"Prosthetics Design." That was what Megan said when I asked what she was interested in studying. And I said, "...Really? That's a major?" Well it turns out that if Megan gets into Georgia Tech she can major in biomedical engineering and focus on a career in prosthetic design. Which, when you think about it, obviously must be a thing. Someone has to design prosthetics. It just never occurred to me before that there were college courses on the subject. Fascinating. But that is, by no means, the most fascinating thing about Megan...
Actually, it's going to be hard to narrow that one down. During her photoshoot she kept name dropping various plants. And not the obvious ones like the sunflowers and dahlias. She talked about the true-blue cornflowers, the hops. I happen to be a not-so-secret huge plant nerd and I meet precious few adults who have even the slightest interest in talking about gardening with me. So listening to Megan talk about this was nothing short of astonishing. When I finally asked her, "how do you know all this about plants?" she just casually mentioned that she worked in a flower shop. But I don't think that's the half of it. At one point I complained about I had never managed to find a great vineyard location for a photoshoot because I wanted to shoot down between the rows of vines and have the sun setting behind them. To which she replied, "well you're never going to find that because that's not the orientation that makes sense for growing grapes." If biomedical engineering doesn't work out, Megan, could I suggest horticulture?
In addition to working at the flower shop (which, by the way, she makes custom corsages that are beautiful) and also playing water polo, Megan competes on a drill team. And if you ask her or her mom what that is they will tell you "it's like synchronized swimming, but with horses." Let me pause here. I finally got to see some videos of what drill team actually entails and I can tell you that it's nothing like sychro.
For starters, you aren't trying to make your own body movements match up with other peoples'-- you're trying to make a jittery, feisty, possibly neurotic horse's movements match up with other horses. You're moving really, really fast. And while you are doing this you are also holding a flag aloft, which means you only have one hand to deal with the horse.
The craziest thing I saw was a video of some insane choreography called a "pinwheel" where a line of horses is split, with half facing one way and half the other, the line is spinning in a circle and all of the horses are actually leaning inward onto one another. The rider's legs look like they are getting crushed. I asked Megan if it hurts to do that. She said it sure can.
So Megan brought along one of the horses that she rides for drill team to her photoshoot. Diamond arrived via trailer driven by Megan's drill coach, Shauna. (Shauna was a big help, not only with Diamond, but also by telling scores of dirty jokes to get Megan to crack up. This was nice because I usually have to be on my best behavior during shoots. See my next blog post which will heavily feature me breaking this rule.)
Shauna brought along some spiffy horse-jewlery (silver reigns!) and had already polished Diamond's hooves. That too is a thing: horse hoof polish. You know what else is a thing? Horse makeup. Also horse earplugs, which are the size of golf balls. Shauna also mentioned the possibility of horse drugging...but I don't think we ever got to that point. Diamond seemed pretty chill to me.
Horse people care about one thing, and pretty much one thing only when it comes to horse pictures: the ears. Yes. They want the ears "up." This confused me because the horses ears nearly always look like they are up. But what they mean by that is that the ears are facing forward. So during the horse part of Megan's shoot Shauna, Megan's sister, and Megan's mom stood behind me jingling keys and making other noises to try to get Diamond to swivel those ears forward. I think we got a few. But at the time I really wasn't focused on the ears, myself.
I also wasn't focused on what Megan kept feeding diamond. I'm pretty sure they started out with a tupperware of baby carrots. But then I got home and started editing and discovered this.
"You can feed horses peppermints????" I asked at the gallery reveal. "Sure," said Megan. "You eat candy, right? Why not them?" So out of everyone there, who would have guessed that the horse had the freshest breath?
As a complete non-sequitur, if you happened to be as obsessed with Megan's pink dress as I am, I'll let you know that it can be had on the Free People website. You're welcome.
Megan, I seriously cannot wait for your Cap & Gown shoot in the spring. If this shoot was any indication, it's going to be *amazing*.
I am a high school senior portrait photographer in the SF east bay area.