Last weekend I went to shoot harvest mice in a studio. As you do.
I’ve seen countless photos from my photography friends over the past few months, of all these little mice inside tulips, munching on dandelions, inside tea cups, etc. And as much as I kept thinking “well, it’s all fake, it’s done in a studio rather than in the wild”, I also kinda wanted in on the action. The photos were just too damn cute!
So I booked myself a private session with Captivelight in the New Forest.
I think I can safely say I’ve never laughed quite so much! Sorry Miles, Miss Giggles will be back for more soon!
The set up was quite simple, yet not entirely what I had expected. Once I turned up at the Liberty’s Wildlife Centre, Miles greeted me over a quick cup of coffee, and filled me in on the basic health and safety instructions, as well as how to behave in the studio around the animals. So far, so good.
We then left the cafe and walked to the very back of the centre, past a bunch of big birds of prey, and some rather beautiful snowy owls, and into an old shed. Inside he’d set up a little photo studio with lights, props, backdrops, etc. The mice were still in their little boxes, while we set up my camera, and prepared the area where they would shortly be placed. Inside an inflatable baby pool was a tall box, some clamps for holding branches and tulip stems, and a small log going across the box.
Once I was all set up and ready to shoot, Miles brought out the mice. They were so small!!!! I don’t quite know what I was expecting, but clearly not something quite so tiny! and they were so cute as well! Miles tried to settle them in first, by placing them on the log, and letting them sniff around a bit. They were also given the occasional treat (seeds) to keep them happy. And then we started!
We went through a variety of props:
Starting off, we had a large fern leaf on which we placed 4 mice. This was hilarious to watch, as they kept falling off, walking over each other, and general looking in all sorts of directions, just not at the camera.
Then we used a dandelion seed head, which one mouse raced up towards to munch on the seeds. Miles had warned me that I’d probably only have 10 seconds to shoot this, as usually all the seeds come off and then the mouse is no longer interested. Though this particular one must have figured out how to get to the treats, and I had quite a few minutes of the funniest spectacle ever, watching the little fella getting completely covered in the feathery seed tops.
And then, obviously, the tulips came out. Yes, yes, I know, you don’t generally find mice in tulips… But it looks so cute!! This was probably my favourite part of the afternoon. The tulip stem was prepped with some wire to keep it straight and steady, Miles sprayed the outside with a little water, and put some seeds inside for the mouse to eat – though apparently they do also like to eat the inside of the tulip flower. So in a bunch of my pictures, the mice’s nose and whiskers are covered in a thin layer of bright yellow pollen. Hilarious.
All in all, it was a super fun day! I learnt a lot, laughed a lot, and came home with hundreds of cute photos, which I’ve yet to figure out where to put on my website.
If you’re into photography and want to try something similar, definitely check out Captive Light Photography Workshops and give Miles a call! He also has frogs, other reptiles, birds of prey, and he runs some creative workshops involving water, oil, or similar too.