Samui Wining & Dining
Slowly But Surely

Claudio Cerquetti’s amazing images take hours to capture rather than seconds.

56Click, click, flash! Click, click, flash! Yet another superstar is snapped. It happens every day. But not every photographer belongs to the paparazzi. Here on Samui, professional photographer, Claudio Cerquetti of Fantasy at Work, captures other less-glamourous subjects. And he takes his time doing it. His targets aren’t famous faces but are more likely to be real-estate projects, resorts and spas.

“I’ve been photographing properties for 25 years,” says Claudio. “It’s a job I really love. Often I’m witness to every stage of development, from the raw jungle all the way through to the emergence of a lifestyle destination.” He recognizes that on one small island, there can be a myriad of different atmospheres, depending on which part you’re in. And what he calls the ‘tourist rim’ – the more populated coasts – is very different from the quiet hillsides, which are still mostly undeveloped.

For Claudio, one of the most amazing projects he was given was to document the progress of the Chaweng Sila project, which he saw from its earliest days: “Nearly five years ago,” he recounts, “I was asked to create a series of photographic views from a future building site, which was located high above the Bangkok Samui Hospital, in Chaweng. It was just jungle then and slowly became the Chaweng Sila you see today. At that time I was doing a photographic survey of the island for the local authorities. So I had the chance to be working in the wildest areas of Samui – before the advent of any bulldozers – and I was able to see the phases the land went through: from wild beauty, to building site, then back to natural beauty with 5-star facilities.”

He recalls how at that time no roads existed in the area. “To get up to the site I had to use a powerful four-wheel drive truck. The aim was to shoot the sunrise so I had to set off almost an hour beforehand and drive in the darkness before I could get to the right point for the shooting. It was a daunting journey without a proper road but to get up the development these days takes less then five minutes.”

Many changes took place as the development went ahead. The photographic assignment was to create a photo package of the different homes, highlighting the quality of finishing and obviously the beautiful location. From the villas, you can see Chaweng Beach, as well glimpses of Big Buddha and Koh Pha-Ngan. At dusk, the view changes: the street lights of the beach strip come on and turn the coastline into colourful dots. The full moon every month and fire balloons add to the atmosphere.

To capture so much diversity, Claudio used different combinations of external lighting, working with a variety of strobes, tungsten lamps, and mini spots with different colour temperatures. He needed to rebalance the contrast of the view with the interior furniture. “To enhance the natural beauty of this scenery,” Claudio explained, “I chose to shoot with three camera units with 21 megapixel files. The choice of materials, as well as texture and colours, contributed to the general harmony in the images’ compositions and the photo package was a success.”

Seeing a big project through from start to finish requires a certain amount of stamina. You can’t just slack off and hope things will work out for the best. It’s also slow work – a world away from the frantic snapping of the rich and famous.



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