirements. We will be happy to help you, say hello@garyjohnnorman.com

 

Stock photography and how we make it work

Stock photography and how we make it work
Woman in silk dress in the sea, used as book cover.

Developing concepts and ideas for a stock shoot pays off when you see the published work.

For us stock photography is producing and creating a curated collection of innovative still images and motion clips which are fresh, dynamic, compelling unbranded and released. The content is distributed by our agents to fulfil the needs of creatives who are looking for immediate images. This post explains a bit about stock photography and how we make it work.

OK, so we know what stock photography is but how is the content created, what is in demand, where do you shoot, who do you photograph and when do the photos get selected by licensed stock agencies?

Also stock video clips are making a huge impact on the market these days. Look closely at TV advertisements, how many can you spot which are mainly a bunch of video clips strung together as opposed to a full production? Thus we shoot video clips too.

The journey of a still or motion clip is basically the same from ideas to production to revenue in the bank and this is how we do it.

  1. Research. We research topics, keep up to date with latest trends, seek and meet interesting people (old, young, in between, active, individuality) seek advice on photo requirements from creative advisers and take note of interesting and suitable locations. It’s important to think of a concept for the shoot beforehand then build the storyboard around that.
  2. Planning. Sometimes a shoot is planned in fine detail with a production plan, models, crew, travel and budgeting but sometimes it is a walk on the beach with the camera, yet even this simple pastime has been given some thought, for example, the time of day, the location, what to wear and whether we need props.
  3. Production. Getting the right shot takes many, many captures and much patience from all involved. The lighting, camera exposures, props and talent adjusted and tweaked. Then the talent, be it a friend, relative, new talent starting out or a pro has to sign a model release…otherwise the pictures will be worthless. This needs to be agreed beforehand. Even dogs, cats, homes, offices, boats require a property release.
  4. Editing. Back in the office the photos are edited with a fine tooth comb leaving the best to be distributed to the agency for their selection.
  5. Key wording. Generally about half of the edit will be selected, these then get cleaned up in photoshop, removing logos and a little colour adjustment, uploaded to the stock agency portal where the metadata and description is completed using those conceptual keywords and phrases, these have to be good to get the images found, selected and sold.
  6. Selling. Images are now live and ‘for sale’
  7. Revenue. It could be 3 months before we see any revenue..it could be as little as a dollar or enough to book a plane ticket to a nice location for the next production.

That is stock photography and how we make it work for us.

Companies are asking us to produce in house libraries of content for their social media and advertising requirements. If this interests you contact us with your needs, we will be happy to help you. hello@garyjohnnorman.com

 

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’!

Business portraiture around London.

Businessman in the city casually engaged in business on the go.
Businessman in the city casually engaged in business on the go.

In the summer of 2015 I spent time in central London observing city workers conducting business in the streets and squares around their offices. Business men and women seemed to bring the office outside, standing under monuments or conducting meetings under the canopy of a shady tree on a park bench. It’s become an escalation from the coffee shop and temporary work spaces into the public spaces where we now find formal and informal business being carried out.

Business portraiture is breaking away from the suited businessperson cocooned in a stuffy office and becoming an on the go, action figure grabbing a few minutes in the day wherever they find themselves, moving forward to connect with colleagues or clinch the next deal.

Where we do business can now be visually hilarious and whimsical. The curious spaces that we now find ourselves conducting business stems from our technological driven world and that has given us a license to escape the ordinary and find extraordinary environments that we work. The oddity in today’s era has come about from being unconstrained from time and space, somewhat due to technology and some through the choice about how we want to live our lives.

With my observations as visual references I engaged a friend to replicated these images for some business portraiture around London.

LGBT community lifestyle photography

LGBT community
LGBT woman on beach in the Florida Keys.

In today’s world the LGBT community is being recognised and embraced with companies using powerful images to draw viewer’s attention.

I worked with this great couple, love, laughter and togetherness being the main ingredients.

The Story of Our Camping Shoot with LGBT community

Being only a 2 ½ hour drive to Key Largo we are lucky enough to explore the Keys quite frequently. Key Largo is where it all starts but for me it isn’t The Keys until Islamorada.

This time we took a trip further south to Bahia Honda State Park an area of unspoilt natural beauty and a few hardy tourists for a spot of camping. I had booked a site facing the beach, these pitches are hard to get hold of, it took an evening of hovering over the ‘book’ button at midnight a year ago to secure this one.

We had an early start, our friend Greg drove us, towing his 17 foot Boston Whaler boat. An hour into the journey disaster struck, a bang, smoke, sparks flew from the trailer. Fortunately travelling in the right hand lane Greg expertly brought us to a safe stop on the grass verge. It wasn’t good, the axle on the trailer had snapped.

Now two grown men pause, silent for a moment, scratch their heads, the cogs turning in their minds, then we were on our phones. Amazingly after a flat bed pick up for the boat and trailer and a roadside repair in a service station we were back on the road again in less than 3 hours and on a Sunday!  

The girls joined us at the campsite around 5pm and we photographed them around the location in various activities until the sun went down. Lots of giggling produced perfect, unforced fun moments and a shot on the beach when they just sat together turned out to be such a carefree, intimate moment that I just happened to catch in the camera. The weather started to turn, clouds loomed but we hopped in the boat and let the girls loose on the waves, the speed and exhilaration that followed was exciting and another opportunity to catch a candid, real moment.

We spent the evening at the campsite enjoying the breeze from the ocean and lighting the bbq (that took most of the evening!) We woke in the morning to a beautiful view, we pitched a shade shelter on the beach and after a stroll eating breakfast watching the waves lap the shore. We explored around the Park from the ocean taking the boat out, snorkelling and lobster hunting. The one we found happily took part in a photo shoot then returned to the sea!

We had to leave the pitch at 1pm so packed up and got on the road heading north feeling hungry. Planning to stop at the Keys Fisheries in Marathon we were disappointed to find it closed for annual cleaning that day but found good alternative at the Island Fish Company close by. A night in a hotel was needed to refresh us for another day on the boat starting early next morning launching in John Pennekamp State Park a great place for hiring paddleboards, kayaks, boat trips, diving. We launched and spent the morning exploring the mangroves and a snorkel over the coral reefs. Hungry once more we stopped at The Shipwreck Bar and Grill in Key Largo recommended by a park ranger for the best burgers around and they truly were!

 

The shoot was a success with a number of positive images showing real life events enjoyed by the LGBT community.

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.