It was a Friday night and were in the car headed out to dinner. Natalie in the back seat, me in the passenger, Todd driving. Up ahead something caught my attention. In the maybe 15 seconds I had to process what I saw, I knew it was speaking to me. I saw on old house. A REALLY old house. A smaller version of mine. It was falling apart. There were no windows. I saw upholstered wood carved furniture. I saw it had no doors. It had no walls either. I saw old lathe board. I saw framing. I saw a complete and total mess of rock wool insulation and sheet rock.
I leaned out the window as if I was going to open the front door when we drove by. I saw crazy sick light spilling into the space. My spine straightened up and I felt a chill run down from the back of my neck hitting each vertebrae.
“I HAVE to get into that house! Did you see it?! I mean, did you see it? I’m totally getting in there tomorrow!”
Todd said, “You’ve lost your mind.” He rolls his eyes and is shaking his head.
” I WILL get into that house tomorrow!”
The next day at 10:00 am I grab my liability insurance policy and Natalie and I jump into Todd’s truck. He had my car for a Jivebooth event. We pull up to this house and there is a truck outside. Glass and mayhem everywhere. Natalie is stuck to me like glue. I see and hear men upstairs.
“Hiiiii. Hellooo?” Realizing I now have in fact, lost my mind. A pair work boots start coming down the stairs. A confused and curious kid looks at me.
“Hi! Are you the owner or the GC?” I’m cuing my approachable expression and tone.
“I work for the GC.” He’s still confused staring at me and my little girl next to me practically stepping on my feet making sure not step on the shards of glass and nails surrounding us.
“My name is Stephanie and I’m a professional photographer. I was hoping I could get a model in here tonight and shoot just for an hour between 7:00 and 8:00” I of course thought, my charm would win anyone over, they would say, “absolutely!” and bring us cookies and milk after the shoot!
“What are you nuts?! My boss would never allow it! In here?! This place is trashed. It’s structurally not sound. Plus the cops across the street are watching the place because people keep stealing material. You could get arrested.”
Natalie squeezes my hand, hard. I turn to her and reassure her. And then confirming to myself a second time, Todd was right.
“I know what a mess it is and that’s exactly why I want in.”
This kid, with some missing front teeth and marred skin, was NOT budging. Not sure if he was 23 or 44 but he said no to me at least 6 times.
I totally accepted my defeat and asked, “Well, what’s up with those couches?” LOVED those couches.
He told me his boss was going to sell them. I offered $100. for the small one and gave him my card. I told him to call me when he talked to his boss and I could come back and get him that I had cash on me.
And then… it all changed. His posture, his tone, his pupils. I swear the wind swirled around him too and he became slightly back lit out of nowhere.
“Well, if you have cash on you, I’ll sell it to you right now.” He had cued his approachable expression and tone.
I started laughing. “Oh, so now they are your couches to sell? Let me ask you another question. Does another 100 bucks get me in here tonight from 7:00-8:00?”
I don’t think I finished my sentence and he shrugged, tossed his head to one side and side. “Yeah.”
Mind you I NEVER have cash. Not even $5. But a lot of my boudoir girls pay cash to stay under the radar from the husbands so not to spoil their surprise gift. I was determined and more than happy to invest in a one time only spot like that. But paying my way in never crossed my mind. Total luck.
We worked out logistics. He asked why that time frame and I explained I drove by a little past 7:00 last night and that’s the light I wanted. World’s best Gram comes to my babysitting rescue and friend Kailee, who’s like a sister/daughter was totally in when I got in touch with her in need of a model. I gave her the heads up and she knows how I operate and trusts me.
We had that space for a solid 45 minutes to ourselves. My new found location partner was out front making sure we didn’t get in trouble. I told him he had to wait in his truck and leave us be because of her “wardrobe” which was some fabric I spent the afternoon cutting and shaping after I knew it was a go. We had to literally tread cautiously. She had to keep sandals on to be safe of nails and debris and I brought the quilt to make sure her skin didn’t touch anything. At one point she was facing dead on rush hour traffic all getting a full view of her and was not liking it all but she came through for me in the last shot by the stairs in the front hall.
Here are my favorites from the session. Feel free to let me know of any homes and barns in demo condition because I’d do it all again!