by Holly Randall
The name always struck me as funny: “Death Valley”. And when one discovers that this is actually a vacation spot, this dark and foreboding name seems an even stranger choice. “Death Valley” isn’t exactly the kind of enticing title that you’d think would draw tourists from all over the world. But strangely enough, it does—even with landmarks such as “Coffin Canyon” and “Badwater” it still attracts thousands of tourists every year. But I suppose they come for the same reasons I went: the stunning, unparalleled desert landscape. The only difference is while most people went to shoot nature in its unspoiled beauty, I went there to shoot naked women.
Well to be precise I went to shoot one naked woman: Aria Giovanni. When I began to consider making the four hour drive out to an inhospitable terrain to shoot nudes, I knew I would have to make it at least a four day trip. And I wanted to make sure I took a model who I knew could handle the conditions, would look good doing it, but most importantly wouldn’t drive me nuts by the end of the shoot. Since Aria has been one of my best friends and room mates for a few years now, I knew she’d be the best choice. Not to mention that she’s one of the most beautiful and sexiest models working today.
Ever the overzealous planner, I spent weeks preparing for my trip. I got about six different maps, enough food and water to survive Armageddon, and a shovel. That’s right, a shovel. In case our 4X4 truck got stuck in sand in the middle of nowhere. Admit it, you’re impressed with my thoroughness.
So four days it was: two for travel, two for shooting. I planned to shoot only at sunrise and sunset, after all, they don’t call it Death Valley for nothing. Temperatures can soar above 120 degrees, and I have no desire to get stuck outside in heat like that. We went in early May, but with global warming, who knows how hot it could get in spring? Luckily, we got the most perfect weather imaginable. The days stayed in the 70s, and the wind didn’t pick up too much. But there were still two reasons I wanted to shoot at sunrise and sunset: primarily because that’s when natural light is at it’s best, but also because I wanted to avoid tourists. I planned the sunrise shots in areas that I knew were popular, and I prayed that nobody else was crazy enough to be out and about at 6 AM. Places like the Devil’s Golf Course and the sand dunes could get crowded (well crowded for a desolate place like Death Valley) and I didn’t think it was appropriate for Aria to give some unsuspecting schoolchildren their first anatomy lesson.
Sunrise shots meant we had to get up around 4 AM. Trust me, I was not well loved for that call time. Especially for my husband (the manpower on the trip), who didn’t need to be up for an hour long makeup session, but was still roused by me making sure everyone was awake, and then pacing the room like the bucket of nerves that I was. But since he is a man and men are brilliantly spatially aware, he always had the truck packed up perfectly before we were ready to go. As long as I continued to keep the multitude of different flavored Pringles coming (did you know they have a pickle flavor now?) he didn’t complain. Actually he never complained at all. That man is a saint.
MORE OF HOLLY’S ADVENTURE SOON…
You can see all the pics and more on HollyRandall.com