Once a year, Travel+Leisure magazine puts together a “World’s Best List,” summarizing the best of the best travel spots for its readers. The list includes everything from the top cities and islands to outstanding restaurants and hotels from around the world.
This year, the Philippine island of Palawan was the recipient of the 2013 prestigious “Best Island” award, and Manila-based travel photographer Francisco Guerrero was the recipient of an equally prestigious task—that of traveling to Palawan to shoot with one goal: a Travel+Leisure cover—worthy image.
Francisco is no stranger to the Philippines, as he has been living and shooting there for four years now. In fact, Francisco shot a series in Bohol, another Philippine island, last year—of which an image eventually landed the cover of Travel+Leisure. Another cover? Piece of cake.
However, Francisco soon learned that the shoot presented multiple challenges. A group of imposing limestone islands rise out of the sea in northwestern Palawan, which offer a variety of settings, but are only accessible by swimming. In addition, many of the locations Francisco hoped to capture were sandbars that come and go with the tides.
Francisco rose to the challenge, describing it as, “a playground for photographers” with a vast amount of locations to choose from.
By traveling with a crew of just three people—himself, the model, and his assistant, Francisco was able to efficiently navigate the waters. The three traveled by speedboat quickly in and out of the lagoons and sandbars in order to capture each shot.
Francisco was successful, eventually capturing the cover image on the Lagen sandbar.
Landing his second Travel+Leisure cover? No big deal. Francisco said the real highlight of his trip was the snorkeling adventure he took post shoot:
My assistant Sonny, though he was born and raised in the Philippines, had never gone snorkeling. After we wrapped the model and I decided to take Sonny for a quick snorkel in front of the resort. Let’s just say snorkeling in this island paradise was quite an initiation.