Snakes. While many quite rightly fear them, these misunderstood creatures are undeniably beautiful in their own right. Photographer Mark Laita set out to capture that beauty for his book Serpentine.
The book is a collection of beautifully lit snakes against a black background, in order to best bring out the stunning colors and textures of the serpents. And while it may be of great interest to snake lovers and herpetologists alike, the author insists the work is to be viewed as art. “My intention was to explore color, shape and movement, using snakes as a subject, but of course herpetologists will probably enjoy these photographs as well,” he told Wired.
One of the snakes selected for the book was the deadly black mamba, a highly aggressive and venomous snake from the African continent. Despite safety precautions during the shoot, an accident occurred while the owner went to retrieve the snake with a hook. The hook instead snagged a red photographic cable that was nearby, this spooked the mamba which then lashed out at the photographer’s leg. Blood began to gush from the wound and Laita immediately feared the worst. “Oh f**k,” was his initial reaction, according to an interview with Strange Behaviors.
Despite the snake not having its venom glands removed and therefore being still extremely deadly, Laita did not go to the hospital for anti-venom. This goes against experts’ advice on the matter and was an extremely risky thing to do. Luckily for him, the snake either gave him a ‘dry bite’, in which the snake chose not to inject venom, or the venom was immediately pushed out by the heavy bleeding from the bite. It must’ve been nervous time in the aftermath however, not knowing for sure if any venom had entered his system. “It hurt like hell that night.” Laita recalled. “It was like being stuck with a couple of push pins.”
Looking through his photos later on, Laita was astonished to find that he had captured a snap of the precise moment of the bite, which you can see below. This led to accusations of a set-up to publicize his book, fuelled by a misreported story in the Daily Mail. Laita insisted this was not the case however, saying that he wanted people to talk about the book, not the bite. “The whole thing is stupid, and it makes me look like a reckless jackass, which I’m not.”
Survival of Black Mamba bites without treatment are so rare, Laita’s case even gets a mention on the black mamba’s Wikipedia page. The whole episode makes for an incredible story and yes, the black mamba that could’ve killed the author did indeed make it into the book. Check out some of the amazing images from the book below and let us know what you think!
When photographer Mark Laita set out to capture the beauty of snakes for his book, he probably did not expect to get bitten by one
An accident occurred while the owner went to retrieve the snake with a hook. The black mamba lashed out at the photographer’s leg
Survival of black mamba bites without treatment are rare but the photographer decided to continue shooting
“My intention was to explore color, shape and movement, using snakes as a subject.” You can enjoy more of the beautiful works below