To Infinity, and Beyond! The great lesson I learned from my failed bikini shoot.

What does a photographer do when he finds himself on an island in the Caribbean, in front of an infinity pool that faces the sunrise ☀️? Well, of course, you plan an early morning swimsuit shoot! Let's review the ingredients needed for a successful sunrise bikini shoot:

  1. ✅ Sunrise
  2. ✅ Infinity pool
  3. ❌ Model in a bikini

As I was on a tropical island, there were in fact many candidates to fill the role of "Model in a bikini". I spotted a woman who I thought would be a great candidate, but as I had only heard her speaking French (she was Haitian), I was unsure I would be able to speak to her directly in English. I thus took along a colleage of mine, we'll call him Bob, when I approached her.

Bob is a language genius and speaks a dozen languages, so I was confident that no matter her preferred language, he'd have my back and be able to translate my ideas.

It turns out it wasn't needed. Her English was great and I was able to speak to her directly. I introduced myself, explained that I was a photographer, showed her some of my portfolio, described the idea I had for the shot at the infinity pool, and asked if she'd like to be my model. She said she'd think about it, come back tomorrow.

As we walked away, Bob said the most unexpected and incredible thing. He said "For being one of our company's top sales people, I'm really disappoited in you for how you directed that conversation."

I was taken aback by this, and of course asked "Why?"

Bob continued, "You forgot to do the single most important thing to do when persuading someone to go along with your idea. You didn't describe the experience from her point of view. You didn't tell her what an amazing opportunity it would be for her. You didn't show her how much fun it would be to work with you, and to do the shoot, and how much she would value having that great photo of her for years to come."

You didn't describe the experience from her point of view.

It was true! Everything he said. Worse, I was almost apologetic in my approach to her. What I had though was being respectful, and trying not to be pushy (or creepy), actually translated into being unconvincing and uninteresting. She said no.

I did then find another model. She was very enthusiastic about the idea (I put Bob's advice into action!), and we made an early morning date to show up at the infinity pool and shoot. The day came, I woke up at 4:30am, packed my kit, made my way, got everything set up with help from another colleage, @crell, who volunteered to assist with the shoot, and waited. The sun started to rise. She didn't show up.

❌ Model in a bikini.

So I did what any rational photographer would do at that point. I became the model! @crell pulled the trigger, and we got this amazing self portrait. I call it "Bearded Middle Age Man, Facing Rejection and Too Little Sleep, at Infinity Pool". Hope you enjoy! And, I'm happy to be joining your photo community here 😄

Bearded Middle Age Man, Facing Rejection and Too Little Sleep, at Infinity Pool

Here are a couple other shots I took that morning.

Morning bird, Punta Cana

Cool coastline

Morning Bird, Punta Cana II

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hahahahaha, that is awesome! Bummer you got stood up though, but ya made up for quite nicely.

hahhahaha! I think the picture came out great XD

Was that your first time going to Punta Cana? I've only been to Puerto Plata which isn't as luxurious.

It was my first time to any tropical island! While the resort that I was at (Club Med) was luxurious, the island itself didn't share that level of luxury. It was definitely a case of luxury reserved for foreign tourists.

Incidentally, later, we ended up recording this album on the Dominican Republic (I was unable to be there in person, though).

I know exaclty what you mean. The Dominican Republic is very impoverished and heading down the same route as Cuba. It wasn't always like that though. It started falling apart after the Commies killed president Trujillo in the 1960's. Before then, the Peso and the Dollar had the same purchasing power and everyone was living the #GoodLife.

Thank you for sharing that lovely music video on 3Speak! I just watched it and did enjoy it :)

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You look better without the beard.

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"You forgot to do the single most important thing to do when persuading someone to go along with your idea. You didn't describe the experience from her point of view. You didn't tell her what an amazing opportunity it would be for her. You didn't show her how much fun it would be to work with you, and to do the shoot, and how much she would value having that great photo of her for years to come."

yes i will never be a sales person :D

the name of the photo is great :)

I actually apply this lesson to actual business sales calls as well as to how I present any proposal that I make with other people. One side effect is that it forces me to think through any proposed experience from their point of view, which (hopefully) fosters more empathy. So ultimately, it's not strictly advice on selling, but on truly connecting.

Fun fact: this all happened during the Platform.sh company retreat in Punta Cana!