Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Latest Article

Article - Bill Mattos / Photos - Bill Mattos, Jason Smith  
If you haven't seen it already, check out Issue 152 of Canoe And Kayak UK magazine. As well as my usual ranting, this month about why you should get out of your boat and go swimming, (illustrated with many examples of times when I did and I shouldn't have) there are articles on the Aegean, waterfalls, canoes, cool people and kit, and The Floater has his usual bizarre slant on the boater's life, too. Grab your copy while they're still on the shelves!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Another fine DPS...

Photo - Bjorn Thomassen © Haynes Publishing Ltd
It is a truth commonly acknowledged that the first thing you should see when you open a book is some pretty girls in bikinis. OK, maybe it isn't. But it is a common truth that kayaking books don't have enough girls in them, and that too many of the people of either gender are wearing a lot of unflattering clothing and equipment, which is no way to sell anything, especially an entire sport. And the fact is, indubitably and despite what the expert whitewater self-publicists would have you think, the majority of actual paddling that takes place in the entire world takes place wearing only swimwear.

My challenge, then, was to reflect that without incurring the wrath and ire of those who think you should never venture afloat without a lifejacket and a helmet on. Or the snide remarks of those who, for whatever reason, think that any attempt to make kayaking look sexy is in some way offensive. Frankly, it offends me when it isn't. This double page spread in the Haynes Kayaking Manual, predictably, has caused quite a lot of comment. Most of those comments have been something like "Well, I bet you enjoyed that photo-shoot". As if I have to engineer some sort of complex ruse when I want to look at girls in bikinis. That is what the internet is for.

Actually, I'm not sure I did enjoy the photo-shoot. It's nice when a kayaking photo-shoot involves more kayaking than it does carrying stuff a very long way to the location, but that rarely happens. I remember on this occasion I was exhausted and close to tears before I even unloaded the kit from the van. And then we had to carry it a very long way to the water. It's a miracle that the girls look as though they're having a good time, because it was freezing cold and very windy. Bjorn, the photographer, was soaking wet from standing in a river to get the right angle for the shots. The same river that I allowed his very expensive reflector to blow into because I was temporarily distracted by something. I forget what.

All in all, the scene behind the scenes was not as happy or as pretty as the images it created, or the people in them. But whatever. That's the way it goes. More often than not.
© Nookie Waterwear And Apparel
The photos have gone on to be popular with the sponsors who helped to make them possible, with Nookie using them in web content and on their show stands, as well as Kober paddles and Tootega kayaks.
© Haynes Publishing Ltd
And this one definitely lifts the overall feel of the book from the macho, body-armoured front cover shot (pictured below) to the tanned and happy photo that confronts the reader on opening the tome. So, difficult and stressful though it was to make the shoot happen, I'd happily have done more of them if it had been practical to use those kind of images more.

The other group whose wrath I feared was the pseudo-feminist "You're only using these images cynically to sell your book" campaign. Of course, the truth is, these ladies are not exactly paddling. They are, heaven forbid, having fun though. If they were semi- or more-naked and pretending to scout a waterfall, as some do, that might be seen as contrived. Or perhaps not. So far, anyway, I haven't had more than slightly raised eyebrows, rather than the online flaming I was expecting, but my prepared response stands... all over the world, pretty girls are at the beach wearing bikinis. Some of them go kayaking. It's not weird, or wrong.
Photo © Bjorn Thomassen