Humanitarian/ World

World's Greatest Photos of the World's Greatest Shave...

A good friend signed up to shave her head this year for the World's Greatest Shave...  I decided to capture the fun...  During the event and afterwards in the studio.

The actual shave was loads of fun, but the real magic happened the next day in the studio creating some absolutely stunning portraits.

Amazingly, "World's Greatest Shave raises about half the money the Leukaemia Foundation needs to fund its important work – providing support to people with blood cancer, as well as millions in research."

Valentine raised a couple thousand dollars in the effort and realised one of her own personal dreams in the process...  A huge success!

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…

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?

...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.

Do NOT Work for Free! Unless, of course, you should...

This is freaking hilarious and ANYONE  in a creative industry needs to see this.  A truer word could not be spoken about working for free vs. getting paid.

For the love of all things holy!  Please take 3 1/2 minutes to watch this video...  Writer, Harlan Ellison speaks the truth... Brilliant and hilarious!

After that, you'll think I may be crazy... But working for free has been one of the best experiences of my career (in certain situations...)

Ok, I don't have Warner Bros. calling me with such insane requests; but I have had certain magazines requesting the same thing... And they are the ones I stay away from..

In my travels I have found organization that I truly believe in and want to support.   As you know, I've been doing work for Oxfam this past year (that's my photo on their homepage for Close the Gap) and I love that I can offer my skills to support such a worthy cause.  You can see some other work on this previous post... here.

I have also recently gotten on board with Rotary Club and will be creating some images for them to help them grow a new rehab facility here in Brisbane.

For these organizations I don't even think twice.  But when I get requests from magazines offering "exposure" I get pretty twisted up.

Mr. Ellison couldn't have expressed my feelings clearer.  But for the organizations that deserve a free shoot... Well, I couldn't be happier supplying them with images.

Amazing Opportunities as an Oxfam Photographer...

I have recently begun shooting for an incredible international aid organization, Oxfam that many of you have heard of, I'm sure. I posted a little while back (here) about my trip to Sydney shooting the Trailwalker event.  The purpose of that trip was two-fold.  I wanted to do some good work for a good organization whose work I believe in plus do a kick ass job and see if I could grab the attention of the people responsible for bigger campaigns within the company.

Well, it worked on both fronts.  I had a great time and shortly after returning to Brisbane I received a phone call from the photographic coordinator in Melbourne.  We chatted for a bit and she asked if I would be interested in doing bigger projects with them!  Too cool!

It is a perfect example of putting yourself out there, doing something on your own dime and on your own time in order to get someone's attention.  It really does work.

So I've done a couple fantastic local gigs for them already.  One was Shout the Horn, a brilliant effort to raise money for the overwhelming struggle in East Africa.

Part of the brief was to provide some positive exposure for the restaurants involved and Oxfam.  I was shooting at Freestyle Tout in West End.

Another very cool opportunity that popped up was a fund-raiser at an amazing Eritrean Restaurant, Mu'ooz which itself began in an effort to provide job opportunities for Eritrean immigrant women here in Brisbane.  They have an very inspiring story.

But while I was there I got to shoot the beautiful Saba, traditionally roasting coffee beans after dinner.

You know, it's just incredible what happens in your own back yard...  She has transported a little bit of Eritrea to a cozy spot about 10 minutes outside the CBD.  Looking at this picture, I can hardly believe where it was taken!

And there's some exciting gigs coming up too...  First is a Dodgeball fundraiser on November 5th!  How awesome is that?!  And then hopefully I'll be able to do some work for their Close the Gap campaign before the end of the year, assisting indigenous communities here in Australia.

So stay tuned for more fantastic imagery courtesy of opportunities provided by Oxfam!