Sunday, July 12, 2009

The FTV shoot adventure at Koh Phagan Island




Life can’t get more exciting for a photographer than shooting top fashion models from around the world in Bikinis for Fashion TV at an exotic location like Koh Phagan Island in Thailand.  

Koh Phangan Island is known as Paradise Island in the Gulf of Thailand, next door to Koh Samui, of the south east cost of Thailand. It’s encircled by charming beaches, beautiful bays, and clear waters, with an abundance of coral reefs and marine life. Ten beautiful girls in FTV merchandise at a location like that and my promised ‘photographer’s clip’ to be aired on FTV worldwide seemed too good to be true.  

I almost thanked God for making me a photographer-to experience such beauties in life. After two days- for good two hours I didn’t care about the girls or the beauty of the place- all I wanted was to be back in my bed and put the adventure behind 
me while I struggled for personal safety on a light weight kayak ( a small plastic boat) tortured by maddening waves.  

Let me recount it for you- the fun and adventure of being an outdoor photographer! Visualize just the photographer n the model on a small rock formation in the middle of endless water. It does make a great shot for a video camera- but when you face 
fierce winds excited enough to blow 
you away into those swirling waves-you do end up thinking twice about defying them and wondering whether you did the right thing.  

When I went for location-hunting two days prior to the shoot, I loved the idea of shooting on the rock in the middle of nowhere. The water was calm enough and winds gentle. 
We decided to anchor the speed boat 100 meters away n then board a kayak to the rock- and do a series of pics. The morning of the shoot it rained and I had a vague idea what we were going to face as we took Santhiya -resort speedboat to the location. It seemed to be flying rather than speeding on the water surface. 

I chose my model for the shot. It had to be Marina- the long legged gorgeous runners up in Miss Bikini World –she was a trained swimmer as against me who just had a few dips in some pools years back. Somehow it didn’t seem too right, the water was very rough and it looked dangerous. FTV crew refused to take the kayak and it was left to me to decide whether I wanted to take my shot. 

Marina was excited for some inexplicable reason while looking at those daunting waves I wasn’t too sure.
"When they make you wear a life jacket and have you sign a paper before that, which states you alone are responsible for your life-it does make you think twice about what you are going to do."
 I wrapped my camera in some twenty plastic bags (as if that would have helped!) and with prayer on my lips reached the spot, with Marina following after a few minutes. The winds were wild to say the least. While Marina braved them, I got worried about her. I can’t play with someone else’s bones like that- I repeatedly warned her, eventually forcing her to lie down on the rocks and shoot. The weather was getting increasingly worse and I signaled the crew to send back the kayak to fetch us. 

Even as I watched from top of the rock, the lonely kayak rider struggling to keep it in balance- I knew he won’t be able to do it for long- and next moment a strong wave just lifted him and smashed into the side of the rock. My heart missed a beat. My camera instinctively took a shot of him bobbling in water, only his headgear showing, the upturned boat lying on the rock surface and the paddle nowhere to be seen.  
You can look at the pic and imagine the force of water just by looking at how far the boat has been thrown from the edge of the rock-at least fifteen feet!  

He managed to get it straight and beckoned us to board on. 'Sure, that looks easy and fun',I muttered and with dismay looked at the 25,000 $ Canon camera kit in my hand. Even if the life-vest kept me afloat, how was I going to protect the equipment, if it turned again? I sent the model first and decided to pray a bit to the sea. I sure am selfish- I chose to shoot on its heart without offering a prayer before and here I was with folded hands ! 

The kayak came back to fetch me. I looked at the guy in the eyes- he seemed to be smiling a bit. 'I think I am losing my mind- why the hell would he smile at such times'. I put my right foot forward and even before I stepped on to the plastic surface- another wave came picking up the kayak right before my eyes, smashing it again in to the sides of the rock. When the guy came out splattering water-he wasn’t smiling anymore. And I had not smiled in last many minutes.  

I wished at least FTV crew would be shooting all this- so I could claim my insurance money! Let the positive in you never die Talan- it’s just hundred odd meters- I gave myself a wry smile! The rider smiled back- ‘shut up, stop smiling and take me back’- I almost told him.  

I sat on the boat clutching onto my camera. To my dismay the winds took the kayak to another direction- away from the speed boat almost unbalancing me and the boat in the process. But somehow the guy managed to maneuver it around and after almost an eternity we reached safely the boat.  

It wasn’t too scary-I was fine except for the abnormally accelerated heart beats.I was more worried about my equipment. I think the spirit of adventure hits you mostly after you been through it.  

I loved the pics and so did everybody else. But then I asked myself yet again, " How far would I go to get a good shot ?" I actually got no clue ! 

After all, what's outdoor photography without a little adventure !

5 comments:

Preeti Bose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blue Athena said...

This sounds very exotic! Well-written too. :)

pravin talan said...

Thanks my friend ! It sure was fun !

vijay said...

well you inspired a lot..

can you suggest from where and how to start
"to be able to click good pics"

OLD JACKS said...

Hats off Sire..