We just got back from a great shoot. And by great, I mean AWE-some (sing it for extra emphasis). I guess we should’ve known we were in for something special when the driving instructions the clients gave us included “our house kind of looks like an office building.” We turned down their street, and as we drove past factories and warehouses, I got a little panicked. I didn’t see any offices, any houses, or any office-like houses. And then I did. At the very end of a tiny industrial street on the west side of LA, there it stood: 3 stories of beautiful steel and beams–a live/work loft that would make any architect or artist drool like a Mastiff.
I grabbed a few more gratuitous glances at it as we waited for our security clearance. See, Kim had to call the clients to announce our arrival because we were keeping the shoot on the down low. A mother-daughter pair booked us to honor their husband/father’s upcoming birthday. They’re going to present him with the finished products in a few weeks!
We’ve done surprise shoots before, so it wasn’t anything new in concept. But what WAS new? Um…well…ol’ husband/father (let’s call him HF for short) was there. As in, in the HOUSE while we were shooting. Yep. Somewhere in that beautiful structure, HF went about his business, oblivious to us (thanks to Son, who kept him occupied somehow).
Kim and I had a lot of fun with Della and Cody, beautiful Sheppy mix girls. While Della fronted at first, she quickly morphed into a supermodel before our eyes as she showed us her best Zoolander faces. Cody was more timid than her sister, but overcame her fear of the c-a-m-e-r-a (yes, you have to spell it; otherwise, she goes charging into her crate when she hears the word. Cellphone cameras, we’re told, are her worst nemeses) when we let her play ball.
We did the outside shots first, and were about 5 minutes from being done with the den when we heard a precarious knock at the door. Mom called out, “who is it?”
“Me.” It was Son. “You’re out of time.”
HF was apparently on his way up. Luckily, we had gotten plenty of shots, but we still had all of our lights to pack up.
Daughter started panicking–“well, go stall him some more!”
“No…it was hard enough to keep him out of here for as long as I did! What am I supposed to do?”
“I dunno…tell him there’s something wrong with your computer and you need him to look at it.”
“But there’s nothing wrong with it! He’s too smart for that.”
“Come ON! You’re going to ruin the surprise!”
“Well, what do you want me to do?”
“I don’t know! Can’t you just FALL or something?”
“What…you want me to break my leg?”
Meanwhile, Kim and I are ripping power cords out of walls and collapsing light stands like our lives depend on it. I narrowly miss impaling my own eye with one of our umbrellas by a centimeter. We release the dogs from the den as a feeble ploy to both distract HF and give some impression of normalcy.
Daughter realizes the futility and goes off to try her hand at keeping HF at bay. Mom decides she should take us down the back stairs and runs off to make sure she knows the code to the gate. Son stands by and helps Kim and me exit swiftly and soundlessly.
It was a pretty hilarious sight–I’m tiptoeing down the stairs, praying that the Pelican cases I’m carrying don’t freakishly swing through their glass walls and Kim’s right behind me with her camera backpack and all the loose odds n ends spilling out of her arms. Mom is waiting for us at the bottom and half-giggles, half-hisses to me over her shoulder, “HOW MUCH DO WE OWE YOU?”
“THREE FIFTY,” I giggle-hiss back over my tiptoeing.
“WHO DO I MAKE IT OUT TO?”
“BARK PET PHOTOGRAPHY!”
We stop outside just long enough for Mom to write the check, sign the release, and let the dogs do a few laps around the car that is serving as our writing desk. They have no idea what’s happening, but they sure think it’s fun!
We stuffed the check and paperwork in the bag, Mom folded the product catalogue up in her pocket, and we went running off into the industrial-come-residential sunset.
It was a great way to spend a Saturday evening. Thank you!
Names have been concealed to protect the mischevious generous.