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Cicadas Star in Graduate's Senior Picture Photo Shoot in Covington

While shooting his senior pictures, recent Walnut Hills High School graduate Aiden Lenox got an experience that won’t happen again until the class of 2038 graduates. His shoot was invaded by cicadas.

“It was unique and quite fun,” Lenox, 18, of Cincinnati, said of incorporating the giant buggers into his photo shoot at George Rogers Clark Park on Covington's riverfront. 

The one- to two-inch-long insect's features include prominent red eyes set wide apart, short antennae, and membranous front wings. They have an exceptionally loud “song,” produced in most species by the rapid buckling and unbuckling of drum-like tymbals - a membrane that forms part of the sound-producing organ in various insects. Cicadas spend most of their lives as underground nymphs, and emerge in predictable intervals of 13 or 17 years, depending on the species and the location.

The 17-year cicada, or Brood X, is currently in the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati region, and other parts of the country.

“The cicadas invading our city in the millions every seventeen years is quite an amazing event,” Lenox said. He’s glad that photographer Lisa Binns suggested they incorporate them into the photo shoot.

“It is a rare event and I just thought it would be a unique memory for Aiden and his family to have,” Binns, 56, of Crescent Springs said. “Having the cicadas was a bonus and a nice way to mark the event in the family’s memories in a subtle, and in some photos, a not-subtle way.”

When Binns suggested that the cicadas “sit in” on a few shots, Aiden and his family, who also were included in some shots, were all in.

They picked up one and let it crawl around Aiden’s shirt until it reached his face and started to tickle him. In another shot, they focused on the cicada and Aiden became the backdrop. When his sister arrived, Binns said she surprised her by picking a cicada “right up to hold in her sibling shot.”

“At the end of the shoot, I half-jokingly said we could do a take on ‘falling leaves’ and toss some cicadas at Aiden,” Binns said. “His parents didn’t hesitate to scoop up handfuls of the cicadas and stood on either side waiting for my signal to toss them at their son. The shot itself didn’t turn out perfect, with the wind blowing them in unexpected directions, but the outtakes are priceless and what a fun memory we all have.”

Lenox said his most memorable cicada moment, however, has been searching for them in his backyard and watching them emerge from the ground and crawl up his fence the very first night they arrived.

“My favorite photo is of me holding the cicada closely to the camera, allowing it to crawl up my hand,” he said.

Binns said she enjoys the cicadas. 

“I don’t have a personal relationship with any, but I’m thinking about asking one out though to get to know him better. I would ask him if he was surprised to emerge after being underground for 17 years to a world filled with masked humans, slowly emergency from their own “underground” after isolating for a year," she joked.

Binns said cicadas are fun to photograph too. 

“They are so unique looking in all of their different forms,” she said.

Binns’s professional and personal passions are to help nature’s most delicate creatures, like the cicadas. After 20 years as a marketing and research consultant to Fortune 500 companies, she started volunteering and donating her photography talents to animal rescues and shelters to help animals find homes. 

“That started 10 years ago and in following that passion, I opened an animal photography studio and founded the nonprofit, Second Shot. To allow me to continue this lifesaving work, I continue to photograph humans and homes as well. I guess that’s full circle in a way. My passion is helping animals find homes and their humans and to support that, I also photograph humans and homes for sale, so I’m helping humans find a home too.”

For more information on Second Shot, visit www.secondshot.pictures.

-Melissa Reinert, RCN contributor

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