Styled Shoots
Apr 2021

Day of the Dead Styled Shoot—with Snakes!

4 min read

Not one, but TWO slithery snakes steal the show in this styled shoot inspired by the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead.


Slinky snakes make this Dia de los Muertos styled shoot delightfully spooky!

Photography: Mariah Gale Creative | Model, stylist, and sugar skull MUA: Maria Pelletier | Snakes and handlers: New England Reptile Distributors | Wardrobe: C.Deity Designs

“Our vision for this Día de los Muertos shoot was to show the connectedness between life and death, dark and light. This joyful, reverent holiday inspires awe and wonder at the cyclical nature of death and rebirth.”

—Mariah Gale Creative

Mariah Gale Creative:

Mariah Gale Creative

How do you photograph a snake? Let alone two?!?

Photographer Mariah and model Maria are both self-described animal lovers, and they jumped at the chance to include live snakes in this Day of the Dead-inspired photo shoot. In a Day of the Dead celebration, snakes signify the constant renewal of life.

“A professional handler New England Reptile Distributors brought several different snakes that matched our color scheme,” describes Mariah. “He was also on-hand to ‘direct’ the snakes—well, as much as snakes can be directed!”

Even with the professional snake-wrangler close at hand, the pythons were always moving. Naturally curious creatures, these snakes are also quite heavy, which helped keep Maria unexpectedly warm despite the chilly New England temperatures.

“My favorite shots are the ones where Maria and Oreo (the black and white Reticulated Python) look absolutely in sync, like they know what the other is thinking,” remembers Mariah.

Mariah Gale Creative:

Mariah Gale Creative

2 tips for photographing a styled shoot in a cemetery

Old, elegant cemeteries are the perfect backdrop for conjuring witchy energy into your photos. But are there any reasons NOT to photograph in a cemetery?

Before you invade someone’s final resting place, get familiar with these important tips:

#1: Find out if you’ll need a permit

Cemeteries that have been designated as historic landmarks are the most likely to require a paid permit for photography. Registered historic landmarks may be privately managed or run by the local government. Do some Googling to find out if the cemetery you’re considering has any special considerations for making photos on the grounds.

Remember: ALL cemeteries are located on property that is not yours. Even if you don’t need a permit, you DO need permission to utilize someone else’s private property for a commercial purpose.

#2: Be respectful of the deceased and their living relatives

Just, ya know, use your manners. Do not stand on graves or sit on headstones. Don’t treat mausoleums like your own private mini-mansions. And be alert for mourners in the vicinity who may not appreciate hearing your crew’s joyful noises. Treat the cemetery’s deceased the same way you’d treat your own loved ones who have passed.

#ShootProofPRO Tip

This day of remembrance coincides with the Catholic celebrations All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

Mariah Gale Creative

Mariah Gale Creative

Plan your own Day of the Dead styled shoot

Most important of all, before you begin planning your own sugar skull styled shoot, you should gather a cast and crew who can lend first-hand knowledge about this Mexican holiday. By working with knowledgable insiders, you’ll craft a styled session that’s both beautiful and respectful.

“I love the idea that we were able to create moments that really show how humans, animals, and earth are connected in the circle of life.”

—Mariah Gale Creative


Written by ANNE SIMONE

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Styled Shoots
Apr 2021

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