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One day. Five and a Half Models. Dozens of Locations. 1,184 Images. One Happy Photographer

Call it a rookie move. Call it a last minute rush. Call it inspired genius. Whatever label you call it, my last full day in Mexico was very long and full of amazing photography, great people, and really good food.

Friday, October 28th.

I am picking this one day to do a more detailed post because it was so crazy and so full of wonderful creative adventures. Now… first off, let me freely admit that a) I’m not the most organized person in the world, and b) I do tend to leave things for the last minute. I fully understand that this day was borne of those realities. That said, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Samantha Grace at Hotelito 6:45 a.m.

I had been lucky enough to draw Samantha’s name from the hat as it was passed around earlier in the week at the Hotel California dinner party. I had already booked everything I had planned on shooting so this was a really nice surprise. We eventually decided (maybe on Wednesday?) that we would shoot on Friday at sunrise. What a great way to begin what was to become an 18 hour photography adventure.

Emma at the Todos Santos Inn 10:45 a.m.

Emma was one of the wonderful people staying with us at the Casa Bentley. We had shared meals, stories, and adventures throughout the week but we hadn’t yet had a chance to work together. I had worked out a plan so that I could have at least one shoot in each of the amazing hotels. I knew I wanted to shoot Emma the Todos Santo Inn and I had all kinds of ideas about the images I wanted to create with her there. She is such an amazing person and the location provided so many different opportunities… we decided on the bar area partly because I was interested in finding ways to tell a story and partly because I thought it was an area that had been less used by the other amazing photographers. A chance to get a unique view of the space.

Emma at the Casa Bentley historic adobe 12:30 p.m.

Beatrice was so wonderful to show us into her home and to offer it to us as a location for a photo shoot… I couldn’t pass on such a generous offer. Her home is in one of the first adobe homes in Todos Santos and dates back to the 1800’s. Combine the wonderful architecture with the antiques and decor that are in her home and you have a recipe for amazing photos. I think Emma was the perfect model to bring out the peaceful and timeless feel of the space.

Build the set for the underwater shoot with Tara. 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Tara had been asking to shoot underwater even before we got to Mexico… the problem for me was how to put my creative twist on it. Earlier in the week I had done my first (ever) underwater shoot. Anna was so patient with me as I stumbled my through the unique challenges of shooting in the pool. While I had gotten some images from that shoot that I was happy with (Anna is so beautiful it’s hard not to), I could also see that I wanted something more unique when I shot in the pool again. Inspired by the drapes in my room and armed with Tara’s advice about using a snorkel mask, I got to work. Beatrice was my hero! She found everything I needed… mask, drapes, rope, 15′ bamboo pole… and I got busy putting it all together.

Bob Bentley Portrait 3:00 p.m.

And now for something completely different! (My 1/2 Model) Bob has such a great spirit and wonderful Hemingway-esque face. I knew I had to photograph him before I went home. Well… I was going home in the morning and I still hadn’t made the time to get his portrait done. It was now or never. He was both excited and shy about being photographed. He asked about trimming his beard (please don’t), clothes to wear (a dark shirt would be great), and found lots of hats to chose from (I had wanted him to wear a hat). It was a quick shoot but I got the shot I was hoping for. (see my earlier blog post) Joel was kind enough to assist me on the shoot. Thanks!

Tara interior shoot – Casa Bentley 3:45 p.m.

Another wonderful model staying at the Casa Bentley! I had worked with Tara the day before out in the cactus and on the playa de las palmas. I was really looking forward to working with her again. The set was ready for our underwater shoot but I wanted to get some indoor shots first. I was in my room downloading and archiving images from the shoots earlier in the day when Tara came in for our shoot and sat down across from me. “Notice anything different?” she said. Now, I don’t know about you but when a woman asks me that kind of question it scares the shit out of me! Of course I froze. She let me off the hook quickly and gracefully by pointing out that her eyes were now blue. An interesting and unexpected surprise. She had brought along several things to use for props and I really liked the circle necklace and earrings. As we did our shoot I continued to try to explore the idea of having the image try to evoke a story.

Tara underwater shoot – Casa Bentley 4:30 p.m.

After finishing our indoor shoot it was time to get in the pool. I had my snorkel mask and trusty point and shoot underwater camera… hopefully I could get something that Tara would be happy with. Right away I could tell that the mask was going to be a HUGE help. I could actually see the camera as I was working and compose the shots. On my earlier shoot with Anna I had been shooting blind and then bringing the camera out of the water to see if I got anything. It worked but it felt like luck was more important than skill. Being able to compose the shots brought back the feeling of artistry. As we worked in the pool, Tara and I got more and more chilled and then we started to get powerful muscle cramps! I’m still not sure what that is all about but Tara took it all in stride and assured me that it was just a part of working under water. Luckily we have some good images to show for all the chills and pain!

My concept with the drapes was that Tara would be moving through them from one space in the water to another. The drapes would be both a barrier and a passage way. While I did get several shots that expressed this idea, I found as I was looking at the images that I was drawn to those that used the drapes as a simple backdrop. I may post some of the images that show the transition through space in another post.

Carlotta at Hotelito 5:45 p.m.

I am embarrassed to admit that this is a shoot that I had only a fuzzy memory of booking. Carly and I had been in contact via email before getting to Mexico and had set Friday as the day for working together. I got so caught up in everything that was going on (and didn’t have things written down) that I might have missed an amazing shoot. Thankfully, Carly pulled me aside on Thursday night and said “We have a shoot together tomorrow, right?”. I may have said something like “Yes, We do.” and hopefully I didn’t have a dazed look on my face. We arranged that I would pick her up from the TSI at 5 p.m. and do our shoot at Hotelito. Well, at 5:00 I was still in the pool. I got to TSI as soon as I could and thankfully Carly hadn’t given up on me (although I would’t blame her for thinking I was a flaky ass****). Carly was amazing to work with! Pose after pose she found ways to express herself and move her body… I found myself just waiting for the next fantastic shot. If you have any skill at all as a photographer, it would be seriously hard to f***-up a shoot with Carly. It was hard to choose just a couple of shots to represent this shoot.

Amazing dinner with everyone at Hotelito.

You were all there… you know how good it was! I got there late but had a great time talking with everyone and enjoying the fantastic food. I drank lots of water to try to recover a bit from the stress and heat of the day. I definitely needed the food and rest! After the swag drawing and group photo was done Keira and I made our way back to Casa Bentley for the last shoot of the day.

Keira midnight shoot – Casa Bentley 11:30 p.m. till the wee hours of Saturday

Keira was my first shoot of the trip and now she was going to be that last on this amazing day. Our first shoot at Casa Dracula had been such an great way to start. Keira was gracious with my lack of experience and so incredibly skilled at finding amazing ways to pose. She has a wonderful spirit and humor. Now, almost a week later, I couldn’t wait for our midnight shoot!

We drove back to Casa Bentley from Hotelito so we could shoot in my room. It was a space I knew well and there was a floor lamp that I thought would have just the light I was looking for. One thing that I had yet to do on this trip was to work on more abstract “bodyscape” style images. I thought that would be my plan for this shoot. As often happens… things went another direction. I did get a couple of abstract shots that I am very happy with but as we were shooting I found that there was a magic in the way Keira was reflected in the window. I had fun playing with different angles and got some images that I love. Talking with Keira during the shoot was a huge part of what made it so fun. She is so bright and warm that I could have easily talked all night. As our shoot ended we decided to check out where the rocking music that filled the air was coming from. We walked up to the public square across from the church and listened to the band for a bit before walking back to TSI. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end an amazing day.