Not the worst assignment in the history of journalism
The Breast Inspector
The Rip Curl Search 2005 hit Reunion Island, and I had a good gig as a journo writing a story about following Tom Curren around the island. The Surf Europe editorial budget coughed up for the flight, while Rip Curl took care of our lodgings on the island, and organised wheels.
Curren was there as a wildcard and my gig, along with a filmer and French/Aussie photo Erick ‘Tungsten’ Regnard was to follow Curren around and get some shots for a feature. Tungsten happens to be a classic character, who shoots surfing but also does other model/ fashion projects.
Anyway, he had a big portfolio with him of prints of beautifully shot mostly nude portraits of girls from all around the world. Some of them would be part time models, surfers, girls from the beach, but there were a couple of gems in there too.
Surf consistency: 6 Wave variety: 7
Climate: 9 Radness: 3 Budget: 3
One was 90’s Danish supermodel Helena Christensen, whom he managed to get to sit for him once in Paris. Basically, when he was talking to girls about whether they’d like to sit for him, all vestiges of scepticism went straight out the window when they saw Helena.
With the winds favourable in the morning, our typical day would involve going for an early surf with Tom down at St Pierre, crashing the breakfast buffet at the hotel in front of St Leu (we were billeted in a grotty apartment up the hill) then with the wind up, Erick and I would go casting for models.
The beach up at St Gilles was a decent spot, packed with beautiful local cafrine girls, exotic mixes of Africa, Asia, Arabia and Europe coming together in curvaceous, vivacious celebrations of the female form.
I’m not precisely sure how many breasts I inspected/light metered on that trip, but it was very many and often
Erick seemed to know one of the lifeguards, who let us use their building for the test shoots. Erick would snap a few of them in their bikini, then ask them to remove the top. I would make those frame things with my fingers that movie directors do in silly films, framing brown, sunkissed bossoms, and he would ask me things like, “What do you think?" and I would go “Hmmm, hmmmm, yes, nice, nice shape," trying my best to keep a straight face.
Other times I would use the light meter, which of course, must be held at close proximity to the breast, with readings taken at very regular intervals (despite being indoors).
I’m not precisely sure how many breasts I inspected/light metered on that trip, but it was very many and often. I’d like to think I got quite good at it, and felt like I applied myself to this on location photographic assistant’s apprenticeship with diligence, gumption and enthusiasm.
That was one of my first gigs covering an overseas WCT event for the magazine, and I decided that world tour surfing journalism was a line of business I was definitely very keen to continue pursuing.