Being limited by my landlocked location, I bought 1,500 pounds of sand for a “beach” photo shoot, and got a single photo out of it

Jun 29, 2016

John Coates

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Being limited by my landlocked location, I bought 1,500 pounds of sand for a “beach” photo shoot, and got a single photo out of it

Jun 29, 2016

John Coates

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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beach_in_the_studio

I bought a stack of foreign Vogue magazines for inspiration, and inside of Vogue Italia I saw an amazing photo of Alessandra Ambrosio on a beach at night (the image at the bottom of this page). I tucked it away in a manila envelope labeled “Possible Shoots”.

For a year and a half, every time I would create a new mood board, I would see this gorgeous photo. Slowly over time an idea grew that I could manage to have a similar shoot, without having to leave my studio.

Living in the midwest USA, we have lakes, but there weren’t any nice beaches that would fit near me. So I went to Home Depot and I bought 300 pounds of sand bags. I poured them on my studio floor, and was shocked to see that they didn’t amount to much. Over several trips to Home Depot I ended up buying thirty of these 50-pound bags of sand.

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Doesn’t look like much, but I bought thirty 50 lb bags of sand from Home Depot for a total of 1,500 lbs that you see laying across the floor. I didn’t use my knees enough to lift the bags so I messed my back up pretty badly and couldn’t get out of bed the next day.

Spread across my studio’s floor it ended up being just barely enough for shooting. I then spent a solid week preparing for my shoot by having a stand-in help me test different lighting schemes, and trying out different techniques for taking a photo with a model and a fire going next to her at the same time.

Eventually the day came and while the studio quickly got filled with smoke from my little camp fire, causing us to stop and start several times, I ended up really happy with the single photo I got.

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A few months after the shoot I moved to the desert, and now sand isn’t far away, and I can shoot on massive sand dunes to my heart’s content. Although I’ll need to get my garden hose out if I want to shoot in the rain.

I now live in the desert!
I now live in the desert!

If you feel like you’re limited by your circumstances, maybe you need to reconsider. If anyone has any stories of how they didn’t let their circumstances limit their photography, I’d love to hear!

About the Author

John Coates is a fashion photographer based in Las Vegas, NV.  You can find out more about him and his work on his website, follow him on Facebook &  Instagram, or reach out to him through Twitter.  Also posted here, and used with permission.

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3 responses to “Being limited by my landlocked location, I bought 1,500 pounds of sand for a “beach” photo shoot, and got a single photo out of it”

  1. Vertex Avatar
    Vertex

    there is sand in that photo?

  2. Sean Avatar
    Sean

    And she’s not naked like in the photo she was using as her template. LOL. I think 10 bags and some photoshop cloning would have been cheaper and less work on the back. All in all, nice shot though.

  3. Brendan Baker Avatar
    Brendan Baker

    A lot of pointless work went into that. The final image shows that.