As a photographer traveling overweight goes with the territory. And those silver cases filled with cameras, lighting, light-meters, computers and props weigh so much you need a team of porters to shift them, money well spent if you want to shoot without a dislocated shoulder and something learned from long, often painful experience.
In the old days after graduating in the United States and during my first journeys in Eastern Europe, I lugged everything I could carry in a shoulder bag and though it was fun and functional shooting on the run, you need the right tool for the job to get the best results. The more you get tooled up, the more you have to tote around in that shoulder bag and one day you say to yourself, it's time to settle down and get a studio.
But you can't travel with your studio on your back and when Luba and I set out for Argentina I was so concerned making sure I didn't forget anything, it went out of my mind that it was mid-winter in the Southern Hemisphere. We touched down at six on a bitter cold morning, Luba had a big red shawl but I was wearing nothing but a tee-shirt, cargo pants and bare feet. It was freezing. "First thing we have to do is go shopping," I said to Luba, and of course her sleepy eyes lit up.
What was pleasantly warming was the welcome committee at the airport, the people who had invited us to do a shoot in the Argentine capital all waiting with bright smiles and good English. I'd read in the Buenos Aires Time Out that making friends in Argentina "is a process that can take anywhere up to ten minutes." First impressions, the claim was right on.
The morning was waking as we drove into the city, the sun low in the sky and putting a silvery blue tinge of light on the glass in the skyscrapers. We passed the famous Teatro Colon, rode down streets that looked more European than South American and finally checked into the Faena Hotel, a modern place with the architect's hand in every corner, thick velvet curtains on every window and the 38-year-old Señor Faena with his partner Philippe Starck making sure we had everything we needed. In the bullring, when the matador does a good pass with the bull its called a good faena, a good job, and Señor Faena has brought the quality to bare on the hotel that carries his name.
We grabbed a few hours sleep, hit the shopping malls at midday and returned to the Faena snug in angora sweaters, new jeans and gaucho boots; when in Rome you do as the Romans. In Argentina a touch of the cowboy prepares you for the traditional big lunch: fish for me, and a plate of the best beef grown anywhere on the planet for hungry Luba. Oh, yeah, and a glass of Argentine red; I'm partial to a good Rioja, but these new world wines are growing on me.
Casting was set for three o’clock and the bell boys had a hard time – not to say a great time - controlling the traffic coming up to our room. I was pleased there were so many girls who wanted to strut there stuff, it's what I expected from Buenos Aires, but while true Evitas are as rare as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it's the search that makes it all worthwhile.