When I travel, I try to arrange a photo shoot in a great location as part of every trip. Most recently, this was a White Sands shoot, using the dramatic white dunes near White Sands National Monument as a backdrop. These shoots not only let me explore cool locations for photography, but also help me meet creative souls spread hither and yon.
The model I worked with in the White Sands shoot was located about as “yon” as can be imagined. Sael Varg is many things. She’s French and speaks several languages. Sael’s a former opera and jazz singer who ripped out a rendition of Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand” in the middle of this shoot while standing nude atop a sand dune. She’s a horse rescuer and trainer, who grew up traveling with her own horse. She lives in a tiny New Mexico town of perhaps 30 inhabitants, hot and dry, training horses and traveling the state for modeling gigs. Many of these are shot nude, or include nude shots. She’s completely comfortable with her body and finds posing easy. She says she declines most photography work and is selective about when to bother. Sael said she has to be careful 2 weeks before a shoot so she does not have the typical assortment of cuts and bruises associated with her equestrian/farm work, which is her main activity.
This post is intended for those over 18. I don’t much appeal to the younger set, so that’s pretty simple to accomplish. If you are under 18, please find something else to read.
When I saw the bleached skull in Santa Fe, I knew it was coming to the desert with me. That photo is my favorite in that it really hammers home the location: White sand dunes, monsoon clouds building up, and a bleached skull. What more could a photo want? A naked woman? Got that, too. If you need rainbows and unicorns, then this fell short. I liked the effect of black and white processing on several of these shots, but have both versions saved.
As the opening shot shows, we covered the wild west theme with the Colt pistol replica in the Cuchillo Bar. This cool, abandoned bar is just one of several sets available in the small town. The town even had comfortable housing in an Air B&B accommodation run by Sael and her boyfriend Josh. While comfortable without clothes in the remote, abandoned desert, she was considerate and careful to dress in a manner not offensive to her neighbors in her hometown.
Sael was a delightful, fun and skilled model whose stories make the day most interesting. She’s as comfortable with philosophy as with her horse. If you think you know what to expect with Sael, she’ll surprise you.