Thursday, June 17, 2010

Setting Up a Photo Studio

How do you set up a photo shoot?  Let me tell you what I learned last weekend.

Step 1.  Do your own thing.  In our case, buy a little farm, add as many animals as possible, and grow a big garden so we can feed ourselves and our guests without many trips to a grocery store.
Step 2.  Invite friends to visit.  If one of them is a professional photographer, focus on his or her significant other, especially if she loves animals.  Reel her in with lots of animal photos on your blogs, including many amateurish pictures of beautiful subjects.

Step 3.  When the photographer says, "I like your blogs, but the text is more distracting than the pictures," start collecting people who have lines in their faces.  Call them faces with "character," "life experience" and "history."

Step 4.  Establish low expectations.  After all, a farm has lots of poop piles.  Portray it as rustic, antique and un-air-conditioned (all true).

Step 5.  Set a date.  Once that's done, you know they're probably as crazy as you are, so relax.  After all, if they find the place disgusting, they can drive away.

Step 6.  When the car arrives, ignore all the strange-looking luggage piled in the back and pretend you're going to sit under ceiling fans and sip mint juleps.  In fact, begin by offering iced tea and, as a joke, raw goat's milk, then introduce them to your week-old goat kids.

Step 7.  When you notice his eyes roaming parlors, porches and patios for studio space, pull out your list of possible portrait models and suggest ways of appearing to accidentally run into them.

Step 8:  Set the hook by inviting his better half into the barn to help milk, gather eggs, distribute feed, and sweep goat detritus.

Step 9.  Take your guests for a "Sunday" drive (any day's okay), wander into town and slowly drive past empty storefronts with "For Rent" signs.  Gulp when he starts calling numbers.

Step 10.  Leave your friends alone to sweat and swat flies while you pick peas without sweating or swatting.  The air-conditioned storefront sounds better and better.

The rest is easy.  Here's what we did Monday morning.

Rise at 6:30. Shower for the first time in 2 weeks so my hair looks fresh and dry on top of the jowls the photographer insists I not shave because, well, he never says so, but I like to think his inclusion of me in the shoot means my face has character although I realize friends often receive special treatment.  Besides, I don't want the storefront smelling like goats and rotting gardeners.  
 Got everything?

At 7:30, after double-checking mental lists, drive to Green Valley Rental Center, owned by the father of Ruth, Rooster's significant other, in the hopes that he might have the now-lost (#@!&$!!) telephone number Rooster offered Friday night at a music party.  From Wal-Mart parking lot, call Ruth's, not Rooster's, number, which Dad offered.  Ruth says Rooster's on his way to his shop.  Buy cardtable, computer desk, brown paper, bottled water (handy for once, but when are we going to ban this stuff?), and bar stool.

Find Rooster's basement auto repair shop with no lawnmower/weedwhacker, lots of rusting hulks and body parts.  No Rooster.  Call and leave third or fourth message.  Drive to music store to visit scheduled model David, who might be able to reach Rooster.  Doesn't open until 10, so go on to City Hall to meet the Commissioner of Revenue, a very nice grandmotherly-type, who says a business license isn't necessary because Jerry isn't charging anyone anything.  She and her assistant grandma admire Jerry's work, convenient on IPhone and IPad, and agree to receive a certificate of insurance on their fax machine.  Walk two blocks to visit The Advocate, local alternative monthly rag, owned by Doug with character in his face.  Not in. Go downstairs to Washington Street Purveyors, where Jerry is purveyed 2 bottles of Layer Cake shiraz.  Retrace steps to get fax, then try David again, no Rooster.
At 10:45, park at the curb outside 115 S. Main.  Watch Jerry fret, call owner in case we have time to run another errand before she arrives, and report that she's on schedule.  11:00, Watch Jerry sweat.  11:01, phew!  Jerry probably wants to hug Sallie but doesn't as she opens the door.  Unload.  Assemble the computer table from easy-to-follow instructions in American-ese while Jerry sets up screens, reflectors, computer...Lights! Cameras! Action!

"Busy morning, eh?" says Virginia.


  1. I think maybe you shoulda mentioned how you soothed my weary mind by reading me your poem about the "Carnal Bathtub", or something of the sorts. I still have visions dancing in my head...thanks.

  2. I LOVE the way you write!!!! By the way, you may think you snookered me into work, but I think I got you!