Jim Smithson wonders, “What would Ansel do?”

On a recent shoot in the back woods of Georgia, Jim Smithson had an experience he had never had on a shoot before.  When he shared it with us, we thought it was a perfect story to post on the blog.

Here is what he had to say.

“As a photographer, I’ve always felt that a camera in the hand (or tripod) was a magnet for attention. Some good, some bad. Some of that bad came my way recently shooting deep in the woods of Georgia.

Starting in Clearwater, Florida, I rented a car and proceeded to canvas the southeast states of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas looking to capture natural elements that would be comped together in post to construct a “Nature Train” for the freight company CSX and Mullen.

On day 4, I had made it all the way up to the northern reaches of Georgia. Pulling into a state park that will remain nameless, I parked my rental car off to the side of the road, grabbed my shooter and headed for the hills. I meandered freely (or so I thought) through the stands of georgia pines capturing the needed material for the gig. As I emerged from the forest towards my car I was approached by this imposing figure dressed in camo gear, dark sunglasses and packing a firearm. Instantly, scenes from the movie Deliverance started haunting my mind. I was slightly shaking inside. I could see he was obviously agitated as he proceeded to ask me what I was doing parked on his “property” and walking around his “backyard”. I explained to him that I was a photographer on assignment taking pictures of trees, rocks, streams, blah blah blah.

It wasn’t until he informed me that he was a park ranger (albeit off-duty) that the banjo music in my head finally subsided. He asked to see some identification, and since he was packing heat, I respectfully obliged. Upon seeing my Washington state drivers license, he immediately became even more perturbed with my rental car having Florida plates and expired tabs. Yeah, Hertz really cheesed me on that one. He called for back-up and informed me that I was not allowed to leave until I faced further questioning from the Head Ranger. So at this point I truly think he thought he had uncovered a terrorist plot to create some kind of mayhem in a small rural park in the remote hills of Georgia.

I’m not sure what he told the Head Ranger about me, but in the extremely cautious way he approached, I think he was more scared of me than I was of him. He ran me through the same battery of questions then took my ID and disappeared for 45 minutes, surely checking all the bad boy lists. Well, after all that it turns out I wasn’t a bad ass terrorist as suspected and I was free to go.

As I drove away, stirred and slightly shaken, a thought occurred to me, “I wonder if Ansel Adams ever had days like this?”

To see what else Jim Smithson has been up to lately, link here.

And, a quick thank you to Mullen, John Rosato, Justin Mace and of course Taylor James for the amazing opportunity!

2 thoughts on “Jim Smithson wonders, “What would Ansel do?”

  1. That is an amazing story, really made me think about all the crazy places and situations i have been in just because of my camera! There is no job quite like being a photographer 😉

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