Lady of the Flies

It is extremely rare but being a mom of 3, I have had to reschedule shoots in the past. I try to have backup plans to avoid a reschedule. As we all know life is unpredictable. This time was completely out of my hands. Mother Nature was in control. I could not have foreseen the cause of this reschedule to be FLIES. Not just your annoying house flies, but GREEN HEAD FLIES that bite! They completely overtook the shoot location.

Let's start at the beginning, this was not an individual client shoot but a specialized event. I enjoy hosting these types of events when clients can gather and have fun! This particular event this past June was called ‘The American Girl’. The idea was born from the need of some summer instagram marketing material. Memorial day came and went. I do have a few patriotic photos from years ago, such as a newborn swaddled in an American flag but my photography style has changed drastically since then. So I came up with the idea to host a "self love shoot" that was a patriotic theme for the upcoming July 4th holiday.

I created an event page on facebook to share about a week or two before the shoot date. I had eight spaces available, and only filled five. Shortly after two sign ups cancelled. I was disappointed but also grateful to get to photograph the girls that confirmed. The shoot location was planned for Woodland Beach in Smyrna, Delaware. This was not my first photoshoot at this location. I had done two other shoots there in the past, I was also baptized there. This was a location is close to my heart. Never before were there any green head flies on the beach. We brought an American flag, sparklers, and tiny stars for make up. My team and I were excited to tackle this theme and enjoy time with our customers.

The day finally arrived and my team was ready to go. This was our fourth event together, so we were prepared. I drove with my sister, Jordan (event manager). We took her Jeep because we thought it'd be cute if some of the girls wanted to use it as a prop in the shoot. Jeep is an American company so it all tied together. We arrive between half an hour to an hour early to set up. As I previously mentioned, I had shot at the Woodland Beach. When we arrived we found our make up artist, Morgan. She is already in the parking lot waiting for us in her Forester. When we pulled up next to her it all began! There was probably 50-100 green head flies swarming and pegging the Jeep and Forester like hungry kids at an ice cream truck. We were scared, looking at one another through closed car windows. We took a deep breath and exited our vehicles to grab our gear. We couldn't let a bunch of teeth with wings hold us back!

We got out of our vehicles doing a kind of dance to avoid the hungry flies. Constantly trying to keep our legs moving while unloading our equipment. They were ruthless. We began to scour area, looking for a spot with the least amount of flies. We first tried on the beach. It had what appeared to be less flies than the parking lot. Then, there was an old broken boat ramp with fewer flies than the beach. Lastly, an un-photogenic metal pier with even less flies than the boat ramp. The safest place with the least amount of flies was the ugliest location of the three. There was still about ten flies snacking on us. I felt so torn on what to do. I didn't want to force my manger, makeup artist, and clients to put up with this for an hour or more but I was determined to follow through for my clients. I also wanted my team to be paid for the day. We chatted on the pier considering the options and realized we'd used our whole prep time to run away from the flies. When the first client arrived, we decided to endure best we could.

I'm sure when my client arrived she was met with the same horror we were. When she got out of her car and greeted us, I thought it best to put the ball in her court and allow her to decide if she wanted to continue. We would manage best we could, or she could reschedule. The decision was made to go forward. We went to the beach and danced as we set up. Morgan pulled off a flawless American patriotic makeup look while marching in place. Jordan helped me plan poses. I texted the other two customers to inform them of the unexpected conditions. They were so understanding and I was very grateful. In fact, I have been able to reschedule one of the clients at a different location already. The final client I am working with on a new date. She paid a deposit so I am ready when she is.

Once the shoot began, I apologized several times for my less than professional mouth as I cursed the flies biting my legs. Ultimately we pulled off the 60 photos promised and they weren't motion blurred from slapping the flies! Overall the struggle was worth it, but I did learn a valuable lesson: to check your location before the date of the event to evaluate the environment in an outdoor shoot. Yes, it is added work, but if you are promising your client quality photos you should also provide a quality experience.

Special thanks to Erica, Morgan, & Jordan.