Mongolia – Treading on Bones

I landed a job in Mongolia over the summer to create an image library about dino bones. It all started with an out of the blue call from an old friend, Michelle, who’s with Infiniti Motors in Hong Kong. She asked if I was interested in supporting their media program and I was all ears. Gigs with Michelle have always had a wonderful sense of adventure.

An international media crew was invited to join the tail end of an expedition to retrace some of historic explorer Roy Chapman Andrews routes, dating back to the early 1900’s. Using drone technology, we could identify new sites in the Gobi Desert where potential dinosaur fossils and bones could be found. And mission success! A few new species were identified too along with lots of data points. I’m no dino expert but it was pretty hard not to get sucked in and feel hooked. Under the watchful eye of scientists from the Paleontology Department of Mongolia, we found bones dating back 80 to 100 million years… a number that’s pretty hard to get your head around, I know.

Gobi is stunning!  In 2013, I ran an epic 250km race through the Gobi Desert on the Chinese side of this open barren landscape. This gig was further north, near the small town of Dalanzangad. The sheer expanse, scale and emptiness is overwhelming. Other than the occasional scattered Ger Camp, it’s just a mass of wilderness, mountains and emptiness. In fact, Mongolia is 1,5 million square kilometres in size, so as big as France, Germany, Nethelands, Belgium and Spain put together, yet the population is a mere three million (compared to 220 million within the others).

During my two weeks there, we were treated to all manner of extreme weather from rain, hail, and chilly nights to baking hot temperatures in the midday sun. Normally after the rains, the land turns green and vibrant but after the epic amounts of rain we experienced, we were rewarded with insane mud pools. It was still a great trip. And besides, if Mongolia were an easy place, everyone would be there.

Infiniti put us up at the legendary Three Camels lodge, which is listed on National Geographic’s unique lodges of the world. With my own ensuite Ger Tent, I felt like a luxury bedouin. Healthy food, fantastic crew and awesome company. Having no WIFI or cell coverage in camp felt like going back in time. Being offline these days is a luxury in itself! Conversations over dinner, waking up to a sunrise rather than an overfilled inbox and no urgent uploads made us all slow down. And when you slow down, the magic happens…

My brief was simple… to create an image library based on cars, paleontology and culture, to build a master hero collection and work on individual imagery too. It was an open brief, which suits me well and allows me some creative license in terms of just getting out there and embracing the opportunities that come my way. As I always say, variety is key and I’m super stoked with the quality and mix of visuals.

A big thanks to everyone! This gig will certainly go down as one of my coolest projects.



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…


Kuwaiti car culture

How much magic can you fit into ten consecutive and insanely long days?

The answer is lots! I was fortunate enough to spend a decent spell in Kuwait just before the summer, building a portfolio of local imagery for one of Kuwait’s largest car retailers. As is the case with many brands, the Kuwaiti marketing teams for brands like BMW, Land Rover, Mini, Rolls Royce and McLaren all struggle with the international imagery supplied by their respective HQ’s. Stunning the images may be but they’re simply not relevant to Kuwait as the country doesn’t have green countryside, rolling hills, lush forests, fresh snow or fields of tulips and sunflowers. My job then was to find out exactly what Kuwait has on offer.

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A recce trip end of last year left us with a wish list of locations including urban cityscape, open roads, desert landscape, roof tops, rock formations and heritage sites. The country certainly has a strong offering of backdrops… you have to put in the effort to find them. I recall flying over Kuwait city on the way in and peeking through the window for exciting places to shoot. Admittedly, then I felt a little panicked. Clearly, a quick fly over wasn’t going to cut it but thanks to our great fixer, Adil, we managed to find a cool mix of locations to work at.

Briingggg… went the first of many 4am alarm calls. I’m always keen to shoot cars during the very early morning light. Starting with static shots and studio flash, I moved onto car-to-car photography as the sun just started to peek over the horizon then, if the location justified it, I would shoot a few more static shots before taking a much needed coffee break. Sales of Starbucks surely peaked during my stay. Next, I would download my cards, check the images, have a quick recap with the client at the dealership then wash, prep and change cars to start the very same thing in reverse during the afternoon and into sunset. This for ten days straight left me pretty exhausted having clicked just under 29,000 frames in total!

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Needless to say, Kuwaitis love their cars, luxury ones in particular and better still, customised and personalised. I got to shoot some pretty fast and exclusive models so whilst I can’t guaranteed leaving without any speeding tickets, I’m pretty sure I left behind some iconic car images that tick all the boxes.

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Wouter-M4-Kuwait-150Quick selfie using the iPad and CamRanger app

My final memory was during the return flight home. Looking out of the plane window, I recognised certain landmarks and spotted locations where we’d shot. This seemed like a cool way to finish off the shoot. Kuwait certainly makes for a great drive and is home to an awesome bunch of people. Thank you!



This is why I love car shoots

For some reason the bulk of my work entails the shooting of cars and in particular, luxurious and fast ones. So when a SUV brand got in touch about shooting their big car out in the big dunes, it felt like a nice addition to the mix. Any excuse to hit my favourite desert location… The Empty Quarter.

For this gig, we produced a short behind the scenes video of the two days we had the new Infiniti QX80… sharing why we get up at 4am, why it’s important to work with pros and why it’s always worthwhile going the extra mile to shoot in the second largest desert in the world. Yes, The Empty Quarter is a long drive from Dubai and requires some serious desert driving skills but with a great team it is very doable.

At the end of the day, the agency gives you a brand new, often pre-production, car which has a back to back media and launch schedule. The car, needless to say, needs to be returned in one piece! We did just this… along with a collection of stunning images.



Freedom Pizza Digested

Freedom Pizza (formally known as NKD) is a brand to watch out for. It’s an Canadian franchise brand introduced to the region by Ian Ohan, a driven entrepreneur overflowing with energy and ideas. Love spending time with him! He brings so much to the scene, is always on a positive energy high. You see this carry through in how they run their business and in all their activities.

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Over the coming weeks, NKD will be giving away a chaffy Charger, together with presenters at Dubai92 and the Autodrome… a chance to burn some rubber through branded pizza boxes. Before you know it, there are multiple players with multiple messages. With a brief that read… (more…)

Bentley GT V8 S and stunning Oman

When it comes to beautiful landscapes, Oman never fails to deliver. And similarly, when it comes to beauty on wheels, nor does the Bentley GT. We had three days to create a set of regional images for Bentley’s latest model, the 521 bhp Bentley GT V8 S, three days to work magic with this stunning car.

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I’ve been commissioned by Bentley a number of times and it’s always proved to be sheer, exhilarating visual excitement. As it panned out, it was a pretty high performance gig, involving a fancy hotel, stunning road and these luxury wheels. I could get used to this… (more…)

Sharing the love for car photography (workshop)

In the years that lead up to my starting my own business, being involved in different training  workshops featured quite heavily in my life. I wrote various courses for Accor Academy and my time at the Land Rover / Jaguar regional office in Dubai had a 30% focus on training. ‘Dipped in Green’, in particular, developed into a memorable three days brand experience. To date, I still meet participants who refer to it with fond memories. At the end of last year, I also held a Canon photography workshop, and if all goes to plan, we’ll see more of them soon.


So when Motoring Middle East called to see if I was interested in running a car specific photography workshop, I jumped at the idea. I’m always keen to share and help others take it to the next level… and when it comes to car photography, I’m sure I have a few… (more…)

Ferrari Berlinetta F12

I must say I felt pretty privileged to be the first photographer to shoot the new Ferrari Berlinetta F12 on a racing track. It’s the most powerful machine they’ve ever built and with 740 bhp, she really is a high performance beauty as well as being stunning to boot.

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Together with the FF and California, we got to have a go at the Yas Grand Prix circuit in Abu Dhabi. As most of you know, I love getting up close to the action and my preferred way to shoot a car is from a car, that is lying in the trunk of a lead car with the subject nice and close behind. At modest speed, it’s all about hand signaling brand viagra canada their position back and forth… back, forward, right, left. Working with pro Ferrari (more…)