Like most good things, it started with a delicious dinner.
A month or two before arriving at Mission Beach, Michael Marlborough and I met up to eat Ethiopian food and chat about travel plans (and before anyone says it, yeah, Ethiopian food â€“ kind of an oxymoron, huh? But itâ€™s awesome. Try it). Some wine had been drunk and we were throwing out ideas for shoots. There was a nautical theme going on â€“ we talked about anchors, rope, and sailors. Then I said, â€œGiant squid!â€
Michaelâ€™s eyes lit up.
Now, I wasnâ€™t exactly joking when I started talking about cephalopods. You know those images you have in your mind, the ones you hope someday with enough time, resources and the right people to work with, youâ€™ll get down on film? Well, one of the ones in the back of my head, taking up important room, involved a many-legged sea creature. Turns out my photographer friend had a similar affliction. Perhaps we were onto something. Since both of us live inland, shooting near the ocean is not something we get to do very often and our access to sea creatures is limited. We had to take the opportunity while we could.
Weeks later, driving from Townsville to Mission Beach, we procured ourselves the largest frozen octopus we could find, with the help of a very bemused fishmonger. This was Octavius.
He was so big that, once thawed in a bucket of iced water, we needed an assistant just to keep him in position. Plus rubber bands, several chairs and afterwards, a lot of soap. But we worked it out and Octavius turned out to be a pretty decent model.
There is nothing quite like seeing an image youâ€™ve had in your mind, exactly as you saw it, finally come into being on the preview panel of a camera or a proof sheet. It was one of the best moments at Mission Beach and something Iâ€™ll never forget. The feeling of having a large octopus draped over my face has been largely blanked out, so thereâ€™s nothing but happy endings to this story. Oh, and some pictures.