Location Serendipity

Even though it’s not an extremely rare thing in my life, I am still amazed when serendipity comes into play.

On Friday I got a text asking if I was free to do a ‘quickie’ shoot on Sunday. I had Sunday free so I answered back “Sure. What am I shooting?”. Maria, a web designer and friend had a project for a tea company (Estate Tea Merchants) redesigning their web site and needed some photos for the site. She showed me some sample sites with the type of imagery she wanted. The main challenge was we had a short lead-time and a four-hour window in which we had to shoot.

The first step was to find a location. A restaurant would have been ideal but I have been out of Phoenix for two years so I was running low on connections. It was also Friday evening. Our second choice was a partly enclosed patio with plants around it. We made several calls and sent out emails to people we knew. Turns out the client had a nice house on a golf course with a couple of patios.

A shot of our 'set' as Maria gets a lesson in tea.

Next step was the set. We were looking for a table with a raw wood surface–something very organic. I knew of some architects (Plus Minus Studio) in Phoenix who made tables with the exact surface we were looking for. I emailed them asking to borrow one. They promptly replied that they’d be glad to except they had sold all their tables (good for them).

We ran out of time and options so I headed to Cost Plus to buy things to dress up the set and give the look we wanted. I picked out many random items and repeatedly wished I had a set stylist for this shoot.

When I got to the clients house, I noticed a lot of great stone statues around the property. There was even a Hindu head on the patio we were planning as the shot location. The only problem was it was in the middle of the day in Arizona and the statues were either all the way in the sun or half-shaded. It was time for a new plan.

Too bad we couldn't work those carved bedposts into any shots.

We started walking around the house and found this amazing carved wood bed with a thatched roof on the ‘junk’ side of the yard. It was shaded by the thatching and a tree with some great foliage behind it. Every surface of the bed was carved. The wood was weathered and full of texture. It was perfect.

We cleaned it up a little and dressed the background with some flowers and extra foliage. We added various props and set decorations for the right look and were ready to start shooting. The light was coming through the trees beautifully. It was always moving so we had to make constant adjustments but, on the up side, it gave us different looks from setup to setup.

A sample image from the shoot.

Overall, it was a great shoot. We found exactly what we needed right in the clients backyard, literally.

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