Without exception, there is only one explanation for such a ridiculous alarm call! With an almost perverse sense of glee I will go to the lengths of hauling myself out of bed at such an hour, BUT it categorically must be for the sole purpose of a travel adventure. This time in search of yoga, mountains and ski lodges!
The driving force behind this alpine adventure was the inspirational Natascha of Zeller Yoga, but quite frankly once the words fitness and mountains had been utilised in the same sentence I was sold. Back in the sunny days of July we met for the first time to discuss the 'possibilities' of photographing her upcoming yoga retreat in the Swiss Alps, as you can probably guess this rather rapidly went from the a light discussion to a full blown action plan, and, before you know it, I'm buzzing through Geneva Airport, courtesy of the £5 can of Red Bull I just got stung for, with 4 fully loaded bags of kit ready to road-trip into the mountains.
A Language Conundrum
I am pleasantly surprised that when I greet the car rentals man with my, quite honestly, best French accent, it is so convincing he thinks that I actually am French. At least that's what I like to think. I may have only made it as far to reply with, "Parlez-vous Anglais", but at least it was a start ;)
Now, Natascha had warned me that last year she had attempted to communicate her first class of the weekend to her Swiss-German speaking students in their native language ... she had drawn a blank on a particular word and had to revert to English. Considering that she has spent a substantial part of her life surrounded by Swiss German speaking people, it suddenly dawns on me that my limited German (not even Swiss German) was going to be a massive flop... if it were to even get going in the first place. Imagine my face when I am introduced to the lovely Jaqueline on our arrival, who owns the beautiful Hamilton Lodge we will be staying in. She is Dutch! Talk about a brain freeze. Luckily I was extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such lovely people who took the time to speak English with me, it really did put me to shame at how lazy I have become relying on everyone speaking my 'universal language' No excuses!
After a somewhat hair-raising last 10km up a single-track farm road I was feeling a tad sceptical about heading in the right direction, however, never doubt the mighty Google Maps, we had made it to paradise. Literally everything about Hamilton Lodge was second to none, but the one thing that repeatedly blew me away was the attention to detail. I can't even imagine the hours of time and thought Jacqueline must have put in to making this such a special place; the stories which lay behind all of this detail were fascinating. Wall hangings from Africa, through to personalised plates; I could have spent hours talking about the origins of all of these ideas. The urge to photograph everything was compelling, and her tireless efforts and passion for her business were incredibly inspiring. I definitely ended the weekend with the drive to work harder than ever. I hope that some of these images give you a sense of it's magical charm.
Yoga with Zeller Yoga
The primary purpose of this trip was to photograph some individual shots of Natascha, in this incredible location, which she could use for her online marketing. We got stuck in early, on arrival on the Friday, and shot right through the weekend in a true array of weather conditions which made for some really fun and unique styles of shot. It was an absolute pleasure working with Natascha; I immensely enjoyed capturing her in action. She has some serious skills, as well as patience for holding endless poses for "just one more sec" while I dived in for another angle... especially the time she had her bare hands in a fresh snow fall.... there's commitment for you. On our last morning I had the pleasure of photographing one of her classes in action, she is a truly wonderful teacher, with a very welcoming and approachable style. I was tempted to put the camera down and hop in myself ;)
Solo Drone Piloting
Nothing like a good 1000m of altitude and the first snow-fall of the season to attempt my first solo drone flight, controlling a 'buzzing camera' in such conditions was certainly an adrenaline filled experience. To be honest, my biggest concern was avoiding the three ski lift lines that felt dangerously close to the drone I was battling to control in high winds, but the opportunity was far too good to miss. It just shows you the stark contrast between changing seasons; the first image was taken on the Saturday and the second on the Sunday... literally 24 hours apart. We were so lucky to see snow!
Once again an incredible weekend which was made with such lovely people, thanks to Jacqueline and her team for looking after us, the very talented Arlette for showcasing her pilates skills for me, and all of the lovely ladies who attended for the weekend. Plus of course Natascha for masterminding this perfect weekend.
Still living the dream :)