Industrial, Corporate and Landscape photography in Turkana Country, Kenya

Turkana tribes people with animals Kenya

Turkana tribes people Kenya

It’s 5.30 am in Nairobi and time to go. It’s still dark outside, but in a short while the car will come and pick me up and take me to Wilson Airport for the first flight out to Kapese in the Turkana region of Northern Kenya. I’m excited. I am on a great assignment, a corporate and industrial shoot for an oil company that is also going to allow me to discover the region and get up close to the local communities. As well as photographing the oil rigs, I will be shooting portraits, landscapes and local people. Aerials are also needed so a flyover has to be arranged.

helicopter take off in Turkana

helicopter taking off from Kapese airport, Turkana

On arrival at Wilson airport there is a hub of activity. Dawn is beginning to break and I take out a camera and start taking pictures of all the rig workers checking in. The plane eventually takes off and as we fly over the Rift Valley I try to imagine what it must have been like all those millions of years ago when man took his first steps. On the approach to Kapese, looking out of the window, I see that the terrain is semi arid desert scrub.

Landscape of turkana huts and local women

Huts and women in Turkana Kenya

There are mountains in the distance and on closer inspection there are groups of circular huts dotted around. Many Turkana are nomadic herdsmen who move from place to place.

The days go by quickly. There is so much to photograph.

Oil rig in Turkana Kenya

Oil rig in Turkana, Kenya

The camps, the rigs, the workers, people from the local communities who work with and for the oil companies. There are the Corporate Social Responsibility programmes that help the local communities. It is boiling hot and the alight in the middle of the day ferocious. I’m shooting a local company preparing the terrain for a new rig, sweat pouring off their faces. The earth is red, they are in blue and it’s a terrific shot. We visit the schools and the numerous water wells that the company has set up to help the nomadic tribes living in these harsh conditions.

Whilst driving around on bumpy unmade roads, herdsmen with their goats and camels cross our path. Amidst the scrub are extraordinary formations of anthills. We come across groups of women carrying plastic water containers.   I’m constantly shouting ‘stop!’, as I see so many photo opportunities. The people are beautiful.

Turkana girl with oil rig behind

Turkana girl with oil rig behind

They shave their heads apart from the centre, which is often plaited, and wear wonderful colourful beads around their necks. As we stop the children rush out to meet us. Some of the adults are happy to be photographed and others not at all. I talk to them, show them my camera, the pictures I’ve taken and explain why I’m here and doing this. Most of the drivers are Turkana, and are happy to help with translating and eventual persuasion if needed!

Time is almost up, I’ve taken thousands of photos, downloaded them on various hard drives at least twice to make sure that the pictures are safe. I’ve made several friends and feel I would like to stay longer and get more pictures. Back home the work isn’t finished, a hefty job of post-production begins which plunges me back into those dazzling desert days, a world away from the bustling city I live in.

 

A Photography Holiday in Jamaica part 1

View of Crow Mountains and Rio Grande Jamaica

View over Crow Mountains and Rio Grande Jamaica

What do James Bond and Bob Marley have in common? Jamaica! I’ve been wanting to go for years and finally decided to book a flight, pack a camera, hire a car and discover this much publicised island in the sun. Not a photography tour with the alarm beeping at 5.30 but a laid back wonderful journey of discovery.  For a photographer this is easier said than done!

We picked up a car in Kingston and drove through part of the Blue Mountains to the East coast which was stunning, with luscious tropical vegetation. We stayed in Port Antonio for a few days, overlooking the Crow Mountains and the Rio Grande, at the Rio Vista Resort, which offered a view to die for.  I took loads of pictures of it and yes, I did get up at 5.30! There were loads of gorgeous sandy coves with crystal clear water and the famous Blue Lagoon.

frenchmans cove beach jamaica

Frenchmans Cove beach, Jamaica

I am a fan of those old Bond movies so we decided to continue our pursuit of Ian Fleming’s Jamaica. On our first night in Kingston we stayed at the Liguanea Club which was one of the locations used in Dr. No and where Sean Connery was a guest. So, with reggae blaring out, we left Port Antonio and stopped in Oracabessa to take a swim at the James Bond beach near where Ian Fleming’s old house Goldeneye is now a luxury hotel.

The next port of call was Ocho Rios. A slight disappointment as like most of the north coast, all the luxury hotels have bagged the best beaches making access almost impossible. However, our airbnb at Sandcastles allowed us private access to the beach over the road, which was very picturesque. Our main aim was to visit the touristy Dunn’s Falls first thing in the morning the minute it opened. It is the most visited spot in all of Jamaica and another famous movie location.

Wedding photo at Dunns Falls Jamaica

Wedding in Dunns Falls Jamaica

We enjoyed half an hour’s solitude before the hoards arrived. I don’t usually do touristy things but it is extremely beautiful and fun to walk through the falls. They look really slippery but they’re not.

Leaving Ocho Rios the whole north coast is peppered with sandy beaches and coves, all the way to Montego Bay. The real shame is that the coastline is spoilt by huge holiday resorts that appropriate huge stretches of beach or a whole bay. We managed to get into one of them on the pretext of meeting people for lunch there . The entire beach was covered in sun loungers and tourists and although the water was marvellously transparent, and the reef right there in wading distance it was absolutely thick with people so we left immediately.  That is not what I look for when I go away.

Our next main stop was the old colonial town of Falmouth.

Street scene with colonial building Falmouth Jamaica

Street scene, Falmouth Jamaica

It was Sunday and the town crowded with locals walking around and shopping. I thought this a terrific opportunity to take some street photos, particularly as buildings are really pretty. Jamaican’s aren’t too keen on cameras, even the little Fuji I had with me. I had a couple of conversations with them to explain that although I had loads of fabulous photos of beaches and scenery I wanted to take some photos of every day life in a pretty Jamaican town. Somewhat reluctantly they understood and I was at least able to convey the atmosphere and finally obtain some street photography.

a street scene in Falmouth, jamaica

Street scene jamaica

We arrived in Montego Bay in the evening. At first sight it was nothing like I imagined it to be. The hip strip as its called is a road between the beach, which is backed by buildings and hotels so you can’t see it and another massive block of hotels and restaurants on the other side. Be vary wary of where you stay if you intend to sleep at all whilst there. There are a few beaches that are walking distance, the best by far being the justly famous Doctors Cave Beach. From there you can get a glimpse of what it must have been like in that bygone glamorous era of art deco, luxurious houses, hotels and casinos. The old buildings are mostly still there, converted, deserted and overshadowed by the modern.   The best thing to do is to lie on the comfortable pristine beach, put on a pair of flippers, mask and tuba and swim out to the reef which is right there, unspoilt, with pretty coral and an array of multi coloured fish. From the beach, you see the planes from all over the world coming in to land every few minutes bringing visitors of whom many never venture much beyond their reserved hotel. What a shame.

Doctors cave beach jamaica evening

Doctors cave beach jamaica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Industrial Photographer? Photographers Rights are Shot!

oil rig, aerial oil rig, landscape, lake turkana.

Oil Rig lost in the landscape near Lake Turkana

As a professional corporate photographer the most effective way of obtaining new clients is to constantly update my portfolio with stunning new images and video clips. These can then be sent out to my agent and potential clients by email for her to promote. This is easier said than done, for a number of reasons that many aspiring photographers may not realise.

aerial, clearing land, road through the desert,

Preparing a future camp in Mozambique

There is the job of choosing which new pictures you think will make someone want to hire you as oppose to someone else. It might not necessarily be the shot that took 4 hours to take against all odds, or the one that your client raves about.  I do a lot of industrial and oil and gas photography but never know what to show, so I usually end up narrowing it down and asking a couple of other visually minded pro’s their opinion.

For most industrial, landscape and lifestyle  I especially ask Melody, my agent http://www.melodygeorge.com whose judgement I trust.   However I digress, as this is not my point.

The main issue is copyright and the right to publish your own work. I work mostly for large international corporations and my contracts with them are often 30 pages long. Written into every single one of them are paragraphs about copyright, sometimes very artfully worded but inevitably denying the photographer the right to publish any pictures appertaining to the brief of the photo shoot.

oil and gas worker, worker on rig, safety harness on rig,

Man in safety harness high on a rig in Africa.

As far as the client is concerned, I am working for them, they pay me and all my expenses, so therefore the work is theirs. As a photographer I will argue that I made that picture the way it is, therefore, although they have all rights to use it as per the contract, the actual image belongs to me! I have had many long discussions over copyright with agents, other photographers and lawyers on both sides. It is a sticky issue that is becoming rapidly in favour of the client.

oil rigs, oil pipes, oil and gas photography,

Oil pipes

I understand their reasons, particularly in oil and gas photography, which is a controversial topic anyway. There is a big market in stock photography and some of it comes from assignments paid for by companies for their self-promotion and they do not want to see it misrepresented elsewhere. Publishing images of people without model releases is a dangerous way to go anyway. All main agencies such as Getty ask for all images to be rights free.

In view of the above, the best I have negotiated is to be allowed to use my images to promote myself. This means publishing them on my website, in blogs and sending out some recent images to prospective clients as copyrighted images. I hear you say, ‘that is not so bad’, except that I have to ask them first and I have had a lot of  ‘we would rather you didn’t show that!’

Personally, I have always protected my clients and never irresponsibly sold my images. A couple of years ago I was contacted by someone who saw one of my oil and gas images in my portfolio and asked me if her company could buy it for use in an external marketing campaign. Although it was tempting I had to refuse. I told her why and she congratulated me on my integrity. ‘You are exactly the sort of person we would like working for us’, she said. I’m still waiting!

 

Preparing upcoming Photography Tours and Workshops to Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Sicily in late 2017/18

Photography Tour to Myanmar

Monks playing football in Myanmar

Myanmar, Sicily and Sri Lanka are going to be my focus for upcoming Photography Tours and Workshops.  They are all places that I know really well, are unbelievably photogenic and just spectacular.  I have been to all of them very recently, the latest Myanmar trip was a great success and the next one will be even better!  Sri Lanka and Sicily are new venues and I have pages of notes, tons of photos,  already written blogs on them and am now going back into action! It is a lot of work!  I am a photographer not a tour operator, but I love organizing things, in fact I may have missed my vocation of becoming an events planner… on second thoughts, nah, becoming a photographer is the best and only choice I could ever have made!

First of all, I list all the places I would like to take my photographer travelers to, which may not necessarily be exactly the same ones as the last trip there. I then work out the best route and the best way to get to each place. I love experiencing local transport, especially traveling by train in both Myanmar and Sri Lanka. There are terrific photographs to take both from the train, the platform, and life in the train itself. It is not realistic or particularly fun to take them for hours on end so I plan them carefully. In Myanmar for example we will take 2 local train journeys but on most legs of the journey we will fly, giving us more time in those spectacular places that I have chosen. A journey on a local bus can be fun too but it all has to be organized and worked out. In Sri Lanka we will have a minivan and driver but will still do a couple of train journeys.

We photographers like good light wherever possible.  Certain places really should be seen at sunrise and sunset so wherever it is feasible that option is available. Myanmar offers some exceptional dawn and dusk photography. If someone wants to sleep in, that’s fine, we’ll come back and get you! In Sri Lanka, the sites don’t open until 7.00 am which is one hour after sunrise. Having said that, a good vantage point can usually be found. It is however impossible just to visit places during those few hours of good light. In Sicily and Sri Lanka those perpetual blue skies are not guaranteed either, but still offer terrific photography. Images with umbrellas, misty mornings and colorful clothes all add depth to the portfolio of photos that you will take.

In Asia I work with local travel agents who arrange the transport, provide local guides who are primed on what we are looking for, they will book our tickets and hotels, which we choose very carefully together. I believe in responsible travel, trying to give something back to the local communities where possible. I favor comfortable air-conditioned hotels with all amenities but usually locally owned and not too far from the sites we have come to see. I do not exclude a night in a ‘home stay or monastery, for the experience. In Sicily there are some superb bed and breakfasts that I often favor over hotels. Many telephone conversations and e mails later, things crossed out and others added they will be ready for publication on www.annasphototraveltours.com.

The difference between a regular tour or going on your own and a photography tour or workshop is that in addition to visiting the best places at the best times in a small group of similar minded people, you can learn endless tips on how to take better pictures and make them look how you want them to.   I am available the whole time to coach, help, talk and encourage you.  There will be some work to do, but the whole idea is that it is totally enjoyable whilst being instructive and constructive.  This tour can be a complete learning experience whilst traveling or can just be a fun and easy way to obtain better pictures than you could ever imagine.

What you need to know about becoming an Oil and Gas Photographer

Offshore oil rig

offshore oil rig

Photographing both offshore and onshore oil rigs and gas installations is exciting, dramatic and hugely photogenic. People often ask me how I got into it. For me it began for me almost 15 years ago when my then photography agency Blackstar, found me an assignment for a small exploratory oil company called Triton that had discovered oil in Equatorial Guinea.

From that first helicopter ride as the rig appeared I was hooked. The speck in the ocean became this massive metal construction, full of cranes and pipes with the derrick towering up, looking like a giant Meccano set, full of bright colours. I immediately knew that there were going to be some terrific pictures to take and this was not going to be a one off photo shoot of this kind.  I have to admit that although I was already an established photographer with several industrial corporations to my name it had never occurred to me to specialise in oil and gas photography. Most oil and gas photographers work in other fields too, and like me, are already working in industrial, corporate, advertising and landscape photography first.

oil and gas photography

Miud on the drill floor

It is a major decision to decide to do this type of work as anyone working offshore is required to hold a number of special certificates such a BOSIET with HUET training. This is not for everybody. It involves being strapped into a makeshift helicopter, dumped into the water upside down and having to escape by unstrapping yourself and knocking out the window beside you. You have to learn to save others and use inflatable lifeboats and there is more too, such as fire fighting and general first aid. The course is expensive and the first one lasts 3 days with renewals every 4 years that can be done in one day.

oil and gas photography

Washing down the drill floor

For that first oil photography assignment I didn’t have a BOSIET and one wasn’t asked of me, it was later when I was contacted by another large company that this certificate reared its ugly head but since there was no other way, I complied, and now keep it up to date.  A special medical certificate for offshore work is also required as well as a medical and liability insurance, so becoming an oil and gas photographer requires a special consideration.

Safety is a major issue for oil companies. Everybody visiting a rig for the first time has to watch a safety video and some companies make you complete a test questionnaire to ensure that you have understood the main safety issues. Permits to work are also required, as are hot permits and these can take some time as several people from different departments have to sign them. A gas detection device has to be carried and no flash or strobe lighting of any kind can by used. Any additional lighting needed must be continuous, LED being probably the best for various reasons.

To take great pictures you do need access but due to safety issues you may not be able to stand exactly where you think you would get the best shot, particularly on the drill floor, so you have to look around.  It is a good idea to read up about oil exploration and familiarize yourself with the terminology and vocabulary that you’ll hear. This is all available online.  Once I get onboard I always ask what work is going on and when.

I always arrive with a long list of required shots and however long you stay time onboard is rarely long enough.

oil and gas photography

Offloading Tanker showing the hoses

On one of the rigs I was on at the end of last year, it took a whole day to obtain all the permits needed to shoot video and stills. Admittedly a drone was used for a part of the assignment so this was a consideration. Many of the most dramatic shots are taken from the air, especially when the door is open and you are sitting on the floor. Although there is two way radio contact with the pilot, some are more compliable than others and I have been blown away by some of the angles I have been able to achieve thanks to a good pilot saying, ‘OK, lets give it a try but be quick!’

To sum it all up, oil and gas photography ticks all the boxes with me. Stunning landscapes ands seascapes, dramatic, graphic industrial images, interesting and diverse portraits and people working, with a multi-national workforce with faces from all over the globe. An assignment overseas will often also include photographing some corporate responsibility projects in rural towns and villages, enabling making photographs of local populations and discovering another aspect of both the corporation who sent you and the country you are in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a Photography Tour to Sri Lanka with me

photography tour to sri lanka

Anuradhapura

It is winter and time to start dreaming of the summer, where to go and what kind of a vacation to choose. Why not something different like a photography tour in Sri Lanka? Europe is a popular option for the summer but so crowded, and if you are interested in photography you will be confronted with loads of tourists trying to take the same happy snaps which will make it very difficult to take some original pictures without unwanted people in them.

Sri Lanka is a great option for several reasons. Firstly, it is a stunning island offering a diversity that is rare. It’s history and mixture of different religions and ethnicities mean that there are monuments and relics of extraordinary beauty and diversity. There are rolling hills covered in tea plantations, national parks and mountains covered with extraordinary fauna and wildlife. Whilst it rains in one part of Sri Lanka, the sun shines on the other.

Photography tour to sri lanka

Stupa at Polonnaruwa

For a photographer the scope is endless. I already wrote 3 blogs on my last trip there, last March. I meant to organise this workshop earlier but I never got round to it. For a keen landscape photographer you will be hard put to find so many different landscape and seascape possibilities in one small country. Those landscapes can be taken alone or peppered with local people, monks, fisherman, school children, tea pickers etc.   Dawn and dusk are stupendous, and the mountains in August make for misty scenes with leaves weighed down by rain, which can make for superb photographs in strong contrast to the rest of the country.

The Sri Lankan people are charming and friendly so those more interested in street photography and portraits will find it easy to capture the local population, after asking them first of course. What I found so interesting was that everywhere I went I found that the majority of tourists were from India and Sri Lanka, enchanted like us with all they saw and eager to be photographed.

Photography tour to sri lanka

Street in Galle.

I am working on the itinerary for the Photography Tour now. For comfort and ease of photography we will travel across the country by air-conditioned minivan with an experienced driver. We will visit the ancient sites of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Dambulla. We will visit the National Park of Minneriya to photograph the elephants. We will go to Kandy, then up in the hills to the tea plantations and visit Nuwara Eliya. From there we will take a fantastic train ride through the mountains to Ella before continuing our journey south by minivan to  Yala National Park and the beautiful picturesque town of Galle. From Galle we will make our way back to Colombo by train, allowing for more incredible photographs before terminating the tour in Colombo.

I will be giving photo instruction throughout and each participant will have a particular project to work on. The itinerary will be quite intense as the idea is for us to be in the right place at the right time for the light as often as possible, but I do realise that it is a holiday so it will be fun and there will be time to relax and unwind.  We will also stay in comfortable hotels.

For years due to the civil war that tore the country apart, tourists ceased to visit Sri Lanka, but now it is blossoming again and is still unspoilt enough to enjoy. Take a few days before or after the photography tour and lie on a deserted beach, take another safari or visit other places not on the agenda such as Jaffna in the north.   It is an enchanting island and a spectacular destination for the photographer.

Anyone who may be interested in this upcoming tour can contact me immediately on info@annasphototraveltours.com and I will be happy to discuss this with you.