Big Sur – Behind the Scenes

Mother Nature played havoc with us last month and this assignment almost wasn’t – can’t say for who or show more images but I got the OK to show some behind-the-scenes and provide a bit of the story.  A hard deadline of April 1st was looming and I had a few weeks to gather a team of runners and crew and coordinate the shoots in Big Sur, one of the best parts of the California coastline (I also really like the Mendocino coast).

Making Plans: The day after the ides of March, the slope collapsed under the only road that runs through it – Hwy 1. As I write it is still closed and could open up again in May. It slid on the northern boundary of the coast, blocking access for San Francisco southbounders.   A side benefit for us (bad for cafes and cabins) was the disappearance of traffic and tourists.  Sarah (awesome runner) and I made plans for a first trip a few days later. I had another assignment for another client to shoot portraits of an elite marathoner (with a unique story) at the start of the LA Marathon on the 20th.  We would head up right after that.

On Sunday the 20th a rainfall record was set. It was cats and dogs at the marathon which made for epic shots (love water sealed cameras) but also made for an epic drive up the coast, past swollen rivers, washouts and lakes of grapes. We drove through it and six hours later found ourselves on the backside of the diminishing storm. The above frame was twelve minutes into shooting.  It got better.  More on that in a few months.

We got back late the following day and I started plans for the bigger crew the following week.

Whoomp.  Another mudslide, this time cutting us off from the south on Wednesday.  Big Sur inhabitants were on their own island now. The road was targeted to be cleared by the weekend. Saturday – still closed. Then a rumor that there will be 3 one-hour openings on Sunday. We hop in the cars and head up to meet the middle time-slot and are in. We are in heaven shooting the following few days.  Perfect sunshine, blue skies.

The day before we are set to head back south: Whooomp. A bigger mudslide, this one will take a week to clear.  Fortunately it is further south than a seldom used back road that winds up and over the mountains, then inland through an Army base, past coyotes and tanks in fields.  It would have been fine if that road had a mudslide too.  We all agreed another week in Big Sur isolation is not a bad thing…

Here are some behind-the-scenes images from photographer/runner/assistant/model Matt Dayka and a few from myself.