Each year I set off on road trips in search of lost locations. Recently I have been to Morocco and now Portugal. When I find enough decent locations to shoot I return home and set about planning the perfect workshop. I love to share my vision and shooting experience with other like minded photographers. Here are my notes from the recce.
01. Spring had already sprung in Portugal by the middle of February. Clear blue skies and 23°C temperatures were very welcome. I will run my workshop in September this year, before the October rains and after the August heatwaves.
I always do my homework before a reconnaissance mission or ‘recce’ to save time on the ground. I scour Google Earth for likely locations looking for holes in roofs by zooming right in. I also look to see how well used any tracks are that lead to a property or if there is evidence of any recent activity on the site. I then transfer locations to a custom map that I have created and use street view to see the lie of the land nearby. Google Earth can be a year or two out of date so I make sure I have many locations to check out, just in case I draw a blank. Sometimes I get to site only to discover the building is being renovated or it is still in use to house farm machinery etc.
02. I had arranged to meet Lucía Acosta, a model from Seville at this fabulous location. I like to combine location recces with paid test shoots for potential models.
I usually pick up a hire car at the airport and go off in search of the pins on my custom Google map. This recce in Portugal took me over 700km in just one region but it was worth the effort. My findings were spectacular. I have occasionally come back from a recce without enough locations to make a workshop worthwhile.
03. Abandoned chapels and churches always look great in photographs but the trick is to find the ones that haven’t been spray painted with mindless tagging.
04. Some of the sites I visit are vast with many arches and alleyways. I rig my tripod and occasionally flash with modifiers and see what response the locals give me. Attitudes vary country to country but politeness and respect are usually key to success.
05. I loved the sunlight coming through the broken windows and open doors of this old church. The roof had been repaired with steel sheeting so it was perfectly safe to shoot within without the risk of falling tiles.
06. This is one of our key locations. Full of charm and picture opportunities. I took this shot with an iPhone 7+ along with all the pictures in this post that don’t have Lucía in. It’s a great tool for doing recces because every shot is geo tagged and when they are in Lightroom the map module shows exactly where they were taken to 2m accuracy.
07. I used a Scatterflash attachment on my Godox AD200 to break up the light for these shots in the abandoned church.
08. These portraits were lit with the Scatterflash on the AD200 too. The gold dress is one of mine that I brought from the UK. Sometimes the styling makes a big difference to a shoot.
09. This is where our fun will begin on the workshop. This house even has its own beach but the tide will be on its way out when we are visiting.
10. This classic house offers fabulous opportunities for striking portraiture with narrative or simply great design.
11. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be picture opportunities.
12. I’m pretty sure there is a fair bit of history to be researched about this location and I’ll share my findings with the group over a picnic lunch on site.
13. Other abandoned farm building litter the countryside. What is redundant for one farmer is a picture opportunity for sure. This farm will give us an hour or two of shooting on our way back to the hotel on day three.
14. I love colour and old boats. I checked out some fishing boats and came up trumps.
15. We will visit this area on the 20th September when the high tide corresponds with sunset. The devil is in the detail when it comes to planning. At the recce I was on site just about at low tide two hours before sunset hence the mud. This location will suit long exposure work and will look amazing whatever the weather.
Details of the forthcoming Scatterflash modifier are here and details of this workshop are here.