For anyone having been to Zermatt, Switzerland they know it is a bit like Disneyland. A village which doesn’t seem quite real, maybe it is a little too “Swiss”. Yes it gorgeous, yes it is a brilliant place to spend some days and yes the Matterhorn is one of the most magnificent sites to behold. But as tourists, we drop in, hike this, climb that, eat raclette & a rösti and check out.
Years ago Janine and I spent several summers in a row in the Zermatt Valley, we got to know the area like locals but did not get to know many of the locals. This trip was different and served as reminder of what is likely the best part of our job, getting to know all different sorts of people.
Our job was to shoot a clothing catalog, hiking, lifestyle and some travel scenarios. The hiking segment was of two of our great friends visiting from California, but for the travel we needed models, three of them. The hunt was on within Zermatt’s cute streets, but not just for any models, they had to be between 35-45 years old, good looking, fit, athletic, the man 182cm the woman 172 cm, thin, with a day to give to us and of most important of all, animated and not shy with a lens in their face.
Mountain shops, galleries, the tourism office, bars, cafes and even strangers on the street were all paid visits by two photographers with a funny greeting, “Hello, we are photographers shooting a job here in Zermatt and are in need of models. Would you be interested?” One can only imagine the awkward scenario that follows.
“Oh, you speak none of my languages.” Or, working around the he is good but she is not scenario, or vice versa. Of course if approaching a woman, I had to be alongside Janine or it looked like a creative pick up line. And then there is the all too common perfect looking person meeting all the requirements but discovering one big void, personality.
As we began searching, we quickly realized what was happening, we were being forced to talk to all sorts of people we might not typically engage in conversation, and the Zermatt experience was becoming more special for the people we were meeting than for the scenery above this idyllic town. Soon we were part of the scene, knowing numerous locals walking the streets, being invited here and there, hanging at the right bars, and being treated like a friend and not just a customer of the town.
When we finally had our models, 3 Swiss, they were the icing on the cake. Fun was had in great abundance during the shoot, there was no need for us to direct smiles or fun interaction. It came naturally. The right people make our job easy and enjoyable, just like the right people that you let into your lives make life easy and enjoyable.
Many, many thanks to all our new friends in Zermatt.