Sunday, February 8, 2009

Big Cat Shoot Behind the Scenes

Saturday, November 8th, 2008, 9:17 pm

It all started with this painting from the Belgian painter Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921) titled "The Sphinx or The Caresses" 1896. I saw it when I was a little girl.

I was so very much impressed by the woman who was a cheetah and all my life I wanted to find this woman or the cheetah.

Many years later, when I was a photographer I planned my trip to South Africa and Namibia in 2004 to find a cheetah. I drove many lonely roads throughout this beautiful country till I found a cheetah who might could be a part of the picture of my dreams.

It was very difficult to find the right woman who could have the quality of a sphinx, so I decided to shoot a selfportrait with this wonderful and fascinating cat. This was the first step to get a little closer to the picture of my dreams.

In 2007 after I moved to Los Angeles I found Randy Miller from Predators in Action, he won the first Award in 2001 for Best Animal Stunt in the movie Gladiator.

I started to shoot with his Cougar and one of my favourite models Ashley, to find out, how it would be to work with a big cat. What I didn't expect was the snow up in the San Bernadino Mountains. I was shocked and all the setting didn't look like I wanted to have it, but I wanted to shoot so badly, no matter how cold and wet it was.

Ashley and my team worked very hard for me on that day. As for the fact that the circumstances have been extremely nasty .

The cougar was beautiful, but he never did what he should do, to look great in the picture.

I knew an animal would be very hard to photograph and I wanted to keep everything as natural as possible. I just wanted to be able to capture the magic of this moment. After a whole day of extreme hard work I was able to have had captured 3 images which I liked.

 dream picture was not made.

I discussed with Randy about his Tigers and Lion, I made sketches about the final pictures which I had in mind and send it to him, to find out what could be possible to shoot with his animals and I wanted him to understand what I had in mind....

He loved it and got prepared for me.

We all got so very much thrilled about the shoot and I planed the next session for Mai 2008.

We did castings to find the right models, I wanted to have 5 strong and beautiful models which I personaly liked and could trust, that they could handle to work with this powerful animals.

We got everything organized, the shooting date was fixed, including all permits, insurances, hotels, flights, team, catering, equipment, logistics, production RV and so on...

One week before the shoot Randy Millers Cousin got killed during a training with his bear. This was a tragic accident and Randy had to cancel my shoot.

I was desperate and deeply sad, as we also had already organized everything and I could not step back any more...I had to shoot, so I found Joe from Jungle Exotics, he made the first Tarzan with Bo Derrek and I was in love with him the first time we spoke.

He and his trainers worked with us in the heat of the desert to get closer to my dream picture.

We spent days in the dry lake bed and had much fun. We were dirty, dusty and sandy like crazy at the end of a week shooting in the wilderness.

His big cats have been beautiful and fascinating animals, but still we had to be very concentrated and careful to work with them.

We had to know when to stop or the animal was not in the mood any more to do something. I wanted to have everything in real.

There is no postproduction or fake done in one of the images, everything happened in real.

This was how I wanted to have it, even it was harder to get, but for me the only way to go.
I have shot more that 6000 images on that production.

Everything about this shoot was magic. the landscape, the models my team and at the end I came a little closer to the picture of my dreams....

All those people have been part of this shoot:

Dieter Haban, Lisa Amico, Brandon Nooman, Joe and his Trainers from Exotic Animals, Randy Miller from Predators in Action and his Trainers, Phillip Haban, Michele Arns, Jacqui Jordan, Angela, Cynnamon, Kerstin, Evie and Ashley.