We don’t always like to admit that some of our best shots are not the ones we planned, but rather the ones resulting from some error occurring behind the scenes. For all the planning we do, sometimes fate takes over, and fate often comes with a sense of humor.
We were working on a series of mock ads that used seemingly careless situations to make a point. One had her standing in the middle of an intersection taking a selfie. Another had her walking into a street with a traffic cone on her head. Yet another had her “falling” off a mailbox. These came with tag lines such as, “Following your passion has challenges,” “When protection doesn’t fit, you’re doing it wrong,” and “Some moments are more exciting than others.” Each shot had an element of risk to it that we were able to mitigate through careful planning. At no point was the model in any serious risk of danger.
The shoot took place all over an urban neighborhood, encompassing several hours. This was one of those “you can’t believe what the photographer asked me to do” days and Kathi was a good sport going through multiple wardrobe changes and running from one set to another. We were both quite exhausted by the time we got down to the last concept, one which included a dumpster.
Dumpsters make for tricky props. First, they’re private property and therefore being in or on them technically constitutes trespassing; this is a safety issue to prevent people from sleeping in them and accidentally squished in the back of trash trucks. Second, they move which makes them dangerous and unpredictable. Third, one doesn’t always know what they’re going to find inside. Dumpsters have been known to attract both the disgusting and the bizarre.
After talking for a moment, considering the risks, Kathi agreed to try climbing on top of the dumpster. She felt certain that she would be able to balance along the side with no problem, something she was able to do long enough for me to drop five or six frames. Then, as she tried to actually stand on the edge of the dumpster, she lost her balance and chose to jump into the dumpster rather than risk falling. The shot of the jump itself wasn’t especially impressive, but this one, the moment she looked down and saw the rotting flowers on which she was standing, was perfect.
When fate intervenes in a photoshoot it often has a better idea. Kathi was a good sport and we ended up making the best of it as can be seen in the shot below. In fact, had she not jumped into the dumpster, I probably would have dropped this concept from the finished project. So, thanks to fate stepping in and gravity for doing its thing and giving us a shot better than what we had planned.