While on a family holiday to the Portugese Acores island group in the middle of the Atlantic ocean I stumbled upon this perfect little beach. I realized the sun would be hitting the beach near Sao Miguel at a perfect angle later in the afternoon. While the rest of my family retreated to our rental house, I drove back later that day to capture some images I knew would find a place in my portfolio.
The benefits of shooting personal work are widely documented throughout the online photography world, see for instance this post on one of my heroes’ blog, Chase Jarvis, by another of my huge inspirations, Joey Lawrence. Personal work allows photographers to show potential clients what they’re best at shooting and where their heart lies. Even better if you ask me, you’re shooting what you love, so there are no losers here. In my photography work, I make it my goal to always have at least one personal project in development. These projects allow me to develop as a photographer, to play and just shoot photos without any pressure, and to make mistakes. The projects can be quite long term endeavours, such as the Rockstars series, for which I capture portraits of all the best climbers in the world. I’ll definitely devote a future post to this project. Sometimes though, these personal series can be quite brief and spontaneous, like in this series shot near Sao Miguel.
One of these series I shot while on a personal holiday with my parents and my brother, which just goes to show that there are always opportunities to be had to shoot some great images. Photographers should never forget that even though photography is supposed to be their main source of income, the reason they chose this career in the first place was because they loved shooting images, at any and all times. The business side of being a professional photographer shouldn’t be underestimated, but once it only feels like work and no more play and fun, you went down a wrong path.
Anyhow, as I described above the break, we were spending a week on the gorgeous Portugese island group known as the Acores. One afternoon when we were driving back to our rental home, we stopped at a stunning little beach that was practically deserted. We spent some time on the beach and then retreated to our house. There was something about this beach near Sao Miguel though that made me want to go back that same day. The weather had been fairly unpredictable our whole stay there, and still some clouds were obscuring the sun, but I had a feeling that golden hour at this beach may be a memorable thing.
Just before dinner I drove back to the beach and observed the handful of people who’d come out on this cloudy day. This turned out to make a perfect theme for the series I would eventually shoot: the few beach loving people who braved the cloudy, windy and rainy weather for a fresh dive in the ocean. Timing turned out to be a connecting theme in this series: from the swimmer diving into the ocean to the kids splashing each other with water or running on the beach, I was drawn to capturing just the right moment in the movement of this people. Naturally, we all got lucky in the end and a brilliant sun warmed up the beach just when the sun was at its most perfect place in the sky. In my post processing of these images I tried to amplify the feeling of golden hour by adding a yellow toning to this images. I waited around until the sun was lower in the sky, but my luck was all out for the day: rain started pouring from the sky and the beach became deserted.
Sometimes you just have to take a risk and go out trusting your gut, put in the time and effort, and hope you’ll end up with some nice images when the day is over.