Yesterday I did a photo shoot in a park filled with gigantic rocks and steep, narrow trails. There were gnarled tree roots trailing all over the ground and the rocks, loose branches and dirt were everywhere, and the heat was well into the 90s. My friend and model, Brittany, was doing yoga poses for me in what was essentially a scouting trip for a future group photo shoot I will lead later this year.
I investigated the park beforehand and found it was a mecca for local rock climbers. As I read up on that I found something interesting. Each rock climb a person does seems to be called a ‘Problem’. And that makes sense to me. It’s a problem to be solved. How to get up and get down the rock.
Suffering for Art
We had a great time and got some fantastic shots. At the very end we had to ascend a pretty steep trail covered with roots. I had a two photo bags and attempted to make it up without putting them down. Brittany even asked if she should hold them while I went up. As I said no, I lost my balance and fell/slid back down the trail. I only went down maybe 10-15 feet so it was no big deal but somehow I hyperextended my left middle finger and got a small gash on my palm while trying to hold on to my bags and catch my balance. I then gave her the bags and tried again, successfully this time.
The finger felt pretty stiff and it didn’t want to bend all that much. But I knew it wasn’t broken so we finished up the shoot and went and had a nice lunch. I showed it to my wife when she got home last night. It was the illustration for my narrative about the shoot and the environment.
The Hard Working Muse
Brittany meanwhile escaped without injury. But she didn’t escape without plenty of ‘problems’. She did incredibly hard work hiking, climbing and posing in heat that was above 90º by the time we were done. She balanced on very high rocks. She crawled under low tree limbs through the dirt. She held intense poses on undulating tree roots halfway up rock faces. She planked over dry gullies while perched on two small flat rocks feet away from each other. All the while she was trying her best to look good, pose well, keep from slipping due to sweat being all over her, keep from laughing, keep from keeling over from dehydration (we had plenty of water, don’t worry. But it was REALLY hot!) . She figured out the solution to a multitude of problems. It was amazing to watch her work.
Here is one of the photos of Brittany to give you an idea of what it was like.
Sometimes misfortune or ‘problem’ is what we really remember. Brittany and I will always have the photos to view years later, and that will be great. But the story we tell about the day will be filled with how difficult and harsh the environment was and how much fun we had finding the solutions to the multitude of problems we set for ourselves.
That is the essence of great storytelling after all, right?
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman
Quote by Samuel Johnson, 1709 – 1784, English
“Depend on it that if a man talks about his misfortunes there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him.”