Stage 1: Gathering Materials

Tropical Tourist

Stage 1

Select items that represent my chosen theme.


A brainstormed list of the visual and tactile properties, materials and objects for this theme:

Beach: golden sand, gritty, squeaky, hot sand, smooth shells, seaweed, footprints in the sand
Ocean: turquoise, blue, reflective, lapping sound, waves, bubbles, wet sand, silver fish darting, shiny scales, salty, ripples, fresh, clear, transparent, clean
Snorkling: snorkel, fins, goggles, sound of my own breathing, rubbery, ropes of wet hair, muted green with flashes of bright colours, coral, reef, schools of fish, floating, swaying
Beach Wear: swimsuit, bikini, stretchy, bold colours, skimpy, sunglasses, glare, thongs, beach towel, straw beach bag, batik sarong, straw hat, zinc cream
Palm tree: spiky, shade, coconuts, hairy and rough, round, coconut milk, sawing through coconut with your teeth
Places: Fiji, Bali, Tonga, island song, grass skirts, Pacific, brown skin
Rainforest: cool, green, humid, palm trees and tree ferns, vines, fig trees, canopy, mossy, Ulysses butterflies, Bird of Paradise, Cassowary
Resort: cocktails, swimming pool, tropical fruit (pineapples, mangoes) for breakfast, feeling lazy, casual, orange sunsets over water


Sarong and Swimming-Goggles:
Rifling through my beach wear turned up some treasures.

One of my sarongs was covered in fish, with hot pink and yellow in the background wavy lines. Perfect. It evokes the bright colours of summer, blue skies, yellow sun, heat, swimming. Also, the fabric is a worn, soft voile, so its touch elicits gentle breezes.

Brightly-Coloured Sarong

I was tantalised by somehow representing sea water. Something shiny, transparent, smooth and glossy was necessary. A glass? Water itself? Sparkly crystals? I settled on my blue swimming goggles. Not only were they ocean blue, but the lenses were transparent, smooth and shiny; the straps were also smooth and rubbery, signalling swimming beyond their obvious use towards swimming caps, wetsuits, fins.

I’m not sure I perfectly captured the original intent of the water, but they fit the image so well, they had to be included.

Swimming Goggles

Tropical Fruit:
I had to include a pineapple! It has the bright colours I was seeking, but also some different textures: spiky leaves and rough skin.

This was complemented by a coconut. A strong theme of my brainstorm was palm trees and coconuts. The rough, stringy texture could play off the smooth voile, and the rubber of the googles, and the natural colours were the perfect foil for the supernatural colours of the sarong and goggles.

I had almost given up on finding a raw coconut. The local supermarket had plenty of green, drinking coconuts, but I wasn’t looking for angular, white and spongy. By chance I was shopping at a different place, and there they were, dozens of raw coconuts.

To capture a resort feel, I went searching for some curly straws that I knew were stashed in the kitchen somewhere, that has been used at a children’s birthday party; and I threw a packet of those cocktail umbrellas in my next supermarket trolley.

My first instinct was to use sand as my background, a beach itself. I had some sand in the shed, left over from a concreting job years ago, and it was fine and just the right shade. I poured it into a shallow under-bed storage box for my photographs.

Other candidates I considered were sand-paper, the sand colored pebbles of my driveway, a woven straw mat, or a palm frond. All my choices reflected ‘natural’ colours and evoked the natural world, as this was a strong theme throughout my brainstorming list.

I ended up including two more objects in the collection at this point:
* a small woven-straw fan, as a possible alternative to the sand, or else as a complimentary neutral background
* a large shell, also in sandy colours to bring in a very smooth hard texture.

I was ready to start arranging and taking photographs.


Asad Photos Maldives (2016) ‘Coconut Tree Near Body of Water Under Blue Sky’
viewed:, 9 July, 2019