And when I found myself going to Brazil on a surf vacation I realized I had the opportunity to make that dream come true.
Florianopolis, Brazil is famously known for having some of Brazil's most beautiful women. I have travelled to so many places all over the world and never seen a place so full of beautiful people.
It was January of 2008 that I headed to Florianopolis for a 3 week long surf vacation. Before this trip I had never shot professional photos of women or anything else for that matter. I was an avid amateur photography but living in Montana my prior subjects had always been nature, such things as grizzly bears or sunsets. Seeing the beautiful women of Florianopolis I had an idea of making a swimsuit calendar. January is summer time in Brazil and the beaches were hot and crowded with possible participants.
I found the first model, Fernanda, with the help of my good friend Hans Keeling of Nexus Surf. She was working at the beach renting out fresco paddles. Her job required her to work 6 to 7 days a week but as luck would have it she had a day off the following day. And she was interested in making photos. I picked her up the next day at 5 AM and we shot photos till 8:30 PM. She did all this for free. She just wanted to have copies of the photos for herself. So my project officially began!
The girls were enthusiastic about participating. And every girl worked for free. Here is a secret you need to remember if you ever visit Brazil: Brazilian girls love to have their photos taken!
I wound up shooting 10 girls during my first "vacation". I returned a couple of months later to shoot another 10 girls. So 20 girls total were shot for this project and 14 of those are found inside the pages of the first calendar.
Most of the girls had no prior professional modeling experience. Their backgrounds varied and included: bar manager, nail tech, dentist, psychologist, restaurant owner, video clerk, clothing store sales, grocery clerk, and of course modeling. I worked alone when shooting the photos. There was no crew to help with lighting reflectors or anything like that. The girls generally wore their own bikinis although sometimes I bought bikinis if I knew I could find a better one. These were later gifted to the models. Because I worked alone the models always did their own makeup/hair.
My camera gear consisted of a Canon 40D along with Canon lens and flash equipment. It was a pretty simple setup and the same you might buy yourself if you were into shooting amateur photography. Shoots generally lasted a few hours but sometimes were an all day affair. I always shot at the first light of the day or near sunset when lighting was best. Most of the girls requested I shoot them again after the first session. Some of the models I wound up shooting many times. They just liked more and more photos of themselves! Well I didn't mind shooting them so this was not a problem.
I have to say this is the funnest project I have ever been involved with. Before this project I was part of the dot com world and was pretty bored with my work. In coming to Brazil I found something that is fun and also that I had a talent for.
I hope you can help me by passing the word to your friends. If you ever have the chance to make one of your dreams come true go for it!