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


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.

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.

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!

Underwater photography

Male swimmer underwater blowing bubbles
Male swimmer underwater blowing bubbles

I live in a condo apartment which has a 25 meter swimming pool. Looking out my window at the pool made me decide to have a shot at underwater photography.

I had my underwater housing for my camera which I use when I capture on the surface seascapes so I thought I would test it fully submerged and try to get some shots of a swimmer swimming overhead. An external light at times directed down into the water helped to define the images.

Mark is a fellow resident who uses the pool daily, for a rigid 1 1/2 hour routine. He borders on professional, always competing with himself to improve a time or style and can be heard in the pool early every morning, his consistent, good technique drumming a rhythm as he ploughs through the water. He agreed to let me test my underwater photography skills on him, grateful to use the images to analyse his technique and style.

I was pleased with the results and have photographed more people with my new found techniques. a found it difficult to keep alongside the swimmers until I purchased some fins to speed me up and keeping on the bottom of the pool is also a bit of an effort, one I intend to improve by using diver’s weights.

Link to more images here.


Dubai journal

Dubai journal

It’s been grey skies, rain and more rain in the UK over the last few weeks, an unwelcome challenge for photographers.
But this week work is going to be all about bright light, sun, clear blue skies and creating images for a new luxury hotel in Dubai.
It’s the fifth time I’ve done business in the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi in a year and I’m thrilled to be going again. Dubai is a forward thinking place and you are never sure who you are going to meet.

On one occasion I picked up work on the flight home – my next client was sitting next to me on the plane!
Then another time I asked to share a power source with a guy at the airport who just happened to be the award-winning New York Times journalist, Matthew Rosenberg on his way home from Afghanistan.

But this time my trip is going to be a little different. After shooting some lifestyle images for a luxury hotel chain I’m staying on for a few days to see life away from the UAE tourist bustle. The idea follows my trip to southern India when I rediscovered the joy of photographing local people.

Getty Images took 37 photographs from that trip, something of a bonus, so it has inspired me to do similar shoots wherever I am travelling in the future.
I’m only going to have a short time in UAE so integrating quickly is key – that’s where social media is so great – I’ve already talked to my hosts and have ideas in mind.

And, as always I am travelling light with a couple of cameras and maybe two or three lenses. It’s an exciting project and I look forward to sharing with you what I find when I return.




Kerala fishermen

Kerala fishermen

It is mid-January and by now my editor at Getty Images – the world’s pioneering digital media image experts – will be shifting though what I think/hope are a very different set of pictures.

The reason being a winter break in Kerala – the amazing Indian state known as God’s Own Country- which took me on a photographic journey that has completely invigorated my work.

Southern India has helped me rediscover how to play with the camera and the joy of making pictures that launched my professional career 20 years ago.

I’m really lucky, photography has let me travel the world, work in beautiful places, with beautiful people and luxury lifestyles for some great clients too.

But this trip to southern India was something different – whether it was the warmth, the place or the people it showed me that whatever creative field you work in you never ever stop learning your craft.

Get in with the locals

I was getting up really early in the morning and going to fishing villages, just snapping away like the good old days and having so much fun. This is when I captures these local fishermen of Kerala.

We’d be walking down the beach and I would find myself using my wife’s 8 megapixel point and shoot and the pictures were great.

We travelled third class on the train or on the local bus and the people were so delightful and inquisitive it made me look at things differently.

Of course I did some research before I went out there but I found myself using some really simple lighting techniques – and it made me realise that sometimes the simplest things are so obvious that you don’t always do them.

Also it’s often these simple things that deliver the very best results.

When you try hard sometimes things don’t work but it’s when you don’t think you are trying hard that you get the best pictures.

Returning home it’s made me relook at a lot of my work and I’ve realised that although I’ve shot for clients in the USA, Europe, Dubai I don’t have many pictures myself of these places – so for the future that’s going to change.

But it’s changed the way I work here too – my first job back here was for series of images depicting a carer in her work with seniors and everything I’d learnt from Kerala had stayed with me so I created completely differently.

A change is supposed to be as good as a rest but it’s taught me to take better images and shown that even when you are a seasoned professional, learning never ends.

Later this month I’m also looking forward to giving a series of talks in the UK about Environmental Portraiture and Lifestyle, and Pictures and Search Engine Optimisation before heading out to the sun again for a hotel client in Dubai.



Gary interview by Mewo


Lesson from a Sailor

An interview with Mewo, a photographer booking and management platform and each week they write about some great talent in photography industry. Find more about Mewo: www.mewo.co.

An experienced problem solver and image creator. I try to capture the real emotions of people, this is how Gary describes himself when asked about his work. The photography industry is changing and I see that a realistic style of photography is in demand by clients. He continues. New technologies have changed our perception of photography. It has become more transparent and available to everybody. Nowadays everyone can be a photographer  services like Instagram allows us easily to capture, manipulate and showcase photos to millions of people. Everybody can be a journalist and share their photos on blogs. However, I do not see this as a bad thing  I use Instagram myself, and see that blogging is a great way to promote your work. For example, if somebody likes the work they will either copy it or they hire me. I believe that photographers do not have to be afraid of these services. Photography is not only taking photos, it is also about problem solving and this is where the experience comes in.

Personally I like to search for a balance between or perhaps a meeting point for humanity and nature. Looking to capture a human breath where it seems nature’s forces have united to create that split instant in time. Creating a glimpse of something beyond ordinary life that forms a transcendent moment, shying away from contentment but bordering on subtle excitement. Capturing such a moments is extremely hard and it takes a lot of preparation. However, so far I have been lucky.

One of my recent photo-shoots I had to organize models myself and all that on a extremely tight schedule and budget. To be precise, it was a photo-shoot of a family on a yacht in a location in the Caribbean. As the client did not have much budget, they did not come to the photo session themselves I had to organize everything. As the schedule was very challenging I did not have time to check out how the model family would be on a yacht. When we arrived on the location, it turned out that the woman for the photo shoot got seasick. It could’ve gone terribly wrong, however as she was a real professional she did what was expected of her. I remember that one moment she was vomiting (or being sick) and in the next she smiled and said: ok, lets take photos. It is always great to have professionals around you.

I am fascinated by people and love the diversity of our society. For example, gay lifestyle imagery is becoming more important in advertising. This photography niche is growing rapidly and I find it interesting how heterosexual models have to learn how act in these photo-sessions. This also is a challenge for photographer, because as I said in the beginning  photography is not only about taking photos but it is also about directing people says Gary.