Ballet with Reptiles
Official online release of the 2018 Artistic Series by Jessica Allison. A collaboration of photography, ballet, and reptiles. Jessica worked with Reptile Adventures from Nampa, ID, a non-profit animal rescue. Pairing reptiles with a young ballerina to create a unique juxtaposition series of images.
To learn about the backstory of this series and to see all the behind the scenes, please click here Ballet with Reptiles: Behind the Scenes
Prints and Framing options are available for purchase. 10% off all profits made from sales through 2018 will be donated to Tyler's non-profit rescue, Reptile Adventures. Please inquire to this email: email@example.com
Special thanks to:
Courtney L., Ballerina
Tyler Messina, Handler, Owner of Reptile Adventures in Nampa, ID
Evann Thomas, Handler, Reptile Adventures
Kelsi Jo Baker, Professional Makeup and Hair Artist
Stephanie Pratt, Assistant
I absolutely need to thank my husband and kids for understanding all the time I needed to put into this series this year. Your love and support means so much to me.
"The message is simple: Love and Conserve our Wildlife." -Steve Irwin
Check out what it was like on set for the series, Ballet with Reptiles. We worked with all kinds of animals; a chameleon, multiple snakes, Tegu Lizard, desert tortoises, and American Alligators.
Tyler is a professional wildlife handler and operates a non-profit rescue in Nampa, ID. The animals were well taken care of and not mistreated. Please don't be alarmed to see the ballerina on top of a tortoise. Desert tortoises are actually incredibly strong and sturdy and can withstand a lot of weight. When you see the alligators scurrying about on the backdrop and outside it is so that we could tire them a bit, so they would be calm when it came time to photograph them. Think of it like letting a kid run around a bit to burn off some energy before needing them to calm for a little bit.
Please enjoy this behind the scenes video, it's a fun chance to get a peek into the fun we had during these shoots. We all had a wonderful chance to learn a bit more about each animal, challenge ourselves to overcome some fears, and create beautiful images for this series.
I hope that this series also sheds light on Tyler's rescue and his efforts. His passion is conservation and education with reptiles. He spends a lot of time putting on events, birthday parties, and going to schools to teach children about the animals he works with. He has a big heart, and cares for all of the animals that come to his rescue. He also has adoption opportunities for some of the animals at his rescue.
I personally would have never been willing to get so close to snakes, let alone alligators if it wasn't for Tyler. His passion for what he does shines through, and his ability to educate and make people feel comfortable around the reptiles is amazing. I think these kind of experiences are so special and unique. The beauty of these animals up close is really touching. I hope that this series will create inspiration and support for his education and conservation efforts through his rescue, Reptile Adventures. I also hope that it inspires people to see the beauty in these animals that are often looked at negatively and/or fearfully, and yes, in the wild absolutely rightfully so, but they're beautiful creatures that deserve respect and our care. We all share one planet, one home, and as humans we need to be taking care of each other and the wildlife we share this amazing planet with. Education and conservation is vitally important for this generation and the future.
So on that note, please enjoy watching this behind the scenes video. And keep scrolling to see more pics, and watch the backstory, too.
The official online release of this series, Ballet with Reptiles, will be Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at 6pm MT.
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!
** Click the images to view larger.