I suppose it’s every photographer’s dream to travel the world and shoot someplace with crystal waters, perfect weather, and timeless architecture. So when the publisher of SHOW approached me about putting an international shoot together for rising-star-model Laura Doré, I was all too happy to suggest shooting in Italy.
I’ve found many excuses to travel to Italy over the last few years, starting with shooting Cities of the Underworld for History Channel in early 2008. Since then I’ve been back 6 times, and have made an effort to improve my Italian with each trip. Once the magazine concept was greenlit, I went immediately into producer mode.
The Amalfi Coast is world-famous for its scenic old-world ambiance as well as it’s breathtaking views. I knew we’d have no shortage of places to shoot, so I flew out a week before the rest of the team, scouted some hot spots, and secured lighting equipment in Rome (I was intent on re-creating a full-scale Slickforce-sized shoot, but there was no way I was going to bring all of my equipment from the US). Once the locations were secured, I flew out my best-of-the-best from LA, including make-up artist Gaby Ramos, hair stylist Al Ingram, lead assistant Christian Arias, and wardrobe stylist extraordinaire Diana Chan. I also hired assistants from Italy and London, all of whom I’d worked with on previous shoots in Europe, and a local driver complete with passenger van. We took over 7 cabanas in the small coastal town of Sorrento, where we lived for 5 days.
Once the massive logistics were out of the way, I could finally concentrate on the shoot. Since I had my usual gear, most of lighting setups didn’t vary much from the work I produce at home. What I’m most proud of, however, are the setups on the beaches of Capri. Capri is a small island—and there were no docks or piers to the beaches—so we put all the gear on motor-boats, and cruised as close as we could to the coast. Then we loaded the equipment onto inflatable rafts, jumped in the ocean, and literally towed the rafts to land, generators and all. This was simultaneously the hardest day we’ve ever had and the most fun and awe-inspiring shoot I’ve ever experienced.
And check out the setups. We had lights hanging off of rocks, ringflashes levitating over the sea, and even lit from moving boats! Christian knows I insist on shooting tethered (I loathe lighting to a camera LCD), so she developed rigs for floating my Firewire and laptop cables back to land, while we all did our jobs either perched on rocks or in the water. These shots make me laugh because my awesome crew is doing the same thing they do at home, only this time they’re in bathing suits and up to their navels in water. This is that shoot that every photographer lives for—the one you will never, ever forget.
Thanks to SHOW and Laura Doré for the opportunity of a lifetime, and to Christian Arias, Daniela Guerrero, Hayden Phoenix, Steven Feralio and J.P. Monittola for these amazing behind-the-scenes pics!