photography

Emirates In-flight Catering

Back to my roots… back to my original studies… back to what brought me to Dubai in the first place, 14 years ago. The world of hospitality.

Thanks to the creative agency, RAPP, I had the opportunity to capture the world of Emirates in-flight catering. I was simply amazed by the operation they run. Pushing 120,000 meals a day? Yes 120,000 meals EVERY DAY! It all needs to run like clockwork so needs a kitchen on steroids (without the steroids obviously).

After a full scouting visit followed by creating a detailed production plan, we spent three days shooting. The brief tagline was ‘Appetite for perfection’ so the images needed to make the food look delish, handcrafted and show scale on a refined level. How to make a production line look appealing? This was easier for the first class meals than those for economy. In the economy class kitchens, everything from the cooking utensils to the bowls where spices are mixed is just huge. In fact, when shooting their spices room, I anticipated a nice shot with a mix of colourful bowls. As it turns out, cooking a 10,000 litre Bolognese sauce doesn’t happen with a teaspoon on chili flakes but rather tubberware boxes full of it!

Emirates pride themselves on their handmade, real egg omelettes and they have a designated crew that flips 20,000 a day. Amazing!

The shoot was a wonderful experience. I’ve been in many kitchens around the world and I love the atmosphere of crafting and teamwork. The Emirates operation stunned me by the sheer scale of everything, the professional approach and how seriously they take hygiene. The staff were all geared up with hair nets, safety shoes and and face masks for the bearded ones…. that included me on shoot day!

Wk.

 

London with Bolshoi Ballerina’s

It started with a comfy red eye flight into London Heathrow on BA business. I ditched my bags at the hotel, got changed and went running in downtown London. It was a chilly Sunday morning in the Financial district so felt like a real ghost town. It felt great to be back in a city I called home in 2001 although I struggled to find my way to the Thames. Little seemed to have changed really. Clearly the rate of change in Dubai is not a global standard! I was in the capital for just a couple of days to create a picture story with dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet and crew from British Airways. All in the name of creating some buzz around the inaugural Boing 787 flight to Moscow.

I figured running would be the best way to find good shooting locations. I was in search of iconic London, space to work with an energetic vibe. I’d also promised my little boy that I’d check to see the London Bridge wasn’t falling down (seriously!) and in the process got confused between Tower Bridge and London Bridge. Felt like a daft tourist! Thankfully both bridges are doing just fine…

15km later, I had my shooting spots figured out and got them ‘signed off’ ready for production the next day. The crew at Direct Photographic provided an awesome service in renting me studio lights.

We were blessed with the weather. Sun, blue skies and poppy white clouds. Thank you British Weather Man. The shoot ran smoothly albeit with some minor chaos. With just one pair of hands, there was a lot of moving around to do on set. I wifi-ed my Canon 1Dx to an iPad for a bigger display unit and to seek instant client approval. Four locations and five hours was all it took to get the strong set of images we were after.

The next morning I was up early to check in on BA233 to Moscow. Ten minutes before boarding, we got permission to shoot Bolshoi Ballerina, Olga, in the huge 787 engine. We’d talked about this lots but never thought we’d actually pull it off. Five minutes to shoot. Freezing cold London, No lights. No planning. Ample time!

As a surprise for the passengers on board , BA hosted a ballet performance with opera singer Katherine Jenkins in the sky. A world’s first at 12,000 ft. What a magical moment to be a part of.

With six hours to kill in Moscow, I deliberated whether to stay in the airport terminal and drink bad coffee or to spend a few hours on a train venturing in and out of the city. The latter won of course! I managed a quick stroll through the streets and captured the quintessential photo opportunity at Moscow’s Red Square. It had to be done…

Wk.

Adventure Via Ferrata

It’s adventure time! An awesome Via Ferrata recently opened on the UAE’s highest mountain, Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah. With the Hajar Mountains as your backdrop, you can now attach yourself to a steel cable and, under the watchful eye of the Absolute Adventure guides, you can spend hours exploring the rock and rushing down cool zip lines.

During my years as an outdoor instructor in the French Alps, I spent lots of time of Via Ferrata’s and believe me, RAK has done a great job in building the real monty. It’ll certainly get your heart pumping; think exposed ledges, intimidating step ladders and the sheer adrenaline rush of being on the country’s highest peak. Anyone who’s up for a bit of adventure should check it out.

I covered the inaugural PR launch with the RAK tourism CEO Haitham Mattar, and the Emirati adventurers Huda Zowayed and Hamad Al Mazrouey. Yip … never a boring day in my office! Now it’s open to the public and I really can’t recommend it enough. Check out jebeljais.ae

I would love to go back here and shoot a series of ‘staged’ action shots. It’s a tough one. Access outside the Via Ferrata route is, as you can see, difficult but there is scope for more. And yes any excuse to spend more time on the rock…

Wk.

BTS with Karina @ Wadi Adventure

A while back, I worked on an editorial piece for Women’s Health. They were running a feature story on super women, Karina Bensemann being one of the super women featured. I know Karina. We’ve collaborated in the past with Lululemon. She’s great company and certainly lives up to what she’s known for.

Wadi Adventure in Al Ain was our base, a super cool watersports park at the base of Jebel Hafeet and a place for champions.  I did an awesome shoot here with Joe Clarke, who at that stage was prepping for the Rio Olympics and had his eye firmly fixed on a gold medal at slalom canoeing. I should add that he did indeed return home with a gold.

I shot with both a long Canon telephoto lens and got deep into the action with an Aquatech waterproof housing. Both work, the  ‘dry’ long lens version freezes the sharp action nicely and has a bit more control whiles shooting. Than getting into the surf with my waterproofs and a wider lens allow for in your face action, obviously you’re thrown all over the place but allows unusual angels.

Thank you James for shooting and editing an awesome behind the scenes video. It really tells the tale of a fun day out, doing what I love to do. The article itself, written by editor Yi-Hwa Hanna is well worth reading for its inspirational vibe. Must be a nice job seeking out interesting people then picking below the surface and understanding what makes them tick…

Wk.

Lambo’s in Paris

Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts flew me to Paris at the back end of last year to create a story around their customer driving experience. Hard to say no to a gig in Paris! It really is an amazing city. Shooting the new Lamborghini Huracan with pro drivers, a stunning hotel and an open brief made for a pretty cool assignment.

We were blessed with perfect weather and a hotel with a real history behind it, especially around the 2nd world war when some pretty important players lodged there. With the hotel’s rich history in mind, we parked two spanking new Huracan’s at the entrance. Old v new. White v colour. Italy v France. It really didn’t matter how it was interpreted. The shots all looked wonderful.

When we hit the streets, the local crowd went wild. Granted the boys were revving the engines whenever they could. The echo was crazy too… through tunnels and bouncing off buildings. We couldn’t have gone unnoticed if we’d tried!

What I love about projects like these is shooting in a new place. Fresh ideas. Fresh spaces. You don’t even have the option to press repeat. I spent a day walking around downtown Paris, spotting sites, backdrops, colour and iconic landmarks. Paris has so much to offer. We tried driving shots around the Arc the Triomph but it proved just too chaotic and has some pretty strict traffic rules.

I think the icing on the cake must have been shooing at Place de Costa Rica. I found it during my recce and it just seemed to scream Paris. A friendly Parisian on a bike couldn’t have cycled into the shot at a better time…

Wk.

MG’S NEW CAR CAMPAIGN

It’s always tricky to really work out where new business comes from. Sure, I knock on doors, reach out to brands, feed this blog and send out promos… but I do sometimes question the ROI of these efforts. Short term, some jobs just land on your lap. Right time, right place kinda thing. But long term, these efforts do pay off I think although it can be hard to trace back and figure out what actually led to sealing the deal. So it’s a numbers game, I suppose. A constant effort to throw strong, fresh and consistent work out there.

One day the phone rang, out of the blue. No history with the brand. Just a cool gig and the words, “Found you via the internet…” So online noise is worthwhile, it turns out. Blogs, social media, brand affiliations… they all have a place.

MG is being reintroduced in the Middle East. Originally a quintessentially British brand, it’s now run by the Chinese SAIC Motor Corporation. I’ve worked with them to create a full package of imagery and am stoked with what we wrapped with. The studio shoot is always a dance with lighting, reflections and shadows, constantly moving things around in search of perfection. The outdoor shoot is always great fun and a real team effort. Five locations in one day was a pretty ambitious production but everything was pre-scouted and we worked, as always, to a pretty rigorous schedule.We ended up pushing the dates a bit in the hope of better weather. Turned out to be a great decision.

I shot with the new Hassy 50mp for billboard quality images. Expect to see some cool images on a highway near you soon!

Wk.

2016 Recap

Writing this post feels like a celebration of all that’s happened in the last twelve months.

2016 was a dynamic year. Business was a bit all over the place with some great productions and awesome opportunities in the mix. Travel is one of my greatest passions and the year took me to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Egypt, Paris, London, Moscow, the usual Middle East spots and of course, my summer sabbatical through Europe.

I produced two short films. Khareef was a personal project… a story about friendship and windsurfing off a remote island in Oman and Hakawi, a destination film about Luxor. This gig came about through my role as Canon Brand Ambassador in the Middle East. What we created is a gift to the people of Luxor and to Egyptian tourism to help them promote their beautiful destination.

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Following my successful Margot Robbie gig for British Airways in Abu Dhabi, BA flew me to Shanghai to shoot David Beckham then to Hong Kong. There, my brief was to recreate an old vintage poster with David Gandy and to shoot Immy Waterhouse and Lizzy Jagger. After this, came a cool ballerina stint in London and shooting on their inaugural flight to Moscow. These were pretty amazing opportunities with red carpet treatment and celebrity protocol all the way. The briefs were creative and what resulted is some magical storytelling imagery.

I love working with sports brands and their inspiring athletes. There’s such beauty in the collaboration… it’s like a dance between athlete and photographer. This year saw some big sports productions including shooting the Middle East launch campaign for Under Armour, expanding Lululemon’s brand ambassador portfolio, a fair bit of magazine work and some more personal work with pro athletes.

I recently produced my BrandReel, which is an energetic 60 second summary of what I’ve done, what I like to do and most importantly, what I want to do more of. As with writing this post, I had to dig through my archives, which resulted in a celebration of what the past has brought.

No year is complete without a Project Pause. I’ve been pretty quiet about last years Hajar Mountains edition… a week I spent in the Hajar Mountains last March, solo, off the grid and disconnected from the digital rat race we live in. The experience was stunning, so valuable and needless to say, a highly recommend endeavour! I’ve built a dedicated page on my website with background info and short videos. Feel free to browse and (hopefully) get inspired…

Of course, no year is complete without some impulsive, spontaneous act of madness so in December, I challenged Guinness World Record queen, Eva Clarke to join me in jumping from a plane to overcome her fear of heights. In return, she challenged me to run with her from Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit to SkyDive Dubai. Neither of us was prepared for 100+ km but we set off anyway, ready to see how it panned out. In the end, we ran and ran and ran (and walked) 108 kilometres in total. Why? Just because we can. We ALL can! Read the full post here. A short video is in the making…

In June, I took time out to review my own personal goals and dive deep into the business. I saw two amazing coaches… Tom Young and Tricia Evans. The challenge was wonderful. To be shaken up gives great clarity on how to move forward. I think my biggest takeaway was identifying my need to do meaningful work, work that moves people and to develop my new tagline; “Helping Brands Tell Powerful Stories.”

Finally, a huge thanks to all of YOU for staying tuned to my Blog, Facebook and Instagram. A big thanks also to all my clients and the crew of independent creative professionals I get to share my adventures with. Last but not least, to my rockstar wife Kiki, for giving me the freedom and go ahead to continue this magical journey…

I look forward to spending an awesome 2017 together!

Wk.

Three days in the mountains with WWF

There’s something remarkable about working with field biologists. Their passion and excitement are contagious. Their appreciation for the smallest gritty crawlers makes me wonder what beautiful fauna I fail to notice everyday.

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Recently, I found myself at a very special place… the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been appointed to create the first National Park in the region, named Wadi Wurayah National Park, on the east coast of the UAE.

129 square kilometres of rugged mountain land has been closed to the public since 2009. The area is most valued for its wetlands and the opportunities it presents for documenting and conserving natural resources. For now… and for generations to come.

For three days, I pretty much got carte blanche to roam around the park… to create imagery for a book project I’m involved in. With my innate love for the mountains anyway, its pure rock, fresh mountain air, breathtaking views and sheer expanse, to have access to such exclusive areas was a real privilege. And they call this work?!

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With few roads let alone hiking trails in place, exploring entailed roaming with a pack on my back to find the best vantage points. To wonder and to find. I spent some time with Alex on a ‘Bear Hunt’… of course, without either the hunting or the bear element! Actually, the wildlife is pretty scant. The biggest animal we spotted was 6cm big, a toad. Obviously animals don’t turn up to order but rather show up on their own accord… and generally when you’re least prepared! Anyway, with the help of of the local team I enjoyed an eye opening experience and banked a few great shots.

One shot I was keen to get was the release of a toad, shot half above and half below the water. Knowing the wetlands plays a big role in the story, I had to include a strong water shot so I took my Aquatech waterproof camera housing. I found a pool with the right water depth and timed it so we w’d be there during the three hours of the day when the pool catches a bit of sunlight and the backdrop would look dramatic. Part of the WWF learning program is counting toads so it’s a common practice which happens in real time. I did a quick dry run to check the camera settings and framing, followed by the a painfully long 45 minutes trying to find one (Murphy’s Law), but eventually we struck lucky and caught a sequence of 24 frames. The below is one of my favourites…

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As a photographer and storyteller, Wadi Wurayah National Park has endless beauty and content. As a scientist and biologist, it must be heaven to map the park and for WWF, it’s a proud showcase of the valuable work they do. I’m so grateful to the Fujairah Government for taking the lead in preserving their land and building a platform around sustainable access.

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Once the park is officially opened, I’ll be taking my two boys there, to hike the trails, spot the dragon flies and observe the Arabian Tahr… and most importantly, to teach them the value of looking after our resources. It’s a stunning place.

Wk.

Lululemon Ambassador David Labouchere

David Labouchere is a real character. Founder of his own gym, Optimal Fitness, he’s also a well established triathlete and Lululemon ambassador.

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Thanks to Lululemon, we had the opportunity to spend some time together, building a portfolio of brand imagery. It was a simple shoot. Just David on his monster tri bike at the crack of dawn, his normal work-out hour anyway, followed by some fast paced running shots breaking some real sweat. Sweet.

Wk.

Powerhouse Eva

Eva Clarke and I have competed in races together a few times now. She’s upfront and I get to hang around somewhere in the middle. We recently shot the Under Armour Middle East launch campaign together.

Eva has an inspiring accolade of sports achievements under her belt but when checking out her Facebook page pre the UA shoot, I found a page rich with inspiring stories and achievements but pretty weak on strong visuals. I reached out to her and we spent a couple of hours in the gym building a bank of images to help Eva tell her story.

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I had no real game plan when we started. Normally, I have quite a clear idea on deliverables and creative direction but on this occasion it was athlete led. I wanted Eva to inspire me so we just played around a lot. My motto is always to shoot ‘real people in real places’. Eva is certainly real and she commands the gym, it’s her place. We collaborated well with ideas feeding ideas… add some strobes and a camera and we got some pretty cool frames…

Wk.

Fishing in Fujairah

To celebrate their 60 year anniversary, I went assignment for Toyota and Al Futtaim Motors. How do you tell a 60-year long story? What mark have they made? Sure, you just need to glimpse at the highway to see their presence on the road but my brief was way better. I was to drive to the East Coast and capture the look and feel of Fujairah’s life as a fishing village.

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At sunrise on the beach, we discovered a load of old Land Cruisers, most of them older than I am. They’d certainly put in a few decades of hard work on the beach. Fishing in Fujeirah involves a fishing boat, a Land Cruiser, a huge net in between and a crew of hardworking guys. One side of the net is attached to the boat and the other side to the Land Cruiser, to haul in the net. The catch is then loaded into the back of the car and sent to the local fish market. Ready for diner time…

It’s the daily routine that fascinates me. The simplicity got me hooked. We spoke to one guy who’s been fishing there for 28 years. If the car breaks down, he said, they just weld it together!

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The catch attracted a small crowd looking for fresher than fresh fish. I loved the atmosphere of people coming and going, digging through the nets to source their dinner. In this quaint fishing village, so set back in time, there was complete harmony in this mini economy at 7am in the morning. There’s much to learn from that.

Wk.

Ultra Running; Love. Can. Do.

I always mean to write this post during a big race, when the thoughts are most fresh in my mind, but somehow I never get round to it and then on return home, reality kicks in and the routine takes over.  So I went back to a voice memo I recorded during the 50k Urban Ultra Race.

Why is (long distance) running such a key part of my life? Why am I doing this? The hours on your feet, top to toe pain, negative self talk, dizzy sun rises and complete exhaustion. Why?

It’s hard to pin point what it comes down to but I’ll give it a try. For me, it’s about being out on nature’s trails because… well, because I love it. Because I can. Because this is what I do. These three words; LOVE, CAN & DO kinda sum it up for me. It’s about putting momentum towards the stuff I love, which works for running but also other passions in life. It’s important to walk your talk, even if it’s a long walk. It’s also about sharing the field with like-minded, driven and ambitious people. We’re all here, from all walks of life, for the experience.  Being out there, running together and embracing your surrounds is all that counts.

Earlier this year, I ran the Salomon Wadi Bih 72k solo and below is the brief race recap…

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It’s 4.30am as the start gun goes off and we’re pounding through the sleepy town of Dibba. Once we pass the empty dam on the edge of the village, the race continues in a pitch black wadi (dry riverbed) filled with nothing but the meditative spotlights of fellow runners’ headlamps. After years of being on the other side of the lens and shooting the this Desert Relay, I thought it was time to sign up to run solo and give it my best bash.

Needless to say, it was tough. We basically ran through the wadi for 30 or so kilometres followed by a 1,000m mountain climb towards the turnaround point at 36km. The route returns back down the same way to finish at the Golden Tulip Hotel on the beach. The first part was amazing, running at night amongst these big rock faces and witnessing a new dawn. I even quite enjoyed the big mountain climb as a good, strong hike proved a welcome relief from trail running. I checked off the first half of the race in a little under four hours which I was pretty pleased with and I passed the 50km marker in reasonable shape, but the remainder, I recall, went downhill (no pun intended).

My nutrition was ok but my legs were screaming and the hallucinations, that all us runners can associate with, began with me seeing no other than Elvis stepping out of a 4×4 and strutting his stuff. These crazy thoughts at least brought me some much needed distraction. It’s fascinating during a long race, to observe how the brain behaves, the mad mind games it plays. And then there’s the constant inner voice telling you to stop, to give up, to reserve your body and mind for the hectic work and home life that lies beyond the race. It’s insane.

Of course, all “good” things come to an end… as does the finish arch eventually appear in the far distance followed by great applause and a well-deserved medal. Bingo. “What next?” I immediately ask myself. We’re a strange bunch, that you cannot argue!

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The following day I shot the relay race, working on capturing some beauty shots for sponsor, Salomon. Surprisingly, I had a pretty swift recovery from my own race. My legs were sore yes, but my joints had held up pretty well, which is always my biggest concern. Knowing the course and the experience that fellow athletes are going through certainly helps to create strong imagery. Knowing where to shoot, where the landscape is best, is often the hard part but luckily I’d seen it all the day before.

My thanks to John Young and the entire Wadi Bih team for putting on an amazing race. Anyone considering an epic mountain running experience, stay tuned to their webpage. Next year’s race marks their 25 year anniversary so it will no doubt be a special one.

Wk.

 

Catch Karina

With a bit of pre-summer breathing space in the shooting calendar, I’ve been able to catch up on personal work and hangout with some mad athletes. I love the surfers lifestyle and have enjoyed getting on a board myself in the past, mainly in Oz. I dusted off my Aquatech waterproof housing then called Karina to go have some fun. Soon after, we found ourselves on sunset beach to hit the morning waves and take advantage of the last big swell of the season.

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Karina is a total badass. She called the day before to ask if we we should still shoot as she had a black eye from a recent surf crash… “Hell yeah,” I responded. “More RAW!” And the following morning, in an attempt to avoid hitting me with her new board, she cut her nose. More blood and I did appreciate her efforts in keeping me out of the firing zone! It didn’t slow her down. She lives life full stop without slowing down.

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I also brought my super long telephoto lens but stayed put with the waterproofs. In the water. In the waves. In where the action is. It’s certainly harder to shoot this way… waves are variable, the subject moves, I move, waves break just when the composition is right… it’s hard to really grasp what you’re shooting. But when the shoot comes together, it just looks so much more authentic. A long lens shot would have helped tackle some of the variables but on the downside, could then create a distance between the viewer and athlete. And I love wide angle ‘in your face action’.

Thanks for a fab morning Karina!

Wk.

With Jagger & Waterhouse in Hong Kong

Granted my portfolio may not be overly strong on shooting high end fashion models, but hey… life throws us all serendipitous opportunities from time to time. Work with David Gandy already had me in Hong Kong (link) so extending my time with Lizzy Jagger and Immy Waterhouse made perfect sense.

Success is all in the research, detail and pre production. The key was to create Hong Kong related content with stunning models yet with a different look & feel to David Gandy’s images. During my research, I came across well-known established names like Mario Testino, David Roemer and Peter Lindbergh. All have the habit of stripping down clothes, whilst my shoot was all about the uniforms as both girls were to wear stunning old British Airways uniforms from the BA Heritage Museum.

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With the iconic Hong Kong Island as our backdrop, I found a perfect location on the Kowloon observation deck and as the weather cleared, we shot a bank of great images.

Wk.

Tips for working alongside a TVC

I recently worked alongside a couple of big TV productions, shooting the stills whilst the TV crew did their thing. There’s something great about big TV gigs. They run like clockwork, are so well orchestrated, have huge crews and days are spent shooting what will result in an, albeit awesome, 90 second commercial. It’s a condensed pot of energy, like an oiled machine at full steam, running on a super tight deadline.

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This post contains my tips for photographers when working alongside a big TV production.

– Determine who’s boss. You or the film director? Who’s calling the shots? Exactly… the answer is not the photographer! I start here because you need to know your place.  Producing TV content is an expensive gig where time is always short, stakes are always high and stress levels are ever present. There’s rarely time dedicated to shooting stills so you have to just work around what’s happening. It’s probably more reportage style photography but space can be made to work on staged hero shots… keep reading.

– Create your own story. Work on your shortlist of hero images that fit your style and brief. It may be tempted to go with the TV flow but thats not your story, take a moment to plan wisely.

– It’s super important to connect with the FD (Flim Directors), AFD (his/her assistant) and DOP (Director of Photography/person behind camera). Do a bit of prior research about their background to feed the conversation and build trust from the start. These guys need be comfortable with you roaming around.

– I find it super important that the client introduces me to the FD & DOP and explains the importance of the stills (PR usage, hero shots and general reportage) and he/she requests we work together. Generally, my client is also their client so we’re on the same team. Post this introduction, it’s over to you to make it work.

– Next up, stay out of the frame and don’t make a noise. If you follow these rules, you’re on to a winner… and it’s probably wise not to direct the talent/actors/actresses as this will piss out of the FD.

– The noise of the shutter is your worst enemy. The sound guy (recognisable with a big boom stick and headphones) will pick up on anything, even your internal camera focussing beep so switch this beep off and select single frame and quite mode (Canon has the ’S’ option). What works for me is knowing where the sound guy stands then making a concerted effort to stay away from him. Working with a long telephoto lenses also helps to keep a bit of distance from the set action. I use my 400mm lens a lot. If you’re serious about doing lots of work on TV sets, it’s wise to invest in soundproof housing; Aquatech Blimp kits are be a brand to look at.

– Know what lens the DOP is shooting with, whether a wide lens or a longer lens. Staying out of the frame is crucial, which means having a handy stache of hiding places (behind cars, on top of cliffs etc)

– Work independently i.e. have your own car, gear, power, drinks, food, coffee etc. This particularly applies when sets are a car ride apart. You need your own wheels to move quickly between them and not be dependant on a spare seat in a crew truck or worse still, discover there’s no space for you at all…

– Think like the film director. What is he trying to get out of the shot? That helps you to understand how the actors/actress move around, where the DOP will stand/roam and most importantly how to stay out of the way. I generally find it super interesting to understand their thought process and how they build their story.

– On multiple film days, try to get in on day one. Production days are long and from day one, the team blends like a family, ego’s are determined, the funny guys tell their jokes, breakfast/lunch/dinner is shared and there’s a real feeling of ‘we’re in it together’. It’s tough to join that family at a later stage.

– Look after them. I don’t mean running around being a coffee boy, but simple things like handing your sunscreen to a frying red faced DOP or a bottle of cold water on a roasting hot day. These work wonders. The best hugs I’ve ever had came after taking cold beers and pizza to the film crew during the Footsteps of Thesiger expedition. The crew had been filming in the remote desert for a couple of weeks and my having to return to Dubai for a couple of days gave me the perfect chance to treat them.

– Try to get your shots during the dress rehearsals so you can leave the main shoot free… or use a wide lens during dress rehearsals and a super telephoto lens (bigger distance from set) during the main shoot.

– In the heat of the moment, only shoot when your know your image will be truly amazing. By ‘heat of the moment’, I mean when they’re running behind schedule, the sun is setting, crew are shouting at each other and tensions are generally pretty frayed. There’s no point agitating others without very good reason.

If you’ve gelled well with the team, they’ll value your input and do yourself a lot of favours. I’ve even gone as far as requesting a few extra takes just for stills and being able to direct talent so it both worked for stills and film.

Much of the above is common sense and hope it helps.

Wk.

Boat Building Awe

Shooting trade and industry blows my mind. Over the years, I’ve been on multiple oil rigs, power plants and desalination installations and I’m always fascinated by their sheer scale and design… so many pipes, valves and de-compressors, all of which play an important role and then these super smart engineers make it all happen. It’s like taking a huge orchestra and making it play in perfect harmony.

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Recently, I found myself, plus team, on a boat dock, where tucker boats are built from scratch and bigger boats repaired. We’ve been shooting aerial footage (motion & stills) and commercial imagery for the company catalogue.

I could have easily spent a week on site, curious to observe the finer details of boat building and unearth some good stories. Massive steel plates are cut and welded to create dozens and dozens of small puzzle pieces which are eventually transformed to a boat’s outer shell. The shell is then dressed, cabled and painted before becoming a beautiful floating object. Once the engine and a few more moving parts have been added, the finished result is ready to start it’s very own journey. It’s a nice ending, really…

Wk.

Hitting the dunes with Miss Poland & Saluki Motors

Mark and I go back a dozen or so years. I still worked as an experiential marketing manager for Land Rover when he first came knocking on our door. He had a passion for rally driving, which we supported and had also branded his pimped up Land Rover Defender.

To me, Mark was a pure example of following your passion and doing what you love. At one stage he left his comfortable, stable corporate job to start his own car garage, Saluki Motors, which he turned into a go-to brand. Now he uses his rally knowledge for training and 4×4 experiences. A great showcase of following and evolving your passion.

Wouter-Kingma-Blog-for-Saluki-post-2 I was in Oman when Mark got in touch again and I immediately knew it would be for something good. A brief chat and he’d caught my attention with his unique combination of  former Miss Poland, Marcelina and his motorbikes. 

 Soon after, I found myself in the desert with Marcelina Zawadzka and Marek Dabrowski, a Dakar Rally driver from Team Orlen. Our gig was short and sweet. Marek and Marcelina’s brief was to rampage the Polaris buggy through the dunes. They were to go hard and fast, rev the engine and get some crazy sand flying. I got them to follow the crest up the dune straight into the sun then quickly dialled down on exposure and hit the shutter. Now covered in sand, I knew I’d banked the shot. Afterwards, Marcelina stood in for a few portraits. It’s always a joy working with pro models. 

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Many thanks to Mark for the inspiration, the crew at Saluki Motors for keeping us out of trouble and our Polish friends for a great afternoon. Till the next.

Wk.

Under Armour Launch Campaign #2

Back for more launch content. The Under Armour campaign was based on a series of two images. One beach image with an iconic landmark setting, which we shot with Goes Grant on the Palm Jumeirah and for the second, I needed a location with a strong athletic feel so chose the Zayed Sports Stadium. The national sports stadium has all the grandeur we needed for a world-class sports brand. Years ago, I shot the Presidents Cup in a packed stadium for a FIFA Bid Book, which was a very cool experience. Later this month, I’ll be taking my boys there and a bunch of other dads with theirs to watch the UAE football finals.

Again, I shot with my PhaseOne medium format. Granted it’s not a sports camera (with just one frame per second) so I needed to work it harder, but when you capture ‘that’ shot, the end result has mind blowing detail.

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This time, we were collaborating with legend Eva Clarke, seven times Guinness world record holder and top notch athlete. We had a wrap in a short and sweet two hours. Check out the behind the scenes video to grasp the energy of the shoot.

 Thanks to the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Zayed Sports Stadium for opening their doors.

Wk.

With David Gandy in Hong Kong

Back to where it all started. Back to the place where I was born. Shooting in Hong Kong with the UK’s best known model David Gandy and re-creating a bit of history for British Airways. Following some recent stints with BA in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, they showed me an old heritage poster from Hong Kong dating back to the 60’s, followed by the question of whether I could recreate an image with a similar feel? 

 I spent 36 hours on a scouting trip in January, scooping out possible scenarios. And yip, Hong Kong has certainly changed. Drastically! Pottinger Street today, is a far cry from the image on the original heritage poster. The Peak view is blocked with high-rises and the shops replaced with bars (and tasty beer). The impossibly steep steps are all that really remain. Quintessential to the poster were the neon lights and the Chinese promo’s making it so iconically Asian so I was on a mission to find a street with a similar feel. This proved no easy task!

I researched online, walked for hours in the pouring rain, spoke to lots of people and finally settled on one workable junction close to Argyle Street and Nathan Road. Despite being jam packed with regulars, night time shoppers and tourists, it worked. 

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Key to the shoot is the jacket. David is wearing an original pilots jacket from the BA heritage museum. It even came with the museum curator, in charge of looking after it. Judging from its size, pilots in the good old days must have been tall, super fit and muscular… there was no autopilot in those days so it took real muscle to fly a plane. Along with the jacket came all the old cabin crew uniforms, also from the BA Heritage Museum, the perfect showcase of how uniform designs have evolved. 

As you can imagine, the shoot was insanely chaotic and with a crew of 30, we attracted a fair deal of attention. We couldn’t close the road so we just had to manage the flow and make them part of the story. I hired a local team of assistants and studio lights… this was the first time I used Profoto B1 which made a great fit for working in low ambient light.  We settled on two frames; firstly an Armageddon style shot and secondly, a more candid hero shot with the light popping out of the subject. 


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Hong Kong is an amazing vibrant city and the local team was fantastic in getting things sorted. It was a great shoot all round and I hope the content may be used as visual reference in many years to come.

 Wk.

My fascination with bikes

During my younger years, I worked as an outdoor instructor around Europe, enjoying life’s great adventures, travel and camaraderie. One of my favourites was mountain biking in the Belgium forest with over-energetic school kids… hitting the hills, trails, mud pools and river crossings. After a day on the bikes, we’d be exhausted, filthy, aching and thoroughly beat. I’m left with wonderful memories!

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Following the great Adventure HQ catalogue shoot, we got together to shoot a new Ozzy bike brand called ‘Fluid’, prior to their launch in the region. As always, the preproduction is the most important element of any shoot… knowing what, where and when to shoot, scouting to find locations that match the brand and give a strong selection of backdrops. One of my scouting trips found me at the Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre, which completely blew my mind.

Awesome technical trails surrounded by glorious mountains. I hadn’t even known it existed. I rocked up at sunrise but I wasn’t having much luck. My bike had a flat tire and I found my spare also had a puncture. After scouring around for my repair kit, I found that the patches were dried out and no good. But alas, I had my trail running gear and my two feet so off I went! I don’t want to be seen to be promoting running on mtb tracks but it was my only means of getting the job done.


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Back in Hatta for the actual photoshoot, we all set out on bikes to get to our chosen locations. My style is very much real people in real locations and we worked with some very talented bikers, which brought back great memories. 


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Anyone who owns (or rents) a mountain bike should go and visit the place. The trails are marked based on different skill levels and it’ll be a guaranteed great work out.

Wk.

Going hard at Under Armour Launch Campaign #1

Just before the summer I shot the Middle East launch campaign for Under Armour, in conjunction with their official launch in the region. Thanks to agency BWM+ and along with their CD Greg we worked on one super strong image showcasing local athlete, Grant Goes, posing in a push up hold. I love working with real time athletes. True RAW power. They move effortlessly and fluidly, with authentic and perfect form.

Below behind the scenes video is the shoot in 90 seconds…

I shot using a killer PhaseOne medium format camera, allowing for huge end production printouts. It’s not always easy to shoot sports at one frame per second, but once you get the image right, the fine detail is amazing. Endless sharpness and tons of data to pull details back into the image. There is so much good to say about medium format.

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Thanks to Fairmont The Palm hotel for hosting us. The view from their beach is a stunner. Gotta get back there soon to chill and go sundowner.

Great gig. Thanks team for making it all happen.

Wk.

I ran 555km!

Last summer I decided to do something different… to run every day that I was in Europe. This meant 55 days straight, with the aim of clocking 555km. The adventure started as soon as I touched down at Amsterdam airport. As I loaded my family and luggage into the taxi, I tightened my laces, waved goodbye and got started…

I ran mostly on trails, away from tarmac and cars, away from the concrete jungle and urban surrounds. It wasn’t about clocking mileage… more about the spirit of adventure… about exploration, about discovery, about checking out new sights and sounds in my running shoes. I relish the simple things that life has to offer, like drinking water from source, smelling fields full of flowers, breathing in fresh mountain air, enjoying the sunrise, watching cows graze, picking berries and chasing wildlife. I pretty much always returned to base long after I’d promised my wife…

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I’ll be honest though. It was a push to run every day. Trying to fit running time in with family time and a pretty ad hoc holiday schedule didn’t come easy but often the runs that started with a “because I have to” attitude, turned out to be the most awesome.

My biggest fear throughout was getting injured and a pretty serious ankle injury lingering from last summer acted as a strong reminder to be cautious. The key, I think, was to build up slowly mileage-wise and hit the rocky trails with respect. Thankfully, my body didn’t let me down. Towards the end of the summer as my runs got longer, there was little or no time for recovery. At the start of the last few early morning runs, I felt like a stiff, old man but once my body warmed up, I loosened up and fell into a nice rhythm. Lesson for next time? More yoga in between.

I got lost multiple times, ran out of water, got caught out by darkness and was attacked by dogs. I ran in the mountains, got to the top of Mount Ventoux, turned around and raced back down, played around the Matterhorn, ran through farmlands, across rivers and amongst vineyards and fruit farms. I ran races, with a hangover once or twice and shared runs with friends, family (always a highlight) and with strangers. I clocked up some insane elevation gain, enjoyed an awesome night run in Switzerland, upset mountain bikers by running on their tracks, got soaked in the rain and found myself bruised, cut and chaffed in all manner of places. Need I mention that I loved it all?

Wk.

 

With adventurer Adrian Hayes

There’s never a dull moment in an adventurers life, particularly when it comes to UAE hero Adrian Hayes… over the last ten years, I’ve followed Adrian’s extreme expeditions and had the pleasure of capturing some of them. I’ve seen him at his best and and at his worst… I’ll never forget his flying start on his Footsteps of Thesiger expedition, when the camels turned into rodeo bulls and threw Adrian and his expedition team members off their backs and onto a rocky wadi bed. The next stop was the local hospital rather than the desert! Time with Adrian during both Footsteps of Thesiger and the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge has left me with some wonderful memories. We even did an adventure race together once but unfortunately my bike frame snapped just five kilometres into the race so we were forced to complete the full Arabian Quest course on foot… needless to say we were last in, but at least we didn’t give up!

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Adrian is a hard man to pin down as beyond his great adventures, he has a crazy busy schedule with speaking engagements and corporate coaching in Europe, the US and here in the Middle East. I love spending time with him though… it’s always inspiring to pick the brain of a full time adventurer, where he stands now and how he turns future fantasy’s into reality. So I jumped at the opportunity to organise a shoot when a simple yet great idea sprung to mind.

We both share a friend and client, Dewald, who distributes amazing outdoor brands like Marmot and Patagonia. Together, I felt we could build a super strong portfolio of images around Adrian’s training regime and desert jaunts, in preparation for tackling high altitude peaks in the Himalayas or hair-raising polar crossings. Marmot could throw in some amazing new gear… without which Adrian would probably have rocked up in a tatty Ironman Finishers Shirt dating back to 2005 (!)… and Marmot, in return, would get great visual assets and stories for social and editorial use. Win-win for all!

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So organised it was and we set off, suited and booted, on a energetic day shooting, hitting the desert in time for the morning sunrise. We headed for Fossil Rock first of all, followed by RAK’s mountains in the afternoon. Needless to say, we had lots of fun and got cracking shots along the way.

What’s my take on Adrian’s life as a full time adventurer? It’s restless, thrilling, vibrant, passionate and his living on the edge is an inspiration. As a worldwide, record-breaking adventurer, the world is certainly a crazy one. Where to go next? What to climb? What to cross? Who’s not done what? You constantly need to be thinking of something harder, higher and more extreme than what’s already been accomplished. How do you maintain your unique voice in a pretty crowded space?

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Perhaps this instills in you some crazy thoughts and ideas?

Thanks Adrian for the inspiration and energy!

Wk.

In Shanghai with David Beckham

What a great opportunity it is to fly around the world shooting celebs for big brands. In this case, travelling to Shanghai to shoot David Beckham for a PR activation was pretty cool to say the least. Why Shanghai? No major reason. it just happened that travel plans and availability found us meeting there, in a fancy room in a luxury hotel. Air travel makes the world a very small place indeed.

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The brief was comprehensive; one strong shot with Becks with BA crew/fans on a branded backdrop. Not staged or frozen… rather a fluid flow of energy. Charismatic and authentic. Time frame? Ha! Five minutes tops. It had to be quick, captivating and simple.

What I’ve learned over time is that researching your subject is key. Think career, hobbies, video’s, TV interviews, social media. Together, it all helps to get a good understanding of who you’re working with. Aside all that though, celebs are also human so being able to hold a good conversation from the start sets you off on the right path. It’s often a short and intense session. The higher the status and the bigger the entourage equals the less time you get and the higher the stakes to deliver the goods.

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In order to work fast, I had set up three different shots which were rehearsed in detail beforehand with the crew and a Beckham stand-in. The set was lit with two Softbox Octa’s connected to two Pro-8a’s with air remote, so there were no unnecessary cables and no shortage of fast flash. I stripped down my gear completely using just one Canon body, a fast CF card and two lenses. The less extra gear to worry about, the more you can just focus on just managing the energy on set. One of the pilots, Mark, who worked on our Margot Robbie and Orlando Bloom shoots was also part of the team. He’s outgoing and charismatic making for a lively conversation with Beckham. Admittedly, I did have a few quirky questions to hand (see research) in case the conversation died. Beyond that, it was just a case of moving through each planned shot flawlessly.

I shot 104 frames in well under five minutes. The client handed over five edited images of which two got final approvals by Beckham’s team. So yes, it all worked out as planned. Seamless, fast and resulting in the delivery of two cracking PR shots.

Wk.

Urban Exploration with Canon

Thanks to Canon Middle East, I had the great pleasure of spending a day with ten media creatives from a range of publications and blogs. We were hosting a full day program centred around the theme of Urban Exploration. The video below is a great summary of the energy of the day.

Urban Exploration means different things to different people. We spoke about this at length during the class room session, particularly in terms of access and location. My definition is this… urban relates to the urban environment and culture and exploration relates to the intention of discovery and being open minded about the outcome. Together, Urban Exploration means hitting the streets in a rich and dynamic place to randomly wonder and tell stories with photographs.

Exploring is all about spending time on the street, either on foot or on a bike. Strap on a backpack and hit the road. I’m a big fan of fstop gear bags for three reasons; they’re super comfy, they’re not immediately recognisable as photo gear bags (thereby allowing you to blend into a crowd) and they provide easy access to kit. Trying to stay unnoticed is key. Depending on where you are in the world, that could mean looking like a local or a tourist. Ditch the tripod, travel light and keep your camera in your pack (lens mounted) until you really need it. Walking around with your camera around your neck would be a definite no no and simply draw attention to yourself.

Beat sunrise and shoot well beyond midnight. Remember the unexpected stories come from the out-of-the-ordinary. Every city bustles with energy 24hrs a day. Think bakeries, fish markets, bus stations, entertainment areas, ports… they all run around the clock and each one tells a story regardless of the time of day. If travel time is an issue, just book a room in a cool neighbourhood. I booked a heritage hotel along the Dubai Creek once to fully immerse myself in three days of exploring Deira and Bur Dubai. A truly amazing experience.

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Heba showing off her latest collection of Canon gear…

With regards to access, my advice is to be bold.  Ask for forgiveness rather than permission. From experience, I know that if you ask the question re whether its ok to enter somewhere to take a photograph, you’ll spend ages waiting for someone to respond, which eventually turns out to be “Problem Sir, not allowed. No photo”. This particularly applies in this part of the world. So just find a way, walk with confidence like you know where you’re going and keep moving forward.

At some point, we hit the grey area of trespassing and going somewhere (truly) off limits. My point of view is that there are certainly things that would be damn stupid to enter. I’m talking military camps, Skeikh Mohammed’s private palaces, the safe of the central bank, the ladies section of mosques etc. These are absolute no no’s. And then there are other places where I guess you’re not suppose to tread but, if you get caught, a bit of sweet talk might be all you need to get away with it. Think container complexes at the harbour, old ruins, building rooftops  and abandoned warehouses. Accessing these would just amount to a little harmless mischief. Both lists can go on and will differ for everyone. It all depends on your own comfort level. For me, it’s important that I’m not doing anyone harm, not damaging anything and not doing anything super illegal. Common sense really.

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Jessie standing in as model for magic hour demo shot

To get the max out of your time, do your homework first to see what the area has on offer. A simple google search will have tons of images. Coffee table books are a great source of inspiration as are searches on a good image bank like Getty Images or Arabian Eye. Get a detailed map to plan a rough route. I find the ‘sun scout’ app super helpful to see how the sun travels at precise times of the day. So have a wishlist but don’t get too hung up on it. Be open to change. Take a left turn when you planned a right, just because the light looks better or you feel there might be a good story at the other end of the street. Follow your intuition. Listen to your gut. I’ve discovered the best places on random explorations. Remember what Tolkien said. ‘Not All Who Wander Are Lost.’  Don’t be disappointed if your wishlist isn’t met. Instead, celebrate the lucky and unexpected encounters. Embrace the unseen.

Urban Exploring is only partly about taking photographs. It’s also about meeting interesting people and having unexpected conversations. It’s about having roadside food, whether a schwarma from a roadside vendor or some tea in a crowded joint. It’s about the mindset of choice and freedom and not chasing someone elses wishlist. It’s about the adventurer and explorer that lives in all of us. It’s quality ME time and that’s so valuable. Leave your phone at home… don’t be disturbed by ringing, buzzing or vibrating.

Finally, it’s about getting out there. Don’t be an armchair dreamer. Get out, do it and experience it. Explore first, brag later.

A big shout-out and appreciation to Canon Middle East for the opportunity to spend the day with such an amazing crowd. There is something super rewarding about sharing passion and trade with those keen to learn. Also many thanks to SanDisk and f stop gear for spicing up the media kit with valuable products. The crew at Clarke and Romero did a fab job in putting the behind the scenes video together.

Wk.

Football in Oman

Many I know love working in Oman. The people are amazing, the scenery is stunning and there’s a wonderful humility and sense of calm there. I recently worked on a reportage about youth football in remote places. There’s not a lot of text to go with it so just enjoy the images

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Also check out the Audi Challenges Arabia website where you can see the awesome short movie. Both the FD Joeri Holsheimer and DOP Carlos Catalan did a grand job in bringing together an awesome story. Well worth the watch!
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This series of images was taking in the iconic village of Bilad Sayt, deep in the Omani Hajar Mountains. If you get hold of the Oman Explorer you’ll find a mix of 4×4 routes taking you up there.

Wk.

Young, energetic & free

The crew at Red Bull took me down to Big Red, an enormous, iconic and pretty daunting sand dune between Dubai and the Hatta mountain range. With a reputation for being able to separate  the novice 4×4 drivers from the real dunes bashers, those who make it to the top are considered real heroes!

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On this occasion, we didn’t aim for the top but set our focus on a skatepark custom built for newly recruited Red Bull ambassador, Jan Hoffman. It’s tough being a skater in Dubai, with frantic roads and hoards of security guards blocking access to abandoned industrial sites. So what to do and where to go? This reportage is about thinking outside the box and going that extra mile.

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Wouter Kingma blog for Red Bull Jan Hoffman 04I came across Big Red years ago whilst competing in a desert running race. I recall around 2am, 20km or so into the race, expecting a desolate dune… little did we expect a huge crowd of local boys cruising the sand and showing off with tricks on their quad bikes. This dune certainly holds its own when it comes to action and adventure.

Wk

My six lessons from 2015

How to summarise a stunning year in one word? … Blessed.

It is a true blessing to work with so many amazing clients seeking to go that extra mile, athletes who are at the top of their game and so many interesting, inspiring and courageous people. Yip, 2015 has been a pretty awesome year and I’m very grateful for all that’s happened.

2015-RECAP

The last five or so years, I’ve written a recap post reflecting back on the twelve months behind me and every year I make the same observation about the speed of our lives. Consumed by the digital rat race, we play a constant juggling game between family, work and play. So much happens that unless I sit down and recap, I forget about all the great opportunities that have landed on my plate… and I forget, I realise, to often appreciate it all and say ‘Thank You!’

This year, I decided to keep my post short and sweet by sharing my six lessons from 2015. They’re in no particular order…

Nothing happens in isolation.

Simply nothing happens in isolation. Nothing. An idea might come from a quiet place but only grows once it’s out in the open. I built my own Studio//73 with the help of others. I work with creative talent to build greater books and deliver amazing shoots. As a brand ambassador and influencer, it’s about sharing the buzz about our industry. My behind the scenes videos is about giving back. We attract what we put out in the world and great ideas are worth spreading.

Be open to new things.

In 2015, we finally wrapped up the Falcons of Arabia book project… something we’ve worked on for 2 ½ years. Sure, we’ve produced over a dozen books but the sport of Falconry was new to me. Why it landed on my plate, I still don’t know, but I grabbed the opportunity. New topics require a great deal of research, study and learning… and in the process you evolve personally and connect with an entirely new crowd. This project meant immersing myself into the Emirati world of Falconry which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m grateful for this opportunity and for being raised in a culture where exploring new things was always encouraged. And thankfully, I still have all ten fingers!

Turn thinking into doing.

In March, I spent a week solo in The Empty Quarter, which is the second biggest desert in the world. An entire week ‘off the grid’… self sufficient and without any digital connection, it was a week of pure quality time in nature away from the digital rat race that consumes us. I named it ‘Project Pause – The Empty Quarter’. I thought about it for twelve months or so but once I’d made the commitment to just go, there was a complete shift in my mind. Suddenly, I found myself saying, “In March, I’m going on…” and as luck would have it, brands, friends and clients all picked up on it and wanted to support. Wow. With a bit of cash, my thinking was to produce a cool film about the experience, with the aim of inspiring others to find a Project Pause of their own. And so it happened…

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Be patient. Good things will happen, when you least expect.

A gig that pushed the boundaries in 2015 was shooting two big Hollywood stars. Two weeks prior, I got a call… “Are you available on the 5th of November. Please say yes”. Euan and I had worked on a gig in 2012, shooting the world’s biggest golf players in the world’s biggest bunker. This time he pitched a similar idea to do a shoot of Margot Robbie in the same stunning desert landscape. We did just that and the results were amazing. One led to another and the next day, I found myself on the Hyatt hotel’s rooftop helipad shooting Orlando Bloom. Clearly the story isn’t quite this short as there was all the pre-production to think about, but the message is there.  Creating great work leads to new work. Yes it might take time, but when it does, it rocks! This story is just one of a few. In March, I flew to Kuwait for ten days to shoot some amazing fast cars. This opportunity came out of the blue, but it also sort of didn’t…

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Create from who you are… and do what you love.

As many of you know, I’m a big outdoor and adventure guy. For that reason I tend to attract like-minded lifestyle brands as clients. Attracting them is one thing but turning their briefs into real, RAW imagery is where the real challenge comes in. I put it simple,  you have to work with real people in real places. With Adventure HQ, we went on a five day photo gig, touring the best locations and shooting the best possible content. Yes we got fried, dehydrated and sleep deprived but hell did we capture the real stuff. For Lululemon, it was all about creating the unstaged moments with their pro ambassadors. Creating the unstaged isn’t easy but if you can bring passion and positive energy to the shoot, it’s certainly do-able. My love for the great outdoors has been with me since childhood but turning it into a source of business has required patience and the constant seeking of opportunities.

Learn to let go. 

I normally start a gig with a clear vision in my head, knowing what imagery I want to get out of the shoot. Most of the time this works but not always. When you find yourself swimming upstream, there really is great value in letting go and leaving the shoot to chance. Just letting it flow. I’m not saying to settle on anything less but to allow something different to pan out. Just let things happens as they are meant to be. I’m a big believer in this and it works. Try it.

 

So there you have it. My lessons from my humble observations working as a photographer, a producer, a storyteller and an aspiring filmmaker. Our futures lie in our own hands and are transformed by the actions we take day in, day out and by the people that influence our lives. 2016 will bring amazing opportunities so make sure you’re ready to grab them with both hands.

Feel free to share this post…

Wk.

Lululemon Brand Ambassadors – part two

I posted not long back on a shoot for Lululemon’s Middle East brand ambassadors. This time, we shot Yogi Omar and Crossfitter Karina, doing what they love and sharing what they love. Both were awesome to work with.

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We shot at two amazing studios… Urban Yoga and Rig Crossfit. The fit-out and format of both fits perfectly with what they do, which made for a series of super authentic visuals. RAW and action-impact imagery… just what I love. At the end of the day, images needs to move people, to touch them and to create some sense of curiosity.

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It’s really worth checking out the Lululemon brand, discover what they stand for and how they stand out from their competitors. I love their personality and voice. Just read this clipping from their brand paper…

“To the sweaty philosophers, the bonfire starters and the daredevil entrepreneurs with gratitude. Your spark elevates our entire collective.”

The below manifesto sums it all up…

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Since the shoot, I’ve attended both Omar and Karina’s classes.  I confess that both broke me. I may be able to run but yoga and crossfire bring a whole new set of challenges.  I remain sore but have signed up for more and would definitely encourage others to give them a try. They even hold taster classes at Lululemon’s Mall of Emirates store so you can dip your toes in the water before diving straight in.

Wk

With Margot Robbie in The Empty Quarter

The most noticeable things about working with Hollywood stars is that the stakes are high, shoots come with lengthly pre-meetings, you’re seriously time limited and the entourage on set is enormous. But when it all comes together… when the shoot runs smoothly and the crew is happy… it’s so rewarding and such a cool thing to do. Recently, I experienced just that, shooting the gorgeous Margot Robbie for a big British Airways PR push.

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We used the stunning Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort as our base before venturing off into the desert. The Empty Quarter has no shortage of shooting options, yet a recce did prove to be a worthwhile exercise to stake out the best location for capturing the afternoon light yet remaining in close proximity to the resort. All in all, we had a time limit of 1 ½ hours on site. Margot was a complete joy to work with… hard not to be perhaps when in the company of six good looking pilots (her words…)! Dressed in Burberry, she remained effortlessly down to earth with bare feet and a sense of adventure. Here are the final three images that made it to the press along with a few behind the scenes images.

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I timed it so we would capture the very best of the afternoon light, making our way into sunset. During the recce, we picked a varied mix of dunes as the ultimate backdrop. I mostly shot using the light available supplemented with a bit of fill in flash to knock off some shadows. To keep the client in the loop with the images I was shooting, I used the CamRanger, which transfers the jpgs from the camera straight to an iPad screen. This is great as the team could stay involved with feedback and approvals and it’s easier for me to absorb images on a larger screen than on a 3” LCD one.

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Quick doodle visualising shot list. 

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Behind the scenes image by Kish

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Rehearsals / Behind the scenes image by Kish

It’s always awesome to look back and trail how shooting opportunities land in the calendar. This gig came thanks to another I did in the Empty Quarter back in 2012, when I shot golf legends Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer. Euan, who worked for Abu Dhabi PR at the time, now heads his own agency called MCS Action, so when the Margot Robbie gig came up, he called me up straight away. Thanks for reaching out.

Wk