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.
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.
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.
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.