Work the Light

Here in Mauritius we have very short days and with it currently being winter the days are quite cloudy and windy.

This means that the models have to get ready for hair and make-up when it is still dark and mostly look exceptional at breakfast when the rest of the people have clearly just woken up. The male models don’t get off scot free but mostly their morning routine consists of a gym workout before getting ready.

To actually get to a location with all the necessary props, clothing and camera equipment is easier said than done. We used two mini buses to transport 11 people. One is basically filled with boxes full of sunglasses and jewelry, bags of swimming costumes and hard cases containing camera equipment.

At the location we piled all of this into boats and were taken out to the catamaran. This is where the real hard work starts. All the models, hair and make-up, fashion editor and assistant stay on the main boat. The photographer and his assistant work from a smaller boat on the sea. The photographer sets up the shot with the models telling them what he has in mind before pushing off. Now it is the job of the skipper to angle the catamaran so that the sun is on the models and behind the photographer.

He approaches the models in the smaller boat, gets ready and as soon as he is close enough starts counting to three and then shoots. He only manages about two to three shots before they have to turn around, get away from the main boat and then approach once again. For these shots he also uses what is called a ring flash which basically sits like a silver dish around the lens of the camera and gives him better illumination. Everytime the clouds move in front of the sun he has to wait and the models try to contain their hair and their footing.

For the afternoon we were on a different beach where a horse was booked to be part of the scene. He was dapple grey and had quite a strange name, Pigeon Post. Then I learned that he is actually originally from South Africa and loves to swim, so the model riding him had to be very careful with him in the water since she was wearing a expensive chiffon dress that is not really made to be submerged in the sea.

While I was sitting on the beach watching the photographer and his assistant use a gold bounce (backboard of gold material that reflects light onto the model’s skin) to use any available light, I noticed some men out at sea. What was strange was that they were on foot and very far out, I would say nearly a kilometer but only submerged up to their hips. The owner of the horse explained to me that because of the coral reef the sea breaks very far out, I actually noticed that the first day we arrived. The front shallow bit is referred to as a lagoon. The guys in the water were fisherman, they know their way through the coral garden and because they do not own boats, they walk out to the break to go and fish. I was perplexed as to how they get back in the dark? When I asked he just smiled and said they walked back. I felt the tips of coral the other day and they are sharp as nails, I do not know how they do it.

Every last little bit of light was used and as the sun sunk completely behind the horizon before the photographer was happy and announced that the day was a success. Having never been at an outdoor shoot I realized how much planning was necessary and how much easier it is in a studio. Yet, I looked at the pictures once they were downloaded onto the laptop and were told that there was still a lot of work to be done.

It seems like the need for more or less light never ends.
We are here courtesay of Le Telfair –