Hands down: this photo shoot was the MOST difficult, challenging, and problematic project we’ve ever attempted…
It started with my bright idea: Lesley and I both really needed a vacation, so I said, “Hey, why don’t we go on a cruise to Aruba and do a photoshoot in the Caribbean Islands?”
Great idea… Except that we usually shoot with a hair/makeup artist and stylist/photo assistant in tow, and most of the time the location is a somewhat controlled environment that we have scouted in advance… In this case we had no way to plan where to take the pictures, and limited time to shoot the images as we would have to get off the ship onto the islands.
I wasn’t worried. “We always pull it off”, I said to Lesley “so let’s just go make it happen”. Lesley and I have created miracles on photoshoots where clothing was missing, locations were unavailable last minute, and lighting wasn’t as expected. Things never went exactly as planned but we always created great shots together anyway. So I wasn’t concerned.
We booked the vacation.
Failing to Plan…
We arrived at the beautiful island of Aruba.
Aruba is a tiny, 20 mile long/6 mile wide, flat Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela. The island is battered with strong eastern trade winds averaging 18-25 miles per hound gusts that reach 33-35 miles per hour.
THE ARUBA WINDS ARE POWERFUL!!!
We had never encountered wind like this before, and combining this with the rushing between unknown tourists spots trying to catch a shot between 8-11am before the sun was too high, we had our hands full.
Challenges of Wind and Time
Here is how the wind affected us:
- There was sand blowing everywhere when we were on the beach. It felt like an all over, full body microdermabrasion treatment.
- Lesley’s camera was at risk, sand blowing into the lens…
- Sometimes the wind was so strong we almost fell over.
- The wind ripped at the clothes, flapping them around violently. It was almost impossible to catch them looking good in a shot.
- The reflector kept flying away. Once (as it is a circle shape) it literally rolled up and over the hill. Our courteous friend Dean who had come along to help, and our Taxi driver, had to run over the hill and chase it down.
In addition, time was not on our side:
- We only had 2 days on the island to get 8 images
- We did not have any days to scout, so we literally picked our locations from a tourist guide book and got in a taxi and drove over there to shoot with no preparation.
- We couldn’t leave the ship until 8am in the morning. Since the sun was already too high to shoot at 11am. That gave us only 3 hours a day to work.
- We had to run from location to location in a taxi, changing clothes inside the car, jumping out to take the shot, and then running to the next location before the light went bad.
All in all, this was a super difficult shoot and I think we learned a lot about the necessity of having a team, location planning, light planning, and generally that my bright idea doing an entire production while on a cruise was a bit aggressive. Lesley and I pulled it off though, and our images got published in some travel magazines. Whew!
After all was said and done, we definitely had fun visiting Aruba and the surrounding islands, and we came back happy and relaxed with great tans. 🙂
Onwards and upwards to the next magical, unexpected, and never quite as we plan it to be collaboration project!