Skilled craftspeople at work

Skilled craftsman in his work environment
Skilled craftsman in his work environment

For a few months I have been working on a personal project to document skilled craftspeople at work.

The location is a boat yard in Stuart, Florida which carries out refurbishments and repairs on yachts. Among the workforce are skilled craftspeople who repair, rebuild, repaint, varnish and finish the luxury crafts.

Within the boatyard are boat sheds, woodwork and metalwork workshops. With lots of activity going on inside or outside among the boats on the dock. Not wanting to disturb the workforce I began by visiting on different days, hanging around and observing the action as the day unfolded. By doing this the workmen got used to seeing me and my camera and very soon I built good relationships with them and was able to photograph the action as it happened.

In each area a different photographic technique was required. I shot close up in the woodwork shop to get detailed shots of the craftsman’s hands using tools. The protective clothing in the metalwork shop made for a great wide portraiture shot taking in the real location. The open doors in the boat shed let the morning light flood in. I used this as backlight in wide shots. Then I filmed the actions of the detailed, precise, preparation of the boats for varnishing.

When a large boat was being prepared for painting I was excited to photograph the action. A tent of plastic was shrouded over the vessel with ventilation panels. The only opening was through a zip in one side where everyone entered or exited together. It was critical not to let any dust in, or any paint particles out. Going into the space required me to take safety precautions too. It took lots of careful preparation to protect myself and my equipment from the paint and the fumes. I was going to be in the tent with Jose and Jerry, two skilled boat painters while my assistant worked the lights outside the tent.

With full protective gear on it was difficult to communicate so we invented hand signals for adjusting lights, I controlled them from my camera.

It was the hottest, most humid day in Florida, covered in plastic from head to toe under a plastic tent – certainly not ideal but a rare opportunity and a challenge which enabled me to complete my project with a collection of images showing the skills of the local people.

Link to more cooperate and business imagery here.

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.

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.

Aerial photography, making smooth water.

Aerial photography
80ft motor yacht cruising at speed in open sea.

Sometimes using experienced professionals is the only way. These images were created using aerial photography, utilising the skills of an experienced helicopter pilot often hovering 3ft off the water at speeds of 40 knots. By using a gyro stabiliser it allowed me to create the the illusion of smooth seas while enhancing the movement of the beautiful yacht through the water. Knowledge coupled with experience and coordinating skills allows me to create powerful images using aerial photography.

When this job came in I was very pleased to be back working in my speciality, photographing aerial shots of moving boats and yachts. Once known as the ‘Boat Photographer’ in Florida who created many covers for yachting and boating magazine my passion of dangling from a helicopter has not diminished. Since being back in Florida I have branched out to shooting film clips and purchased the newest, up to date equipment. The gyro stabiliser  being one piece which I use constantly when creating short movie clips.

I use the same contractors Ocean Helicopters . They use professional pilots who are frequently flying photographers and used to their demands! For these images my pilot was able to get me as low as 3ft travelling at 40 knots. Using hand signals I directed the crew and talent on the yacht. I prefer this as an instant command rather than rely on a walkie talkie or mobile to relay instructions as this causes delay and sometimes a missed moment.

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.

Silver sea

Mature woman in red stands in stormy ocean
Mature woman in red stands in stormy ocean

The joy of my job as a lifestyle photographer is producing my own shoots. I enjoy having an idea in my head then capturing it in the camera. I had previously made a similar image in the same location in Key Biscayne. This is a favourite of mine, it is away from the skyscrapers in Miami allowing for a clear horizon and shallow water making it easier for models, crew and photographer working in the water.  This time I wanted to use a mature female model with natural, long silver hair standing in the sea, hence the title Silver sea. The idea was to see how the long hair mimicked the gentle waves breaking on the surface of the water.

When the wind chose to change direction and stir up the calm seas and clouds gathered in the sky it was looking like my vision would be abandoned. However, with perseverance and patient talent we waited for a gap in the cloud and took a few shots. What transpired was powerful and engaging. I could not have planned the weather, in fact usually I plan around it. Yet this time the stormy weather made the shot. The contrast of the woman’s red costume against the greys of the sea and sky and the strong wind blowing waves through the woman’s hair make the viewer entranced and curious.

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!

Gulf Photo Plus Dubai Exhibition

Arab man in traditional dress standing on front of wooden boat facing away

Gulf Photo Plus Dubai Exhibition

Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) is a photography community based in Dubai, UAE and is dedicated to growing and nurturing photography and video as a form of artistic expression.

This year I was lucky enough to have two of my pieces of work displayed at the Gulf Photo Plus Dubai Exhibition.

Both had been shot on location in Dubai earlier in the year.

I wanted to show the deep routed and well respected traditional culture of the Emirate people. Tradition and business coming together in every day life in a very modern, fast forwarding city.

This image of the man dressed a traditional dishdasha, was shot in the Dubai Creek. The businessman is  crossing the river in an ‘ abra’ a traditional wooden boat. These boats, originally used by fishermen and a means of transporting cargo along the river have been repurposed as passenger ferries.

The second image exhibited in Gulf Photo Plus Dubai Exhibition shows a beautiful woman wearing the traditional abaya. She is  sitting in the sand dunes, a location 2 hours from the city of Dubai, in Liwa Oasis. The covering favoured by Emirate woman has practical as well as religious purposes.