Macro. I love macro photography. Creatures I would normally find irritating, such as flies or wasps become intricate and colourful; creatures I would normally find repulsive such as white crab spiders or snakes, become wonderfully textured, complex, and fascinating, urging me to get closer than ever before.
Prior to attending a tropical shoot, I have never, to my knowledge, been more than 10 metres from a snake. My phobia of them has led to a few comic moments; from sprinting at full speed in flip-flops on Greek hillsides (I thought I heard one) to toppling over chairs in a Marrakech restaurant trying to get away from a man holding a wooden snake toy (it was writhing in a VERY REALISTIC way) I can safely say my fight/flight response has always been hypersensitive to their potential presence.
So it was no small surprise to find myself slowly inching closer and closer to one, on the day of the shoot (having planned on avoiding it altogether and focusing instead on a very cute Salamander called Custard – or the world’s tiniest lizard (he was as long as my index finger -see below).
The snake’s bright red and black stripy skin called out to me and with my camera raised, I started taking photos from the opposite corner of the room. It moved so intricately and looped in knotted shapes that I became lost in the shoot and started to focus on the eyes and tongue – I wanted to get a shot of that two-pronged tongue. It wasn’t until I looked up and realised I was around 5cm from it, then saw the snake flinch in fear and felt a flush of sympathy for this amazing creature. I backed off and wondered if I had cured my phobia?
Processing the pictures a few hours later, the rush of anxiety and discomfort was back and I realised that I was not, entirely, cured after all. But arm me with a camera and I will overcome anything – just to get that shot!