Bikini Photo Shoot At Banks Battery, St Helena
What To Wear In 30 Degree Heat | Sharon Henry
Heavily laden with enough kit to equip a mobile photo studio, we march the dusty path, like many soldiers before us, in searing 30 degree heat. Trekking to the shoot, our destination is the historic Banks Battery fortifications near Rupert’s Valley.
Our mission; a bikini photo shoot with model Emma-Jay Constantine, framing her beauty and youth against the magnificent backdrop of the abandoned military lookout point and outlying pebble beach.
It takes 35 minutes steady hiking to reach the sea defence wall of Banks Battery, built from cut stone in the late 1600’s. Our backs are drenched with perspiration caused by our backpacks. Darrin’s camera bag weighs 11.5kg, full with the camera, two lenses, four strobes and enough AA batteries to send the Duracell bunny on a round-the-world sprint. I’m carrying two light stands that are awkward to grip, 3.75 litres of water, high heeled shoes, lip gloss and a host of miscellaneous items that might come in handy. Emma’s carting her modelling wardrobe; a variety of tiny bikinis.
We take a few minutes to cool down, watch the white surf frothing around the rocks and gaze toward the boats moored in James Bay across the way. But, we are eager to get started so whilst Darrin readies the strobes for the first set, which is mercifully under the cool shade of a stone archway structure, Emma changes into a white crochet bikini and slathers on sun lotion to give her skin an extra sheen.
I check her makeup for signs of ‘melting’ but Estee Lauder’s Double Wear hasn’t budged and Emma’s pretty face is immaculate. I applied her makeup two hours before and kept it natural using brown and grey tones for the eyes, brightened the cheeks with a touch of blush and used bronzer to enhance her natural glow.
The first location is amazing. Having worked together before, Emma eases confidently into model-mode. Darrin is shooting through the dark archway tunnel against a glaring sky and ocean backdrop. The four flash heads are mounted on a single light stand, firing directly at Emma to combat the sunlight. The outcome is stunning.
We relocate to the battlements above the archway overlooking the sea. Emma changes into an emerald green bikini and slips on gold strappy heels. I’m capturing behind-the-scenes shots with our Panasonic Lumix and trying not to laugh at Darrin who is contorting his body in an array of unnatural positions to work the angles. This set is all about using the natural hard sunlight. I particularly love the raw appeal and elongated lines of the ‘crawling’ shot. The pose however, is not kind on Emma’s hands and knees so we strategically position smooth stones to make it more comfortable.
A red tunic is added for the next ‘look’ and we use the patterned cobblestones and a bushy tuft of grass for the backdrop. As Emma moves through a repertoire of poses, I angle a reflector to reduce shadows on her face.
Bikini photo shoot at Banks Battery
Conscious of time and light we move to the beach where unfortunately the sea is a little too choppy. The original idea was to shoot in the surf on the pebbled beach, but the growl of hundreds of stones dragging in and out with the waves deters us. From experience on another shoot, this can cause painful bruising on the feet and ankles. Instead, we work as best we can on the beach itself and as the sun starts to dip Emma ‘rocks’ a green scarf and cut-off denim shorts she frayed the night before.
We are quite determined to get an ‘in-the-water’ shot. Darrin scouts the safety of a few rock pools in the area. We get the thumbs up and Emma tentatively wades in holding fast to Darrin’s hand. With inquisitive five finger (pilot) fish nibbling her toes (some people pay good money for this privilege) Emma slowly sinks into the water, although she is wary of breaking waves and jumps each time this happens. Between us we work the angles around the rock pool with camera and reflector and one eye on the swell.
The light and location is perfect but it’s a small window and closing fast. Darrin quickly immerses himself in the pool for close ups, mindful not to get the camera wet. This is the shot of the day.
We see the most startling, vivid sunset and Darrin is lucky enough to catch the green flash. Then we hastily pack our gear and scoot back along the coastal path, reaching the car in darkness.