Mornings in Maldives

Anyone who loves gorgeous beach destinations should put the Maldives on their list of must-visit island paradises, because it will not disappoint. A beach lover myself, I had spent decades fantasizing about traveling to the Maldives before making that dream come to fruition in 2018. I was fortunate to have found an excellent package deal for travel to Nalaguraidoo, also known as Sun Island, and ended up spending 6 days and 5 nights surrounded by some of the most captivating azure waters and white coral sand beaches I had ever seen in my life.

Before I dive into the morning experiences I had on Nalaguraidoo, I will mention two negative aspects regarding the Maldives, the first being that making the trek to that part of the world is abysmally lengthy. Between the three planes, the bus, and the speedboat we were transported on, the total travel time (mind you, this does NOT include the time spent on layovers, which added another 14 hours) was almost 24 hours. By the time we were on that final speedboat ride which took us to Nalaguraidoo, we couldn’t remember what day it was, and the fact that it was almost pitch black while on that boat didn’t help with our awareness of time.

The other negative feature of the Maldives was that there was absolutely no local culture to be found. The island was teeming with tourists, mostly from England, Germany, and Australia. The workers on the island were from neighboring India and Sri Lanka, and they were all lovely people, but none were Maldivian.

Despite those negatives, the time I spent on Nalaguraidoo was absolutely magical. I stayed in a villa which was right near the water, and upon exiting my villa, I would be rewarded with the following view:

The climate was almost egregiously humid and hot, but I could always very easily submerge myself in the clean water of the Indian Ocean, which was replete with nurse sharks and a dazzling assortment of different species of fish. The temperature of the water was about the same as our body temperature, incredibly inviting and relaxing. The fact that I could spend five mornings of my life waking up to such conditions was absolutely wonderful.

New Vino D. Shootout Locations

Vino Darius Calloway has outdone himself again, with new shoot locations for the Vino D. Utah Shootout for next June! I had the opportunity to shoot at these new locations last month, so I wanted to provide the models with some tips on how to prepare for them.

INFINITE TATTOO AND ART GALLERY:

This awesome location is in downtown Ogden, which is about an hour away from Park City. It’s a great place to shoot in if the weather doesn’t cooperate, and most of the shoot locations are inside the building. Infinite Tattoo and Art Gallery is a tattoo parlor, an art gallery, and a barber shop, and is filled with great furniture, art pieces, and outdoor murals. There is a lot of red and burgundy in this establishment, so colors which pop against red tones work best in this location. If Vino chooses this location, you will most likely leave the house late, perhaps around 3 pm, since you would be able to shoot until around 9 pm during the summer.

MOAB:

Moab was an amazing find, and though it is quite far from Park City, it is well worth the long drive. Moab is a four hour trek from Park City, situated in the southeast border of Utah, and is blessed with the warmest temperatures, making it a great shoot location if mother nature decides to fling some cold weather and wicked wind around Utah. Prepare to leave the house around noon. Once wrapped at this location, you ladies won’t return to the house until 1 am or later! Be sure to pack food for this long trip. Restroom facilities are VERY scarce in Moab, so be prepared to wrap a beach towel around you and find a bush to crouch behind to do your business. I always recommend carrying some tissue or a roll of toilet paper with you for those situations.

Shot at Infinite Tattoo and Art Gallery

Moab has some beautiful spots to shoot in, with panoramic canyon views, but the silt is slippery, there are rocks, twigs and brambles everywhere, and broken glass also litters some spots. For these reasons, it is imperative that you wear rubber-soled shoes or aqua shoes while climbing around in those areas! Keep your eyes open for any broken glass, and hold on to sturdy branches while climbing up and down the embankments.

You might be thinking that it would be better to avoid drinking any fluids, just so you can minimize your restroom breaks, but with the hot weather, you should hydrate throughout the day. Bring water with you to drink while traveling in the van. Every day that I was in Utah for the 2017 Shootout, I drank close to a gallon of water. My skin looked great as a result, and I didn’t have any issues with belly bloat.

It’s also a good idea to carry some extra water which you can use to rinse your feet and legs when at Moab, Salt Flats or Little Sahara.

Moab, Salt Flats, Little Sahara and the marina can get VERY windy. If you have long hair, I recommend shooting so that you are facing the oncoming wind. This way, you’ll avoid having your hair whip in your face and ruin the shots. I also recommend putting your hair in a very durable style, such as crimped waves which won’t unravel when the wind blows. Use a good setting spray to hold your hairstyle in place.

The sun’s rays can be brutal on location, so make sure you slather on sunblock, and use sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun. If you shoot without sunglasses, and you have difficulty with squinting while facing the sun, close your eyes and have the photographer count to three, then open your eyes for the shot.

Vino D. Utah Shootout Packing List

The Bonneville Salt Flats are amazing to shoot at, but there are hazards there. Be prepared and pack well!

After attending the Vino D. Utah Shootout event both last year and this year, I felt compelled to compile a survival guide for fellow models who intend on coming to future events. The Shootout is a stellar event, and everyone who attends has the potential to create amazing content which can either be used for portfolios or submissions to publications. However, there are hazards to shooting at the chosen locations, and if you aren’t prepared, your body can get pretty battered.

I paid attention to some key issues which arose last June while on location in Utah, and as a result, I was much better prepared for this year’s event. In an effort to pass some tips along, I have compiled a packing list, with explanations as to why most of these items should be considered essential for the Shootout. Some are pretty obvious, while others may seem strange before you read the explanation.

Sweatshirt or jacket (It can get COLD on location, and the evenings are also brisk.)
Beach towel (This can be used to wipe off sand and salt, and can be rigged up to change wardrobe.)
First aid kit (You can get scrapes, cuts, etc., while on location, so a small first aid kit is definitely good to have.)
Bug spray (There are insects at the ruins and at other locations, and they bite!)
Sunblock (The sun’s rays are BRUTAL on location.)
Sunglasses (Most days are sunny, so you will need shades. Also, the sand dunes are very dusty, so the sunglasses will protect your eyes from flying sand.)
Double-sided tape (This is great to have for those outfits which threaten to create a wardrobe malfunction when the wind whips up.)
Trash bags (These are great for throwing wardrobe in and carrying around while you shoot on the sand and salt.)
Water shoes (These are INDISPENSIBLE for walking on the hot sand of Little Sahara, the salt flats, and the broken glass-littered ruins. Trust me, for less than $10, you can get a pair and protect your feet, while also saving your better shoes from being completely destroyed by the elements.)
Safety pins (Have these in your travel bag in case a clothing item rips or a bra strap breaks.)
Knee pads (These are fantastic for that standard bikini model pose on your knees, especially on the Salt Flats. You can also cushion other body areas, such as your booty and your hips if you are lying on your side. I recommend getting WHITE since it will blend in better with the salt and sand.)
Body wash (Body wash tends to disappear in the house, so I advise packing extra, or a bar of soap, so you aren’t forced to take a shower with no soap!)
Muscle rub like Biofreeze, Tiger Balm or Icy Hot(Not a bad idea, especially considering the pretzel poses we are often asked to hold!)
Lotion (Choose an emollient lotion which really hydrates your skin.)
False lashes and lash adhesive (Pack extra sets…the windy conditions can literally rip the lashes off your lids!)
Scarves (Pick large, flowy scarves which can pick up the wind and make a nice shape behind you.)
Extra hold hairspray (The wind threatens to undo any hairstyle, so if you use hairspray, get the kind that is maximum hold.)
Hair styling tools (Blow dryer, flat iron, waver, curling wand)
Makeup
Sharpie marker (This is for marking your food items so that no one else eats them!)
Phone charger
Battery charger for cell phone
Earbuds (If you want to listen to music in the van, or if you want to wind down at night and shut out extraneous noise, these are good to have.)
Earplugs (The house can be NOISY all hours of the night, so these are also a good idea to wear while you sleep.)
Eye mask for sleep (Since people fly in at all hours, you may be interrupted in the middle of the night by a new roomie, so an eye mask can ensure that your slumber is relatively undisturbed.)
Brimmed hat (This is for the brutal sun’s rays.)
Small scissors (Good to have if you have tags to remove, etc.)
Hydrocortisone (Bug bites and random rashes respond well to this.)
Advil or Tylenol (You never know if you might develop a headache, muscle ache, etc.)
Panty liners and tampons (You never know when Aunt Flow may make a sudden visit.)
Chapstick (The windy conditions really dry out your skin, including your lips.)
Lots of bikinis, lingerie, etc.
CHEAP shoes and boots (Ladies, please don’t take expensive shoes and boots with you to shoot in. The salt from the Salt Flats will DESTROY them. Pack cheaper options which won’t upset you when and if they get chewed up.)
Jewelry (Once again, cheaper options are better than expensive pieces you may lament the loss of. Bold pieces can look amazing on location. Hit places like Forever 21, H and M, Amazon, and the stripper stores for items.)
Body jewelry (This kind of embellishment looks so beautiful when juxtapositioned against the sand or salt flats. I’ve found nice pieces at Aldo, Forever 21, and H and M.)
Tote bag or backpack (A nice, rugged, water-resistant tote bag or backpack is great for carrying your wardrobe items with you on location. You can use the trash bags to carry a few items to a specific shooting spot once you are on location.)
Snack bars (I suggest packing a box or two of your favorite snack or protein bars. Food availability is quite unpredictable on location, en route and at the house. Be prepared!)

If you are flying on Southwest Airlines, take advantage of the two bag allowance and pack a LARGE suitcase with all wardrobe items, and a second medium to large suitcase with your essentials, regular clothing, and any overflow of wardrobe.