The Blue Ox Haunted Mill Tour this October was a complete success, bringing in over $10,000 for charity and turning away more than one thousand customers. Hundreds of posters were hung up around the county, there was advertising on television and radio and the event’s Facebook page gained 500 followers in the course of two weeks, yet as I stood standing in the cold in the driveway of Blue Ox trying to entertain the waiting crowd, one interaction kept coming up over and over:
“Hey, look ______. It’s the butcher from the poster. Hey Butcher, my [ girlfriend / sister / gym buddy ] has been having nightmares about you for weeks. Can we take a photo?”
Complementary as this may have been, it was very strange suddenly changing from being a single actor in a huge event to being a part of a brand, the face of the event as shown to the public. I must have posed for one hundred photos over those four days – all of them a testament to one fantastic photo taken by Evan Wisheropp of Evan Wish Photography.
I’ve worked with Evan in the past, on one of NCRT’s most successful recent productions, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Evan’s fantastic photography actually ended up on a miniature billboard over the marquee on that occasion.
This time around we spent around 4 hours out at Blue Ox, taking photos in 4 different locations (with fantastic makeup by Chyna Leigh) but the one that really captured the imagination was the photograph taken out at the old mill itself with its 52″ circular saw blade. This particular image took 40 minutes to capture, with Evan focusing lighting instruments from at least 5 different angles, and painstakingly shutting out the background lighting. In the final pose, I’m actually on my knees next to the mill and Alyssa (our victim) has her legs balanced on a board underneath the building floor. The last lighting instrument added gave us the delightful shadow of the saw blade on the wall behind the action.
Locally it seems like very few organizations actually take the time to go out and get the professional photos done, and yet photography done right can do more to carry the emotional content of your message than any amount of well written copy. Images stick in the mind. Hence the reason that hundreds of people were willing to pose in the cold for a photo with the Butcher of Blue Ox, a character who was completely secondary to the event itself but one who was prominently featured in one very chilling photograph.
As a web designer there are few phrases in the English language that make me feel more confident in a project than “We have a professional photo shoot scheduled for next week.” It lets me know that the client is capable of getting things done and is serious about getting them done right. It also lets the public know that your event or product is well planned out and worth their energy.
For more about the Blue Ox Millworks – one of my favorite organizations – you can visit their site online at www.blueoxmill.com or find out more about the Haunted Mill Tour at www.hauntedmilltour.com.