Photographer Michal Venera turns Hawaii into New Zealand before your eyes

michal venera photography

Need to recreate a shot of friends on a beach in New Zealand? From an island thousands of miles away? In seven days? Over Christmas? With bad weather, a serious model shortage, and three major movie productions fighting for production resources? Say “Aloha” to Photographer Michal Venera.

michal venera photography

“A New Zealand wine brand wanted to recreate a specific shot of friends on a beach for a holiday promotion,” recalls Michal. “But it was already the first week of December, which ruled out New Zealand because of weather.”

Michal and the client quickly settled on Hawaii as a substitute island. What they didn’t know is that three major motion pictures were already shooting on Oahu. Competing for basic resources – like models – turned into a real challenge.

And despite the location improvisation, weather was an issue. If Michal hadn’t gone straight from the plane to shoot landscapes and locations, the entire shoot might have been a bust. After that first day of celestial sunshine, Michal and his crew lost two days time battling rain and overcast conditions. Turns out, the main image ended up being a composite using a background from those first coverage photographs.

The lesson? “Always be shooting,” said Michal with a wry smile. “I’m a very structured photographer and try to control as many variables as possible, but you never know when the magic is going to happen.”

Case in point, the three major motion-picture productions put a strain on behind-the-lens talent as well. Not happy with the styling for the shoot, Michal jumped in his rental car and raced across the island to Honolulu before the shops closed. Sprinting from store to store, he and his producer put together their own wardrobe for all six models.

But overdelivering comes standard with Michal. Tasked with reproducing a single shot, he delivered imagery for an entire campaign that ran well into the new year.

So if your next project could use a little holiday magic, unwrap the rest of Photographer Michal Venera’s work here. Your wishes are about to come true.