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Secret Photoshoot

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The Photographer’s Soul


Certain names and places in the following narrative have been redacted for secrecy reasons.

Last winter I was approached by my friend Taylor to do a photo shoot and make an album for her husband Justin’s birthday happening early in August. And of course, it must be a surprise. Taylor wanted to be photographed sporting Justin’s favorite Pittsburgh Steelers jersey on a football field.

In my mind, in order to be epic, this secret photoshoot couldn’t take place on some everyday dirt clod high school field somewhere. I would need a plan. Fortunately I live close to XXXXXXX University. When the weather warmed up in April I ran a reconnaissance mission around the campus paying close attention to access points into the football field, or a fence that might easily be scaled. I did gather some intelligence from XXXXXXXX in the athletic department that’s it not uncommon to see students snapping a photo or two on the field and just stepping out there for a quick shot might be easier that getting permission through official channels.

A plan soon began to take shape in my mind. A diversion or disguise might just come in helpful so I made a trip to the bookstore and invested $26.00 in the cheapest XXXXXXXXX University tee shirt I could find. I would wear that the “day of” in case we ran into Barney Fife or campus security. Maybe I could pass for a student… Patty would stay at the house with phone close by in case we needed a ticket out of jail.

Having solidified a plan I brought Taylor in for a dry run in the middle of the afternoon. We looked all the places I planned to shoot, the football field being the last. If the gate wasn’t open like XXXXXXXX said it usually is, then there were two fences we would need to scale to get down on the turf.

Zero Hour

Zero hour was set for a Saturday morning in May. (The bullshit diversion and cover up that Taylor gave her loving husband is classified.) Taylor would arrive at my studio with the jersey and a red dress at 6 am and at 6.30 we would have boots on the ground shooting photos. Chances were the student body would all be having dreams of sugar plums, and the campus police would be having their morning coffee and donuts.

Fortunately, the biblical proportioned rain event that pummeled the roof all night abated at 6.15 am leaving me some very nice light to work with. Unfortunately, I could see the gates to the field closed and locked. After shooting around some stairways, paths and open green area I informed my model that it was time to get stealthy. The first fence offered no resistance. However before we got to the second fence a man walked out of the athletic offices and spotted us. We were stuck in no man’s land! He was across the field, but adjusted his vector straight toward us. Too late to turn back, I urged Taylor over the second fence, handed my camera over, then landed on the other side myself. I gave this wanna be kill joy a big smile and wave as we made our way down to meet our new friend. He informed that we needed to exit the facility with all expediency.

Remorsefully, I apologized for my lack of respect for the locked gates and begged his indulgence for one or two shots. Begrudgingly he gave his permission as long as “we make it quick”. We did.

Back at the studio we took a break, breathed a sigh of relief and Taylor reconfigured herself for a little studio session. You can see the final product and the sequence of events in the keepsake album Taylor had made for Justin’s birthday in the 60 second slide show below.


Not all my photoshoots come with so much drama and tension. I am capable of shooting photos in a park. In the end I hope Taylor would say “that was fun” and rewarding. I was real pleased with the album and I know Taylor and Justin will be able to look back on that day and celebrate that gift for a long long time.

Thank you Taylor for trusting me with the secret photoshoot.

Happy birthday Justin!

Thank you XXXXXXXXXX University for not holding a grudge.


Right now sunflowers are trending. It’s a limited season and can be shortened by the weather. But I still have some openings. These shoots take place at sunrise 5.30-7am or sunsets 6.30-8 pm. Reach out to me [email protected] to book.

woman in sunflower field
My Favorite Model


Right now is the time to plan and book your fall family photos and even think about the holidays.


As always, I’m go grateful for everyone who drops by. You are welcome to share your thoughts in the comment box below. And if I have a thought, it would be to celebrate life every chance you get.

Your friend,

Ps. I am always updating a current gallery of favorites that I call Amazing Photos.

14 thoughts on “Secret Photoshoot

  1. Great story and this will be such a fun memory for Taylor and Justin to look back on! Well donโ€™t again Mike!!

    1. Thank you my brother.

  2. This sounds like quite an exciting photo shoot! But have a session with you is not just smile & click. It’s always an experience & this sounds like one neither of you will ever forget!

    1. Your shoot in front of the Eads Bridge on the 18 inch wall 30 feet over the railroad tracks is right up there in terms of excitement Amy

  3. What an adventure. It was worth the risk because those pics are A-Mazing!!!!!
    Great work both of you ๐Ÿ‘

    1. Thank you Angie!

  4. Old Run and Gun Pro Tip: Always keep bail/bribe $$$ in your shoe, but it is usually less expensive to get a shooting permit and signed property release if plans go sideways.

    1. Sage advice Preston ๐Ÿ‘

  5. It was such a great time! And the pictures turned out amazing!!!!

    1. Taylor I’m fortunate to know you. You were a great model that day! Thanks for the business !

  6. You have a way with words. Fantastic story!

    1. Thanks Doc!

  7. It is the story behind the shots that makes the pictures you capture even better. This is definitely one of those times. Great job!!!

  8. […] If at this point in the story you’re lost, it will all become clear by reading last week’s blog, The Secret Photoshoot. […]

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