Gigs

Different Looks, Same Spot.

I love shooting on location (as I've mentioned before) because there's so much to work with.   

This is a recent shoot for a financial-corporate-type-guy who needed something really powerful and something very approachable.

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I've been eyeballing this spot for a few months, waiting for the right shoot to use it.  It's a sweet little corner of the Convention Centre that could easily be overlooked.  Unless, of course, you're me... constantly looking for light and lines.  

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And my brain is always thinking multi-use...  So you get the clean portrait plus lots of space for copy in case you're on the cover of a trade mag, brochure, etc.

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Early Morning Magic...​

One of the most brilliant 'connectors' I've ever met asked me to make some portraits for her.  

She has just started a new solo enterprise and needed some images to show the magic she naturally, effortlessly brings to a room.

So, how do you show magic?

Well, first I had to get her to stop talking.  The ideas almost never stop flowing so I figured I had to engineer some quiet moments by giving very specific instructions but keeping them open enough for her to interpret on her own terms.  'Cause that's Jenny...  on her own terms.  

But, of course, I also had to capture that electricity that surrounds her... because every moment, you're sharing her constant eruption of inspiration.

She said her favorite place to think is on the swings.    So that's where we went.

I've found that if you get into the space people feel best, you often get a much higher degree of unguarded honesty.  That's why I love shooting on location. 

It's relevant.  It means something.  It's personal... and it matters.   

...And so do the people I photograph

New Fun with Outcast Performing Arts

It's been a while, so I figured I'd take a chance to share some of the fun stuff I've been working on...

This was a great project I shot a couple of months ago for Outcast Performing Arts.

I was given a handful of insanely talented dancers, singers and musicians...  A half day in the QUT film studio... and complete creative freedom.

Since there were no expectations for the outcome I decided to make something a little different for them.

Normally, the Outcast 'look' is very dark and menacing.   But with the Creative Director's blessing I went in the complete opposite direction.  I wanted ghostly and ethereal.  So I decided to try something I've never attempted.

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Crazy, fast motion is normally something you try to freeze and capture in all its detailed glory.  But these are 2 second exposures!  Pretty cool, huh?  The combination of ambient, shutter speed, motion and flash gave me all the sweet details as well as all the blur in the same shot.

It's always a blast working with this crew which I've written about here.

The top composite is my own interpretation of what we captured, but the pieces they used were made a bit darker for the website which you can see here.

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I think the most important point to make is that this didn't spring from my mind when I showed up for the shoot.  Yes, it was an untested experiment (which is a bit crazy) but 2 things worked in my favor.

1. Outcast is super experimental, always trying to push the boundaries of what we expect from live performance – so it fit their ethos.

2. I had spent hours considering the concept and technical details.

Of course, I had a back up plan ready to go if the hybrid didn’t work out.  But good planning and conceptualizing is the real reason this worked.

Wandering in the Queensland Forest with Oxfam...

I just wrapped up another epic 48 hour journey with Oxfam’s Trailwalker

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Some of you may remember the Sydney Trailwalker I shot a couple years ago which I wrote about here

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It’s such an incredible event raising millions of dollars for amazing projects in countries all over the world and I love participating with my camera.

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Personally, I don’t stay out the full 48 hours with the participants…  But I do like to capture the full range of excitement and emotion, which translates to 16 hour days…

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All the dramatic Highs and Lows…

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By the end, most teams (if they are even still in a team of 4) stagger across the finish line and all but collapse.  The fastest teams, however, finished the full 100km together in just over 13 hours!

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If you’re interested in participating or just want to see more of my shots on the Oxfam blog, you cancheck it out here.  Melbourne and Brisbane are finished for this year, but Sydney and Perth are still to come!

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Exposing Myself at Bus Stops...

Oxfam’s Shadow Report went out to the government a few weeks ago.  Hopefully my images all over it will help secure the funding they need to continue the amazing work folks are doing to Close the Gap…

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(The two girls’ t-shirts required some work…  The kisses shirt originally read “I’m bringing sexy back” and beneath OMG it said “Over it!”)  I ‘heart’ Photoshop.

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These were all captured while I was in Western Australia a few months ago with the video crew from Red Hat Films that produced the official video (plus my behind the scenes footage which I wrote about here…)

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And it’s almost time for Trailwalker!  My images have been popping up all over the place…  Posters, bus stop ads…

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If you and 3 companions are interested in an epic race for a good cause, then check it out here on Oxfam’s site…

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Today, bus stops… Tomorrow, the WORLD!!!

A Little Bit of Video…

Here's a neat little surprise I found in my inbox today...

The fab crew at Red Hat Films who produce the Close the Gap film every year (which I've written about before, here) threw a few moments from my 'behind the scenes' footage into the final edit of an interview with Dan Sultan immediately after Rock for Recognition in Perth.

Ahh, India

Well it has been an amazing start to 2013!

We spent almost a month shooting a documentary in India called Devout Warrior which you can find out more about here.

I was along for the ride shooting the production stills and behind the scenes which was absolutely epic.

I'll leave the productions stills for another time...  These are just some of the spontaneous moments that happen all around you in India.  

...Eye contact from complete strangers that our little western minds can barely comprehend...

...Unabashed honesty in a gaze

Everything everyone tries to tell you about India is true.  But it all just pales in comparison to the actual intensity of the place.

I'm ready to go back.

...Dodgeball!

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Oxfam's annual Dodgeball fundraiser for the Grow Campaign was a blast!

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This was the second year I shot the event.  Last year I made all the standard images, covering the event.  So there was certainly no need to reproduce all the same stuff...  This year I decided to just make portraits of the players.

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I decided to shoot super wide (around 16mm for all the individual portraits) giving an extra exaggerated and dramatic vibe to the quirky folks that came along to support the cause.  

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...John Butler at Home

We just spent 7 days with Oxfam shooting the Close the Gap campaign in Western Australia.  It was a fantastic trip full of highlights…  Shooting portraits from Bunbury to Mt. Magnet (which is officially in the Outback!)

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Photographing John Butler at his home in Freemantle, WA was definitely a high point of our trip…

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He is a big proponent of Indigenous Equality in general – and more specifically, Close the Gap.  So he invited us to his home where we filmed and photographed for about 4 hours.  He spoke very eloquently about the need for equality and a true ‘fair go for all’.  Here’s a little behind the scenes video I shot, edited by the phenomenal crew at Red Hat Films who have made the Close the Gap video for the past 4 years.  http://youtu.be/wMwhU8LBjOE

I had loads of ideas for cool portraits when I arrived, but after we spent about 40 minutes with him – shooting all natural light just using a reflector – I knew I had it nailed.

Oxfam requires a very specific look that they use for their visual communication.  So once I knew I had the ‘right’ shots in the bag, I started experimenting a little bit for a portfolio piece.  The above shot is exactly the quiet, contemplative character John seems to be…

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And as a little bonus, since his whole family was there when we arrived, I offered to do a family portrait since there was a perfect spot in their dining room.  Their chicken is basically a full-fledged member of the family so I thought we could create something extra special if they would be willing to put the chicken on the table…  They totally went for it!

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Score!

Eat Local… Feed Global - World Food Day

Sunday was an amazingly beautiful day… Cruising with the top down… Driving to Lennox Head, getting pumped for another gig for Oxfam…

This one was for Oxfam’s GROW campaign for World Food Day and visually it was going to bevery similar to one that I shot last year.  So I was trying to think of a way to bring back some photos that would get the message across; but at the same time stand out as better and different from everything I shot last year.

For ‘Shout the Horn’ campaign last year I focused on the branding (brochures, flyers, posters, signs, etc.) and the people played a secondary role in the images.

But this time I decided to really focus on the people.  

I wanted to portray a much more personal side to the event.  And I could visualize images of people convincing me to pay attention to an important issue...

I had to bring the message through the images in order to visually support the campaign. And I wanted my images to stand out from the crowd… Afterall, other photographers were covering other restaurants in various states around Australia.

Fortunately, everyone there for the fundraiser played along with my shenanigans, giving me a some very great images.

So once I had the necessary shots in the can, I was looking around for a little something special.  I always get in and get the shots I need.  If there’s any time left, I start looking for those little detail shots that really round out a set of images and help tell the whole story.  Well, this time I decided to take it one step further…  Video!

Once I saw the brochure, it hit me like a flash.

Boom!

There was a big group of about 10 or so people who were having a great time… laughing, drinking… all different ages.  Just get everyone to say one line from the brochure and clip it together!

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There you go!  19 seconds…  Fast and dirty.  Totally improvised in the moment.

A Big Thanks goes out to owners Lisa and Tony at Seven Mile Restaurant in Lennox Head.  They are fantastic people running a lovely place, with a grand view of the ocean where whales splashed around just off shore.  And of course a HUGE Thank You to all the wonderful people who came out to support a good cause AND allowed me to conduct my one-man photographic circus.  They all truly made the day a success.

Rohingya… Ro-who?

I was invited to attend an informational evening by the kind folks at Oxfam last week.

The Rohingya Community here in Queensland is educating the general public on the horrible conditions their community is facing back in Myanmar right now.  They are essentially a displaced community, denied residency and actively discriminated against (which has recently escalated to extreme violence) even though the people have been in the same place for generations.

I did a little research when I received the invitation and realized that I could potentially make some amazing portraits…  and at the same time, provide the Rohingya community here in Australia (struggling for recognition and change within the international community) some powerful images that they might use in their campaign.

Sujauddin (a member of the Rohingya who emigrated here as a boy) is an incredibly engaging and charismatic personality working here to stop the violence abroad and provide a voice to hundreds of thousands of people, silenced and denied any freedom at all.

I had my own little corner that evening and invited everyone who was willing to stand in front of the camera for a special little photo session.  We had a great time. and the teenage boys definitely got the most out of my presence…

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But, of course, the stars of the show are always the older folks and the little ones…  The little kids were the bravest and jumped in front of the camera first.  They all brought a surprising degree of presence to the images.

And then, there’s the wisdom inherent in certain faces that really light up the lens…

I had a great time, learned a lot, met passionate people, ate amazing food, created great images… It was a fantastic night and hopefully, my images can help add some uplifting faces to their cause…

Behind the Scenes...

I was asked by Rotary Club to shoot a big fundraiser for Project Now (establishing a much-needed women's residential addiction treatment / recovery facility).  Normally, I don't shoot events...  But they said the magic word - portraits.

The Governor of Queensland, Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley, was in attendance and they needed some decent group shots of the Governor with the heads of the organizations collaborating on this epic project.

The portrait location had been decided without me...  But when I entered the space, I was very pleased with what had been chosen by the planning committee.

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They chose the Plaza Gallery at the Brisbane Convention Center.  The beautiful wood floor... big, fantastic works of aboriginal art lining the walls... proper gallery lighting... Yum!

I especially loved the tungsten warmth running the length down to the cool pool of blue light in the gallery's entrance.  Basically, a perfect space for a group portrait.

With groups, you need to be careful to light everyone evenly.  This one was only 11 people, but you still can't get too creative with light placement.  Plus I needed a set up that would serve for smaller groups of 2 and 3...

So I went pretty flat with the light.  But I was relying on the depth of the space and that little pool of blue to give the overall light 'shape'...

The trickiest part was producing a big enough light source without bleeding all over the walls and lifting the ambient to where I lost the gallery lighting.  So I placed the softboxes pointing down at an angle that normally would have made unfortunate shadows under eyelids etc...

Using a small ladder got me two things:

1. They were now looking up-ish into the light source, eliminating those shadows

2. I got to maximise the beautiful wood floor (and avoid the ceiling which was doing nothing for the composition, anyway).

Plus, I only had 10 minutes to get the 5 groups shots I needed, so it was fun working under a strict time frame.

I'm definitely pleased with the results.  It's certainly nothing to put in the portfolio, but I really enjoyed the small complexities to successfully pull it off.

Oxfam Update...

Hey everyone! Just a quickie for you...

I spent some time down the coast last weekend shooting for Oxfam again...   'Close the Gap' is a program that helps equalize the medical and health differences between Aboriginal and non aboriginal Australians.   I've written about it here on a previous assignment for Close the Gap.

We were shooting at Skilled Park in Robina (the Titan's Stadium) with a group of students down from the Northern Territory in recognition of their commitment to their education.

The gang was invited to attend the game and hang out in the 'big smoke' to celebrate their accomplishments.  They're a great crew from 3 different regions that came together for the weekend to celebrate their success.

Good times for positive change in the world... What more could you ask for?

Nectar of the Gods...

Wine, of course! I just finished a project for a company called Exclusive Wines Direct.  It's an incredible crew bringing boutique wines from France and Switzerland to Australia.

Now everyone knows that a photographer needs to familiarize him/ herself with the subject as much as possible.  And this job was no exception...

I got to taste most of them and these are my favorites.

 What a great gig!  Definitely check out the site.  There is so much great info to go with the wines.  And now there are great images to match!

...Champagne Anyone?

I have been on an absolute roller coaster ride the past 2 weeks.  We have been all over France stuffing ourselves silly and drinking amazing wine. One of the friends we're travelling with imports French wine for sale in Australia and will soon open an online store (more of that coming soon) and I have been gathering images for the upcoming website and newsletters.  One of our stops included an amazing winery in the Champagne region.  A. Robert is the name and all of their products are superb.  I didn't even really like champagne before this!

This is Arnaud Robert... owner, winemaker and heir to the family's champagne legacy started generations ago in the 1700's.

His passion about the whole process is absolutely contagious.  He took us into the fields to explain the intricate process of pruning the vines in order to both maximise quality and maintain the necessary government regulations involved in producing in the Champagne Region.

We have had the amazing fortune of personal tours from the owners themselves... Sometimes into areas of the wineries unavailable to tourists.   The Champagne must be protected from light during the process so we had to navigate by the light of our phones a few times.   I was experimenting in the minimal light far below the tasting room.  This cool arch/ hallway was one of the few places light was available so I began to explore the possibilities of shooting a portrait.

As you would expect, winemaking has undergone a very modern facelift.  So you usually only have giant stainless steel tanks in concrete rooms...  The romantic wooden barrels in stone rooms is definitely not what you find these days.

So one of my goals has been to shoot portraits with a sense of the classical feel of old-time wineries.  I think this works perfectly.  I would have shot more outdoors but we came very early in the season.  In the Loire valley we found the youngest leaves sprouting out of the vines.  But Champagne is farther North and East bringing Spring a touch later.  As you can see from the first photos above, there isn't a leaf on these vines yet.

I was really wrestling the with the math here since it was so dark.  I wanted the lowest possible ISO, of course...  But I needed a decent handheld speed which factored in the movement of the fluid (I mean, it's really about the champagne too!)

So I went straight to my minimum aperture of 2.8 and managed to squeeze out 1/40 sec at ISO 1250.  The camera settings are ultimately unimportant.  I had an opportunity to shoot a fantastic portrait somewhere special with a willing subject and I jumped on it.  What could be better?!

...What Do You Mean the Helicopter is Grounded?!?!

We had a great time shooting at Laidley State High School on Thursday for Oxfam and National Close The Gap Day.

The school organized all 600+ kids to get into the action (literally).  I was supposed to shoot this aerial shot from a helicopter on the day but due to poor weather conditions the pilot cancelled the flight.

This was really the only shot I was sent out there to get.  Anything else was a bonus.  So there it was.  8am.  Helicopter cancelled.  600 kids ready to go.  The school had been preparing this event for weeks.  The kids had practiced.  Everyone was totally amped.  But what could I do?  Learn to fly?

With some quick thinking (and even quicker talking) we managed to organize a 12 meter cherry picker at the 11th hour.  It was the tallest we could get on such short notice. ("Yeah, we're going to need that in place in about 45 minutes...  Do you think we could make that happen?")

I must say, I was a bit skeptical that 12 meters would be sufficient.  The field had been marked for the kids in an exact pattern.  So there was no compensation for much lower perspectives.

What a relief when I got up and saw that it we could get the shot!  It took a bit of re-jigging the kids in the word 'Close', but we sorted that out and got shooting.

Good lessons that day...

- If you think you've tried everything, try something else.

- Keep assuring everyone that it will work (even if you don't necessarily believe it)

- Just get the shot.  Never show up empty-handed.  Make something happen.

Video: Fun New Skills to Keep Clients Wanting More...

Video is something I've been doing for some clients as a little add-on bonus whenever it's appropriate.  It's nice to value add when you've been hired for a photography gig and there is something there you can put to video. Below is a link to a little video I shot during an event I was photographing for Ashurst's celebration at GOMA a few days ago.

Nobody asked me to do it, but I saw the opportunity and now there's a little slice of the evening's event that's captured in motion.  It only took a few minutes to put together and the client sees you go the extra mile to deliver an exceptional product.  How cool is that?!

Ok, this particular product is far from exceptional.  I just used the on camera mic and the venue was super dark so I desperately jacked the ISO through the roof in order to capture it...  But like I said...  It's just a little bonus.

Click below to watch all 1min. 23 sec. of captivating footage!

Ashurst Rebranding Celebration - GOMA - Brisbane

And here's a few images for the stills fans!

 

 

...Play Time!

Something very interesting happens when you photograph something with which you are intimately familiar.  You are able to move and think within the very process you are capturing, resulting in some pretty good shots.

You see, back in the day I was a Thespian (giggity)...  I had spent the better part of any available days working in local theatres around my hometown throughout high school...  Acting, lighting and eventually stage managing.  After high school I went on to work professionally as a Stage Manager in theatres around the US for about 6 years.

This was just a local high school play ('Cosi' by Australian playwright Louis Nowra... hilarious!) performed by the Samford Valley Steiner School.  But it was really the first time I've shot anything I know so well...

I had never seen this particular play before but it didn't matter.  I moved around as if my motions were choreographed into the very play itself.  I was able to put myself in the right places at the right times without even thinking.  It really flowed.

"They" always say 'Shoot what you know'...  I can clearly see why.