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September 05, 2021 3 min read

Photoshoots are always an adventure – heck, everything with the DDR crew kind of is – but the Grand Canyon shoot took that to a whole new level. We photographed this collection in the Texas Panhandle at Palo Duro Canyon Ranch, a privately owned portion of the second-largest canyon in the country.

ONE HECK OF A RIDE

The Grand Canyon photo shoot was a wild ride – literally. As you might imagine, getting to the bottom of a canyon is no easy feat – the Palo Duro Canyon, where we shot this collection, is up to 800 feet deep at some spots. And the easiest way down? Vintage HumVs. To quote Hedy from the Cynthia shoot off-roading up to Enchanted Rock, “If we were paint cans, we’d be well mixed!” And long-legged Kaylin, wedged in the backseat of a Polaris, actually bounced around enough to rub off some of her ‘tan’… “You’ve never been on a rough ride until you’ve been on one that jostled your spray tan off!”

EXTRA HANDS ON DECK

During the pandemic, we ran photoshoots on a very bare-bones crew, for obvious reasons. As spring 2021 rolled around and restrictions started to lift, we were able to bring on a little more help. And because we were in their neck of the woods, longtime DDR darlings Lynita Brown and Sealy Vest were able to join us on this one. Y’ALL. If you’ve never had the pleasure of hanging out with these two – especially together – we highly recommend that you do it the next chance you get. They’ve known each other the better part of their lives, and their dynamic is right up there with that of the McMullen sisters – the comedy is endless.

WEATHER & WIND

Once again, we were shooting in the off-season, so it was chilly-chilly! Kaylin and Lozzie were goose-bumped, teeth-chattering troopers most of the time, wrapped up in a blanket between takes until the very last second. And if you’re familiar with West Texas, you know that the wind is formidable, so in addition to trying to keep the models warm, it was a scramble to keep foldable chairs and our pop-up dressing rooms and even hanging garments from taking flight off the edge of a bluff.

FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS

Whether it’s a simple meeting at Audrey’s house or a photoshoot in the wild, we can’t seem to resist the animals. On this shoot, we had the pleasure of meeting “Opie the Protector”, an adorable little donkey so tame he’ll eat right out of your hand. And his buddy, a slightly more reserved pony named Cowboy.

PATIENT PROFESSIONALS

A huge shoutout to Darrell and Case, our patient, knowledgeable, and reassuring guides. We’ll be honest, that first trip down into the canyon was a bit terrifying… “Will this thing flip? Am I going to be thrown out? What do I hold on to? Did I survive a pandemic just to die in this canyon? Will my back ever be the same?” But then once you’ve made a trip safely down and back up, you start to relax a little; you can respect the invincibility of the vehicle and the skill of the driver, and you’re able to appreciate the immense beauty of your surroundings and absorb the education they provide about every formation and natural phenomena, and the historic events that took place right where you sit. Highly recommend it – tell ‘em DDR sent ya.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

Palo Duro Canyon is just outside my hometown, so it was an interesting experience to feel like I was essentially hosting my whole team in the backyard of my old stomping grounds. While the town of Canyon is vastly different from Amarillo – it has about 5% of the population – I was able to share with them an integral piece of my childhood, one of the best things West Texas has to offer: Taco Villa. (And more specifically, their Diet Cokes.) If you know, you know.

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