Best of the Maldives: Flying Dress Photoshoot – Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi

Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi - dress shoot 1

In the Instagram era, photoshoots have become a choreographed art form in themselves. Some memes, like the “Flying Dress” not only require a keen aperture, but also sophisticated setup and probably more dress than one typically want to pack in a suitcase (never mind the chore of ironing it all out). But Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi has introduce the Flying Dress experience to make this elaborate portrait both easy and dramatic:

  • “Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi announces the debut of its unforgettable ‘Flying Dress’ photoshoot experience in collaboration with Santorini Dress. Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi will be the first and only destination in the Maldives to offer this one-of-a-kind exclusive guest experience. The experience will start with guests selecting their picture-perfect dress to capture the unforgettable moment. With 10 colours to choose from, the all-fit, custom-made flying dresses are designed to flatter guests of all ages, shapes and sizes. Imagine the delicate toss of a flying dress, the warm wind catching your hair at sunset, and the split-second moments where it all comes together.”

Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi - dress shoot 2

Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi - dress shoot 3

Best of the Maldives: Surf Photographer – Nautilus

Rad Raws! Surf photographer Erick Proost will capture your bitch’ carves at Nautilus resort during a 3 month residency there. The property is also host to its very own Vodi surf break which is especially accessible.

Erick will also conduct mermaid photoshoots (which other resorts feature) which includes swimming lessons in the pool learning how to use the monofin as well as posing tips.

Best of the Maldives: Mermaid Photography – Palm Beach

Palm Beach - mermaid classes

Little Mermaid Day today celebrating the release of Disney’s “Little Mermaid” film in 1989. If you want to release your inner mermaid under da sea (sort of a reverse Ariel if you know what I mean, the Palm Beach is offering an aquatic photoshoot by one of the premier photographers of this style.

· “Imagine building a portfolio of one-of-a-kind underwater portraits in the serene, private setting of a Maldivian Atoll. A place where you’re photographing skilled underwater models against the backdrop of pristine coral reefs and large marine mammals while also funding local ocean conservation efforts…. Now you don’t have to just dream it; you can experience it. Professional underwater photographer Chiara Salomoni leads a once-in-a-lifetime 6 day, 5 night all-inclusive masterclass at the Palm Beach Island Resort in the Maldives on Lhaviyani Atoll, Nov 12th-17th, 2018. This customized workshop enables scuba-divers and photographers alike to gain technical mastery in every aspect of underwater portraiture, working in a variety of settings from pool to open-water shallows and even deep ocean scenes with marine mammals. Expert underwater models Christine Ren and Syrena, Singapore’s premier mermaid performer, will pose as the subjects and provide training on how to work safely with both non-models and models in the water. But the best part is 10% of the trip’s proceeds are reinvested locally into marine conservation projects. Travel somewhere beautiful, learn amazing new skills, and save the ocean – what’s not to love?”

That’s why is hotter, Under the water!

Coral King Tapestries

Caterina Fattori - anenome

A of rich and royal hue,
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold
   – Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’

Dive into the Laccadive Sea and you will be confronted with a living spectacle of vibrant colours and images. It’s tempting just to chase one exciting sight after another. But some of the most biggest displays are to be found in the smallest things. After you see your first Nudibranch, you will be slowing your swimming right down hoping to spot more of these alien slugs. Yesterday’s up close and personal interview with Outrigger Konotta marine biologist Caterina Fattori first stemmed from my admiration of her photographic up close and personal exposés of the coral critters literally make up all of the Maldives islands. To celebrate World Ocean’s Day today, I am featuring my top ten intimate polyp portraits from her stunning Instagram feed

  1. Mushroom Coral
    Caterina Fattori - mushroom coral
  2. Diploastrea
    Caterina Fattori - Diploastrea
  3. Octocorallia
    Caterina Fattori - octocorallia
  4. Maze Coral
    Caterina Fattori - maze coral
  5. Sarcophyton
    Caterina Fattori - Sarcophyton
  6. Daisy Coral
    Caterina Fattori - daisy coral
  7. Crinoid
    Caterina Fattori - crinoid
  8. Platygyra
    Caterina Fattori - Platygyra
  9. Bubble Coral
    Caterina Fattori - bubble coral
  10. Pachyseris
    Caterina Fattori - Pachyseris

Best of the Maldives: Logo Shot – W Retreat

W Retreat - underwater W

On our tours, we always take a shot in front of the resort welcome sign. We are not alone as this is definitely one of the top photo types one sees posted online.

The literally iconic “W” of the iconic W Retreat is not only probably the most popular logo shot in the Maldives (at least judging by Instagram posts – see bottom photo for example), but the resort generously lends a hand. The minute you step on the jetty, they take the shot for you and by the time you have checked-in and made it to your room, a framed photo of your arrival is waiting for you at the room (see ours below).

As with so many touches, the W takes this feature a step further…or should we say deeper. They have submerged a “W” in their lagoon for underwater photos. Not quite the underwater sculpture garden I “haven’t seen yet”, but along the same lines.

W would win world water witness with wonderful water wrinkle we want.

W Retreat - logo shot

Kiki Sunshine (Russia) – W Retreat

6 Tips for Maldives Fashion Pics

Photography in the Maldives

World Photography Day today.

A perfect day for the Maldives Complete recipe for the perfect pix, at least from a fashion shoot side. This piece is not about general photography or even just shooting in the Maldives. I’m not covering tips on some of the most popular subjects in that paradise like…

  • Underwater Photography (but make sure you have a good light and red filter for deeper shots)
  • Seascape Photography (but get yourself a polarising lens filter to bring up some of the underwater)
  • Sunset Photography (an art in itself with hordes of guests mobbing the west side of the resort island every evening)

This post is just tips for fashion shooting based on the extensive research into the Maldives Complete Fashion Base. As Insta-mania and the popularity of the Maldives as a photoshoot destination continues to grow, the bar for top shots is set even higher. When I select showcase shots, it is always about the photo itself. I do give points for profile prominence (because people do get enchanted with celebrity), but the first question I ask is “how good of a photo is it?” I find myself scrutinizing what makes one photo better than another. Same winsome models, same alluring backdrop, and yet often dramatically different quality and impact.

Here are the Maldives Complete top tips for fashion shooting in paradise…

1. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting – This is photography 101 really. First of all, avoid backlighting (see below). Either through posing the subject or through use of flash and aperture. For best results, do your shooting when the sun is low in the sky (early morning or sunset). It imparts a whole different hue on your subjects that makes them glow and fills out their features. When you have overhead sun, too often the features (eg. face) are spoiled by shadows. Most professionals do almost of their shooting in a frenzy of early morning and late afternoon.
Maldives Photography lighting

2. Take off the sunglasses – You might think sunglasses provide a “cool” look, but really they make you look detached. They are cliché and the dark spots in the middle of the bright, colourful picture doesn’t work aesthetically. They take away all the personality. They turn the subject into something cartoonish like Little Orphan Annie. Yes, the bright sunlight can hurt the eyes and make the subject want to squint.  First, see “Lighting” point above as the softer crepuscular light alleviates this issue.  Also, simply give the subject a countdown so they open there eyes just when you are ready to snap.  And on the subject of black eyewear, for the underwater shots, don’t choose the black mask. Choose something more colourful. Or for the truly pro shot, a mask that matches the swimsuit.
Maldives Photography sunglasses

3. Choose your sky – The backdrop is the whole reason you are shooting in the Maldives. And the ocean-counterpoint of the sky is a huge portion of your picture. In a place like the Maldives, blue skies complement the azure sea for a dazzling background. Some bright white cloud highlights are fine, but too often people do shots with grey skies in the background. Wait for the skies to clear or position the shot in a direction with fewer or brighter clouds.
Maldives Photography sky

4. Fill the frame with the person – Yes, the Maldives backdrop is unique and enchanting, but don’t forget that the human being is nearly always the most important part of the shot. Maybe your focus is the background and the person in the shot is just meant to be a small touch, but most people are more interested in the person than the backdrop. Yes, if you fill the frame with the person, one will see less background square inches, but actually you will still get plenty of a feel for the background. Most people who fall into this trap, I think, are simply trying to have their cake and eat it too. They want a shot of their subject, but they can bring themselves to cut out any part of the gorgeous background. That’s where the editorial discretion and artistic input comes in – deciding which part of the background to feature as the best complement to your foreground subject.
Maldives Photography framing

5. Twist the body – Armography. Nothing more boring than a straight body standing or lying there. Get the body into an interesting shape. Do something.  The shape gives the photo visual interest and even a sense of movement.
Maldives Photography standing

6. Enough with the Selfies – Can I have a quiet word, please? Selfies are photographically ridiculous. Maybe if you are with a friend and no one is around and you want a quick snap to capture the moment spontaneously, they can be tolerated as a last resort. You can’t be model and photographer at the same time. The composition sucks with arms and selfie-sticks (oh my god, how dreadful) jutting into one of the lower corners. Just say no to selfies. They look ridiculous, contrived, self-absorbed and awkward. A decade from now, they will be one of the things we look back at the Teens and say “what were we thinking” (as we do today with mullets and teased hair styles). Digital photography is so easy. Mistakes can be fixed with multiple shots and imperfections can be touched up in Photoshop. Just ask a passer-by to click the button. Several times to get it right if needed. Staring at the phone instead of the audience.
Maldives Photography selfies

Happy shooting!

Best of the Maldives: Photographic Gallery – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - gallery 1

A sense-ational week this week – Smell, Taste, Touch. So how about something for the eyes. If you want something as entrancing as a cabernet’s bouquet, as exquisite as artful nectar, and as soothing as a warm bath, the Huvafenfushi’s newly launched art gallery offers an indulgence of visual delights. The exhibition features both iconic shots of the Maldives, but also a collection of dazzling destination portraits from around the world…

“Per Aquum gallery on the Maldivian island of Huaven Fushi has become the first photography gallery in the world to only be accessible by speedboat or seaplane. Each visitor to the exclusive gallery is greeted at one of the private jettys with a cocktail and are then guided through exclusive prints, only available on the island. Photographer Paul Reiffer had been shooting for the island owners when he saw an opportunity to create a unique exhibition. The 35 year-old said: ‘We’ve done it in part because it’s quirky. If you look at it from a commercial view it’s a stupid idea but we wanted to do something a bit different and it completely works.”

This post has prompted me to add a “Photography” tag for all posts literally focused on the fine art of the camera.

Huvafenfushi - galler 2

Advent Calendar (24) of More Not Seen Yets #9

Underwater biking

Digging the Advent Calendars out of the attic today. A colourful tradition to count down the final days to Christmas. The British versions feature little treats, usually chocolates, as a sort of methadone palliative to hold people over until the big extravaganza of gifts and gorging.

It’s also about time for my semi-annual “Haven’t Seen” piece (Edition 9!) So I’ve assembled a collection of 24 luxury innovation as a sort of mini-gift to resort managers. Including a few items on the end which make their own great gifts for the Maldives lover…

1. Underwater Bicycling [above] – (thanks Momo)

2. Local Honey – I guess never thought there might be bees in the Maldives, but my visit to J Resort Alidhoo showed me that there was (picture below of bee hive from my visit there). People love to buy local products and honey is a very popular natural sweetener there.
Honey tree

3. Lobster Curry – No “Haven’t Seen” post is complete without the latest crustacean omission. And of all the lobster cuisine, how can a place in the middle of the INDIAN ocean not have lobster curry.
Lobster curry

4. Proper Lobster Chowder – Made with potatoes and cream, it’s possibly a bit heavy for the warm weather, but you can make it more light and it is one of the seafood classics.
Lobster chowder

5. Egg Neptune – Eggs Benedict made with Lobster. Bit obvious me thinks…
Lobster eggs neptune

6. Toasted Coconut ChipsDrink nibbles are one of the tell-tale touches that often distinguish stars. Too often resorts punt with peanuts and crisps. Toasted coconut flakes are less sweet and don’t turn into coconut grit chewing them.
toast cocnut flakes

7. Video Art – Video is integrating with performance art, space design, even gourmet dining.
Dining video art

8. Coconut Reveal – Or for an old school culinary show…(thanks Paola)
Coconut cutting reveal

9. Cozies – Sweaty water (and other) bottles that get warm in the hot air. Custom designs could make for yet other gift shop item for the stockings.

10. In-Ocean Massage – Maybe not so far as the Blue Lagoon, but how about a table in the lagoon?
In ocean massage

11. Underwater Fashion Shoot – We’ve already established that (a) the Maldives is a top destination for fashion photoshoots, and (b) its underwater wonderland is unrivalled, soooo….
Underwater fashion shoot

12. Models on Call – And with the popularity of Maldives photography, some local models could provide the subjects for some stunning fashion photography.
Maldives model beach shoot

13. Underwater Kissing Contest – The most romantic place on earth and popular destination for Chinese. Seems like the obvious venue for the “open water championships”.
Underwater kissing contests

14. Paper Napkin RosesThe Maldives ranks among the best in the world for towel art and bed art, but I think they can up their game on table/napkin art.
Paper napkin roses

15. Oar Board SUP ScullingI’ve already yearned for sculling in the mill pond still waters of the Maldives, but OarBoard offers up a solution which (a) would be easier to transport there, and (b) literally dovetail to the increasingly popular paddleboards there, and (c) be more resilient to less calm waters.
Oar Board SUP sculling

16. Kabbadi – Beach Kabbadi! This distinctly Indian sport played in a distinctly Indian Ocean way.
Beach Kabaddi

17. Floating Golf Green – I’ve long mused about exploiting the Maldives’ aquatic expanse as the ultimate water hazard. Namely, teeing off on a resort island with a hole green set up on a nearby island. Until that dream comes about, here is a min-alternative for some short range pitching practice.
floating golf green Maldives

18. Wake Surfing – While the Maldives offers some amazingly long and gentle breaks ideal for beginner and trickster surfers, in many places the ocean is just too tranquil. But wake surfing is an increasingly popular way to surf even when the surf is not so up.
Wake surfing Maldives

19. Inflatable See-Saw – No “Haven’t Seen” piece is complete without a whimsical blow-up of pool/water toy.
Inflatable see saw Maldives

20. Water Sofa – The key thing here is the back support allowing you to sit more upright while you bob along. Perfect for catching up on that holiday reading while still immersing yourself in the aquatic landscape.
Water sofa Maldives

21. Outdoor Sleeping – Mind you Lori and I have fallen asleep under the stars on many a Maldives trip on deck lounge chairs, but setting up a proper bed (perhaps on request) with a four-posted canopy (to allow for privacy and/or breeze protection, could make the al fresco snoozing more inviting. (thanks Paola)
Outdoor bedroom

22. Wooden Hammock – For those who want the reclined swaying without all the awkward flimsiness (thanks Paola).
wooden hammock

23. Snorkel Rubber Duck – These would swim off the gift store shelves. Especially a custom order in blue (instead of yellow). Of course, only Schnabels will do.
Snorkel rubber ducky

24. Water Villa Play Set – Now you too can own your very own Maldives water villa!
Maldives water villa play set

Best of the Maldives Online: Photoshoot Channel – Taj Exotica

Hersh Chadha video shoot 1



In this past week’s fashion fiesta, 23 of the 194 shoots were accompanied by YouTube videos of the shoots. The video shoot adds an extra dimension of both alluring poses and immersion into the paradise of the Maldives. The biggest source of shoots was Prof. Hersch Chadha who has an entire YouTube channel full of video shoots he does in the Maldives at the Taj Exotica resort. His subjects are all Russian models so he has played a big role in driving that country to the #2 slot on the country league table. Tune in for a more animated fashion feast for the eyes.


Hersch Chadha video shoot 2

Best of the Maldives: Photography Workshop – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - landscape

A bit of a tripod trifecta for Gili Lankanfushi this week of style. I generally, avoid repeating resorts too frequently to keep up the diversity of coverage, but Gili has offered up more photo opps than a Maldivian sunset after a rainshower. In this instance, Gili not only provides one of the most popular venues for photo shoots, they also provide the instruction. Their website describes…

Come and join David Evans photographer and myself at the Worlds Best Resort Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives this September for the workshop of a lifetime, learning, sharing and relaxing all at the same time, in one of the most spectacular places in the world. David and I were lucky enough to spend some time here last year and the images you see in this slideshow were all taken in those 3 days.

  • Landscape and travel photography
  • Sunrise and sunset
  • Night photography
  • Wildlife and macro photography
  • Food photography
  • Portrait photography
  • Using off-camera flash and reflectors
  • Time-lapse photography
  • Short videos and Gopro
  • Post-production of images

Models not included…