I debated on posting these for quite a while, because a milk bath photoshoot is not something I’ll be offering any time soon. Ready to shake your head at me and say “Oh geez!”? Well… keep reading.
I originally ordered this clawfoot bathtub around Thanksgiving last year. But after 2 cancelled orders by Lowes, and me throwing a substantial fit with their customer service, it finally arrived at the end of February. Talk about a nightmare. I’ve always wanted a tub to put in a natural area of the studio, so I knew I’d love it on the far side of the room by the wood wall, and window that overlooks the balcony. The only trouble with this is that there is no way to get plumbing to it. But, unfortunately, my overly tenacious nature prevailed, and I made sure I would get water to that damn tub. A few days before our shoot I went to Lowes (or was it Home Depot? Whatever. Same thing.) and picked up an assortment of PVC tubes, a collapsable hose, some tape, clamps, a stretchy hose, and some hose adaptors. I knew something in there would work.
I volunteered my friend Ms, J to be my guinea pig. And thank god for this, because if this had been with a normal client, I would STILL be apologizing. We got hot water to the tub just fine, added our milk, and cut the tops off a bunch of flowers to add to the water. I have to admit, the colors and overall look was absolutely gorgeous. Until Ms. J got in, sloshed forward ever so slightly, and the first bit of milk water hit the ground. “Ok, no problem. It’s fine. I’ll wipe it up with the towel.” We proceeded and I told her to sink down in the tub a little more and start to get her shoulders wet. She accidentally hit the pop-up drain with her toes. “OH NOOO!!!” she screamed. But with the opaque milky water, she couldn’t see the drain to push the plug back down quickly. That was our second bit of milk water on the floor, and there went about 3 more towels. We had to just run with it at that point. I got on the ladder, shot downward over Ms. J, got some great photos, and cringed while more water sloshed out of the sad PVC pipe crudely hooked to the bottom of the tub. I tried to finish shooting quickly so I could get to cleaning up before the milk water started to seep through any cracks in the concrete. I sopped up almost all of it, hooked my collapsable hose to the PVC pipe, lead it out the balcony door, and drained it over to the side outside towards the drain in the parking lot. Yes, you read that correctly. I drained it out the balcony. But the hose wouldn’t stay open enough to allow the water to drain so I sat and held it in the optimal drainage position for about an hour while it trickled. During all this Ms. J had more than enough time to shower, change, and get packed up. She came out to the balcony, cocked her head to the side a little, and said “Sorry I have to leave you here with this sad hose!” and giggled her way out the door so she could make it to some plans she had later that day. I was so worried about the smell that rotten milk water would leave that I spent another 20 minutes cleaning with windex and Clorox wipes. But I somehow missed a tiny bit left in the PVC pipe, that I ended up accidentally knocking into with my foot 3 days later, and consequently got stinky goo all over my shoe.
So it’s safe to say the only thing that would make we even somewhat willing to go through all that again would be a hefty pre-payment on a large session, and a client willing to help me sop up the mess. And I would definitely have to consider using some type of milk substitute, because rotten milk might be one of the worst smells ever.