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It’s that time again – the beginning of the travel year in earnest.  I’ll be traveling to 4 countries in the next three months which requires some necessities for the road.  Tomorrow, I am heading to Baja with National Geographic Expeditions.  One of the most important things  to consider in the tropics is SPF protection.  After I complete my assignment in Mexico, I’ll be headed to our Maui headquarters.  Both places require sun protection but also a little bit of dress code.  Some of my favorite pieces have been with me for a long time, so it was time to find replacements.  I hope that this blog post helps all of the women photographers out there who might be in the same boat. :-)

The first thing I’d like to discuss briefly is skin care and a wee bit of make-up.  These are the items that I generally pack in my carry-on:

cosmetics for the camera bag

cosmetics for the camera bag

I’ve found the Neutrogena ultra-sheer SPF 55 sunscreen to be the best for my face.  It seems to adhere well, isn’t greasy and doesn’t burn my skin like so many other products I’ve tried over the years.  The absolute best sunscreen I recently discovered is the Susan Posnick brush on sunscreen.  It’s a full spectrum powder sunscreen, so you don’t have to worry about it being confiscated by TSA.  It also is very handy to carry around and apply often, particularly to the nose, and it works.  Once you buy the brush, you can buy refills as needed which saves money and packaging.  The tiny Vaseline  is the best for dry, chapped lips and although it doesn’t offer sun protection, it keeps my lips from getting too chapped by wax based products.  I prefer the cocoa butter version, but the regular does just fine.  For a quick dress-up look, BLINC mascara can’t be beat.  It washes off with warm water and doesn’t tend to flake, so you don’t have to carry any strange cosmetic cleaners to get the stuff off at the end of the day.  These mini-dental floss dispensers are about the size of a quarter and for those long haul flights, it’s a great way to keep dental hygiene on the up and up.

I’ve been buying and testing SPF clothing for several years and was disappointed when Patagonia discontinued their fly fishing tops for women.  The ones they’ve re-introduced this season aren’t nearly as tailored as the older models, but luckily, Kuhl has a top that is very similar to the old Patagonia model.  It’s tailored for a flattering fit and has two zipper pockets for whatever you want to keep on your person such as currency, identification, keys, etc.  It’s also SPF 50 and has roll-up sleeves with a blue lining.  I chose white because of the heat factor for my next few destinations.  I like to layer these over some kind of tank top to help wick moisture away from my body.  An REI tank top that breaths but is form fitting does the trick.  Not only does it add a little color to the outfit, it can double as a sports bra for those of us who are, ahem, not as endowed as others.  Hiking in the islands in the Sea of Cortez can be very hot, so I’ve found that a skirt is often more comfortable than pants if there aren’t many sticky things around, (hello, cactus).  Cargo skirts, which are my absolute favorite for hiking, are starting to go out of fashion, but Marmot has one available now.  This particular skirt is also SPF 50, but it sits just above the knees, so sunscreen or other coverage will be necessary.  The waist band is soft which is great because I’m often using a holster type camera bag and sometimes other materials it can chafe.

The last detail for the outfit is sun protection for the ears and neck, but can also be used as a headband or other head protection.  Buff makes a 50SPF gator.  It’s pictured below and not only adds a little color to the outfit, but keeps you from getting a red neck from either the sun or chafing camera straps.

Kuhl 50 spf top with side zippers and a tailored fit for women

Kuhl 50 spf top with side zippers and a tailored fit for women

An REI tank top to layer underneath really helps to wick sweat away from the torso

An REI tank top to layer underneath really helps to wick sweat away from the torso

Marmot's short cargo skirt keeps things cool while allowing you to zip in a driver's license, keys or passport

Marmot’s short cargo skirt keeps things cool while allowing you to zip in a driver’s license, keys or passport

Buff spf 50 gator for a versatile look - either around the neck or as a head band for sun protection

Buff spf 50 gator for a versatile look – either around the neck or as a head band for sun protection

Voila!  Cute and practical outfit for warm weather shooting.  Just add whatever leg-wear is appropriate

Voila! Cute and practical outfit for warm weather shooting. Just add whatever leg-wear is appropriate

Hasta pronto and a hui ho!  Thank you for visiting my blog.

I hope that you found the information helpful.  I am not sponsored in any way by any of these companies, so the opinions of this blog are solely my own.

When the phone rang, my assistant and I were on the road shooting a short piece for VIA magazine.  It was April 1, 2004 and the woman on the line identified herself as a photo editor from National Geographic Traveler and wanted to know if I would be available for a shoot.  Thinking this was a joke, I handed the phone to my assistant and asked her to take a message.  Well, it turned out to not be a joke at all.  Instead, it was the beginning of a now decade long relationship with a client that I treasure.  National Geographic Traveler has sent me to 5 continents, countless cities with assignments ranging from luxury hotels in the Caribbean to food in Sydney.  Earlier in 2004, I had received a very nice letter from the illustrations assistant but it was so similar to all the other letters that had piled up from magazines throughout the years of schlepping my portfolio around that I just added it to the pile.  Little did I know that that letter would end up being the beginning of a beautiful relationship with a magazine I had dreamed about being a photographer for since I was a child.

My first assignment was a one day shoot.  I was so nervous!   The story was about the Panama Hotel in Seattle.  It’s a tea shop and bed & breakfast located in the city’s historic International District.  I spent the whole day making pictures: from details of the tea to interiors with people, to the picture that ended up running, an exterior of the tea cafe at dusk.  Here’s the shot that ran – my first image published in National Geographic Traveler:

The historic Panama Hotel Bed and Breakfast in Seattle, WA

The historic Panama Hotel Bed and Breakfast in Seattle, WA

After I completed this assignment, the magazine requested that I do a shoot on Cortez Island, part of the Discovery islands in British Columbia, where there is a retreat center.  This was part of a larger story about Canada.  After I sent in the film from that shoot, the editors called and told me that they had decided to assign me to cover the rest of the story entitled, “Canada Coast-to-Coast.”  I covered four provinces in just under three weeks.  The story ran in the November/December issue of 2004.  Here is the opening spread of the 13 page story:

Canada Coast to Coast for National Geographic Traveler

Canada Coast to Coast for National Geographic Traveler

 

Since that first assignment, I’ve been working with them ever since.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful relationship with a magazine I’ve admired for so long.  Thank you National Geographic for all of the adventures!  I look forward to what the future holds.

 

A feature story for National Geographic Traveler about the historic missions of Central California as a road trip along Highway 101

A feature story for National Geographic Traveler about the historic missions of Central California as a road trip along Highway 101

Sometimes a road trip is just the ticket for a fun filled adventure.  That’s exactly what my assignment was when I got the call from National Geographic Traveler Magazine.  The magazine needed coverage of central California, specifically the missions, but also other things that tie into a road trip like wine tasting, food and a sense of the landscape.  I set off on the opposite direction that the writer mapped out.  My trip started just outside of LA and his started in San Francisco.  In this case, it was possible to follow the footsteps of the narrative in reverse.  Over the course of this assignment, I visited four missions: San Juan Bautista, San Miguel, San Antonio and La Purisima.  It was wonderful to roam the missions, attend services and learn about the history of this area.  I also had the privilege to stay at the Hacienda Lodge located on an Army Base at Fort Hunter Liggett.  I remember being exhausted when I arrived late at night, but because I had to enter an army facility, I was chosen for the “special” search of my vehicle on my way into the base.  This historic property was once owned by the Hearst Family and is just on the other side of the fence from Mission San Antonio.

To round out the story, I visited some amazing restaurants from the funky steakhouse, Jockos, to the really delicious Artisan in Paso Robles.  I also toured and photographed an amazing olive farm called Kiler Ridge and did a little bit of wine tasting at Foxen vineyards.  My personal highlight was visiting the Work Guest Ranch located in the hills just outside of San Miguel.  I love horses and take every opportunity I have to ride.  Although shooting while riding presents its own set of challenges, it’s supremely fun to ride around with the subject on the rolling hills of Central California at sunset.  There is so much beauty in the world and I feel extremely privileged to have these adventures.

The story is not online, so I’m posting it here.  If you would like to see more pictures from this story, you can find them online here.  Thank you for visiting!

Some of the places I visited for the assignment are featured on this spread

Some of the places I visited for the assignment are featured on this spread

Riding on horses with a mother/daughter ranch team in the hills at sunset

Riding on horses with a mother/daughter ranch team in the hills at sunset

Shooting on horseback at sunset.  I love my job!

Shooting on horseback at sunset. I love my job!

A story about award winning Ka'u Coffee being produced on the Big Island of Hawaii for Sunset Magazine

A story about award winning Ka’u Coffee being produced on the Big Island of Hawaii for Sunset Magazine

I love coffee.  It’s part of my daily, morning ritual, yet until I recently photographed a story entitled, “Big Island Buzz,” for Sunset Magazine, I had never known much about the process of truly hand-harvested coffee.  On the Big Island of Hawaii, in an area that is located on the flanks of Mauna Loa in the Ka’u district, you’ll find one of the best areas to grow coffee in the United States.  The upper elevations of the Ka’u district have the perfect climate for the coffee plants. Those conditions combined with a wonderful group of devoted coffee farmers have landed this remote location on the international coffee map in recent years.  I had previously only been familiar with Kona coffee, the famed Hawaiian coffee grown around the bend on the same island.  The Ka’u area still feels somewhat untouched with it’s beautiful ocean views and sparsely populated villages.  During my assignment, I met two farmers who methodically harvest the ripe “cherry” on land they work by hand.  Willie and Grace Tabios, who produce the award winning “Rising Sun” brand coffee, hand pick the ripe cherry, then dry and process it outdoors at their home in Ka’u.  Lorie Obra does the same, and along with her daughter Joan, produces another award winning coffee from the area called, “Rusty’s.”  Both of these family run coffee farms have won international coffee competitions over the last few years and their beans now command top dollar throughout the world.  There is a wonderful place to see the entire process first hand in the small town of Pahala called the Ka’u Coffee Mill. There, I was walked through the entire process, from picking and processing the raw “cherry” to the roasted bean.  They dry their beans by laying them out on a concrete slab outdoors. The mill processes both their own beans but also roasts for some of the locals.  This facility is open to the public for tours.  It was fascinating to see how the red, plump fruit was methodically turned into the warm cup of jo that I enjoy every morning.  Of course, you can’t have a cup of coffee without something nice and sweet as an accompaniment.  The Hana Hou restaurant, the southernmost restaurant in the US, offers a variety of delicious home-made pies along side a steaming hot cup of the local coffee.  Although the article is not available to read online, I’ve put a copy of the story here for your perusal.  If you would like to look at more photos of the story, you can see them on my stock photography site here.  Mahalo for visiting!

Harvesting ripe "cherry", Ka'u coffee sign, Will and Grace at their Pahala store, and coffee drying in the sun at the Ka'u Coffee Mill

Harvesting ripe “cherry;” Ka’u coffee sign along the side of the road; Will and Grace at their Pahala store; coffee drying in the sun at the Ka’u Coffee Mill

A coffee bus parked on the church lawn during the Wednesday farmers' market in Pahala where tourists and locals alike can enjoy the freshest coffee on the island

A coffee bus parked on the church lawn during the Wednesday farmers’ market in Pahala where tourists and locals alike can enjoy the freshest coffee on the island

Macadamia nut cream pie with a steaming cup of Ka'u coffee at the southernmost restaurant in the United States, Hana Hou, Laurie and Joan Obra hand harvesting their coffee at Cloud Rest on the flanks of the volcano Mauna Loa

Macadamia nut cream pie with a steaming cup of Ka’u coffee at the southernmost restaurant in the United States, Hana Hou; Laurie and Joan Obra hand harvesting their coffee at Cloud Rest on the flanks of the volcano Mauna Loa

Last October while I was based in Maui I got an unusual assignment: to photograph an Olympic Skier.  Since there’s not much snow in Hawaii, I was very curious about why an alpine skier would choose to train in a tropical climate.  US Weekly publishes a Collector’s Edition for the Olympics and Julia Mancuso was to be included.  You can find the special issue on the newsstands now.  Ms. Mancuso is the most decorated female American alpine skier so needless to say, I was eager to work with this legendary athlete.  After all, she is one to watch in the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics.  We met at her home on the windward side of the island and I was immediately impressed.  She was warm, welcoming and up for anything we suggested.  She was comfortable in front of the camera and we got a lot of good material as a result.  Seeing her with her father, Ciro, was also very sweet – a truly genuine moment of a proud father and loving daughter.  I’ll post more pictures on my stock photo site later, but here is the magazine spread and a couple of behind the scenes shots from our shoot on the island.  Mahalo and a hui ho!

The opener of Alpine Skier Julia Mancuso in US Weekly's Olympic Issue, on newsstands now

The opener of Alpine Skier Julia Mancuso in US Weekly’s Olympic Issue, on newsstands now

The second spread of Julia Mancuso, that includes the photo we made of her and her father stand-up paddleboarding

The second spread of Julia Mancuso, that includes the photo we made of her and her father stand-up paddle-boarding

Discussing how to work together safely on a busy road with Julia Mancuso

Discussing how to work together safely on a busy road with Julia Mancuso

Climbing down to the water for a rough entrance into the ocean

Climbing down to the water for a rough entrance into the ocean

The last photo shoot set-up of the day: Julia Mancuso and her father Ciro, heading out for a SUP session.  So great!

The last photo shoot set-up of the day: Julia Mancuso and her father Ciro, heading out for a SUP session. So great!

Aloha!  While I was on assignment last August in Honolulu for National Geographic Traveler Magazine, I was fortunate enough to have a few things that had to be photographed either from or in the water.  One of the images I thought would be interesting to make is the classic photo of the traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe rides with Diamond Head in the background.  This has been an iconic image of Waikiki since the early twentieth century as evidenced by a story that ran in the New York Tribune in 1908.  Honolulu has changed enormously since then, however the ocean and the waves, along with the geologic feature of Diamond Head, remain intact.  When I arrived on Oahu, I decided to head down to the beach and try to figure out a way to get in the water on a surfboard with a giant water housing and surf alongside the canoe.

How Did You Get That Shot?

Outrigger Canoe rides are one of many attractions for tourists on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, HI.  Waikiki is one of the only places where anyone can ride waves in traditional outrigger canoes.

Outrigger Canoe rides are one of many attractions for tourists on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, HI. Waikiki is one of the only places where anyone can ride waves in traditional outrigger canoes.

The locals are one of the most invaluable resources to a travel photographer.  We, the photographers and journalists, get our names placed in the magazine, but I’m of the opinion that we all owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the people who are open to sharing their knowledge and expertise with us, the interlopers.  Waikiki turned out to be no exception.  I surf – a little – but not nearly enough to be able to safely operate a surfboard and camera in the crowded line up at Waikiki.  When I got to Waikiki Beach, I stood in the middle of the crowd and hung around, watching to see who was the best stand-up paddle surfer.  One man stood out immediately.  He could easily navigate the crowds, he caught wave after wave and it was clear that he knew his way around the ocean.  When he came out of the water, I asked if he’d be interested in taking me out on his SUP so that I could make pictures.  Without hesitating, he said, “sure thing,” and the next thing I knew we were off for a test run.  I had brought my GoPro with me to take a few test shots and also to see what it would feel like to sit on the front of a surfboard while making pictures.  The test shots were a success, so we made an appointment to meet up the next day and arrange with the outrigger for us to follow them while they took out their last round of tourists towards the end of the day when the light would be good.  It was a fantastic experience to ride the waves and be able to concentrate on composition and lighting while the driving was taken over by the talented local beach boy, John Paul.  Here are two behind-the-scenes pictures to illustrate the crowds and how I had to ride on the front of the board shooting with a Canon 7D in an underwater housing as JP navigated us through the crowds.

Surfing through major crowds at Waikiki, I was grateful to have a very talented driver to negotiate the waves and the surfers.

I’m sitting on the front of the paddleboard, as JP navigates us along side the outrigger canoe, all the while trying not to get into a wreck!

Me and JP coming in at the end of our photo shoot with the outrigger canoe.  Aloha!!!

JP and I coming in at the end of our photo shoot with the outrigger canoe. Aloha!!!

Aloha!  Last August I was assigned to photograph a story about Honolulu written by movie star/travel writer Andrew McCarthy.  This was such a fun assignment because so much of what we covered was active.  We explored places in Honolulu that are interesting and yet mostly eclipsed by Waikiki and hard core tourism, yet are part of the daily life of people who live in this sizable metropolis.  What comes to mind when thinking about Honolulu?  For me, it’s the oceanWaikiki beach is famous for it’s surfing, sand and sunbathing so that was part of our focus.  I doubt that many people choose Oahu for its hiking options, but Andrew opens the story discussing a jungle hike with soaring views of the city fronting the impossibly blue ocean.  We hiked, and photographed, the Makiki Valley trail which at one of it’s highest points terminates at a beautiful viewpoint, one I visited last year when photographing one of National Geographic Traveler’sTravelers of the Year.”  It’s a great experience to do this hike and although the trail has a good deal of elevation gain thanks to its location in the Ko’olau Mountain Range, the payoff is heading back down to the ocean for a cooling dip.  The trail is lined with beautiful ficus trees, wild ginger and lots of other beautiful plants.  It’s also shaded, so even if you go during the heat of the day, it’s not uncomfortably hot, unlike in other tropical locations like Thailand or Panama.

There is a great area that is starting to be developed in downtown Honolulu in an industrial zone of the city called Kaka’ao.  Boutique shops, like Paiko, and concept restaurants such as Taste, have started to appear in this unexpected area of the city.  There’s a wonderful coffeeshop/bookstore/art gallery called R and D that was featuring an interesting interactive installation piece while we were there.  Once a month, Kaka’ao has a night market where street artists, musicians and all manner of performers demonstrate their skills along side food carts, a main stage with myriad performances, and a skate ramp where kids can demonstrate their off the lip moves out of the water.  It’s great fun and there’s not a tourist in sight.

Shooting in and on the water has been a new experience for me as of late, and I enjoyed having an assignment where I could put my newly developed skills to work.  I had two shots in mind that required a water housing for this story.  One was shooting the famed outrigger canoe of Waikiki while riding waves in the ocean just off the beach with Diamond Head in the background, a classic view that I thought might make an energetic and historically significant image.  Another was photographing George Kam, the aloha ambassador for Quicksilver, a surf and surf clothing company.  Both of these images required me to be in the water to varying degrees.  I work with a splash housing installed with a Canon 7D with an 18-22mm lens.  There are all sorts of limitations when shooting with this setup because there’s not a lot of access to the camera controls and once you’re in the water, (unless you have an escort boat, which I didn’t), you’ve got the setup that you are stuck with.

How did you get that shot?

I’d like to discuss the opener of the story, which you can see online here.

The opener for National Geographic Traveler's Aloha Honolulu Story

The opening picture for National Geographic Traveler’s Aloha Honolulu Story

The opening image is of George Kam sitting in the center seat of a 3 man outrigger canoe.  The canoe is piloted by none other than Dale Hope and the front man is George’s brother, Kent, all amazing water-men. It was thrilling just being along for the ride.  When we set sail we had perfectly calm conditions, so I brought not only my camera in its housing, I also took along a 5D Mark III with a 24-105mm lens, just in case we might be in a situation where it was going to be safe for an unprotected camera.  That camera was secured in a dry bag that I could clip to the outrigger so that even if we dumped, it would stay dry and attached.  We spotted some dolphins, so headed out to sea, the three paddling and me riding on the netting that is between the canoe and the outrigger.  We fished for a bit and had our bait stolen, so we gave up on that and headed to where we might find some waves.  That’s when things got interesting.  I photographed George paddling and timed the shutter so that it coincided with his paddle moves in order for his face to be visible.  Dale is visible in the back where he steers, as is a seldom seen view of the Diamond Head crater.  The sun was very bright, so the best shots were when all things aligned: George had good light emphasizing his face and the vibrant colors of the outrigger and his clothes, some dynamic movement with the classic paddling technique and a sense of place, courtesy of the Honolulu skyline.  I did end up getting totally drenched as we hit a wave and together threw all of our weight back so that we wouldn’t tip the canoe.  It was a blast and all of my gear stayed safe and sound, thanks to a little bit of planning. Here are a few behind the scenes shots, to get a feel of what it was like to work on this component of the assignment.  Aloha and mahalo for visiting my blog!

Meeting with Dale Hope to discuss what our options for shooting would be that morning.

Meeting with Dale Hope to discuss what our options for shooting would be that morning.

Photo courtesy of George Kam - a little down time while enjoying the ride.

Photo courtesy of George Kam – a little down time while enjoying the ride.

Kent Kam taking us down the front of a wave

Kent Kam taking us down the front of a wave

Totally stoked to have a fully waterproof water housing

Totally stoked to have a fully waterproof water housing

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