So when I first set out to shoot my first few rolls of these roadside memorials it was more of an experiment for me- a testing of my will to get out of the car and actually do it. To be quite honest I kept picturing this horribly ironic tragedy where I get smashed by a car while shooting roadside memorials of people who have died in the very same spot I was documenting– I know, I’m morbid, we’ve already established this. Now that I’ve faced my anxiety of actually getting out there and photographing these memorials, I feel like the next time I venture out I’ll be more comfortable to really get in there and get the shots I really want without freaking out about oncoming traffic or bugs. Now I know what works and what doesn’t.
Some Do’s & Dont’s (mostly Do’s) of shooting roadside memorials near the Sacramento River:
- DO bring mosquito repellant, shooting near sunset near a river is mosquito heaven. Even though mosquitos generally don’t bite me, they were bugging the crap out of me and at any given time I had about 3 harassing me.
- DO bring a roadside emergency cone so drivers are not scared to see someone on the side of the road & so they SLOW THE EFF DOWN.
- DON’T wear a low cut shirt, or any cut shirt except maybe a turtleneck. I can’t even count the number of whistles I got and my shirt wasn’t even that low. Ick.
- DON’T rush it, because I procrastinated my first go around I didn’t have time to dedicate to sitting around and waiting for the perfect light.
- DO scope out your angle. I could have done more of this had I not done the above.
- DO bring a blanket or towel so you can lay on the ground to get a good shot. There were worms in the ground, need I say more? \
- DO bring a friend because there WILL be a dangerous shot you wanna get but shouldn’t be taking alone- like laying in the middle of the road for instance. Its good to have a spotter.
- DO wear hiking boots, I wore my chucks and I thought they would cut it but I definitely had a moment where it was save dignity or save my camera- camera won and I had to crawl on all fours to get back out of a ditch whilst fighting mosquitos away from my face.
The good thing about seeing my missteps is that the river is right there. Its like a half hour from my apartment, and aside from the one memorial I noticed that was taken down for bridge construction, they will be there for a while and I can keep coming back until I get exactly what I want– thank God because I’m a super perfectionist.