While the wedding season in the Philippines ramp down every end of March, that is when travel season normally starts. These last few months have been very amazing but grueling at the same time because of the punishing travel schedule we’ve had. Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel as much as I love to shoot, and what I really don’t have is the luxury of time to accept all the proposals to shoot abroad. The real killer in these situation is the time it takes to pack, get to the airport, wait at the airport, wait for take-off and landing, and get to the hotel from the airport – all consumes a good eight hours each way – eight hours of mostly downtime. It is the reality and this is why I carefully choose the trips I take. I make sure that it is not only worth my time but worth every centavo of the couple that will take me.
Last May, I went to Taiwan to shoot the pre-wedding of Barbara and Anthony. Not only was the travel season and the weather heating-up by then – the tension from resulting from a shooting incident between the Philippines and Taiwan was getting worrisome as well. It got a bit alarming when the Taiwan embassy in the Philippines started to put all visa processing on hold which as a result, none of my assistants were able to go with me. That had an impact because we only have one night to spend in Taiwan and I would need all the help I could get. So let’s see: a trip that’s very cramped, with no assistants, and with a threat of hostility from the locals there – something that is hard to look forward to. But you know what, I was still excited. I thought that it couldn’t be all that bad – as long as I prepare for the shoot and we do everything as planned we should be ok.
Things didn’t turn out as planned. Rain drenched the morning we would start our shoot and we got stuck shooting in a temple. Also, the hike up elephant peak which was said to be 15mins long was probably said by a triathlete as it took more than double that for normal and less fit human beings like me – easily the hardest thing I had to do to get a shot that I want.
It’s easy to say that this trip could easily have been a disaster, but despite all the troubles, there were several encouraging silver linings that mitigated all of them. For one, a kind soul answered my inquiry in Facebook for an assistant – Roel turned out to be really valuable because being based in Taiwan, gave a lot more help that I expected. Second, an former orgmate of mine had been to Taiwan recently and made all the necessary research – Dana shared these info with me plus all the beautiful photos they took. Lastly, I couldn’t thank Barbara and Anthony enough. What we did in this shoot is really one of the most difficult ever. There were times that I was looking to give-up on certain pegs already (something that I never do) but seeing both of them as determined as I was or even more, kept me going and we were able to do shots that have never been done before. Hiking up that impossible trail and climbing those slippery rocks were truly back-breaking – to do those and then still look amazing, that is beyond me. All the problems made this trip one of the most difficult, but all the great things that helped turn it around made this trip one the most fulfilling as well.
As I again prepare for yet another trip, I think I’m beginning to learn more and more in making the most of the annoying downtimes – I was able to write this whole piece from the trip from my house to the airport. Then later, I will have more than enough time to post it online while waiting to board the plane.
Enjoy the photos, you haven’t seen a Taiwan engagement session like this before :)