A Story About Jumping Cholla by Portraits Photographer Elaine Kessler

I love exploring Arizona – it’s a hotbed of awesome sights and fascinating landscapes. Beautiful flowers rise out of beautiful saguaros.  Beautiful birds flutter in beautiful plants.  Beautiful colors fill our big, beautiful skies but beware of Arizona’s beauty – danger lurks everywhere!

It’s wonderful scenery for portraits, but be aware! I photographed a chef/blogger/author out in the McDowell Valley Mountain area and got traumatized by jumping cholla.  We did what you weren’t supposed to do because I wanted the shot I wanted and I paid for it.  We went off trail and I got attacked by jumping cholla – yes, it’s totally for real!

Trying to get THE perfect angle for her portraits, I stepped back then tried to move forward and found I couldn’t.  When I looked down, I saw a cactus stuck to my leg and one stuck to my foot.  I didn’t feel anything but I completely panicked.

I was freaking out inside but staying calm so I didn’t alarm the client.  After trying to broach the sharp, tentacled plant with my fingers and failing, she eventually used her first look outfit to try and pull the cholla out of my leg.  (Hmm…This reminds me, I should send her something for that.)  After trying to gently tug it out and getting nowhere, I told her to just pull the dang thing out with whatever force was necessary.

She had to RIP the cactus out of my leg.  It was super painful and I was bruised for weeks afterward.  Fortunately, the cactus in my shoe was pretty easy to tear out of the leather and hadn’t broken my skin.  I finished the shoot, in quite a bit of pain but managed to get this amazing shot all the same.  I came home and helped myself to mid-morning margaritas – tequila is good.



3651 E Baseline Rd
Suite e223
Gilbert, AZ 85234
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