I learned a few valuable lessons on our most recent fashion photography shoot. The first and most valuable lesson is that rattlesnakes do not sound like they do on TV. On TV, they make that (almost) adorable baby’s rattle sound and in real life, that’s not always the case.
I wanted a location that was ‘out of the way’ with some nice landscape. But as soon as we set up, I was feeling a little jumpy – call it intuition…or some sixth sense, but I felt ‘watched’. While I knew that there were rattlesnakes in the desert, I had never seen one (alive at least – they have a nice collection of rattlesnakes in a freezer at the El Dorado mine tour office in Nelson though….don’t ask, but I hear they taste like chicken).
While we were driving, I felt the need to explain how rattlesnakes work, how they don’t really want to bite people, etc etc. Something just felt ‘different’ this time. Sure enough, about thirty minutes into the shoot I heard a sound that I can only describe as a cross between a wind up toy and a gigantic bumblebee.
I leapt to my feet and looked around, but saw nothing (I also might have made a high pitched squealing sound, but if I did, we’re going to forget that happened and move on). Somehow Victoria convinced me that what I heard must have been a bee. Not that I really believed it was a bee, but without further evidence, I chose to continue shooting. My second lesson learned is that it’s never a bee. I’m a fairly smart guy, but the judgment I displayed was equivalent to that of a teenage girl in a slasher flick.
Now, I’m not a “pee in the middle of the desert” type of guy. At all. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I’m going to pee at random times during a fashion photoshoot. I mean, if I were stranded on a deserted island, I would make a proper flushing toilet out of coconuts and soap from the fur of whatever indigenous life forms I could tackle first.
But man, that litre of water I drank on the ride out to the desert was hitting me like a punch from Mike Tyson and I could practically hear a sloshing noise as I walked.
So in between sets, I…ahem…made the desert rain….er, watered the grass….released the Kraken—oh you get the picture. It was at that moment that I heard the same noise as before. In several locations. That angry bumblebee sound and the more obvious TV-esque baby rattle noise. Which brings me to my third and final lesson:
DO NOT PEE IN THE DESERT. EVER. The desert holds various terrible species, all of them hazardous to life and health. Plus, you are at no point in your life more vulnerable. I braced myself – I was not going to die, I was not going to pee on my leg and I was NOT going to give the most disappointing show since ‘World War Z’.
After unceremoniously hauling butt away from there, I climbed a small hill, to see if it would be a neat location for some more shoots. I looked back exactly where I was standing before and spotted THIS. It’s a horrible photo I know, but proper composition and steady camera work was the last thing on my mind. By the multitude of sounds that I heard, he wasn’t alone at all and I had more than likely been standing no more than a few feet away from a rattlesnake nest.
So the takeaway from the above story is that if you hear a weird sound in the desert, it’s always going to be a snake or a chupacabra or that thing from Jeepers Creepers. Stay safe. Also, don’t pee in the desert.
But I digress. We’ve worked with Victoria a few times now and it’s always a pleasure; as a professional dancer, she not only has natural grace (she calls this an ‘elephant on ice’, but I think it’s more like a swan), but some pretty cool outfits as well. Sarah and I have sometimes called her ‘Photoshop girl’ after the first time we worked with her. Her skin was so unbelievably flawless that when professional makeup was added, I commented that she looked as though she had already been Photoshopped.
Just a great model to work with, Victoria not only has a wonderful look, but an excellent personality as well as a great sense of humor! Plus, she has swords and as I’m writing this, the thought just occurred to me that we could have used the sword to fight the rattlesnakes. That would have been extremely bad ass!
Special props goes out to our very own Sarah, for the killer makeup artistry (as always of course!)