Eight years after we first met, and three years after our last photo shoot, I finally got to photograph Laura at the beach! It’s basically all I’ve ever wanted in life. Hotels are great, but there’s a certain freedom to being outside and also forced to think on your feet with ever-changing lighting conditions.
The delightfully coarse Angelina, who I photographed the day before this, did Laura’s makeup, helped with styling, was an expert at holding reflectors for me, and shot a ton of behind the scenes content (see the Tik Tok below for BTS footage).
At the time we did this photo shoot (summer 2021), Laura had been training so hard for a fitness competition and doing things with her body that I didn’t know humans were capable of. These photos happened when Laura was only half way to her competition date — she was super hangry. And guess what? She won. (Because of course she did.) See Laura’s Instagram for more about her fitness journey and competition life. I’m so proud of her!
With this being my one millionth trip to the east coast, I was looking for new locations I hadn’t shot at before. Although Parlee Beach was close by, it didn’t appeal to me, so we made the longer trek to Bouctouche Beach / Bouctouche Dunes (officially “Irving Eco-centre, la Dune de Bouctouche” according to Google). Arriving just one hour before sunset, we didn’t have much time, but we pulled off seven different looks! The first and last shots of the day were exactly 62 minutes apart, which is an impressive pace even for me.
Venturing that far away from Moncton also provided the opportunity for me to learn where Chez Leo was, and get the best fried clams of my life the next day.
Here’s how our hour went (can’t see the video? Tap here to watch it on Tik Tok):
Follow me on Tik Tok for more content like this in the future. Don’t like Tik Tok? You’re in luck, as I’ll explain everything about the shoot below.
This pale blue Zaful bikini was the first outfit of the day. Even though it was officially “golden hour”, the sun was actually pretty harsh so we couldn’t quite use direct sun yet. Thus I set up the Godox AD300 Pro [check price on Amazon], which is the best compact little on-location light I’ve ever used (see the BTS video above for how I used it). The sun acted as our rim light, lighting Laura from behind, and the Godox filled in her front, which otherwise would have been in deep shadow.
Same bikini, different colour? Sure. Sunny lemon yellow bikinis [Zaful] always looks good on tanned skin. I eliminated the Godox light for this look and we moved thigh-height into the ocean. Angelina put her reflector-holding skills to good use, using the gold side to get as much of the warm sun on to Laura as possible.
Laura wasn’t the biggest fan of these drawstring crocheted pants [Zaful], but they worked out pretty well. This look was shot with 100% pure sun — no lights, no reflectors. Laura did an admirable job of not squinting.
The sun was setting fast now, and the tree line behind the beach ensured we’d be losing light much quicker than if we had a clear horizon. Due to the tree line and the slope of the beach, much of the beach was already in shadow at this point. But I found a tiny beam of light that was still hitting the sand here, and placed Laura in it. This blue bikini with a bit of underboob was something I saw Laura posing in on her Instagram previously, so I made sure she brought it along for this shoot.
Angie was itching to use the reflector again, so we did:
At this point, in between outfit changes, the sun was completely gone behind the tree line (with one minor exception below). This is the best part of the day, though, when warm indirect light is all around you. Time to jump fully into the ocean! We paired these grey Zaful bikini bottoms with a top from H&M (from last season, but pretty similar to this one), and positioned Laura near some big rocks. That’s one of the things I prefer about ocean photography over lake photography — big rocks! Lake Ontario doesn’t really have random boulders jutting out of it.
Although we thought the sun was gone, I spotted a sliver peeking through the trees and we grabbed a couple quick shots. The sunbeam was so small, it wasn’t even big enough to light up all of Laura — you can see how it falls off into shadow on her thighs.
This single outfit was pretty versatile, as we pulled off a third look with it. Laura got into napping position on the edge of the water line and we snapped a few serene shots. I had switched to my favourite prime lens at this point, which is the Nikkor Z 85mm ƒ/1.8 S, and used the angled LCD screen to compose (instead of the viewfinder) so I could get as low as possible.
If you’ve been here before, you know I love a sweater on the beach. This sweater, headscarf, and Lounge underwear look had a bit of a casual/boho feel to it. You can see a subtle highlight on Laura, from the remaining golden hour light in the background.
Lastly, we used one more Zaful bikini from my collection, this time a ribbed string bikini, for the final shots in the water with the final dregs of sunset. Laura busted out her classic “lean over on to something” pose she learned during her very first photo shoot, and it’s one I still love.
It was also at this point that Laura noticed that most of the photos we had taken were of the “tattoo side” of her body, so we made sure to take a bunch on the opposite side for these remaining images.
How did we do on our third photo shoot together? Let us know in the comments below.