How I got the Shot: Confessions: Animal Hoarding

Discovery Chanel

My feet squish in rabbit urine and feces with every step I take throughout the ‘home’ and the 6 inch hay barrier that covers the floor is due for another layer because you’re now able to see the rotten carpet peaking through some thin spots.

This can’t be healthy, I think. I’ve been surrounded by 250 rabbits for the last six hours, the smell of ammonia is overwhelming, and I’m just waiting in it.

I’m here to create a poster image for a TV show called Confessions: Animal Hoarding that plays on Animal Planet. The whole premise of the show is focused on people who have addictions that concern family and friends so they confront said person with an intervention. Little did I know that this intervention was happening right before I’m supposed to take portraits of this lady.

It’s getting late in the day and I’m beginning to jump into problem solving mode because I have no more ambient light to illuminate the inside of the trailer and there is no electricity throughout to flip on any room switches. Heck, the roof is caving in most places allowing about 4 feet of head room. So with some quick thinking I set up a couple of speed lights with full CTO cuts on them to simulate the sun, position them to fire through the windows and door and cross my fingers that this is going to work. I mean it should…

My talent arrives and is obviously flustered at what had just happened. The intervention obviously didn’t go nearly as well as expected. Actually, it went the worst it could possibly have gone. She didn’t think that she needed help and stormed out of the interview. But guess who still gets to try and create an image of her!

Hi! I’m Corey and I’m going to take some…. She passes me by not paying attention to me. She’s running around trying to feed all 248 rabbits, at some point that day two baby rabbits had died. So little light to see and I’m thinking this is over! There’s no way I’m going to get any kind of good photo out of her!

She walks through the kitchen and picks up a rabbit that had escaped its cage and ducks underneath a fallen ceiling fan. Just then, dodging the gauntlet of disease and tetanus, I see my opportunity and I ask her to wait for 10 seconds. She straightens- turns, I set a light, collapse my shoot through umbrella because of clearance, and place everything in the dirty sink right next to me. Now, I suppose the planets aligned or devine intervention happened but everything came together. I snapped about 10 images and she was gone and so was I.

I was asked back to create another poster image of a different person just a couple weeks after this and found myself in practically the exact same situation except her hoarding was dogs.

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