If It Smells Like Shit, It Probably Is…

Hi! I’m Erika. Welcome to Two Mann, Two Sense! (2M2S for short). 2M2S is a musing, where I serve up an assortment of bite-sized tips, quotes, musings, stories, recommendations, and other spicy ruminations about photography, entrepreneurship, creativity, and life. You’ll see me in your inbox every couple of weeks.

If It Smells Like Shit, It Probably Is…

To tell the full story of the photo above, we have to go WAY back. Like 25 years back. You may not know that Lanny and I have a history of working together, not just our current iteration of the duo that is Two Mann Studios. We used to teach high-school-aged kids about shit. Like actual shit. We’d take them down the Bow River in Calgary in a raft, testing the water quality at key points along the river, including before and after Calgary’s sewage treatment plant, Bonnybrook. Along with this little field trip we would take them on a tour of Bonnybrook. There is nothing more impactful for kids (or adults), than seeing what happens to your shit, when you flush it down the toilet. Furthermore, there’s nothing more impactful than the smell of Bonnybrook. Raw sewage and a class full of grade eights was an integral part of our early years together. Before we even lived together, Lanny and I had toured sewage treatment plants together hundreds of times. 

Fast forward 25 years, and we’re at the Land and Sea Conference in PEI. We’ve replaced teaching about the science of shit to teaching photography. At the conference we shared the stage with several other world class photographers/artists. One such world renowned artist was Brooke Shaden. Brooke is one of those beautifully upbeat positive forces. She spreads inspiration, joy, and laughter. Her presentations have imaginative messages and an upbeat tenor. Her personality doesn’t quite fit with the incredibly dark nature of her work. But, that’s what makes her so intriguing. When she asked Lanny if we would model for one of her portraits, we were excited.  

Brooke had scouted a serene and pristine looking setting in a stream that flowed into the ocean near a place called Canoe Cove. As we made our way towards the stream, she explained her vision. She wanted me to be dragging Lanny through the water as though he was a dead corpse. As she led us to this “pristine and serene stream,” my nostrils started experiencing some déjà vu (or perhaps, more accurately déjà poo). I kept on getting whiffs of Bonnybrook. The closer we got to this stream, the stronger the smell became. Nevertheless, in the name of art, I changed into my bathing suit and tentatively stepped into the water. It was really cold, but I was more preoccupied by how quickly I had sunk past my knees in black slime while big gaseous bubbles released from the depths with every step. The smell of Bonnbrook was now overpowering. The “pristine” water had quickly gone from clear to black with small white particles floating up. It became glaringly obvious that this “serene and pristine stream,” was the sewage effluent into the ocean. And, those small white particles, they were pieces of toilet paper. Ewww! 

“I want you laying back, fully submerged Lanny,” commanded Brooke, cheerfully now also waist-deep in the sewage. “Like you’re dead.” 

“Erika, I want you pulling his lifeless corpse to the horizon in the distance,” she directed.  

The end of this story is the photo above. Me dragging Lanny through a literal stream of shit, towards a fictional full and majestic moon. Maybe this is some bigger metaphor for life. But, for now I think it’s just a funny story that’s too good not to share!

Until next time!

Love, Erika

p.s. To hear Brooke’s side of this poopy story and see the before and after of this photo please check out her page here

P.S. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of dropping into your inbox. These newsletters may be a little infrequent at times, but I am always trying to find ways to share my own challenges as I know they are not unique to me. I appreciate your willingness to be a part of that journey.

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