Top of Sugarloaf Mountain, and islands in a misty Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

One of the best things about my job is the special access that I can often get to people and places around the World. I have been lucky enough to join in processions, stay in exclusive resorts and tuck into a number of Michelin-starred meals; all off the back of my photography and writing. This picture of Sugarloaf Mountain was no exception.

In order to shoot the stunning view from Corcovado in the incomparable city of Rio de Janeiro, I wanted to be in place for sunrise. Unfortunately the site only opened at around 9am - far too late for me. I managed to secure an official permission to get into the Corcovado site for sunrise, but it was only for one named day.

On the morning I had the permission, I awoke early and the sky looked massively overcast. It would have been easy to give up and stay in bed, but I hurried out of the hotel and flagged a taxi. Probably the only honest cabbie in the city , he pointed out that the site would be closed at that time, then laboriously read my permission letter, looked impressed and shot off up the hill. The letter worked, and I got into Corcovado just as the sun was coming up - or at least would have been coming up if there were no clouds. The effect though was magical. I didn't see the sun, but I did see the misty clouds. I set up a tripod and snapped away with a range of lenses. It was a magical moment having the place to myself with such an evocative backdrop.

I was on a commission for the BBC shooting many destinations around the world, for the book that would end up being Unforgettable Places to See Before You Die, which was published by BBC Books in 2004. This image was selected for the cover, and was also on the cover of most of the thirty or so foreign editions for this book. It is without doubt my most published and most recognised image!

Yet it would have been so easy to have given up and stayed in bed and missed to whole opportunity. The lesson here, which is borne out so many times in photography, that you never know what the weather is going to do unless you make the effort to get in place!

Nikon F5 @ Provia 100F Film
Nikon 80-200mm lens

Words and image Steve Davey/ 2017

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The Story Behind the Picture...

Website, Images and text Steve Davey/ 1990 - 2021

Click on one of the links below to see the feature:

Travel Photography

A Lesson In Copyright

Shooting the perfect Selfie


Story Behind the Picture

01 - Marrakech Snakes

02 - Hanoi Moto Taxi

03 - Carnaval de Binche

04 - Petra Star trails

05 - Laos Alms Round

06 - Madagascar Chameleon

07 - Delhi Spice Market

08 - Lalibela Rainbow

09 - Burning Barrels

10 Sugarloaf Mountain

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