Wednesday, October 07, 2009

You Belong In The Zoo!

One of my favorite places in San Diego is the San Diego Zoo. I have so many fond memories going back to a zoology class I took in 4th grade summer school, where we were basically taken there everyday and allowed to run rampant from 8 to 12. So of course, I was looking forward to this shoot (even though I am a zoo member and can go in an unlimited number of times. What a deal!
We knew we wanted to shoot at the flamingo lagoon, but the zoo also suggested that we take a look at their new Elephant Odyssey exhibit. When we got there the handler was just bringing the elephants out, so we decided to play around on the great statues of the ancient mammoths at the beginning of the exhibit. Although this shot wasn't used, I love it because Stephanie looks like a little girl who wanted a pony for her birthday... and got an elephant instead! Once we did start the shoot with the real elephants, the zoo staff couldn't have been nicer. As far as Stephanie's costume, I knew that I wanted a white tutu with the elephants. It was sort of an homage to the Stravinsky/Balanchine elephant ballet that was famously created for Vera Zorina and Modoc, the elephant. As the story goes, Ringling Bros, & Barnum and Bailey Circus asked George Balanchine to choreograph a ballet on their elephants for a special performance. Balanchine called Igor Stravinsky and asked: "Would you like to do a little ballet with me?" "For whom?" asked Stravinsky. "For some elephants." answered Balanchine without hesitation. "How old?" asked Stravinsky, without missing a beat. "Very young." replied Balanchine. "All right," said the great Russian composer, "If they are very young elephants, I will do it." Such a nice story, because it reminds us that humor and a willingness to do new things are wonderful qualities for artists to have.
When we got to the Flamingo Lagoon, we started taking lots of great photos. But the new Flamingo Lagoon (as great as it is) doesn't have the same kind of "backdrop" quality that the zoo's original Flamingo Lagoon did. So I started squatting down to see if we couldn't get the angle we needed. And we kept asking Stephanie to get lower.. and lower. Finally we were all at ground level, but we did manage to get what we needed. Of course, it was great that we were there before the public came in, otherwise they would have seen a very strange photo shoot.


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