In 1998 I hitchhiked all the way around Australia photographing everyone who gave me a lift and writing about each hitch (http://soididbook.blogspot.com.au/).
The bloke in this photo, Marc Hubben, was my 29th hitch. He took me from Erldunda, a road house on the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory (at the turn off for Uluru), to Adelaide. I was with him for a couple of days.
It had rained in the days leading up to Marc picking me up and, as we made our way from the Northern Territory into South Australia, we were greeted with the sight of wildflowers blanketing the landscape as far as the eye could see. It was spectacular and lasted for several hundred kilometres.
I wanted to somehow incorporate these flowers into Marc's portrait but I was shooting my journey on B&W film and a wide shot of the landscape would have looked pretty ordinary.
I also knew I wanted to use one of the car's wheels in the photo (circles are dominant shapes...they can be a distraction or used to your advantage) and, as we sped down the highway, I came up with an idea. I told Marc what I had in mind and he pulled over to the side of the highway.
We stepped from the air conditioned car into the 40+ degree C (100F) heat which hit us like a very hot brick in the face. To make matters worse, swarms of flies descended on us within seconds and it was blustery, so we felt like we were in the middle of a hair-dryer.
Marc could have very easily told me to sod off and climbed back into the car but he stuck it out like a trooper. We were both suffering for MY art.
I found a bunch of flowers I liked but were a little off centre with the wheel and Marc kindly moved the car into position for me, then got out, lay down and wriggled into position.
What amazes me looking at the photo all these years later is that the scene looks so peaceful. In truth, it was anything but!
The ground was extremely hot, the blustery hair-dryer conditions equally so, and the flies kept swarming all over Marc's face. The way we worked it was that Marc waved like mad to get rid of the flies from his face, then I'd shout 'NOW' (without, hopefully, swallowing any flies) and he would pull his hand away.
I had less than a second to fire off a frame before his face turned black with flies (okay, an exaggeration, but you get the idea). Because I was using a Nikon FM2 without an automatic winder, I only had time to take one frame at a time. I got Marc to repeat the process around a dozen times (those flies were quick!) before I was sure I had what I wanted.
I'd noticed Marc squirming a bit while I was taking the photos and thought it was just the heat of the ground. However, when he stood up, it turned out he'd been lying on an ant nest! Thankfully they weren't the 'bitey' variety, but he danced a jig nonetheless as he brushed them off!
You'll all be glad to know that I later bought Marc dinner as a thank you for his heroic efforts.
Gear used - Nikon FM2 camera, Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens, FP4 B&W film (125 ISO)