Model: Pamela Anderson
Camera Info: Hasselblad 500 C
Lens: 150mm f/4 Sonnar
Shoot Date: June 13,1992
In 1989 I was asked to appear in the opening scenes of the first Baywatch TV movie “Panic at Malibu Pier”. My cameo role was that of a glamour photographer shooting nudes on the beach. This was the first time that a nude model appeared on national television during prime time. I don’t believe the network censors actually previewed the movie before it aired. The audience loved it, but understandably nudity was not to be presented in future episodes.
Baywatch soon became the most widely viewed TV series in the world, with an audience of over 1 billion viewers in 142 countries. Much of that mass audience appeal was due to appearance of Pamela Anderson in the first episode of season 3, in 1992 when she first joined the cast staring as “CJ Parker” For several years, I shot all the Baywatch cast promotional photos. It was during one of those shoots, when I was introduced to Pamela Anderson on the beach at Malibu.
This photoshoot took place at the beginning of Pam’s first season. She hadn’t met all the other actors by that point. The entire cast usually got together for one day during each season for publicity photos. Other then that, they only see each other when they are actually filming scenes together.
At first glance, the Baywatch cast and crew can be both exciting and intimidating. In addition to a very famous cast, the crew consisted of well over 150 people, with a large convoy of trailers, prop vehicles, helicopters dune buggies, ambulances, and catering trucks. It was quite a scene to behold.
I recall that Pam was somewhat shy and reserved throughout the shoot that day. She
hadn’t become the superstar that she’d soon develop into at that point. This was early in her career and I don’t think she knew what to expect that day.
In addition to the many cast group shots, the producers also wanted some photos of Pam alone, for promotional posters intended to introduce Pam to the world. They asked to see some images of Pam on a lifeguard surfboard.
This photo was taken was late in the day, as the sky was becoming hazy and the sun was low on the water. It was getting cold and windy, and there was no way Pam could get in the water at that point.
I told my assistants to grab a couple of 50 gallon garbage cans and laid the surfboard across them. This seemed to visually solve the problem. The actual poster was cropped just at the bottom of the board, so the viewer got the idea that Pam’s in the water, or at least very close to it.
We used one strobe as our main light and a couple of reflectors to throw highlights across her back, arm and hair. The whole setup only took about 10 minutes from start to finish, then we lost our light and called it a day.
I worked with Pam several times after that, but this particular setup was a favorite of the producers, the publicists, and myself. The poster images we got that day were highly successful, broke worldwide publishing records, and were reused many times over the years.
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