spent the day with the incredible team at Calgary advertising agency, Flipp documenting the environment for their new site.
“my photographs don’t go below the surface. they don’t go below anything. they’re readings of the surface. i have great faith in surfaces. a good one is full of clues. but whenever i become absorbed in the beauty of a face, in the excellence of a single feature, i feel i’ve lost what’s really there…been seduced by someone else’s standard of beauty or by the sitter’s own idea of the best in him. that’s not usually the best. so each sitting becomes a contest.” ~ richard avedon
i sat there after reading this and “….whenever i become absorbed in the beauty of a face, in the excellence of a single feature, i feel I’ve lost what’s really there…” repeated over and over again in my head. it summed up exactly what sometimes i feel lacks in my personal portrait work. i am to often worried about the face. seduced by someones else standard of beauty. so that is what i go after. i try to capture the face. the eyes. in a sense a basic portrait that has been done thousands of times. the images are fine. they are pretty images of pretty people but often i feel that’s it. that’s all it is. nothing less. nothing more.
so with those words in my thoughts, i decided to try something different for this shoot. i wanted to capture and try to create images with some sort of feeling. to evoke a mood that may be different for each viewer but in the end staying away from the pretty picture of a pretty face that i often do.
did i achieve what i was after? i’m not sure. but i do feel it is a step in the right direction for me and where i want my portrait work to go. this is why i love to shoot these personal projects. to challenge myself. to allow myself to try something different. to grow as an artist and step out of my comfortable bubble that i so often stay within.
all images captured on the Leica M9 & 35 lux asph combo.
it began with the idea that i wanted to do something different. something unique. something that no one has done before in St Lucia for a portrait session. so i started my research. i saw lots of beach photos. lots of palm tree pictures. lot of ocean shots with couples in the water. but that’s all been done and i wanted to give brittany and kurt images that were different. something one of a kind and what i didn’t see or couldn’t find online anywhere was a session at the top of the second highest peak in the country and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gros Piton. now the only obstacle to this was the 2600 foot climb up in 35°C heat with 80% humidity through the jungle carrying 25 lbs of camera gear, brittany carrying her wedding dress and kurt his outfit plus all of us carrying 1.5 liters of water each and snacks…no big deal right?
so when they asked me if i had an idea of where i’d like to shoot the session i put it out there…“how about the top of Gros Piton?” their reply, “yes that sounds amazing but we can’t leave until later.”
now reading in my research, “you will need to start your hike in the coolness of early morning to ensure that you are back down by nightfall, as the climb can take anywhere from three to six hours one-way.”, i was a little apprehensive about starting too late and coming down in the dark, but with some schedule changes we were out of the hotel at 10:30 to our first stop, an old plantation ruin. a quick change in the jungle we were shooting, wrapped up by 12:30 and on our way to the top of Gros Piton.
now i am not going to write how much sweat i had, but lets just say it was a lot. like A LOT. with the trail route basically consisting of boulders (some as tall as 2 feet each ) and slippery tree roots, it was like doing lunges up a mountain with 25 lbs of gear on your back in a hot yoga studio. many times the words from the Wikipedia site ran through my head with each lunge, “…the most active trail guide states that upwards of 50% of tourists do not make it to the top.” but we made it to the top in 1 hour and 33 minutes. i’ll be honest though and say if brittany and kurt weren’t there it probably would have been 2 hours and 33 minutes…but i didn’t want to look like a slacker as this was MY idea :)
anyway it was truly an amazing experience and the pictures i think are one of a kind. according to Janus the owner of Real St. Lucia Tours and our incredible guide Sammy (who you need to hire if you’re ever in St. Lucia looking to do any tours) he has never seen nor heard of a portrait session at the top of Gros Piton and even wrote about it here: Making History with a Gros Piton Wedding Photo Shoot.
a big thanks to my amazing couple brittany and kurt for going along with my crazy idea. i really do have the best couples in the world.