Saturday, June 13, 2009

My photo shootings in Portugal

Maja Malnar at the Praia do Meco beach
Maja Malnar at the Praia do Meco beach
Map picture
The location of the photo shooting
To make photos on some nice sandy beaches was my dream for a long time. White sand, blue sea water and some green palms are something we really don’t have it close to where I live which is why I started thinking of going to Thailand some years ago. But the thing is that I should have a team of assistants with me which is not easy to find.

This is why it was quite handy when Rui invited me to Lisbon, Portugal. He showed me photos of some very nice beaches there. It was true they didn’t have palms, but the rest looked promising.


Maja Malnar XP02
In front of the Nossa Senhora church.

My Initial idea was to take all of the photographs using normal studio flashes (monobloc or monolight) that we usually use at the studio photography. The only problem is that when you go out of the studio you need a battery with 220V inverter (Flash Feeder). This all is quite heavy – 13.6 Kg (30 lbs) especially for a travel with an airplane and it costs money as an additional baggage.

But Rui is a big fan of using small Speedlites like Canon Speedlite 580 EX II or Nikon SB26 or similar. He runs his own blog Lighting moods where he writes about his inventions in this area. Some of his ideas are really good and I already used some of them in the past.

I wasn’t completely sure of his idea because of my bad experiences with low power light sources in the past. My idea was to take photos on the beaches where the sun is quite strong even late in the evening. After a long debate we had with Rui we decided to use Canon Speedlites only.

During our photo sessions we only used one or two Canon Speedlites 580 EX II or 550 EX. They were equiped with 15” x 15” softboxes which we put on portable Manfrotto tripods. But once we only used a monopod which was held by Rui. That was a must because of the strong wind.

All of the Speedlites that we used were triggered with my Elinchom Skyport radio triggers. The reason why I use these is that they are reliable. In the past I tried optical or IR triggering, but that doesn’t work in all of the conditions. I also tried some cheap Chinese radio triggers but they were also not reliable. Then I decided for Elinchrom because my local photo provider just had them on stock.

Getting models for a photo shoot

Maja Malnar XP01
Maja Malnar at Guincho

At the beginning I was searching for some local models about two months in advance. I used Model Mayhem service for that. I got quite a good response from some of the Portugal models. But because of my previous bad experience from Nova Scotia, Canada I wasn’t completely sure about this idea. The thing is that you don’t know these people and they can or they can not show up and then the whole plans for the trip are wasted. This was why I started thinking of inviting someone I knew from Slovenia with me. One of the Slovene models I contacted was Maja Malnar and she liked the whole idea about taking photos in Portugal.

At the Mario Principe studio

Mario is one great fashion photographer from Lisbon. He is a good friend of Rui who introduced us. Blend magazine is one of his projects and when Rui showed the link to me I really liked his photographs because they are very similar to my taste.

Mario's studio quite impressed me because it was one of the biggest that I have seen until now. While his shootings with Maja there were three stylists, one make up artist and several assistants.

Model video books are very popular last time. You can easily see how a model moves from them which you can’t from a photograph. At the same time photos are usually manipulated in the PhotoShop which allows you can make a top model from one average girl. Well. We had a model so Mario decided to make one video book with Maja.

While Mario had his session with Maja I had time to record a making of video which was actually the first one of this type that I ever did. I totally recorder around three hours of it but at the end I decided to focus to one styling only.

You can see this video at higher quality at Vimeo.

Praia do Guincho

Map picture
The rocky walls by the ocean coast offered a great wind defense.

When you search photos on Google Earth or Panoramio you can quickly find some very nice places that you can’t find at the tourist guides. Guincho looked like a mini Death Valley with all of it’s nice sand dunes. And it really looks very nice. But all of these photos can’t show all of the wind there which was really terrible. I even didn’t see such sand storms in Death Valley yet. Luckily we found one nice garden with a pool at the Estalagem Muchaxo hotel which looked very nice for a shoot.

Nossa Senhora at Cabo Espichel

Map picture
Nossa Senhora is an abandoned monastery at the Cabo Espichel.

Nossa Senhora (En: Our Lady or Madonna) is a nice but abandoned monastery at the edge of a high cliff on the coast of the Atlantic ocean. The place was very popular by the pilgrims in the 13th century. The story said that a man saw a light coming from the cape in his vision. When he approached he saw the Madonna riding on a back of a mule at the top of the cliff.

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