As a photographer who works with models, I’m always open to trying new ideas. I like collaborating with models to produce something that we both feel is going to work out really well. I recently did a shoot at Haulover Beach, the nude Beach, here in Miami. In the middle of the day. On a packed Sunday afternoon. Packed. There are definitely some lessons taken away from that and so here I present the story of my afternoon shooting Taylor at Haulover Beach.
It started out like any other day. Well, relatively. Taylor had been staying with me for a few days already. Thinking it was her last day here, we talked about what we wanted to do. We decided to go up to Haulover Beach, the all nude beach, hang out and do a shoot. The way we would work would be that we would take some candids of her on the beach, but then we would do a lot of posed shots. This was similar to how we did our two prior shoots and so the plan was familiar, only more candids this time.
This is actually how I like to shoot anyway. Mostly. There are always great shots to be had in candids, and sometimes they come out better than a lot of posed photos. Everyone that I shoot, I try to get a lot of candids because there’s always a gem to be found.
Working on Limited Time
With her flight out of Miami scheduled for departure at 5pm that day, we only had a limited amount of time to go to Haulover, a twenty minute drive north from my place. We packed the bag with towels, the camera, a couple of drinks, got in the car and left. On the way, we stopped to pick up some tanning oil (to be used for some of the shots) and some chips to munch on at the beach. It’s around 1pm when we get there, so I mention to Taylor that we absolutely cannot leave any later than 3pm in order for her to make her flight. She is unconcerned with these things.
We park at the lot across from Haulover ($5 for parking, be prepared if you go) just south of Sunny Isles, grab the bag and make our way to the beach. With this being my first time at Haulover, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, I expected nude people obviously. But from everything I had heard, I expected ugly nude people. We walk through the underpass, past the purple candy-striped tower and voila, there it is. The beach is absolutely packed. Filled with people. Ugly nude people. No, I kid. It was like a regular beach filled with regular people. Only with lots of boobs, wieners, and vajayjays.
Now, Taylor had actually been to Haulover Beach the day before, late in the afternoon for a bit, shooting with another photographer, in the exact same spot. The beach had been relatively empty when they were there and I understood that this was the gay part of the beach. I can’t confirm that although there was a couple of men getting intimate in the water when we came up. So perhaps it was the gay section.
The First Set
We walk to the left, we eyeballed a spot, decided on it, and start walking over that way. I thought we were going there, anyway. I look back as I’m about to put the bags down and realize that Taylor has gone up into an empty lifeguard house. I take my camera out and head over to where she is. People see my camera. No unusual looks from anyone. They see that the two of us are together.
I walk up the ramp of the lifeguard house to where Taylor is taking off the last of her bathing suit. We take a number of shots, the people around collectively looking up and watching the shoot. I was a little nervous at first taking my camera to the nude beach, worried that people might get pissed off. But everyone around us was extremely cool. Plus, I was very, very careful to make sure nobody else was in the background of the photo and that they knew it. Unless they were out of focus or not identifiable. Like only having a leg visible. So everybody was really nice about us being there. The pissed off people came later. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
This is kind of key to shooting on a packed nude beach, I think: be respectful of the privacy of others. That applies anytime really, but at a nude beach, people really don’t want to be photographed. I sense that to be the case, anyway.
This is how the shoot goes: when Taylor wants to pose, she signals me or tells me. Or just starts posing. The inbetween times of these posed moments are all the candids. And in addition to that, there are shots where they are somewhere in the middle; halfway between posed, halfway between candid. It worked out beautifully.
As we’re taking some shots up at the tower, a Miami Beach truck pulls up and they say we can’t stay there. We explain that we’re taking shots but will get down on the sand soon, and they’re cool with that. They drive off, we take a few more shots, then make our way to our spot in the sand. There’s a second occupied lifeguard tower there and so I go up to talk to the guard there. I ask if we can take more shots up there from time to time. He says that’s fine; he just doesn’t want to get in trouble with his supervisor (the guy in the truck). So we go up there a couple more times during our stay and get some more, the supervisor in the truck never coming by while we’re there.
Candids on the Beach
With the first tower shoot behind us and getting comfortable in our spot, I take a few candids of us on the beach. After a short while, Taylor heads out to the water. More shots of her in the water and coming in and going out. As she gets out, she lays on the beach and strikes poses by the water’s edge. She’s not right upon me and I would have to speak very loudly for her to hear me at this point. The people around are still very comfortable with everything. Or, if they aren’t, nobody says anything. But they are comfortable. I make light conversation with a gay couple sitting close by about the shots, ask them to watch my camera as I go in the water, too. Friendly guys. Everyone was friendly. At least, while we were in that particular spot.
Leaving the camera behind, I take a dip in the water. While I’m in, I realize nakedness would be nice so I take off my trunks. I have a white ass. A very white ass. I swim around. I frolic. I’m enjoying being at Haulover. Taylor comes back in for a bit and we play for a few. Eventually, she starts heading south in the water.
I put my bathing suit back on and start to make my way to our spot. (I wasn’t really all about being nude on the beach. I was there to shoot. Why have my junk all flippity flopping around while I’m taking photos? That would’ve looked kind of stupid, albeit pretty funny.) Taylor eventually wanders back over, I get some more shots, candid and posed of her there. We lay out. At some point, I decided I wanted my white ass a nice shade of pink so I strip down and lay out nude. Sunblock was nowhere to be found. But I didn’t get burned. Taylor was a little pink by the end of the day.
After a while, Taylor decides to go back in the water. I’m laying out, not wanting to take photos right then. She leaves and then I hear her call my name. I look over toward the water and she’s in front of this ridge where the sand drops off by the water. She wants some photos there, so I pull out the camera and go over. The shots here are slightly more erotic in nature, and I feel like I got some great shots. But here’s where one of the weirder moments of the day comes in. As I’m taking photos of Taylor (out of site from the people laying out above the ridge but in plain site of people walking up and down the water’s edge beneath the ridge), she decides to strike more erotic poses. One particular pose is where she’s on her knees, arms outstretched onto the ground in front of her, knees apart and butt up in the air. My angle is from the side so it’s an implied nude.
The Pervs Descend
The thing is, it was implied nude for me. But it wasn’t an implied nude for the three Latino guys sitting just off in the background, one with his cell phone camera snapping photos straight on of her. As I’m looking through the lensfinder, I notice the guys and tell Taylor that it might be time to turn; that she had an audience. She turns her butt toward me, we take some more shots, and then she gets in the water again.
The guys come over to me, they ask me questions, we engage in some brief discussion. They, of course, thought Taylor was beautiful and wanted to know if this was for some men’s magazine. I explained that it wasn’t. Now, I realize that we’re at a public nude beach and everything, but I was hoping that they would get the impression from me talking to them that, “Thanks for the compliments, now move along.” They didn’t get that.
For a while longer, wherever Taylor would pop out of the water, these guys were there, just off in the distance, watching. And really, why wouldn’t they? Taylor would come out of the water at random intervals, lounge around and then play in the sand before making her way into the water. At one point, she came out, and spent an eternity sitting there spelling out her name in big letters in the sand. Some great candids and some great posed shots came out of this, but it was somewhat bothersome having these guys around.
In fact, as we’re in this particular spot, a man and woman walk by, hand in hand, and the man mentions to me that these three guys are following us and that they look a little pervy. They were pervy. But we’re in a public place and we’re taking photographs. And I’ve already spoken my piece to them. So I mention once again to Taylor that she has an audience and we probably need to move along again. After this, the guys stop following. All of the other onlookers at this point, go back about their usual business.
Taylor heads out into the water to get away from the beach for a bit. Enter awkward moment number two. Now, I took a couple of different lenses with me to the beach; one of those lenses was a telephoto/zoom lens. As Taylor goes into the water to play once more, I have my zoom lens attached. As she gets farther away, I zoom in more to keep her from looking like a dot on screen. With the lens extending outward, it’s clear to anyone on the beach that I’m zooming in on the girl in the water. The girl who I was just shooting close up on the beach.
An Indecent Incident
While in the water, Taylor begins to move southward again. I follow her on the shore and snap photos, still zoomed. Taylor looks at me from time to time, still playing. At some point she looks my way and flips me the bird as I’m taking her photo. Nice. And RIGHT after this, an older naked gentleman comes up to me and says that people really don’t like people taking photos on the beach. I explain that I’m taking photos just of the girl, that we were there together. He then asks, “Then why did she flip you off?” Great.
No, we’re together. She’s just playing. We can walk together when she comes in so you can see. I’m a photographer, she’s a model and we’re getting shots of her day at the beach. We talk a little and he gets it. He’s cool. Thankfully. The thing is, this: we should’ve stayed in our one spot where everybody knew us. The place where the woman/man came over in her bikini and talked to us and gave us a copy of a woman’s magazine so that we could look through it for ideas for our shoot. The place where people were comfortable with us and knew what was going on. Here, we were flying solo.
Mayor McBronze Wiener
Enter awkward moment number three. As I’m wrapping up my now nice conversation with this older guy, Taylor has gone farther south now and is coming out of the water. The guy and I part ways and I walk down to hang out and take more photos. As I’m walking, and for the life of me I can’t remember what was said, but out of my right ear, I hear somebody yelling at me. I turn around and some naked guy on a chaise lounge is yelling my direction. It’s about the camera and shooting, but I don’t remember what he said. All I remember is that Mayor McBronze Wiener was an idiot. It’s along the same lines of the other guy but this guy is being a complete ass about it. So I walk over to him. I’m not going to get accused of doing anything wrong, and I want him and the people around to understand what’s going on. He’s yelling some garbage, still laying down. Looking at him, I’m feeling more comfortable in my manhood and realizing why he doesn’t want a camera around.
I explain once more what it is that we’re doing. He yells. I call him a f*cktard, advise him to get some life lessons, and walk back south to Taylor. It was a scene. I had no intention of being in a scene; I’m really a passive person and I don’t like arguing but this guy really needed to be put in his place. Taylor was close enough that she could hear what was going on. We talk about what happened and we talk about leaving. I’m ready to head back to where we were; she wants to stay there.
At this time, it’s 3pm, so it’s time to leave to catch her flight anyway. Really didn’t like the idea of leaving on a sour note (Mayor McBronze Wiener) after such a good day, but there was nothing I could do about it. Taylor wants to do one last shoot where I’m down the beach and shooting her as she’s walking along it toward me. So I head back to where our stuff is. Taylor comes walking. I take some photos and I think we’re done. I’m in my happy place again, no stress in shooting her from others. It’s all good.
Calling it a Day
Shots taken, Taylor turns, walks up the beach back to the lifeguard house. We take more photos up there and finally, we get ready to leave, our day at Haulover complete. By this point, getting to the airport on time is going to be cutting it really close. We pack up our stuff and start to head out. As we’re leaving, the three guys from earlier are standing around the entranceway to the beach. Only there are five of them. They eye Taylor over and over. I’m grateful we’re leaving. I’m grateful there are people everywhere. Back to the car and a day shooting nudes at Haulover Beach is over.
We never make it to the airport in time. Knew that wasn’t going to happen. But it was a great day at the beach all the way around. With the exception of the momentary weirdness and dealing with the pervs, shooting at Haulover is a great idea. Of course, we were shooting in the middle of the day which typically is a horrible idea because the light is so harsh, there’s squinting, shadows, etc… but still, we managed to get some good material. My only advice to any photographer wanting to shoot out there is: don’t go when it’s packed. Maybe. If you go when it’s not packed, be aware of who is on the beach. Pick a spot and stake your claim as to what it is that you are doing. Respect other’s privacy and just use common sense; if you want someone in the photograph, get their permission. And above all else, take sunblock so you don’t come away with a pink ass.