Beach Photographer – Tough job in paradise

Daniel-Charles Echalièr in Action
Daniel-Charles Echaliér during a photo shooting
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

As you know from my last two posts, Petra and me have been to Punta Cana for a short vacation. Now, we’re back for two weeks (and also back in our respective treadmills), but when reviewing some of the images, I stumbled across this shot. Please excuse the bad quality (I did not have any of my pro equipment with me – after all it should be a vacation), but at our resort I met a remarkable guy.

It’s Daniel-Charles Echaliér (or Charlie for almost everyone), a photographer from Paris, France. He is one of the official photographers at the resort. Hotel guests usually book him for photoshootings, be it at the beach or within the resort. He does portrait sessions, familiy shots, and weddings. I witnessed some of his sessions at the beach, and I was stunned by the results. The photos are put on display every evening at the hotel lobby. Yep, stunning. His images definitely are of professional quality, and you clearly get the impression that Charlie is not just a photographer. He is an artist.

This is also confirmed by the fact that Charlie refuses to do any snapshots of guests with lizzards, monkeys, or hula girls. He leaves this to his colleagues. “I think this isn’t photography”, he laughs, “I am not interested in this at all.” Still every Dollar counts, even more so in the Dominican Republic. Single prints are sold at US$ 10, while full photo sessions start at US$ 100, with all shots being provided on CD-ROM. Even in paradise, photographers need some money to survive.

Beach photographer in Punta Cana
A beach photographer shoots a hula model with a tourist
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Wedding photography at Punta Cana beach
A photographer does a wedding photo session at Punta Cana beach
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Charlie told me that he has been doing this freelance job for two years by now, and that he still loves it. Which is even more stunning as one would expect that after thousands of photo sessions at the beach, it might be difficult to keep a positive spirit. Of course, he knows the locations at the beach and the resort inside out. And yet, he is working with professionalism and enthusiasm, walking the extra mile (or in his case: throwing himself into the sand again and again) for each and every customer. The results speak for themselves. Just have a look at this small excerpt of his portfolio. There’s some good stuff in there.

He’s got photography in his genes. His father used to be a professional photographer running a studio in Paris. So Charlie wanted to become a photographer early in his life. Once he went for a photo job to the Dominican Republic, and he decided to stay here. Certainly there are worse places to live. This is paradise for many tourists, and from a photographic point of view, both the locations and the soft caribbean light offer everything for an aspiring portrait photographer. In addition, the “models” are usually quite relaxed, often showing a golden tanned skin already.

Yet, Charlie does not put his focus just on the natural beach beauties. He explains: “I do not believe in being photogenic. I think that everyone carries his or her own charm, and this is what I want to bring out in my photos”. And he does. During a shooting, he arranges his models expertly in the sand of the long and beautiful white beach of Punta Cana with its gentle waves. He carefully checks that every detail looks good, and chooses a camera position and lense that makes the models look even more beautiful than they are. The location usually looks truly unique, creating the impression that the beach was a remote spot without any tourists. An illusion, but the customers demand it.

As for the cameras, Charlie uses Nikon’s line of digital cameras, often the D70, but he’s got a D200 as well. “I’m a Nikon guy, but it’s not really the camera that makes the difference”, he says.

And just as we talk in the hotel lobby, another couple approaches his small desk, admiring his sample portfolio. Evenings are the most important hours to get bookings for the next day. And so, he says with an excusing smile: “Sorry, Mark, but customers, you know?”

I know. Customers make the photographers’ living.

For photo shoots in Punta Cana, please contact:
Charles-Daniel Echaliér
Photographer at the Grand Palladium Bavaro Resort & Spa
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Mob. +1 (809) 459 6244

See more photos from our trip to Punta Cana

3 Responses to “Beach Photographer – Tough job in paradise”

  1. jessica says:

    Hi, I was just surfing to find Charlie and I found your blog. My boyfriend and I also have pics done by him and we loved him! The pictures are beautiful, romantic and one of a kind. He had a great sense of humor and is definitely an artist! I’m glad you took the time to write this blog about him, he deserves all the credit for his beautiful work!

  2. Monica Della-Quercia says:

    Hola !!! Just happened to surf the internet and saw your article. Congratulations to this great and talented photographer. I simply wanted to drop a note in recognition of his work and of all those other talented individuals who do an amazing job while doing photo sessions on the beach or in the resorts. I just happened to have one done this past April by another amazing photographer and I truly agree with everything you’ve said about these great photographers who actually love their job and love people. Thumbs up to Charlie and Emmanuel (my photographer). Cheers from Uruguay !

  3. Ashley Mills says:

    I was so happy to stumble across this amazing blog about Charlie! I had a shoot done with him in May in Play Del Carmen, MX. We had become friendly at the resort I was staying at, and he convinced me to do a photo shoot with him. Reluctantly I agreed-and I must say, I am happy I did. He made me feel so comfortable and beautiful and I could feel his passion for photography. I had so much fun with him, and was sad when it was over. The pictures he took of me were stunning and you could see how much care he puts into each shot. I hope to see him again for yet another amazing, fun, charasmatic photo shoot. You will not regret working with Charlie-because for him, it is not work, it is what he loves.