Photographing snakes

July 15, 2011

A calendar project I’m working on this year is kicking off, and as a result I got to photograph Zehara, a Boston based dancer and snake charmer

http://www.zehara.com/

While I’ve shot her at performances and dance events before, I never had the chance to do a quality, one on one photoshoot, so I was really excited.

She will be representing November, and supplied the theme for the shoot was that she would be Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent in Aztec mythology. Yes, I had to google it too :) Being November, she wanted to incorporate the Aztec apocalyptic predictions, and the day of the dead. Phew – I was scrambling for ideas!

Originally, we’d planned to shoot at a local park. I wasn’t excited about it – the day was super hot, and I anticipated a ton of people hanging around. Not a great mix – but through an amazing stroke of luck, I took a different route on my morning run and ran right past the *perfect* location. It was a large clearing, full of dead and downed trees, trunks and branches. We were rolling!

Zehara and her brand new hubby Don arrived, her snakes were loaded up and she hopped into costume – we were off for the whole 3 minute drive from my house to our new venue.

I’d say it worked out *just* fine!

We started out with some single light portraits (a 580exII on a long ETTL cable) in a 24″ softbox – balanced really carefully on broken twigs and sticks!

Then we introduced some colored lights using Honl gels on a second speedlite (a 430exII), triggered with the Canon wireless system (see, it can work outside!)

then a quick switch over to a wider angled lens (from the 70-200 to a 28mm prime), and it was time for me to get down in the crud and get a little scratched up and dirty!

Then a quick location switch to a spot further down the street, where we braved poison ivy, and massive killer flies

Seriously, the flies were so annoying we didn’t have to work hard on the “angry” looks!

Also, did you spot the green gel there? These were still shot with two lights (and the sun, of course), but one now had a green Honl gel on it.

My favorite photo of the day – we decided this would be called the Elvis look. Maybe I get everyone to do one of these and turn it into a companion calendar?

Thanks for reading this quick run through of the shoot – thank you to Zehara for coming out, Don for being the best photo/snake assistant I’ve ever had, and you, readers, for getting to the end :) More photos can be seen in the gallery!

http://www.rt2photo.com/Dance/2012-Calendar/Zehara-Calendar/



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