So something happened on my last shoot that really got me thinking about safety on my outdoor photo sessions. I was shooting at the forest preserve in some beautiful tall wispy grass at sunset, and before I knew it I was under full fledge attack by yellow jackets. At first it was a sting on my arm, then all of the sudden I felt them everywhere all over my body. It happened so fast, and I didn’t actually see any bees until I was frantically swatting them away, and only then I saw maybe one or two. I didn’t even realize what was happening until about five feet away my husband (and gracious lighting assistant) began to have the same reaction. We dropped our equipment and began to run, all while my lovely and confused mother to be held her pose in the grass. I am so thankful that they never stung her, but also in complete disbelief at our luck, because she was standing much closer to me than my husband. Of course this happened in the first five minutes of our shoot, and it was a little hard to recover from, but we knew we’d be ok. hough it hurt, we were not allergic to bees–which is good because after all was said and done I was stung 18 times and my husband 5! After the shoot was over and I had time to think about it, I kept having this dreadful feeling: What if that happened to my client instead of me? And what if she WAS allergic to bees? And what if that were a baby or a small child, also allergic to bees? I shoot in the grass all the time and never knew that yellow jackets build their nest underground (and for the record, it could be anywhere, not just in tall grass). While I rely on parents to inform me of potential environmental allergies or specific limitations we might encounter, I have never actually asked anyone if they are aware if their child has a serious allergy to anything we might encounter in the great outdoors. Adults usually know of their allergies and carry epi-pens for events such as this, but my guess is that most parents don’t realize their babies or toddlers are allergic to such things as a bee sting until it happens. Sometimes a family history of allergies can tip them off, but not always. I learned a lesson I will never forget on this shoot, and have made it my own personal policy to ask about bee sting allergies and go over all the possible scenarios we may be shooting in prior to arriving at our photo site. I have also made it a habit to avoid tall grass when shooting little kids unless parents specifically request it, and then my amazing photo assistant and husband will take one for the team by going in to the area and disturb the heck out of it before we set up camp there. Parents, just remember that a photographer shooting in the great outdoors will be looking for great light and interesting settings, but we can’t detect underground bee nests until they surface! Know your allergies, and don’t forget to bring your bug spray!