Everything started three years ago when the pandemic crisis was coming to an end. Back then I convinced a good friend of mine to come with me to a photography bootcamp in Dubai. She is a fellow photographer and we both enjoyed the experience fully. That time it was a maternity photo workshop organized by Ana Brandt.
We enjoyed it so much that the year after we decided to do something similar in Lanzarote. We organized a photo tour just for the two of us. At the time my creative project “The Maternity World Tour” didn’t exist yet so we went there just for fun. Once again, it was wonderful!
This became a tradition for my friend Sara Alarcón and I. Once a year, every year we did a photo trip, just for us two. But something changed this year.
We were at a photography conference in Málaga with hundreds of other photographers and I found myself sharing an idea for a new interesting service…A series of photography bootcamps at fabulous destinations, organized by me.
And the trip began
We travelled to Santorini on the 15th June, right on my birthday. We were all extremely excited. Our luggage was full of maternity gowns for the photo shots…As usual. I had booked the accommodation, I had researched the best locations…It’s all part of the “standard procedure” for me, as a destination photographer.
We had only arrived at our accommodation when we found out that the two models that I had secured for the photoshoots had ghosted us. This is not uncommon. I usually offer them an service barter: half a day of their work in exchange for professional photos for ther portfolio.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That is why it is important to have alternative plans prepared, just in case. These are all tricks of the trade that I’ll be sharing in my next photography bootcamp in the Canary Islands.
The ups and downs of my first photography bootcamp
We decided to momentarily put our frustrations behind us and enjoy our beautiful destination. This was certainly easy when you’re staying at the Flower and Craft House in Santorini. Whenever I am looking for accommodation for my trips one of my top priorities is finding a house or a hotel that is true to the area. I run away from tourist traps. The most authentic it is, the better. I really want to dive and merge into the destination’s culture. Comfort is, obviously, another key factor but authenticity is a must!
Well…This house certainly ticked all the boxes. The terrace was huge and soulful. It was dreamy. We could see the sunrise from it and it felt like we were in a classic movie from the 50s. There are no words to describe the magic of that space. The pictures don’t do it justice!
Everything came together when the owner’s daughter and her boyfriend came to welcome us. They brought fresh fruit and homemade pastries with them.
When we opened the door and saw Symelia and her boyfriend we smiled and nodded to each other because we knew that…We had found our model!
We explained to her that we were a group of photographers and, what a coincidence…She was a photography amateur herself. We explained everything to her but decided to leave the best for last…We told her that the trip was part of my creative project and that we needed a pregnant model. Since we were unable to find one we politely asked her to wear a fake belly for some of the pictures.
When she heard “pregnancy photography” she was suddenly nervous. “But we live in a village…What will the neighbours think?”. We completely understood her reservations and gave her some time.
She finally agreed to help us and we felt so happy and grateful! There is nothing like working with the locals. In fact, this is of paramount importance to me. It is the core of my project since my goal is to capture the real essence of the destination and the people who live there.
All is well when it ends well
So the day of the shoot we showed Mel all of the gowns whe had brought and we suggested some outfits. She wasn’t very keen on wearing makeup so we did a very simple and natural touch up.
I had a clear image in my head of the gowns I wanted to feature in every of the locations but the model didn’t feel comfortable in some of them. Therefore, I only picked those outfits that really felt like her. Otherwise it wouldn’t have been 100% authentic. And I believe that it’s important that the model feels at ease, that she feels “her”. Otherwise her true essence won’t show in the final pictures.
This is all part of my signature style and method, that you will be able to learn in the next photography bootcamp. It is not just about a pretty gown over a pretty landscape. It is so much more…
My next photography bootcamp…In Tenerife
I must confess that I would have preferred to have a real pregnant model for my Maternity World Tour photoshoot but this time, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t make it happen. Using the fake belly is completely acceptable for a photography workshop, in fact, it is better to use a non-pregnant model for most of the learning process than using a pregnant women all the time. I know this from my large experience with the Tour but also in the studio.
Pregnant women are usually reluctant to wake up before dawn for “sunrise photos” and it is not very safe to ask them to go to certain parts of the location, in case they fall. That is why I will hire professional models who are not pregnant for most of the workshop. That way, the photographers that attend my next photography bootcamp will be able to learn the technique, to make the most of every location and to get amazing outdoor images for their portfolio. Once they’ve mastered the technique, they’ll have the chance to shoot some maternity photographs with a pregnant model. But that will be the cherry on top. The final treat!
If you are a professional photographer who wants to learn more about pregnancy photography, about outdoor and destination photography, I encourage you to keep an eye for my next workshop. I will show you everything I’ve learned in my years as a photographer and also in my 8 years as an editor for National Geographic’s Traveller magazine.
And, of course, it won’t all be about work, work, work. We will enjoy a 360º experience where you will meet fellow photographers, you will rest, you will laugh, you will explore new places and cultures. An experience that you’ll probably want to repeat…Just like it happened for me and my friend…Look where it has taken us!
Watch out for my next photography bootcamp that will take place in Tenerife in January 2024. More information coming soon!