I shot at photo club shoots for many years. They were a good place to work on composition, but it is too easy to hang back and let someone else direct. There are many photographers to each model. When I got confident enough to try some of my own ideas, I discovered that the other photographers got in the way, and often would not take turns directing as they should. I also had this idea of a model posed on the bow of a boat, in the draft of the foresail, someone like a ships figurehead. So I decided it was time to work on my own and posted an ad for a model, and Selena contacted me. This is when I found there was more to photographing models than playing with the camera. First was how do you want my hair, makeup, and what to wear. We got all that worked out, I lined up the boat, and got some volunteers to crew it. My plan was to anchor in a cove in Palos Verdes where we would have enough shelter to work without a lot of of swells. We met Selena and her husband at the dock, loaded the gear and got underway. On the way out Selena pulled me aside and asked about the extra people on the boat. It seemed that she was nervous, a few years later she explained that it was actually her husband at the time that had an issue. I explained that I needed the people to help with the boat since a 30′ is a bit much to handle alone. She said that was fine, so we continued to the shooting location. On the way out, her husband got sea sick and went below deck. We told him that was not the best place to When we got there, things started to go wrong. The beach which normally was deserted had people all over. Thinking that I had a nervous model, and not wanting attention from the people on the beach I had to anchor further away from shore, which meant more waves. The plan was to anchor the boat, and for me to use an inflatable to get an angle across the bow. This needed to be done on anchor because I was the only one on board that knew how to sail, everyone else was taking instructions from me. We got the sails set to create the draft I wanted, and everything looked good, so we got Selena in makeup, and her first outfit, which was a green dress, slit down the front so it would be caught by the wind. While she was getting ready the boat suddenly swung out of positions and the sales came across the deck. something I couldn’t have happen with her on the bow since there is enough force on a sail to throw someone off the deck. I worked with the sails for a bit to get everything back where where I wanted, the boat would sit there a few minutes, then do the same thing again. By this time Selena is read, and sitting quietly, only partially dressed while we are fooling around with the boat. Eventually I realize plan A was not going to work. Plan B was to put two of the crew in the inflatable, and sail past them to get the shot. I explained what I needed and got them set. We then pulled up the anchor and got the sails up. I needed to start down wind then tack up wind. On the tack, someone let the jib go and the drag started pulling the bow towards the shore. Mean while the two in the inflatable started rowing out from the shore and got caught in the current. I couldn’t get them on the radio because they had dropped it in the saltwater in the bottom of the boat. While keeping an eye on them, I was trying get someone to haul in the jib. Someone finally got it under control when Selena’s husband ran up from below grabbed the line and ran his hand in to the winch. So much for plan B. Figuring that it was a safety issue at this point I dropped the sails and switched to the engine to go get the two in the inflatable.
Selena was sitting quietly watching us play keystone cops with the boat. I figured we were making a horrible impression on her, but needed to get everyone back on board. That also was a challenge. We pulled alongside threw them a mooring line and got the gear back on board. As soon as we tried to get the first of them on board, the inflatable was suddenly gone because she still had it in her hand instead of tying it off. I ended up grabbing her wrist put my toe on the helm and yelling for someone to help get her over the rail. We had to circle around, got everyone and everything back on board. It was getting to be late afternoon, the wind was getting up to 20 knots, 4 to 6 foot swell, and we still hadn’t shot a single frame. Time for plan C
We needed to start back for the San Pedro harbor, and I was still going to try to get something, so I put someone at the helm, showed him the wind gauge and told him to just hold the same angle. We finally started shooting the pictures in the boat series. She would put on an outfit, then we would shoot as she stripped it off in stages until finally nude. She would then go down the forward hatch to get her next outfit. On one of her trips below, the sails came across the deck and hit me. When I looked back the person I had left in charge was not there, someone else was there and shrugging. I later found out the other one was seasick and hanging over the rail. It took a moment to get the boat back under control and we started shooting again. One of the trips Selena was making below the boat lurched and threw her off balance towards the rail. Of course my first thought was to catch her. The second thought was where, as she was completely nude at the time. Of course I was going to do what was necessary, but it was a bit awkward since I generally try to be courteous. I caught her wrist so there was not too much embarrassment.We got some nice shots out of it, but not the one I was after. Still need to do that one someday
After we were done shooting and I was piloting the boat back in to the harbor, she started talking more. It turns out that she liked boats and was having a good time. I had been worried she would never work with me again, but she did for the forest shoot. On that one we did have a problem getting to the site that I had planned, but she came up with a better one. We made her husband motion sick again getting to it, and one of my lenses stripped a focusing gear, but not as many things went wrong as the first shoot.
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