Lilith Astaroth and I have history. Just check our Model Mayhem pages (Darkwell Studios | Lilith Astaroth). Lilith and I have coupled our skills more often than with anyone else. Cue warm-fuzzy feelings: *Awww…!* The point is, although we’ve grown quite comfortable together since meeting in mid-2010, this was our first shoot to have an actual theme-”Summer”. Sure, mock its simplicity; it’s great a place to start!
Lilith I were accompanied by our companions: my Lady Starr Love, who films our adventures, and her slave Slavid, who slavishly slaved for both of us. Lilith, Starr, and I had a great time. Slavid, unfortunately, experienced a more painful journey than us all.
Theme given, we still relied on our tried-and-true point-and-walk method of locations selection, a strategy that has surprisingly never led us astray. Our success is due in large part to my peculiar knack for finding the most uncharacteristic corners of any locale. Drop me in suburban Nashua, and I’ll find the portal to a river in Ecuador. There are always buildings or hills or turns beyond which it feels like the world ends. That’s where I go. I’m obsessed with discovering what lies beyond the world’s bounds. This shoot began below a ridge, beyond the vast parking lots, behind a line of buildings, loosely associated with nearby government contractors. That is the Ecuadorian river region of Nashua.
We explored the near riverbank squeezed between steep stone walls. We discovered tiny secluded beaches, shaded outcroppings, overhanging trees, and even petrified dinosaur excrement, all hidden from the bustle above.
It took practically no time to capture the photos we sought along the river. Departing across abandoned lots behind a mill, we stumbled upon a lone hammer beside a tall pile of cinder blocks. We’ve all see the trick where a lovely assistant breaks the cinder block on the chest of the skilled magician. Slavid had seen this too-unfortunately. Alas, Slavid is not a magician, and Lilith is most certainly not anyone’s assistant.
It’s a parlor trick, he said. Been done a million times.
Slavid lay upon the pavement and carefully positioned the cinder block. I sprawled on my stomach, focused my lens, and locked it in for that pivotal moment. Slavid raised his arms to protect his face, and gave the word.
WHACK! The hammer hit, then recoiled violently. The sound echoed from the walls, but the block remained intact. Slavid lowered his arms to peek at the damage.
WHACK! The hammer hit again. The block exploded. A huge concrete chunk careened at Slavid’s exposed face.
It’s strange watching events unfold through a lens. The nature of capturing a moment is that you miss it yourself-the shutter closing when it happens. I didn’t see it hit, but I heard the impact and the commotion thereafter. Slavid clasped his face and groaned. Starr and Lilith hovered over him. Blood was everywhere. I jumped to my feet.
Me: “Slavid! You okay?!”
Lilith: “Oh shit! That’s a lot of blood!”
Slavid slowly pushed himself off the ground. He still covered his mouth. I imagined him swallowing a mash of blood and teeth, with exposed nerves plastering to his lips.
Slavid: “I’m fine. I just… split damn my lip. Gah!” He spit out a mouthful of blood.
He was fine, maybe, but his lip wasn’t. The gash spilled everywhere. Every time it stopped bleeding, it would open itself again. Slavid insisted we continue shooting, but sometimes you thank someone’s selflessness by not taking them up on it. We found our way back to the car and zipped to a Dunkin’ Donuts so he could clean up. As much as we sympathized with him, everyone still enjoyed the awkward moment as Slavid ordered bottled water-the confused cashier kept trying to peer over the hand covering his face.
Author’s Note: Let it be stated that I had nothing to do with Slavid’s injury. I do strive for injury-free photo shoots, after all. Originally, I questioned the prudence of including its account here, as it does stink of bad advertising, but my obligation is to tell the story, not to make it smell pretty. Just consider that before contacting me for your next face-crunching adventure.
We commenced our second part of the shoot at an abandoned greenhouse, immediately after Slavid mended himself with superglue purchased at the neighboring dollar store. I intended to shoot there numerous times, but was always deterred by one factor: trespassing. Not trespassing itself, but the proliferation of “No Trespassing” signs combined with the clear line-of-sight to the busy streets. Police cruisers regularly poaching traffic from that same driveway added an extra pinch of risky flavor. It was appropriate that we face legal risk only after one of our own had suffered bodily harm. How mean could karma be?
Thankfully, Karma was not so mean. We crawled in, snapped our shots, and shimmied out undetected. Many of the day’s most unique photos emerged from that overgrown skeleton that nature is fighting so hard to take back. It was worth the risk. I enjoyed the satisfaction of checking another location off my list.
Our original plans included a third leg to our shoot, but Lilith’s public figure ass was being pulled elsewhere-and poor Slavid was in serious need of repose-so we quit early. Regardless, the photos didn’t lack in awesomeness. Their warm and dreamy style were an appropriate welcome to the approaching summer. We parted under agreement to reconvene Wednesday after dark. Little did we know, it would be one hell of a night.
Even Slavid ended up with photos (he deserved them)! He also co-starred in Lady Starr Love’s video below!: