When I looked up the cost of shooting at the private facilities known as Viscaya, I baulked at the expense. According to their policy, “A fee applies to anyone having a professional portrait taken at Vizcaya, including those celebrating their quinceañera, marriage, or another special occasion.” And this charge is anywhere from $160-268 depending on the session date. Plan a commercial editorial shoot, and the permit price surges to $2,500.
It was no surprise that people hoping to snap pictures in the gorgeous setting avoided showing off their gear at the gates and declared themselves lay persons. I mean if I’m not getting paid for a shoot, I certainly don’t want to dole out beaucoup bucks for pictures of my kids.
There was a snafu at the gate caused by one of the model-mommies. I suspect this happens often. I did not, however, expect to be scrutinized by security as I passed through to buy my ticket. I had my camera (of course) tucked into the carrier shelf of Ri’s stroller. And though I figured I’d get a few lovely photos of my girl on set, I wasn’t planning to pull out a formal portrait session. The security officer was skeptical and I felt the burn of his gaze long after I had entered the grounds.
Chi and I had ample time to wander through the spacious gardens, though we were cautioned to stay in visual contact with the crew for the shoot. But as an add-in participant, she wasn’t the premiere focus of this editorial and her photos, it seemed, were on a whenever we get to it time schedule.
I noticed that few other model mommies were bothered by the wait. I suspect they’ve done this before. They sat in the limited shaded areas patiently waiting for their darlings to be called. One or two complained quietly and with reserve, obviously fearful that too much verbalizing of their disgruntled feelings might jeopardize their models’ chances to be featured. I was frustrated – that’s the only way I can describe it. Ri needed to be released from the confining stroller and was amped to run across the grass, play in the fountains, and climb the many staircases. And it became increasingly hard to keep an eye on her free roam while advocating for Chi. Time ticked away and the sun peaked and fell as we waited.
When the first few girls were finally dressed in their fashions and adorned with butterflies, they were breathtaking. It took a lot of restraint not to photograph them as they strolled past me. Ultimately, I abandoned my reserve and, switching lenses, took several portraits of the beauties as they waited for their turns in front of Vuu.
Luckily, I caught a glimpse of her getting her make-up touched up.
But I didn’t get as fortunate with Chi in portraits. I just couldn’t translate her princess-like appearance with my camera, as she wasn’t dressed until just before she was photographed. And, as she usually does, she thwarted my efforts to capture her on camera with her apathetic attitude.
When finally it was her time to work with Vuu, there was just an hour remaining in the museum’s day. Chi disappeared into the depths of Viscaya’s whimsical structures. I tried to follow, but feared leaving my stroller unattended at the base of the many stairs leading to the courtyard pavilions overlooking the garden.
Ri and I wandered a bit more, stopping to admire the waterfront and the yachts and boats coasting along the shores.