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Behind the looking glass

Posted by Luke Green

'Hi Luke, so I managed to pour boiling water over my hand and am currently sat in the hospital about to get the burn blister de-roofed' (do not Google this!) is not what you want to hear from one of your two models the day before a photoshoot!

'Hi Luke, so I managed to pour boiling water over my hand and am currently sat in the hospital about to get the burn blister de-roofed' (do not Google this!) is not what you want to hear from one of your two models the day before a photoshoot!

After a few last minute calls to our photographers we made the call to go ahead as planned and just had to deal with it and come up with ways to keep the burnt/bandaged hand a) out of shot and b) dry at all costs, which when you are doing a watersports photoshoot can be tricky, but we do love a challenge!

When we set out to plan our first Red Original photoshoot we wanted to try and create an Original Adventure that anyone would be able to do should they wish. This meant finding a location which had a variety of settings but in close proximity to each other, was easy to get to and was warm and sunny..... in February. After many hours studying maps, trip advisor and weather data, we decided on Faro and we were not disappointed!

Faro can often be overlooked as a travel destination due to it primarily being seen as the gateway to the Algarve, however we were able to uncover some stunning paddling locations within a stones throw of the airport, as well as a few which required a little more effort to get to.

Our accommodation for the shoot was an awesome house we found on Airbnb (check it out here) which had access right onto the water and only 5 mins from the airpot. The host Luís, proved invaluable in recommending locations to shoot in the local area and came up trumps with every spot.

Home by the sea, Faro

Once the planning stage was completed Catherine and I from the Red Original team, Jay and Beth from Globalshots and our two models (Manu and Sophie) made our way to Faro for 4 days of full on shooting.

Day 1 - Travel and location recce

As we were all arriving at various times during the day with the models not arriving until late at night, we planned to use the first day to check out the locations we had chosen for the shoot to work out the best shooting spots, access points and that we were able to tick off all the shots we would need in each location.

The crew checking out shoot locations on the first day

As the sun set we used the opportunity to get some product based shots of the deck bag, cool bags and water bottles in the golden light on the beach before heading to the airport to pick up the talent!

Jay making the most of the evening power hour on the beach

Day 2 - Exploring Ria Formosa

Our first full day of shooting began bright and early to make the most of the soft early morning light so we could capture a range of shots around the house getting 'prepared for our adventure' before heading down the road for some set up shots and getting on the water. 

Packing the car ready for an #OriginalAdventure

The peninsula we were offered a huge variety of locations to shoot in, ranging from rustic coffee shops and sand covered streets, to pristine sand with mirror flat water in the background. To keep Sophies bandaged had out of shot we luckily had our long sleeve performance top layer which covered the offending area.

Captain Manu on the look out!

We headed back to our accommodation for lunch before spending the afternoon shooting more set up shots around the villa. We explored multiple locations in the local area, even using the bridge to showcase the board lock all within walking distance of the house before enjoying an amazing sunset on the beach with some ice cold beers thanks to our watertight cool bags, we then had to endure the epic walk back to the house, all 50 meters of it!

Beach sunset drinks

Burn update - We had been able to keep Sophies hand dry all day and having reviewed the images we had hidden it from the majority of the shots and video. However we did have to do some maintenance in the evening to make sure it was septs clean and in fresh bandages.... up stepped Nurse Jay!

Jay acting as Sophie's assistant!

Day 3 - Benagil Caves.... or so we thought!

Our second day of shooting didn't quite go as to plan as we had hoped! One thing which we had not prepared for, was one of the biggest swells of the year to be hitting the west coast of Portugal half way through our photoshoot. As we arrived at Benagil Village mid morning ready to paddle round to shoot inside the popular Banagil Caves, we were greeted with a large shore break which would have tested any seasoned paddler let alone two models and a camera crew. The swell was so bad in fact that all of the tourist boat trips were cancelled for the day so with the caves inaccessible we decided to head back to Faro where we knew there would be more shelter, or so we thought.

Swell Alert

Just as we were about to reach the highway we were stopped by a local policeman who then informed us that all roads were closed due to the Volta ao Algarve (Cycling tour of the Algarve) time trail which was going past all day, something that didn't show up in our research! So plan C was required.

Marinha Beach - our saviour!

Luckily we had packed our lunch for the day in our watertight cool bags so headed down to Marinha beach for a spot of lunch and to asses the sea conditions there.

Marinha beach lunch stop

Fortunately the shore break seemed slightly better here and out to sea it looked relatively calm so after a quick tutorial with Manu and Sophie on how to get out through the shore break, they were all set to go!

tackling the shore break

After a couple of near misses, both Manu and Sophie expertly tackled the conditions and were paddling out towards the rock stacks with seamless ease. They were able to get close enough so we could capture some amazing drone shots whilst narrowly avoiding the breaking waves, pounding the rocks. Watching both come back to shore in between sets was entertaining to say the least, all I can say is that it was a good thing we were using inflatable boards!

All calm at sea!

To finish the day we made the most of the stunning cliff tops and setting sun to enjoy a few drinks and toast some marshmallows on an open fire. Still being February the fire combined with our long sleeve technical tops helped keep the cold at bay until we had everything we needed and headed home for dinner after such an eventful day.

Cliff top BBQ at Sunset

Day 4 - From Faro to Fuseta

With the swell forecast to not die off until we were back home, we changed plans for the day and spent the morning shooting more local content which included a paddle up to a local coffee shop where after some hand gesturing and pointing at menu's we were able to refuel with some excellent local coffee and pastries.

Team coffee break!

In the afternoon we headed out to Fuseta which being slightly further round the coast was more sheltered from the huge swell and was protected by a harbour meaning we could get on the water and get some more exploring content around the idyllic village. Unfortunately the sun decided to disappear for the first time during our trip but meant that we could really put our performance top layers to the test keeping Manu and Sophie warm whilst the rest of use wore our change robes in the background!

Keeping warm in Fuseta

Just as we were heading back, there was a break in the clouds revealing the most stunning of sunsets. With Manu and Sophie needing a well earned rest, Catherine and I answered the call to step in and get some great silhouette shots as the sun was fading.

The stand in models

Day 5 - Beach, back to Fuseta and then home!

Our final day started with a bang when we woke up to the most amazing sunrise coming up over Faro, which was a great send off for us but unfortunately our work was not yet finished!

Faro Sunrise

The last day was supposed to be relatively chilled, with just some stand alone product shots required but as the weather turned out to be better than forecast so we jumped in the van and headed back to Fuseta to get some drone footage whilst the sun was out to finish off our #OriginalAdventure video, however this did mean a slightly more hurried return to the house to tidy up and get everyone to the airport in time but was worth the effort in the end.

We had an awesome week in Faro and would highly recommend as a place to go on a SUP adventure, check out the video below of some of the highlights from the trip. If you are planning an #OriginalAdventure of your own we would love to hear about it, just email