The Rotherham - California Scale
Within the last year we’ve had the good fortune to visit both the Caribbean and the Maldives. I shot a small test swimwear fashion editorial in each location. I mean - you would wouldn’t you. Given the choice between filling your swimwear portfolio with a blue tinged model on a misty Formby beach or some Insta-pretty island nearer the equator it’s not a difficult decision to make. Nobody is going to panic about half a dozen extra swimsuits in the 23Kg allowance. The only advantage Formby offers is being able to take more kit and a crew to share the misery with you. When push comes to shove I’ll take my chances with golden sand and turquoise waters over somebody to hold my reflector.
Having just returned from the Maldives one thing really struck me about the islands as a location choice. Granted, I was only there for a week, but there wasn’t a single golden hour. No golden mornings, no fiery orange evenings. The best light each day appeared between 11am and 2pm. The blinding white midday sun barreling straight down onto the shallow waters creates those amazing blue hues you lust over on somebody else’s instagram feed. But the mornings - and evenings - remain stubbornly muted, the vibrant colours just gradually fading in and out of saturation. In fact, the only real useable light the Maldives offers is clean, bright light bouncing off the white sands and shallow seas softening shadows and creating a huge natural soft box. The Caribbean was the opposite - yes, it had the same midday glare, but the mornings and evenings offered the classic warm Russell James tones. I don’t think any swimwear brand is going to come away disappointed with images from any tropical paradise - but all paradises are not equal, certainly when it comes to lighting options and the final feel of the images. And as fluffy and essentially pointless as this post might be, there is no resource for this kind of information. There’s no substitute for experience. Millions of YouTube tutorials on how to use an Ikea colander as a budget beauty dish, but nobody ranking light qualities around the world. Something like a Rotherham-California scale - where Rotherham is the least inspiring light known to man and California is lighting nirvana.
In the interests of research, I need to get to Thailand, Bali and Brazil to compare and contrast. I’ve already been to Rotherham. In my mind, the larger landmass and slightly more northerly latitude of Thailand might just be perfect - lush vegetation, beautiful beaches and…a golden hour? Details of my Just Giving account below.