A look back: My First Photo shoot
“We want it to look like a nature photo, but with faeries in it”
said my first ever client as I was sitting uncomfortably on their couch, surrounded by fake flowers and cheap fabric, realizing I was way in over my head. It was my sophomore year in high school and I had just completed my first photography class. I wasn’t the best by far, but I took the class seriously and showed an enthusiasm for photography that not many others had. A fellow classmate asked me if I was interested in coming over on a weekend and taking photos of her family’s clothing line for a catalog they wanted to make.
She failed to mention that they were faerie costumes to be sold at a renaissance fair.
When I arrived to their modest house tucked away on one of the many windy quiet roads in Granite Bay, they greeted me hurriedly and sat me down on the well worn brown leather couch in the living room.
The first thing I noticed was the celtic music playing in the background, and then I saw the “war zone”, where they were preparing for the photo shoot. There were about 3 or 4 adults and my friend from school sitting in the living room glueing on elf ears, making woven flower crowns and putting glitter on just about everything. It was a lot to take in. Outside I could hear roosters and chickens clucking and dogs barking. The matron of the family suddenly yelled out the back door to a dog to stop terrorizing the rooster. As soon as she opened the door, a cat ran in and took refuge someplace high in the corner. It smelled a bit like a farm.
Tension was high in the room, marked by short gruff answers to each other to “move” or “dry your hair faster”. They obviously weren’t ready for me. So I sat there patiently, silently trying to keep my cool, as they finished turning themselves into faeries.
Once all models were faeried-up, I still had no idea where we were going to shoot. My friend had failed to let me in on that detail and I had foolishly not thought to ask. When it was time, they all got up, asked me to carry some of their costumes and ushered me back outside.
They lead me across the street to a barbed wire fence, lifted up a side and told me to climb under.
By this time I was in full panic mode. We were trespassing onto some unknown person’s land and 16 year old me had horrible thoughts of being chased off the property with a shot gun, or worse being driven home in a cop car. Going against my better judgement, I climbed under and followed them through the wild untamed edge of the property. While walking, something large fell in my eye and it wasn’t coming out. No one believed me, but there was definitely something in my eye and it took 5 or 10 minutes of me standing there like a fool to get it out. When I lifted it up on the tip of my finger, I said frustrated with them “see I told you something was there.” It was a small green catepillar only 2 mm long. “Why didn’t anyone help me?” I said out of anger. They shrugged and kept moving. It was freak occurrence, but made me want to turn back even more. I was ill prepared for venturing into the thick brush in my shorts, tank top, and sneakers. I never really liked wandering around in nature in the first place.
After the eyeball incident, I don’t remember it taking too long to find “the spot”. We set down all the extra costumes and began to find the best direction. The sun was out, with not a cloud in the sky and we had no reflectors or bounces, so we made due. At first it was a bit stiff and uncomfortable. Most non-professional models don’t really know what to expect. They kind of stand there and wait for you to give them directions. As an amateur photographer myself, I didn’t know what to do either. Finally they started “acting like faeries” and things came a little more natural.
We couldn’t have been out there for more than an hour when a herd of cows suddently came running through our shoot. It came out of no where and all I could do was laugh as they ran by. Luckily no one got trampled, but we decided to change locations just to be safe. Another hour or so and the sun was going down. We decided to call it quits. I felt confident that I had captured what they had wanted and was excited to get home and retouch the photos. They thanked me repeatedly as they lead me back to their house and drove me home.
It was the weirdest experience I had ever had, but it taught me that if you roll with the punches, you’ll come out with a really good story.
Sadly I lost most of the photos in college after an accidental glass of water shorting out my laptop, but these four are the last remnants of a distant high school summer memory. If you want to see more of my photography, check out my flickr account.