For sure one of my annual highlights, the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge. It’s already the forth edition and pleased to be on board again shooting the content for my next coffee table book. So excited to be part of it.
Shooting for the 4th year doesn’t make it much easier. Yes, I’ve got good grips on logistics and race format but the challenge is to keep on delivering new and fresh content. Doing your home work is key, translating alternative images from other industries and implement them into Adventure Racing.
Six exhausting adrenaline packed days, world best adventure athletes, endless shooting opportunities and creative freedom. A great mix that resulted in 19,879 RAW images. Yes, a crazy number especially as it edits down to only 80 favorites for the next book. This year I was joined by Paul Rosenquist who’s writing the text for the book, or better recording live comments out in the field. The format will be slightly different to previously years as the book will be ‘quotations’ based. An awesome quote linked to an image together on one page. Was really great working with Paul, he’s got a unique sense of humor and a life full of his own extreme adventures. Thanks for coping with my grumpiness… Looking forward to see our book coming together.
Been commissioned to produce a selection of images for a new book about Abu Dhabi Aviation. A fun assignment as it will allow special access to the ‘other side’ of airport operation. Done similar jobs at Dubai airport where we ended up wondering around the new A380, inside the cockpit and upstairs in the control tower. This shoot was similar, once I got clearance at least. It took two trips to finally get the access pass. The first time I lost a full day, hanging around not for my pass but my camera’s passes…aahhh paperwork. Second visit was better and finally got to shoot my first frame at 10.33. I found the airport comfortably petit, but there’s a new bigger in the making of course.
I love my Canon kit but this time they gave me a scare. Few hours into the shoot I was reviewing my images on the LCD screen and noticed that the images looked really strange. Color was way off. Than suddenly the screen went white. Oops, auch. Shit. Couldn’t see anything anymore and still have a shooting list to complete. My backup camera was in the car but there was little time to run back and collect. There is little running if you have to go through five security gates… Pulled the battery out, replaced it with an other one, no success. Hoping it was only the LCD screen and not my camera that failed I decided to keep on shooting for a while. Only than I noticed how much I rely on LCD screen reviewing option. Shoot – review – adjust – shoot – review again – shoot – happy. Without the LCD screen it was like the old days, shoot and hope you got it right. To be on the safe side I bracketed the hell out of the images, used mixed exposures. Aperture or Shutter priority. After I guess and hour the LCD screen came up again, all back to normal. Was seriously relieved that all images were fine. Strange. My guess is that it’s been through the scanners to many times with the power accidentally left on. Better clues are welcome.
Lesson learned, don’t leave the back up body in the car. Just haul the extra weight with me all the time, no exception.
For now, I’m looking to share the final book artwork.
Got commissioned by JWT Dubai to shoot the content for the next Audi Driving Experience catalogue. No stranger to car photography or the Audi brand, I’ve been on their account for nearly five years now. This shoot was slightly different. It’s how Stephen Covey describes it in his 7 habits of highly effective people >> think with the end in mind. Know what you want to achieve and work towards these objectives. Simple.
I’ve been going back and forth to the agency discussing the creative brief for the new catalogue. 12 artistic sketches had to be turned into 12 great images. A sketch is the ideal scenario, the shooting location is reality and conditions on the day have the final saying. Finally it’s the skills of the photographer to maximize the result and manage the pool of people on site. A commercial shoot in short summary.
5am start with shot 1, making most out of sweet morning light. Moving on the shot 2 and so on. Paul a good friend who’s visiting Dubai came to the set to have a look. If only he knew that he would be driving the new R8 around the Autodrome…lucky bugger.
It was a real stretch pushing all the images through in one day but we managed, only just. Not sure how long it will take before final artwork is ready but would love to post it once ready.
Thanks for everyone involved for all their great effort.
Coming back to the 7 Habits thing and all shoots being different. I get the widest selection of creative briefs, stretching from an ad agency like JWT being very detailed to something complete different along the lines of ‘Just shoot some nice images’. Nice images….? There are 50 ways to shoot something nice, just want to make sure I match your ‘nice’. Both styles work, and the more defined the brief is the more difficult it is to match objectives. A more generalistic brief offers creative freedom but you need to make sure it’s what the client has in mind. It’s collaboration, probing and doing your homework. Every shoot is different. That is why it is called a profession.
Good reason for a big show; the Sultanate of Oman celebrates their 40th National Day and the 60th birthday of Sultan Qaboos. A great client of mine Avantgarde Brand Services has been working on this project for two years, putting on a show similar to the opening of the Olympic Games. Big, complex and massive. Central element of the show was 12,000 colorful local kids; dancing, running, singing, acting, tumbling –all under strict choreography.
I flew to Oman early Saturday morning ready for the show later that evening. Documenting their behind the scenes and the actual show. Had some difficulties clearing off the shooting permit on site, the usual blabla of higher ranked. Shame, so much time gets lost with bureau-crazy. Anyway, do you know how much noise twelve thousand kids can produce? It was quiet most morning until the school busses pitched up and volume levels rocketed. I had a slight concerned if photographing the girls would be a sensitive issue but there was no holding back for the boys or girls. Once in the ‘holding area’ (=covered area where kids had to wait) they all wanted to be on the photo, as in all and all at the same time. What an excited bunch! Some boys managed to get hold of second camera and started shooting themselves, didn’t notice at first but saw flashes being trigged and not by me…come back here chaps!
The 45 minute show was truly amazing and a mad rush to shoot. First time seeing the performance it was a wild game constantly referring back to my notes and detailed schedule. Up the stairs, across to the other side, down to the entrance, centre of stage, kids popping up from everywhere…
Found an elevated position to shoot the closing fireworks. I’ve seen a fair share of fireworks displays before but this blew everything. The stadium was shaking, crowd roaring and the sky lit in all colors. Short, sweet and mega. What a show!
Guys, it was a great task and what a brilliant delivery. Well done.
Oman is a fantastic driving destination, endless scenic roads snaking the country side, both tarmac and gravel. The Wahiba Sands offers a spectacular desert environment and the Hajar Mountains unbelievable landscapes. Simple, nothing beats shooting in Oman.
So when the opportunity came up to shoot the new Land Rover range in Oman, this editorial assignment was rapidly accepted. Bring it on! Loved all three days of it. It was intensive, long days, hours of driving, blessed with good weather and luxury bed at Desert Nights Camps in Wahiba. Pleased with the result and looking forward the see the publications coming off the press.
Thanks to Peter Gladstone and the team for driving cars hours at an end, kicking up sand when needed and not driving over me. Always a pleasure working together!
Spend two days side by side with European Tour’s rookie of the year, Matteo Manassero. Age17 and quote “certainly one of the brightest lights in the future of professional golf”. Certainly extreme talented, still ‘Kinder’ and will become a millionaire before he can even get his driving license. What a promising future.
I behaved better this year as I didn’t get kicked off the course because of ‘player disturbance’. Last year did some work for another client and had to be reminded not the take photo’s before the player hits the ball. Ta, nothing new, but I occasionally struggle to read the golfing moves. I love shooting golf, but at times I cannot share the fuss about this ‘delicacy of silence’. Staged pro shoots or amateur golf would be the way forward for me.
What I loved about the tournament was the skill these pro’s bring in; precision, precision, precision. Wishing Matteo best of luck with pro plans, hope to see your next with the trophy.
“Life is crazy short so my motto is simple. Pursue your passions, follow your dreams and embrace all that this life has to offer. This blog exists to tell the tales of my life as a creative producer, visual artist and intrepid adventurer dedicated to living by this motto. I hope it sticks. Cheers Wouter.”