A Taste of Honey

Christy Wihelmi

The natural fear of a stinging bee is a threat that we often face when retrieving our desired honey. This fear was not lost on our team when we were faced with the challenge of working with these tiny soldiers.  However, there are many different roles that bees have and the bees we often see are the foragers. They have a crucial role in the hive and in nature in general. It is their job to search up to a 3-mile radius to collect nectar from the surrounding flowers while simultaneously pollinating the area. The nectar is then brought back to the hive to produce honey. They are the bees we typically see flying in and out of a hive and it is those bees that co-starred with Christy Wihelmi on our shoot on Cal Poly Farm.

Christy in her own right is a keeper of bees. She is an avid gardener and has become the rescuer of bee swarms that develop in her community garden. The word “swarm” sounds overwhelming and terrifying but it is a natural instinct for bees.  Once the population grows too large for the hive, the colony divides. This process involves a new queen to develop and the old queen leaves to start a new home. A swarm is created when a gathering of bees surround the traveling queen. The bees are particular docile during this time and their sole goal is to protect the queen. At this time it is easy to handle them to relocate or just wear them on your face like a beard of bees.

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Even with Christy’s bee handling knowledge, they are as unpredictable as the weather and they don’t follow direction very well. This is a challenge you face when working with animal talent.  That being said, we had a game plan, all of the techniques first developed by ancient Egyptians, and a lot of PMA (positive mental attitude) which is always a good start.

Robert Luessen wishing he wasn’t surrounded by bees

This project was especially challenging for Chris and Robert who both faced childhood trauma regarding bees. Under any other circumstances they would have been with the rest of the crew some distance away, but instead, the two had to suit up and get acquainted with our tiny stars.

With the on-set beekeeper managing the bees with perfectly timed puffs of smoke to subdue, we accomplished beautiful photos that inspire. There was only one stinging incident which, ironically happened to one of the far away crew members. When we finally wrapped, we left that day with new found respect for bees and the people who keep them.

Intuit Quickbooks: “Own It”

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“Own It” – I can’t think of a better opening phrase for this blog post than the tagline of the campaign itself. We’re really excited to share some work we shot towards the end of 2014 for Intuit Quickbooks. Partnering with the amazing creatives at RPA, we brought a campaign to life featuring small business owners who embody the spirit of “owning it.”

Our production took us all over Los Angeles, shooting talent who included beekeepers animal veterinarians, and woodworkers. Two great shoot days with an awesome crew resulted in beautiful images that you can find in magazines and plastered on billboards throughout the country.

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It is definitely worth noting that our beekeeper shot was done entirely in camera. Sure we may have added a few extra bees in post, but they were all real – and so were the beekeeping suits.

When the rest of the crew cleared off set, Chris and yours truly donned full bee protection and got ready for a fast 30 minutes of shooting. It’s also worth noting here that making any kind of battery of CF card changes to a Phase One digital back while wearing padded beekeeping gloves is strongly not advised.

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You’d think the drama would have ended with the beekeeping shoot, but a little known fact about myself is that I’m actually scared of horses. No childhood trauma, no weird experiences, I just kinda don’t like how big or unpredictable they can be. I think this picture pretty much sums it up.

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Our second day of shooting brought us to an awesome private woodworking shop just north of LA. Naturally with woodworking, you need sawdust and haze to get the right look and feel. Judging by the BTS photos from that day… It was pretty hazy on set. This shoot is also responsible for Chris’s newfound love of hazer machines.

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With any project like this, we owe a big thank you to the awesome agency RPA for having us on-board to bring their concepts to life as well as our LA based crew – you guys totally rocked it.

Thanks for reading – make sure to check us out at @Crismanphoto on Instagram and /Crismanphoto on Facebook.