AWL Photographers in the field: Marco Bottigelli in the Dominican Republic

I’ve never been a beach guy. So how did I end up photographing in the Caribbean?

The lifeblood of being a photographer is to keep challenging yourself.  As a travel photographer I am always working out how to creatively depict a vast and diverse range of places from bustling cities to pristine wilderness.  I constantly look for unique locations and then waiting for those perfect conditions that will let me create iconic images.  Getting it right takes endless patience and dedication.

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Canto de la Playa, Saona Island, East National Park (Parque Nacional del Este), Dominican Republic, Caribbean Sea. Beautiful woman with red sarong relaxing on the palm-fringed beach (MR).

Saona Island was a perfect example:

I was in the Dominican Republic to photograph the lush forests and unspoiled beaches of one of the Caribbean’s prime tourist destinations when I came upon Saona Island.

Each day, boats spirit discerning visitors away from the luxury resorts and hordes of tourists on Bayahibe, Dominican Republic’s main island, out to Parque Nacional del Este and the pristine waters around the outlying Saona Island.  Beautiful but busy.  But what, I wondered, happens after the last ferry makes its way back to the mainland?

The 450 Saona islanders have no internet connection, electricity by generator, no local drinking water and no sewerage system.  Notwithstanding this, they live in an island paradise, with heavenly white beaches on the palm-fringed coast and the colourful clapboard houses of Mano Juan washed by the turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea.

It was a perfect setting for a photoshoot but to get the best light I needed to stay several nights on the island.

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Mano Juan, Saona Island, East National Park (Parque Nacional del Este), Dominican Republic, Caribbean Sea.

I asked for a room in the hostel in Mano Juan, one of only two villages on Saona Island.  The receptionist seemed surprised:  “Really?  You do realize that you’ll be in the middle of nowhere?”   That settled it.  I was definitely in the right place, and not only for my photographs.

In the daytime I scouted locations as catamarans crammed with tourists came and went.  As the last boatload departed each afternoon, the island returned to its natural slow-paced peace and tranquility.  I photographed the changing light, catching timeless glimpses of this tiny tropical idyll.  I was able to set up modelled travel lifestyle shots undisturbed and on empty beaches.   Evenings were spent enjoying a little Caribbean life with the locals.

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Canto de la Playa, Saona Island, East National Park (Parque Nacional del Este), Dominican Republic, Caribbean Sea. Woman relaxing on a hammock on the beach (MR).

I’ve never been a beach guy. And that is why I will return to photograph the Caribbean.

To see the rest of Marco’s images from the Dominican Republic click here.

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