“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.”
– Leonardo da Vinci
My name is Matt Adcock and I am lucky to have found my dream partner, Sol Tamargo. Together we run Del Sol Photography in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and we are always in search of “something else.” Since 2005, we’ve been using water and climate to create original, fun, and artistic wedding photography. I’d love the opportunity to share some of that with you and also wanted to thank Scott Kelby and Brad Moore for giving me the chance to do so.
For Sol and I, as I’m sure is the case with so many talented artists and artist teams, finding ways to stay fresh and creative, break out of routines, and chase that “something else” is a labour of love. It takes patience (which we don’t always have), it takes dedication (which is sometimes hard to muster), and it takes an ability to embrace the unknown to be ready to take advantage of it – which is so hard to see coming!
For Sol and I, we have a few areas that are the keystones of our efforts in our attempts to chase that “something else…”
Make Epic Photos About Them
If you allow yourself to daydream a little, it’s pretty magical where you can go with a creative mind. After listening to and understanding our clients’ expectations, we try to figure out the perfect shot for them. We brainstorm and sometimes even make sketches (when necessary) to see the frame. Our favorite clients are always dreaming and picturing “what if”… so it’s important that our imagination is in tune with theirs.
Imagine carrying 2 Underwater Housings (and all of the accoutrements) more than 500 miles from home with 3 packs (full of gear) by car, plane and boat to reach your destination. Imagine further, 5 more boats on the wedding day and a tiny strip of sand in the middle of nowhere – San Pedro, Belize. A solid example with one of our craziest executions making photos of ï¿½themï¿½ happened a when our studio received this inquiry:
“My fiance Lara and I are planning a wedding in Belize…. picture it… A white sand beach that crests just above the water not more than a few inches… no trees, no dirt… nothing but sand… water so clear it magnifies the ocean floor for miles around and skies so blue and perfect that the odd cloud only enhances every scene…”
Photo by Matt (more from this event here)
Equipment + Environment – Use it and Abuse it!
Ever look down a windy beach and see that mist that travels off the ocean with the wind? In Spanish, the word for this misty salty mash is “Bruma.” We are always surrounded by it – whether we like it or not!
During one session, I wanted to feature the “Bruma.” I knew a creatively used flash would add the dimension to the frame I was looking for. Basically we sculpted with light creating shadows with a little back lighting using a small speedlight at full power, full CTO Gel on my flash and my WB set to 10,000 kelvin.
While the toll is high… Imagine changing lenses or having anything with metal contacts in this environment, don’t even think about sensor gunk – it’s unbelievable. Tropical climate for sure means a reduced shelf life for electronics – but when you get an image like this, it’s all worth it. Our suggestion is to invest in sealed camera bodies and buy the professional lenses to increase usability if you plan on working tropical.
Inspire and be Inspired
The late Steve Jobs quoted Picasso: Good artists copy and even greater artists steal! The idea is that nothing is really original, everything we produce as artists is a reflection from something or someone that we were influenced by. While I think the word stealing is heavily laden with sometimes negative connotations – I love to be inspired, I love to give credit where credit is due, and I love to take ideas to new levels.
I would like to thank Tony Hoffer (again) for stopping me dead in my tracks and reminding me to take risks with weather. A few years ago, my bags were packed and I retreated when rain occurred. Seems like the intelligent thing to do right? Ever since that first time I laid eyes on Tony’s engagement image, I’m excited when mother natures throws me a curve-ball. Tony didn’t invent the rain, but he certainly had a thing or two to share and I think we’re all the better for it!
Did I steal this image? No, I don’t think so. Did I glean inspiration from Tonyï¿½s original creation? Absolutely, and I worked hard to push it further in a very different setting, and ï¿½was quick enough to recognize a great set of circumstances were aligning when I captured this moment (somewhat lucky too). The reflection / bounce on this all black umbrella caused this amazingly soft down light. I didn’t plan that :). Also, her toe kick and the little trickle of water being lit by the flash really gives an additional movement feature to this frame…
Personal Projects as a Lifeline to Creative Freedom
Trash the Dress (TTD) has become a real source of creative freedom for Sol and I as it started as a personal project. Although it’s hard to reinvent yourself each shoot, we find ways to trip the imagination and come up with ï¿½something else.ï¿½ The fun comes in the challenges we face, rugged locations, hikes, mosquitos, and almost anti-gravity underwater. The real kicker, these people aren’t models, and quite often they can’t swim! Its a bit cold as well, 62 degrees, so we really only have 30 -45 minutes of shooting time underwater. There are many risks, but the payoff is monumental.
Did I also mention that we find our way into caves to get this crystal clear water? They’re natural sink holes, called cenotes (se-no-tays), considered a sacred portal to the Mayan Underworld. The cenotes are part of the largest underground cave network in the world and exist only here in Mexico. Somehow we were able to merge daydreaming / fantasy photography and our brides into a business that is as far away from the “aisle” as possible. When was the last time a wedding photographer donned a wetsuit for anything wedding related?
I wanted to share a few TTD frames because this has been one of the most amazing things to happen to us. As you look through these TTD snaps, realize that we are always shooting for US and less worrying about client expectations.