I had a great few days recently photographing animals in a studio with Trevor Smith of Animals Work. He arranged for me to take a picture with the vultures at Eagle Heights, a bird of prey centre in Kent. The first question the people there asked me was ‘What do you want – small, medium, large or extra-large?’ Obviously the answer was extra-large... until they showed us the birds. ‘Extra-large’ turned out to be Bernard, a Eurasian Black Vulture who was over 3 feet tall with a 3m wingspan and a beak to match, so we decided to give him a miss, and chose ‘medium’ – Becks, a White-Backed Vulture with a mere 2m wingspan.
Chris, who was handling Becks, had a nice line in small-talk.
- ‘The local hospital’s really good.’
- ‘Yeah, they did a great job with one of the handlers.’
- ‘Becks took a chunk out of one of his lips.’
- ‘Where did you want him?’
- ‘Um... I’m just going to hide behind the camera.’
Working with animals is always a great experience, and this was no exception, although I have to say that the sight of Becks jabbing frantically at Chris’ leather gauntlets when he got fed up with shooting was a little unnerving. Thanks to Chris and Trevor, the shoot went well and our ‘banker’ remained intact.
We also shot a capuchin monkey, who did a great job of collecting the live mealworms that Trevor sprinkled in the model’s hair (quote of the day: ‘There’s something wriggling around in my bra...’)
... and a chameleon:
Many thanks to everyone who helped me producing these images:
Trevor Smith // animals
Laura Walters // styling (apologies for making you work with animals)
Jody Daunton // assistant
Ella Bernhardt // assistant
Dawn at Poogles Corner
Rosie @ BMA Models
Tyler @ Mad Dog Casting Chris
Marissa and everyone else at Eagle Heights
and of course the models: Margot Edwards (BMA Models) Christopher Sherwood (soldier) Antony Gilding (banker – Mad Dog Casting)