Thailand 2017

Written by Manuel Faessler
Hi folks,
It is about time for another little travelblog here on this page ... 😉 This journey wasn’t really a photography-journey like the ones before (Scotland, Canada, ...) but a “Shootingevent” in Thailand, organised by Sacha Leyendecker (Website). Those shootingevents are more or less well prepared and and organised model-sharings, with the advantage of a very good coach nearby if you need help or guidance ...
With this blog I want to write generally about the travelling and all stuff “around” the actual event, as well as a little bit more specific about the event itself. Doing that I want to share some outtakes and making-ofs, just for the fun of it ... and to illustrate it a little bit ... the actual pics might take a while since I’ve only started to post process them.
Some of you who know me might ask how I choose Thailand, as my “usual” travel-destinations are more northern ones like Scotland or Canada. The main reason for that is the second (private) part of this journey which led us (my wife travelled with me) from Thailand to China where we visited some good friends. As we already planned to travel that far, Sachas shootingevent was a great option and a good reason to take my camera along ... without such a reason you wouldn’t take all the hussle ...
As I always have my camera-equipment in my carry-on luggage (I don’t want it thrown around by some unmotivated airport personell or even “get lost”), the packing was a challenge on its own. I don’t care about the weight-limits anymore, as I don’t have any chance to be under 7kg anyway ... (I’ll write a separate blog about what I’ve packed for this journey) ... but getting all the equipment into a carry-on-sized backpack isn’t easy ... in the end I maded it, and the bag weighed about 15kg ... but it was a successful start ... 😉
The check-in in Munich wasn’t that successful, as I basically had to unpack and repack all over again while going to security ... they wanted to check every camera and every lens along with all the other stuff like my laptop, cabels, data-storrage, batteries, ... but knowing it would be that way, we planned in enough time for that and had some time left to drink a beer before boarding the 6h-flight to Abu Dhabi (with Etihad). Arriving there a little bit late, we had to cross the whole terminal and pass security once more (I’ll never get it, why this is necessary) ... and when we’ve arrived at our gate there where just 30min left from a planned 3h stay before we had to board again for the second 6h-leg to Phuket. On this flight I even managed to sleep (I almost cannot believe it – I can sleep anywhere, no matter how ... but not on a plane) about 1,5h ... maybe a couple of beers might have helped with that ... Arriving in Phuket we first had to pass immigration which took us more than an hour and where then picked up by a chauffeur (thanks for organising that Jens!). After about a 1h-ride (luckily air-conditioned) we arrived in our hotel in Khao Lak where we were hit by the climate head on ... at about 10 pm the temperature was still way above 30°C and the humidity was beyond the scale ... in about 2min I was a sweaty mess ... 😉
As the shootingevent was starting the next day (sorry for the tight schedule Ines!) we checked in (room with pool access, yeah!!) and went straight to the beach-bar where Sacha and the other guys where waiting for us. We discussed the following days (starting the next day at 7am, yeah!), drank a couple of beers with the chaps and then left for our room ... after being awake for about 35h and all the travelling I was asleep in a matter of minues, despite the time-difference of 6h.
This was my first “shootingevent” with Sacha (but I’ve attended a couple of workshops held by him), so I want to start with his own description of the event (“stolen” from his website):
From sunday till saturday we will shoot on four days and have one day for relaxing. Each workshop day we will work in two units. Compared to traditional workshops each photographer will have much more time for individual work with the models. In very small groups of two participants and one model each photographer will have enough time to work his own ideas. During the event I'll be around for questions, help, suggestions and reviews. Also I will coach you in the genres of lightning, composition, work with model and picture mood.
This event in Thailand was planned to take 4 full shooting-days with one day for relaxing in between (which was really necessary for me). I wanted to use this event to build up and improve my portfolio, which is why I’ve prepared some good ideas (as the basic setting was known to us in advance – beach, swimsuit, lifestyle). This was more or less unnecessary, as we had really great Models (Miri - Facebook, Mara - Facebook, Sophia - Facebook, und Ploy - Facebook) who made working with them so creative and spontaneous, no preparation was needed. Checking my ideas after the event, I realized I’ve done most of my ideas anyway, without even trying ... that’s the way it should be ... 😉 Sacha was always there, in case anyone would need his assistance and of course checked our pics and criticized them ... which is great for me, as more often then not he sees some small things I’ve missed ... and I can adjust my shooting after that.
To start the first day we took a go-fast boat to the surin-islands which took us about 2h. When we arrived there, we split up into 2-man teams (I was “partnered” with Jens -Facebook – which worked perfectly) with a model and started to shoot. After about 3 hours we made a lunch-break with superb thai-food and drove to another little island not far away. There we switched models and shot for another 3 hours. Driving back to the mainland was a little bit rough, as the weather took a turn for the worse as it got windy and started raining ... this meant some ugly waves as well, which caused some faces to look a little bit green for a while ... 😉
Somehow we all made it back in one piece and after a refreshing in the hotel (did I mention we had pool access yet? – there is no way to get rid of the sand any faster ...) we drove for the “city” and had dinner in a nice restaurant with superb food Jens recommended ... and of course they head some Singa-beers (nothing special, but not bad eighter). So we ended the evening with lots of laughter and some tech talk as well.
The other shooting days worked out more or less after the same schedule ... we started at about 9am and headed for a location which Sacha had scouted for us in advance (perfect preparation) where we photographed all morning. Most days we had lunch somewhere near the shooting locations in some small kitchens with great food (you can call me a Thai-food fan by now). Once and again the lunch-break was long enough for us photographers to enjoy a massage (which where offered nearly everywhere), the ladies did so nearly every day ... 😉 and after that, we started the “afternoon leg” of photography with a different model.
This program made it possible for every 2-man-group to work with each model for 2 half days ... more than enough time to get used to the model and work on many different ideas or just use some possibilities which the model or the surroundings offered (which was, what Jens and I mainly did). We almost always finished early and used the rest of the time to drink a beer and chat with the model.
The biggest challenge for me during the shooting was to not kill the camera ... all in all my Canon 5D IV was under water 9 times (now and then a wave was just too fast ... and my footing wasn’t always the best as well) ... not even talking about spray and sand (you can see some of that in the outtakes) ... it really surprised me, what the camera and lenses where able to take and still work perfectly ... after every “accident” I dried it off and just continued shooting. Of course, I’ve cleaned it every evening with fresh water, but that never is 100% ... and the next day, the “torture” continued. My dealer wasn’t so pleased when I brought my camera and lenses for a “check and clean” with a creeking focus ring and full of sand and dried salt water ... but as far as I’ve heard, it is OK ... 😉
One of the biggest surprises during the event was the light in Thailand ... it isn’t easier or more difficult than here in Europe, but completely different. Especially at the beach where the light sand makes for a perfect reflector you can shoot angles you wouldn’t thought were possible. This along with the changing weather-conditions guaranteed that we really had all possible lighting conditions ... and even a short rain during our lunchbreak made for a perfect opportunity. Thanks to a quick reaction by Miri who saw me checking the light, jumped up from her meal and posed for me during that rain got me maybe the best shots from the whole event (as far as I can tell it from sorting out the pics).
All in all it was a really great event where I got to know a couple of great people, talk shopped a lot, laughed even more, shot more than 11.000 pictures (which wait to be sorted and post-processed) and of course had a great time besides photography as well. I really can recommend those events for everyone as long as independent and free working with a model isn’t a problem for you ... which means a little experience with people-shooting is mandatory and very helpful ... 😉
There isn’t much more left to say, I just want to use this opportunity to thank all those who made this shooting-event a great time for me ... first of all Sacha and Monika for the great organisation, the make-up and your critique ... Jens for the support of that and the first-hand knowledge as an “almost-local” and the perfect teamwork we had ... and of course the models and the other participants as well as the companions who travelled with the participants ... especially my wife ... you cannot take it for granted that a wife comes along for such a journey ... THANK YOU!!
On the last evening we could experience the “Loy Krathong” festival thanks to Jens (and even sent our own banana-boat on its journey) and had do say farewell after dinner and a couple of beers ... as we had to leave the next morning. The second part took us to Hong Kong or more precise to Shenzhen where we visited some good friends who live there ... and the relaxing part of the vacation started for me as well (as great as photography is, it is not relaxing ... 😉 ) ... and we got another week before we had to face the drop in temperature from more than 30°C to not much above freezing ... you should have seen the faces of the people at Munich airport when they saw me walking around in shorts ... 😉
That’s it from me ... if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to aske ... either here as comment, or via e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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