Tuesday, June 26, 2007

WILDER KINGDOM

Do I really blog about the fact that I spent most of yesterday afternoon researching sardines? I asked myself.

Do I admit after twenty minutes I had all I needed for chapter about a homeowner whose grandfather started one of the first sardine canneries in Maine but that I got hooked on reading about New England fishing history…and the personal histories of the folks who fished for these tasty morsels… and canned them… and even manufactured the cans?

Did You know the first successful east coast sardine cannery opened in 1887 in Eastport, Maine, 43 years after the world's first sardine cannery began operating in Nantes, France?

What took us so long?

The moral of my tale (no pun intended) is that if you are curious about something, it’s not bad idea to take follow your instincts. The internet makes it easy.

Through the years, I have been surprised by the interest generated by certain features that I wrote or published in one of my magazines.

Several years ago, my editor’s note in Flower Gardens magazine, titled “I Hate Squirrels, received more mail than any of the other stories in the issue! I was amazed. After all, it was a short 4-paragraph essay. I concluded that the long-standing actor's rule -- never work with animals or kids – applied to magazines, too.

So, I guess I shouldn’t have been all that surprised when last week’s blog entry Wild Kingdom resulted in dozens of phone calls and e-mails from friends, long-lost friends, acquaintances and strangers.

Animals have a way of commanding attention. Known to steal the scene in films, animals it appears also garner the most attention in print photography, blogs and situations of any kind.

Once, when I was a partner in a photo studio, we had an assignment to shoot a cover photo for an oil industry magazine. The concept was a take off on Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road.

The photo called for chickens crossing the road. The set – a country road complete with a shotgun shack and cornfield -- was very expensive to build. It was gorgeous. We hired professional chickens who came with a handler and could perform a number of remarkable tricks.

Okay, if they were dogs, it wouldn’t be that impressive but they were chickens, after all.

Chicken Disclaimer: I have raised chickens for the last ten years and they can come when called, learn about 10 words/phrases and find their way back to their coop at sunset. As a whole, they are not that dumb but in every group of four there is always one that is so stupid that it makes me understand how chickens got such a bad reputation.

The morning of the photo shoot the art director raved about the set. He thought it was the best backdrop we had ever produced. The chickens arrived and we shot about 16 rolls of film. A few months later, we got a copy of the magazine. The photo had been cropped to show just the chickens!

So, that’s why instead of posting a photo of a terrific decorating idea or stunning waterside cottage today, I decided to share a photo of a bird that I photographed in the Bahamas.

The scarlet ibis was facing away from the camera when I came across it. In order to get it to turn around I made lots of birdlike sounds. I guess I accidentally uttered an insult of some sort because the bird twirled around and started to charge at me. Being a professional, of course, I crouched down and made sure I got the shot before fleeing. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Arlene said...

LOL...you have a dangerous job! Its so true, no matter what the venue, animals always command all the attention!