A few months after I entered the workforce, I had the wonderful opportunity to go on my first on-site, real world photoshoot. Early mornings, cold weather, and waiting for the prefect light—it was going to be a blast. But, more importantly, it was going to be a great learning experience.
Deep in the heart of South Carolina, the Senior Art Director (a kind, middle aged man with immense artistic abilities) and I found ourselves scouting Santee State Park. A helpful ranger told us where we'd find particularly photogenic areas throughout the park. Among these places was one that sounded both beautiful and exciting. We could see the beautiful cypress trees, and we could possibly find an alligator!
Both prospects sounded perfect to me, but the later in particular. My secret goal in life at the time was to be on Swamp People. I had been constantly telling Jeff (the Art Director) our entire trip, "I wanna find me a gator!" The opportunity was close at hand, and he was on board with the prospect. So, we surged forward on our hunt with our shooting instruments in hand—cameras. We walked for some time before we found an area that felt like a good habitat for alligators.
We came across a very large log that extended out into the water allowing for a clearer vantage point. I don't think Jeff expected me to accept the challenge when he said "Just go out on that log." But, I was walking across it before he finished his sentence. Now, if this were a movie, that log would have been a gator and my wrestling skills would have been put to the test, with me triumphantly conquering the gator, but alas no gator. We kept a watchful eye. However, for the moment this section of the park appeared gator free.
It was a beautiful afternoon. The birds were softly chirping in the distance, the sun was out, the swamp was thick, and the water was still—too still. We began to walk along the water's edge in an area rich with shrubbery, and limited visibility.
We could only hear the padding of our own feet when suddenly heard a HUGE splash right beside us. We were so close the splash wet our shoes. With that, I made a complete 180 and RAN. I mean knees-up-to-my-face, R-U-N-N-O-F-T. The Road Runner would be proud.
I could hear Jeff on my heels, running and stopping every few seconds doubled over in laughter. My stoic determination to find a gator and my instinctive reaction upon finding one where too much to handle.
We slowly made our way back to a clearing to see the alligator swimming along peacefully, all 12-feet of him. While my heart still pounded in my chest, I was elated that we'd found the beast, but very happy to watch him from afar. I suppose it was for the best that I never sent in an application to Swamp People. I'll stick with the day job.
Photo Source: https://www.behance.net/gallery/1095205/THE-HISTORY-CHANNEL-SWAMP-PEOPLE#