On July 31, 2015 I got to photograph a vision I have had for quite some time. I feel immensely grateful to the team that helped with this shoot. On the night of a full blue moon, in the mountains of the Boise National Forest, 9 people came together to bring an 11 year old model together with reptiles for a gypsy/fashion shoot.
It wasn't without its challenges. The first step was for me, the photographer to push my fears aside, and go forward with the idea that has been written in my notebook for ages. I contacted Autumn Barnes first, the young model's mother. She also is a highly creative and talented person, and she was very excited and encouraging of the vision. With a model on board, and Autumn willing to help with wardrobe and design, I put out a Facebook post to ask anyone for a lead on someone with snakes. Tyler Messina of Reptile Adventures in Nampa, ID came up, and I immediately got in touch with him.
Autumn and I went to meet him out at his rescue, where he has numerous snakes, turtles, lizards, and an alligator. Taking the first step inside was the scariest thing for me. My heart was pounding, and I kept questioning myself if this was the right thing to do, and to have such a young girl involved with such strong reptiles. I would never want anything scary or bad to happen, and thoughts of my childhood flooded my mind.
I was raised in the deserts of NV, and taught to be weary, if not absolutely scared of snakes, because of all the rattlers. I rode my bike around in the deserts, and caught lizards, and watched the boys poke at scorpions with sticks. I remembered being a young child in Kindergarten, and a man that came to our classroom with a rattlesnake, to teach us how be safe around rattlesnakes, and what to do if we ever encounter one. I saw a lot of rattlers growing up.
Tyler came up to Autumn and I smiling and shaking our hands, and in a few moments my mind went from fears to actually opening my mind up to receiving the snakes. As in, touching them, and actually holding a small snake! Tyler made us comfortable with them, talked about his experience, and the behavior and personalities of the reptiles. I knew Tyler would be awesome to team up with after leaving his rescue. I was so overjoyed after meeting him and is reptiles, and actually pushing my fear aside and holding a snake.
*Behind the Scenes
The team came together nicely. Autumn asked Kellie Levesque, Fashion Kellie to be a part of stylizing the shoot, and hired Unique Angeline Irish to do the makeup and hair styling. Nina Luque joined up, bringing props, and helping build a scene while on set. Everyone played a part in the shoot, and did such an amazing job! I am so proud of all of them. There were some hiccups with the day of the shoot, traffic jams, one of us got a speeding ticket, and then when we finally did get to the location it was gated off, so we had to hike up to a different location with all the gear, props, and reptiles, but everyone pulled together, and once the shoot was finished we all felt accomplished, excited, and happy. Even the little hiccups we encountered weren't going to sway us from being successful.
I cannot tell all of you how amazed I am with Alani May. She is a talented model for eleven years old, actually, her age not being a factor, she is a talented model, and if anyone had to push fear aside, it was her. This tiny young girl went through outfit changes, and holding different snakes, to being in the middle of a 130 pound albino boa, named Sunshine. She is an incredible young lady,and I have no doubt her modelling career will take off. Expect to see big things from her as she gets more into her craft! :)
I can honestly say I feel a lot more comfortable about snakes now. I mean as long as someone like Tyler is around. ;) I think I would still have a panic attack in the wild, but Tyler and this experience, and his snakes have enlightened me. I have always thought snakes are fascinating and pretty, but up close and personal like this, was a super cool experience! It's one I won't ever forget, and I don't think anyone of on the shoot will ever forget. Thanks so much for reading the blog about our experience on the shoot, and please show some love to all these amazing people. Shares, likes, and comments are always super appreciated!
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