Gareth is a young man passionate about his python, Amy, who he has been carefully looking after for some considerable time. They allowed me to take their portraits together. I should confess that prior to the shoot I had very little experience of working with snakes as big as Amy. At ten feet long, she is considerably bigger than any snake I have come across before.
Amy looked at me with her liquid black eyes and twisted herself around Gary’s torso in a languid way. Despite being silent, she was the dominating presence in the room. Amy was relaxed about the whole affair, seemingly indifferent to my light boxes and the people around her. She had a remarkable skin, flawless in every detail, rich in texture and pattern, with beautiful colouring and a soft sheen all over.
I have done a number of photographic shoots with snakes previously, but Amy’s size made her a different order of things. Despite repeated attempts to get her to pose in a particular way, Amy simply ignored us and continually moved her head out of sight of the camera. All I could do was be patient and quickly take pictures when she positioned her head how I wanted it. Far from being a ‘decisive moment’, it was more like an hour of unresolved ideas. In my experience, good images don’t come easily, planning, preparation and patience all play their part.
Gary and Amy will go into a collection of people and their companion animals that I’ve been working for ten years or more. I like working with the wealth of creativity hidden across the length and breadth of suburban England. People who build their lives around their pets, their tattoos, their art, the music they make, who reorganize their households to have a special space set aside for their fascination. The list goes on and on and gives me endless opportunities for working creatively with other people.