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.

 

Summer Fun in the Low Country

Brother and sister exploring outdoors and climbing tree in the summer vacation
Brother and sister exploring outdoors and climbing tree in the summer vacation

This month we packed our bags and the cameras and took a road trip to South Carolina to photograph and video some summer fun.

Here we caught up with a great family who were enjoying their school vacation in the great outdoors. The beautiful natural environment with big trees and expanses of water are the ideal playground for adventurous, brave, energetic kids to explore and learn just by being themselves.

Summer fun would not be complete without friends, brothers and sisters to share it with. This family of four took us to their grandparents home where they love to be. A tree swing, a big grass area to run around and a wooden boat dock jutting over the river was the perfect location for our photography.

We took along some props for the kids to have fun with. Some bubbles, water bombs and juicy watermelon were introduced intermittently. By doing this the kids response was real. Laughter, expressions and spontaneity where there to capture in the camera.

The really wonderful thing about these kids is their desire to be outdoors. They are not afraid to run barefoot, get dirty feet, swim in the lake and climb trees.

During a location scout we found a friendly neighbour who had a fallen tree in her backyard. It stretched across a muddy dyke where pieces of wood had been placed making precarious bridges. Having made sure it was safe ( Gary’s excuse for crossing the bridges and climbing on the tree trunk) we brought the kids to the tree and let them loose. Their pleasure at discovering a new adventure was exciting. Off came the flip flops and bare footed they explored their capabilities.

Back at the dock they amazed us once again by fearlessly jumping into the river, climbing higher as they gained confidence. It was refreshing to watch their support and encouragement of each other as their held hands and leapt to the count of three.

Of course Mum was at hand for these moments and no one was pressured out of their comfort zone.

Due to the great light in the early morning we were able to use minimal equipment. For stills a Canon 5dmk3 with a bit of handheld strobe light to kick light into shadows and for film a Canon 1dc shooting 4K and a hand held reflector.

Regardless of how much attention we paid to photographic equipment, propping and styling the best ingredient for this shoot was undoubtedly the kids themselves.

See a link here to more images.

Bad weather challenges a photo production

 

Family sailing vacation on luxury Hinckley Yacht
Family sailing vacation on luxury Hinckley Yacht

Despite bad weather this shoot has been my most memorable this year so far.

I was shooting for a regular client who I love to shoot for, putting a breath of real life living into the images for their brand of yachts. This image was captured in the last few minutes of daylight on a section of the intracoastal near Stuart, Florida.

However, it almost didn’t happen due to a bad weather front delaying our start by 1 hour. I have never called off a big production/shoot in all the 25 years of my career but this one was touch and go. An unexpected change in weather with heavy rain and stormy clouds challenged me to make a decision with the client. I held out and 3 hours later it paid off with this shot.

It just happened that in the end the ingredients were right. The sky with it’s moody grey clouds reflecting the amber glow of the sun as it descended from the sky and the perfect talent and crew on board all played a part in allowing me to get this great shot.

The talent on the yacht were a real family who live locally and are happiest in and around the water. Having worked with them before I had a good relationship with the children who trusted me with my directions and I trusted them to be confident on the paddle board and not fall in! At such a young age they were so accomplished but if they got tired I just hung on to the back of the board and paddled them into position, still holding my camera to get some great POV shots and wide shots of the boat for the collection. In this one I was shooting from a small boat, a Boston Whaler, with a shallow draft perfect for getting into shallow water and close up when needed. View a short teaser video below.

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!

Croatia Coastal Journey.

Father holds his daughter as she steers the yacht
Father holds his daughter as she steers the yacht

The value of production can never be overlooked, a great example is from our shoot Croatia coastal journey.  

Months of communication with local producer, casting talent and hand picking a crew that were not only skilled sailors but competent and versatile to assist in image production too.

We chartered a yacht, a Grand Soleil 43 from NCP Yacht Charters in Sibenik, an hours drive from Split airport in Croatia. We were very impressed with this company, their communication was excellent and they are very welcoming. The marina was clean, efficient and well provisioned with super clean toilet/ shower facilities, supermarket and cafe/ bar.

For the first three days we took models onboard, a couple, a mum and young daughter, then twin 7 year old girls ( Papa came too ) We were sailing and shooting in different locations around the islands which meant picking up and dropping off at different locations in the Islands or on the mainland. We would be sailing from Sibenik on the mainland to Solta, Brac, Vis and Kornati National Park. I had the logistics finely tuned as sometimes the yacht hardly stopped, as we sailed by the harbour wall people leapt on or off the boat!  Also it was important to keep the boat fully provisioned for 8 people eating for 2 days and plenty of water, snacks, beer, wine and sun cream.

With so many crew everyone had their jobs. Production manager Anna styled models, took care of paperwork and fed them all. I directed and took the images, sometimes on the deck, sometimes from the dinghy propelled by assistants Greg or Jens. Whoever was left on the yacht controlled the lighting. Somehow, someone was always available to steer the yacht when it wasn’t the talent at the wheel.

We would usually anchor somewhere for lunch and  enjoy diving into the unbelievably clear blue sea to cool off. As captain I would look for an anchorage using the charts and work out distances and times, thus when we turned the yacht into the little bays we were always blown away at the first sight of the natural beauty of the location. Sometimes there was a cafe or restaurant which we either reached by dinghy or, my favourite thing to do, swim ashore!

When the shooting had finished it was just the crew left, time to really relax and recharge. We all enjoyed a sail to the Kornati National Park  Wow!, the bare rocks rise out of the ocean, a lack of vegetation give a moon surface appearance, it was as if we were discovering a new land.

Superheroes

Superheroes with capes on the beach
Superheroes with capes on the beach

A big kid at heart, Gary’s favourite things are trains, planes, boats and the sea.

Where he can he incorporates these elements into his work along with a bucket load of fun!  We took some creative kids to the beach with a cardboard plane and lots of imagination, soon they turned into superheroes.

For this shoot we cast some street talent, there are some very naturally talented young people out there and we wanted the kids to play spontaneously. We found these three through a friend, also a model so she recognised the potential and the qualities needed in them. In fact, they took direction when needed really well, were extremely enthusiastic , not to mention a lot of fun. The shoot was themed around role play with the emphasis on girls in stereotypically boys roles too. Girls want to be pilots, astronauts or superheroes too!

One way to create a genuine imagine is not to prop and style too much. We provided the props but let the kids try them out, build, create and style themselves. In this shot they ran around the beach chasing each other then did this….. We just made them do it again for the camera.

A fun shoot…but exhausting, kids have so much energy!

Girls with dreams

Girl puts robot head on boy in the woods
Girl puts robot head on boy in the woods

Girls with dreams came to life when we took a few kids and some junk, mixed them up with some creativity, sprinkled some imagination and topped it off with a bit of fun.

We wanted to capture the belief that ‘Girls with dreams become women with vision’ and to show that boys AND girls can have the same ambitions and dreams.

Big brands have been using advertising to spread a message to blur the gender stereotype that often shows males in for example, the mechanical or science industries . The  Verizon’s Inspire Her Mind commercial highlighting girls and science and countless others show that female empowerment has become a significant focus in corporate marketing

For this shoot we cast a few kids aged between 4 and 10, both male and female. Wanting a large play area outdoors to enhance the children’s creativity and imagination we revisited a location we were familiar with belonging to a friend, this wooded area is  her back garden! The kids were local people who knew each other so a good relationship from the start. We made a few props and to start with briefed them that they were to build a robot. Then it became apparent that kids are best if left alone to explore and discover. They made the scenes better, interacted with each other and equally shared the ‘ inventer’ role and the robot role between boys and girls. In a candid way of shooting we watched and clicked away the real things happening. Sometimes it was necessary to get them to repeat something really good…they were happy to oblige!

This shot started a the girl building her robot in the garage then taking it to the woods. She ‘pretended’ to direct it left, right, straight ahead with simple commands. Malfunctions with a loose head meant she had to keep making adjustments which is when this was captured.

 

Great Natural Light in Croatia.

A sailing lifestyle around the islands of Croatia
A sailing lifestyle around the islands of Croatia

We find ourselves revisiting Croatia because of the great natural light in Croatia which is perfect for photography.

The low light as the sun rises from the horizon or lowers behind  the islands disperses a gentle haze and sparkles on the water.  The great natural light in Croatia means we can travel with less equipment, using the natural light and also supplementing with one hand held strobe light and a reflector.

On this trip to the island of Brac we held a casting in the town of Split. There we met a fun, vibrant couple. Their energy was warm and addictive. Their friendly nature allowed us to capture some engaging shots of a young couple on vacation and exploring the town of Milna on the beautiful island of Brac. Our focus theme was  ‘a sightseeing adventure’ with them enjoying each other’s company ‘away from it all’.

Having such great natural light in Croatia enabled us to use various shooting styles. Sometimes candid and loose, enabling the couple to play and be themselves. Our days started early in the morning to capture the great natural light. We broke for a few hours and shot again in the evening at dusk.

 

 

Camping lifestyle in Spain

 

Our latest lifestyle photoshoot series revolved around a camping lifestyle in Spain.

Family camping trip in Spain
Family camping trip in Spain

Senior talent and a young family came together in a great location in southern Spain and a talented, fun, adaptable crew included a photo assistant and a stylist. Organising the photoshoot took six months of production with a local producer from Granada. Using a producer added increased production value to the imagery.

The two young boys and their Mum came with us from UK but the senior talent were booked through an agency in Granada. Using a producer helped with the language barrier and he organised locations and permits. A permit was needed to shoot half way up the mountain! Having the young family with us ensured a good relationship with the children and they got to know and trust everyone. Having two boys of similar age meant we could switch them around if one was not ‘camera ready’, for example, still in his pyjamas having been pulled from his bed at 6am! The Mediterranean hours took some adjusting for them. The late nights not being the  problem….

We shot a camping lifestyle in Spain in the Sierra Nevada amongst the snow-capped mountains that formed a background to the playful camping shots. The tranquility of the lake was perfect for the evening shoot with friends relaxing around the campfire.

As always light was the key to the images. Early starts and long evening shoots to capture the delicate light. Luckily we were able to sneak a much-needed siesta!