We are cleaning and reorganizing our archives this month and I came across these BTS images and some unpublished editorial photography from a shoot we did in Fiji with Anthony & Sage Robbins.
Being in this business is not without it perks and benes…there is a reason why unrealistic stereotypes associated with being a photographer exist…thats because every once in a while the fantasy is true . In late 2008 Mark Perlstein, the photo editor at Success Magazine called and asked if I was available to fly to Fiji to shoot the Robbins for a cover story …I didn’t have to check my schedule to answer. The Robbins’ invited Jane and I to stay in one of the honeymoon bures at Namale, the resort they own and operate on their property on Vanau Levu. During that week, Tony was also holding a seminar on the property and our actual time shooting was going to be limited to a scant 90 minutes of face time with them split over three different days. In addition, we expected to have only a couple of hours notice of when these shooting windows would take place.
The shot list included a cover of Tony, a couple of double trucks for the inside spread and a family portrait of Tony and Sage.
It was a ambitious shot list under these circumstances. While the location options were all ideal, the weather was unpredictable..sunny one moment, overcast the next. In addition, our “crew” was a rotating group of resort staff that were generously made available to us as needed. They actually did a pretty terrific job.
This might sound like a dream shoot…and make no mistake, it was…but at the same time, I was there on assignment with unscheduled shooting windows, a overly ambitious shot list, untrained crew and unpredictable weather conditions.
The trick of shooting in these conditions is to keep it simple, flexbile and mobile. We moved with a couple of heads on stands and a few sun swatters.
Basically, the battle plan was to back light and fill, work in open or closed shade or simply scrim the sun off the subjects when back lighting wasn’t a good option. The time we got to spend with Tony was punctuated with a couple of quiet moments shared during a driving tour he gave us around the island which included a trip to the Oneness University which he founded. Experiencing his dynamic personality and passion for the love of this island, its people and the little bit of paradise he has carved out of the lava flow Namale rests on is the best memory I took away from this gig. This guy has got some stories on him.
It was pretty crazy but in the end, we got our shots and only lost 2 strobes and one battery to the waters of the South Pacific.
I will post some more recreational images from our time in Fiji on my personal facebook page I also found from this trip soon. We attended a local carnival in Savusavu one night which included a Islamic wedding and reception celebration that was open to the public (thousands were there) that was a bright spot on this trip. I also had a assignment in Fiji in 1986 for World Vision. I shot the great great grandson of the last Fijan tribal chief to invite a missionary over to dinner without telling him that he was also the main course. At that time I was traveling as a bohemian photo journalist, carrying bags of ektachrome and plus x in lead lined bags, sleeping in hammocks and picking ticks off from riding donkeys through the interior jungles. I think I like the assignments that include room service a little more.
This set-up was tricky. The blow hole was spectacular but unpredictable not only in its timing but also its intensity. Every so often it could reach out well beyond the 25′ we were from it. We used a single 1600 Alien Bee powered by a Vagabond battery to fill while the sun back lit the water. The day before this shoot I met a some newlyweds on the reef that were happy to stand in for us while we tested and prepped for this set-up. We lost one of the strobe units here when one of the water spouts drenched the unit our assistant was holding.