I did mention about writing more about photoshoots, I’m so behind! Since the weather is starting to become that dreary cold sleep sort, I’ll write about a recent beach swimwear shoot.
Locations shoots are rare for me, I do prefer the stability and blankness of a studio to create from. Outside I have to rely on the weather and the available light and the actual location itself. I’m actually quite anathema to doing location shoots because every time I venture outside it’s sure to rain. Without fail. The original date set for this particular beach shoot had to be postponed because the weekend ended up pouring when I expected sunshine, no it was a definite no go.
Why a swimwear shoot?
Well, I needed a swimwear look for my portfolio and then I came across Billy & Lola, a darling little swimwear line by Ruth Ziller. Ruth creates her bathers from vintage fabrics she finds in op shops and the designs are a throwback to old-fashioned styles which quite suits my aesthetic especially in an age where swimwear is as tiny, tight, and metallic as possible and leaves nothing to the imagination. Therefore her high-waisted pieces tied back with printed bows completely drew me in. Ruth is also part of the new generation of eco-aware and eco-friendly designers using recycled materials so that’s quite exciting.
Model casting was difficult. I envisioned someone who was lovely and slightly dreamy with an old fashioned charm and long brown hair. Not quite sure why I was fixated on a brunette but I was. There were cancellations and rejections and unsuitable models when I remembered Rebecca, currently repped by Scene Management. I’ve worked with Rebecca previously on Ghost Story and she had the most amazing skin and soulful eyes…and she had brown hair. She was also a really great person to work with so I was happy when she agreed to model for this.
A quick snap at the ocean, turned out to be one of my favourites.
Sarah Baxter was slotted in to do make up and hair. She had just started at the hair academy and was showing me cute braids and updos. We decided to get to her place for initial makeup and then drive down to the Great Ocean Road to find a suitable secluded beach. It was going to be an extremely long day and we were looking forward to it! We were originally going to work with a stylist but unfortunately it didn’t happened so I picked up the bathers and packed up my bags, discovered I couldn’t carry a reflector along with 3 bags I was already carrying so I thought stuff it and got on a train, then a bus, than waited for Sarah.
My equipment of the day:-
The none too subtle Canon 1000D
50mm 1.8 lens (sweet little thing)
And two awesome people to go on a road-trip with
While Rebecca was in makeup, I played with Ozzie an overenthusiastic dog who blackmailed me for pats and Sarah’s cute niece who insisted I colour a tree and I happily obliged. Then off we went with Rebecca driving.
I google scouted for possible locations prior to the shoot. Google Maps is great because sometimes photographers would leave landscape images and you can see what’s in the area. The stretch of beach around Torquay to Lorne be nice to explore.
We arrived in Torquay after a few hours and came to a surf beach, a little further than the town, spotting a secluded part that looked to be attached to stairs. In our enthusiasm we grabbed everything and trekked down several flights to discover it ends at a rather perilous stony outcrop with ‘beware’ signs everywhere. Not to be deterred as we were three determined young ladies, we climbed down the rocks.
Sarah touching up the makeup.
We stayed about half an hour shooting two looks, watching the surfers pass us with raised eyebrows which tells us we should perhaps look for a different location. It was all well and good but we hadn’t realized how strenuously hot Melbourne summers actually were. Arriving at the foot of the stony outcrop rendered us in sighs of discontent and the next 4-6 flights of stairs had us collapsing in heart hammering exhaustion and delirious pants.
Me. Climbing up stairs. The flushed cheeks and near panic I was in cannot be seen but it’s there.
It was just the heat and bright unbroken sun weighing down relentlessly on our heads, and we didn’t have enough shade or water so cue heat stroke and us hightailing it out of there to collapse in bliss in the air-conditioned room of McDonald’s back at Torquay. After an hour we were ready to take on the challenge again so we drove through a winding track to somewhere near Lorne. On the way we were stopped by a police car, and got a ticket for using the brakes to keep clear of the car in front of us………..well, always remember to budget for random ticket violations…..
Isn’t this better. No rocks in sight and nothing to climb!
The next beach was so much better, beautiful clear waters and accessible from the road. There was a mob of young men having a barbie (barbeque in Australia) and they called out to us to join them for a spot of beach volley. Smilingly, we shook out heads and walked on by really quickly before bursting into laughter when we rounded into the next stretch. And then we had two men approach where we were setting up. What a conundrum. With location shoots onlookers may sometimes be a problem, these in particular got the hint quickly so we were able to continue!
My theme for this story is inspired by lomo photography with those vibrant dashing colours and hazy light flares. Since I don’t have a lomo camera, I’d do as much as I can and then adjust during post processing. Bright sunlight can be hard to work with, usually resulting in harsh shadows and squinted eyes. If one has strobes you can try to overpower the sun to highlight the model subject and darken the background among other techniques. What I wanted however was a smooth light with limited shadows and preferably some lens flare, I shot around 1/500 shutter speed and 5.6 f stop and mostly where there were breaks in between clouds. Ideally I should’ve brought that reflector but alas the lack of multiple arms. Shooting at the beach also has a few other problems- sand gets everywhere. Protect the camera and lens by shielding with your body and checking frequently and cover wardrobe with protective sheets or towels where possible. For wardrobe changes use walls of towels or areas away from the general public.
Shooting. Also remember to wear something comfortable and something you can wear to jump into the ocean with!
Rebecca having a lark.
She always avoids the camera! Here we get a smile from Sarah.
Rebecca posing with the teddy bear.
Shooting. It’s the last look and the end of the day, the light is great!
After multiple changes we gladly wrapped up to go home, but not before stopping for drinks and a spot of food so back to Maccas (McDonald’s) for us.
The day ended well regardless of the initial hiccup, I certainly had a lot of fun and it’s always great when we get all the changes and looks we needed. A few things to keep in mind for future location or beach shoots- bring WATER and hats and preferably plan the shoot during autumn or spring.