Shooting Spiders at Natural History Museum, Los Angeles
My most recent shoot with the Natural History Museum of LA was capturing images of spiders, specifically the orb-weaver and jumping spiders. The concept was to pull them outside of their environment, presenting them against an intense, simply-colored background to create a pop-art feel to the piece.
Our makeshift studio was in one of the NHM labs where an abundant collection of taxidermy kept us company during the shoot, deer, ram, antelope and armadillo peering over us from the walls and surrounding tables.
Cat Urban, the museum’s spider specialist, had prepared for us a beautiful web spun by an orb-weaver, and we sprayed a fine mist upon it to bring the full resplendence of its artistry to light. We were captivated by the spider’s bold, alien-like symmetry against the jewel-like shimmer of its handiwork, and used the deep magenta backdrop to best showcase that sharp contrast.
Thankfully, our jumping spider specimen was not living up to its name that day and was happy to just sit there, regarding us with a somewhat questioning gaze while striking a few engaging poses. Perhaps it was as intrigued by us as you’ll be by the museum. Go visit.
Thank you Cat Urban & Lydia Gotcher for wrangling the spiders, William Hausler for making the web glisten, Michael Kirchoff for your assistance and behind the scenes images, Nancy Batlin & Emily Carlson for all the great projects!