BOCA CHICA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Photo Shoot Location
Text and images by Adrian Griffith
Located an easy ride from the capital, Santo Domingo, and popular with the locals, Boca Chica Beach is known for its beautiful bay and calm, pristine waters and multitude of bars and restaurants that line the beach. Of all the bar/restaurants, my favorite is the Playa Vista. Owned and run by Flemming and Peter, two European transplants, Playa Vista is a popular hangout for American expats and visitors alike. When I approached Flemming with the idea of using the property as a location and staging area for my swimsuit fashion shoot for the Lula Boutique, he immediately agreed. I had used the place previously but, with 6 models and several wardrobe changes, this was a much bigger shoot that required careful planning.
Six local models from Kalsia Pimentel’s Spot Group Agency were booked for this job. Kalsia did the styling and all wardrobe was supplied by the Lula Boutique. The first shot was planned for 7 am to take advantage of the early morning light. Photographers often rave about the golden hour, the hour or so after sunrise (and before sunset) when the sun is low in the sky. The light at that time of day takes on a warm, creamy directional quality that is ideally suited for most photographic subjects. But it wasn't to be. Transportation and other logistical delays thwarted our plans. By the time the models were finished with make-up and wardrobe it was close to midday. As opposed to the Northern Hemisphere, in the Caribbean the midday sun in August is directly overhead. We're talking about hard, top lighting with extremely harsh shadows. A photographer's worst nightmare.
For the first shot of the day Kalsia styled four of the models, Wendy, Patricia, Yamile and Laura in matching bikinis. The look we were going after was the classic 3 B's shot, beauty in bikini on beach. For the shot of Yamile (left) an incident meter reading of the ambient light yielded f16 at 1/125 (sunny 16 rule). The shadow reading was about 2 1/2 stops under. I could have exposed for the shadows but that would have caused the background and the highlights on Wendy's body to blow out. Expose for the highlights and the shadows would have been rendered black without detail.
My trusty Speedotron Explorer battery powered strobe to the rescue. This baby packs 1600 WS of pure portable power. I'd be lost without it. My assistant set up a 103 head bounced off a 45 inch white umbrella directed at the model. I set the camera at 1/250 f8.5. The faster shutter speed gave me some wiggle room to allow the models to move freely, while the additional 1/2 stop allowed Yamile's skin tone to over expose slightly for the classic beauty look I like.
I shot all four models individually, in pairs and as a group. For the shot of Wendy (right) and the fruit cart, a fruit vendor just happened to be passing by. Kalsia grabbed him and posed Wendy snacking on the fruit.
For the shot (above) of Yamile and Laura enjoying a drink at the bar, I directed both models not to pose but to joke around with each other and have fun. Some of my favorite shots are those where the models are not posing, but interacting with each other and unaware of the camera. Wendy (below left) and Rocio (below right) also project the mood of a fun day at a beach resort, the spirit of the assignment.
Who says when the sun goes down its time to stop shooting? The shot of Jennifer (below left) was done at 6:30 pm just as the sun dipped below the horizon. I am standing knee high in the water, the beach is to Jennifer's right (camera left) and the sun is directly behind me. Jennifer is in direct sunlight, no reflectors or modifiers, thus the warm tone on her body. After firing off a few frames of Jennifer, I quickly turned around and shot Patricia (below center) from the same vantage point. I metered for the background and my assistant set the Speedotron Explorer battery-powered strobe bounced off a large umbrella to match the f-stop, thus ensuring the correct exposure for both Patricia and the sunset sky. In the Caribbean the sun sets really fast. The last shot of this series of Laura in the yellow dress (below right) was done just after 7:00 p.m., practically nighttime.
THE FINAL SHOT
With the sun now completely set below the horizon, we headed back to the terrazza of the Playa Vista for one last shot, the shot below of Wendy and Rocio in the necklaces and beaded jewelry.
Spot Group/Lula Store
Kalsia Pimentel, Owner/Manager
Playa Vista Beach Bar
Avenida Abraham Nunez
Boca Chica, República Dominicana
Tel. (809) 276-6400 | Fax. (809) 276-6404
Adrian Griffith Photography
New York: 917.804.0860
Dom Rep: 829.805.3900