Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Behind the Scenes: Standup Paddleboarding Photo Shoot on Bald Head Island

Millie gets wet trying for that perfect SUP shot.
   
This post is part of a series entitled Haven: Behind the Scenes, which delves deeper into some of our favorite stories from the recent issue of Haven magazine. 

After years of traveling to Bald Head Island, you would think I would have experienced it all.

Well, I haven’t.

And you might think with10 years+ of photography experience under my belt that there isn’t much more to learn in the industry.

There is.

When I was presented with a job for Bald Head Island’s magazine, Haven, on stand up paddleboarding (SUP), I jumped at the chance. My assignment? To capture the journey of two guys who were learning to paddleboard for the first time. I was excited.

I started laying out my ideas and concepts for the shoot and quickly realized that this was going to be a big undertaking. I couldn’t just show up with my regular gear and expect to get exactly what I wanted. I had to think outside the box, or better yet, think inside some underwater housing. There were certain shots I had already decided that I wanted, and to get them required getting in the water. Even before my assistants and I left for the shoot, we had to plan and prep: cameras, lenses, cards, computers, underwater Millie with the waterproof camera housing that allows her to shoot from pretty much any angle.ousing, drives, etc. Our plans were to spend 3 days on the island with one FULL day of shooting. Anyone who spotted us would have easily assumed that we were headed on a two week excursion. We are talking gear-galore!

The day of the shoot we started shortly after sunrise. We all walked down the dock to meet up with the SUP guides for the day where there was a boat waiting to take us wherever we wanted to go, as well as a couple of paddleboards for Jason and Rory (the subjects of this adventure). Now, I had ideas and visions in my head of what I wanted, but I quickly learned that getting those images was going to be more challenging than I originally thought.

First and foremost, the water was cold. The kind of cold that takes your breath away, and the kind of cold that makes your brain forget about everything else except the cold. Not to mention, we were in the marsh, and who knows what lurks in the thicket of the reeds. There was even one point where I thought to myself, “is this a favorite place for snakes and alligators?” The thought was quickly brushed aside when the brigade of paddle boarders slowly cruised towards my direction.

The entire day was spent outside in the sun and/or water. The job had its trying moments –  I had to brace my body against the waves, all while holding the underwater gear steady to grab shots of Jason and Rory. I had to be patient with the guys too. After all, they were new to the experience and falling off the board was inevitable. It’s not easy, directing a boat captain, fighting currents, and instructing two beginner paddle boarders, all while trying to get great shots.

I know it sounds like the job was all work. However, when you’re workinA standup paddleboard, Bald Head Creek. on Bald Head, the lines between work and play become hard to define. Not only did I get to step outside the routine of my job and experience something new, I had the chance to spend time with some great people. In the evening, we all washed away the salt and sand from the day, enjoyed a delicious meal together, and sat around to chat. And for dessert? A nice game of cards while listening to and sharing the music that spoke to us. All in all, not a bad way to spend the day.

I’ve been to Bald Head more times than I can count. And yes, I’ve photographed many different things over the years. But this experience was still a first for me. 

P.S. Rest in peace to the iPhone that was lost at sea during this assignment.

To read the SUP article in the online version of Haven, click here.