When I heard the brief about creating a short promotional video for The Serai I instantly had a picture in my mind of the opening shot. A distant, wide angle shot, of a camel walking through the sand dunes in the golden light. I thought that orchestrating this would be as hard as getting a tiger to walk in front of the car…how wrong I was!
I mentioned this to the folks at the camp and they instantly set out arranging the various ingredients needed. A few brief phone calls and everything was in place. What I did not realize at the time was that they already have this option in place for guests who stay at their lodge! One of the excursions that guests can do at The Serai is a camel ride and sundowner on deserted sand dunes. Can you imagine?
They arranged everything and we simply hopped on the car and were driven to the most sensational of spots, nearby to the camp. Sand as far as the eye can see. Apart from a small gathering of camels and their handlers, there were no other humans in sight. A rare piece of empty India. Some of the camels were dressed up in gorgeous colourful regalia and ready to be ridden. I had never seen a camel up close, let alone ridden one, so for me this was an unforgettable experience.
I set up the glider, the tripod and the camera. The general manager assured me that we could get the camels to move anywhere on the dunes and that nothing was impossible. I could not believe that my dream opening shot was becoming very doable. There is, however, one difficulty in filming/photographing camels in the desert…the lighting. The lighting in the desert is so incredibly harsh that it’s very easy to overexpose everything. So, after I had composed the ideal series of shots in my mind, and gotten the settings right on the camera, there was nothing left for me to do but to relax, soak it all in, take a quick ride on a camel and wait for the glowing sun to soften. It was then that the lighting became perfect and I could press record.
So, how do you photograph a camel in the desert? The answer is with a glass of French Champagne close at hand!
To see the finished short video on The Serai, and to indulge in my dream opening sequence, click on the video below. Let me know your thoughts…
Written, filmed and photographed by Adam Bannister