Personal Projects

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!

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…


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…

National Geographic Competition...

Hey everyone! It's time!  I have decided that this year will be the Year of Entering Photo Competitions in an effort for some serious exposure.  Therefore, I have entered my first competition... ever.

So why not start with National Geographic, right?  Actually it's Nat Geo Traveller magazine holding the comp and I have managed to squeeze in 5 entries three days before the deadline!

Here is the link for all 5 entries:



Many of you will notice some familiar shots if you have been following me on facebook.

Please click the links to Nat Geo above and like the photos over there.  I could use everyone's support in the People's Choice category...

Thanks again!

The 'Big Work' according to Seth Godin...

This 3 month European trip as been an exercise in exactly that...  The 'Big Work'. Seth Godin wrote another short, super-resonant blog a couple of days ago 'Doing the big work (at the little table)'.

For me there are 2 main points.

1. You spend lots of time on the 'little' work...  Meetings, planning, paperwork, etc...  And often very little time on the 'Big' work...  The stuff that scares you or might fail.

The 'Big' work for me is going out and shooting.  For you the activity may be different but the principle is the same.

These folks go out in public and create (and hone) their art... I've written about it before over here.   But they are out there doing their work.  The guy above carves faces into olive tree roots...

The past few months have been an amazing experience because that is all I could do...  The 'Big' work.  Every day I go out with my camera, talk to strangers and make pictures.  It has been fantastically inspiring and my craft has grown beyond measure.  The client is me.  And everyday I endeavor to impress myself.  There has been nothing to distract me.

2. We're more likely to do it when the 'resources are lacking and time is short'.

Why do we allow ourselves to become distracted 'at home'?  It seems that when everything is finite (time, money, etc.) there is a burst of effort.  I allow myself to become wrapped up in all the little stuff (that is necessary - to a degree) and often get sidetracked from the Big stuff.  Even when you know that's the work that counts.

What is your 'Big' work?  Are you distracted?

As Seth says, "No need to wait for permission or the lightning bolt of inspiration. The big work is available to you as soon as you decide to do it."

One thing is for sure...

Enjoy Your Blink...

We spent a few hours yesterday inside a cave - La Cueva de la Pileta. Inside were hundreds of cave paintings...  many dating back to over 30,000 years ago!  Crazy, right?

And afterwards, back outside in the mid afternoon Andalucian sun, we were talking to the guide and an older German couple about the whole timeline.

-  The land pushed itself above water over 200 million years ago... To eventually drain and form the basic cave system.

-  We stood in the cave blown away by the human evidence in front of us from 30,000 years ago...

-  I'm 34...

-  And I'm trying to decide what to do this afternoon...

In the perspective of such vast amounts of time splayed out inside the mountain at my back, I remarked at the inconsequential-ness of all our ideas and worries and plans and regrets...  Someone said, "It's all just a blink".  The small group responded with nods and chuckles of agreement.

In a few moments the conversation ended.  As we said our goodbyes the older German guy said, "Enjoy your blink."

There's a whole lot of wisdom in that amusing little quip...

...Enjoy your blink...

Best Photographic Models... Ever.

There's a certain subtlety required when you stand in front of  camera.  This is one of the primary reasons I rarely find myself in front of the lens.  But this week I stumbled on a little gem... Equestrian Students.

Since meeting my partner Trish I have slowly gotten to know some of the equestrian community around the world.  This is a fascinating subset of people who you have probably never encountered if no one close to you rides, trains or competes.

But there is an amazing body awareness and physical subtlety required to train a horse (and train yourself).

I'm talking movements in millimeters.  Literally.  The slightest, imperceivable (to me) movements on a horse communicate dozens of commands that make a well-trained horse respond.   The rider's attention and awareness of his or her body translates beautifully when being directed by a the guy behind the camera.

While training, they spend hours per day being told how to sit, where to move their wrists, ankles, eyes... even ears!  With the camera,  'Chin up a bit'...  'Half step to the left'...  'Nose follows my finger'...  Brilliant!

This is Giovanni.  He has returned to train at Morgado Lusitano in Alverca, Portugal for the week and was an absolute pleasure to photograph.  Obviously, the classic Italian riding clothes topped off by the Sherlock pipe helped take the image to another level.

Some details...


Thanks Giovanni!

A Castration...

Ok folks...  This one is a little graphic.  So if body parts make you squeamish, then avert your eyes. Equestrian centre Quinta do Archino in Ota, Portugal...

This is Alambique (minutes before the surgery) which is an Arabic name that means 'place of distillation'.

Normally, horses are castrated around 3-4 years old...  But Alambique is 7.  One of the most tense moments is getting a massive animal down on the ground gently after the general anaesthetic is administered.

This is a team effort.

The groom, Fernando, keeps his the head still since there is still some movement and twitching...

3 feet are tied together to keep them out of the way...

Paula Tilley DVM, MSc, PhD of the Equine Unit - Large Animal Teaching Hospital in Lisbon, performs the surgery right there on the arena floor.  This older horse is particularly difficult to snip.  That's the second testicle coming off...

Removal complete.

Detail 1

Detail 2

First steps... After the operation site is closed, the horse is up and walking (very tentatively) within about 15 minutes.

Amazing care by the vet...

An equine castration costs 160 Euros and takes about 1 hour total.

Alambique will receive antibiotics for 10 days and wound care plus exercise twice a day for 10-15 minutes.  Within 2 weeks he will be back on his regular training schedule.

Busking in Brisbane...

[caption id="attachment_749" align="aligncenter" width="590" caption="Busking in Brisbane"][/caption] Well, my Public Artists project is well under way!  I've decided to focus on buskers for now since I only have about 5 weeks left in Brisbane until we head to Europe...  Unless, of course, something (or someone) interesting lands on my path.

That said, if any of you know of anyone who is creating art for the public and would like some portraits made - send them my way, for sure!

I had a great session with Benoit, an excellent guitarist and very interesting guy.  We had a good chat before I photographed him.  I like to take some quality time and speak to folks before I even ask to shoot them.  There's really no point taking someone's photo if you haven't bothered making any kind of connection...

The approach I'm taking is to capture a wider sense of the place the people are in, a solid  portrait, and a few detail shots.  Sometimes it works and sometimes not...  But it helps having some kind of focus going into it.

First of all it really helps you look more legit as you're explaining your self and your project to complete strangers.  Plus it gives you a framework to work with since this is going to be a cohesive series of images.  And for me, all 3 aspects are equally important.

I must admit, people have been more willing to be photographed than I expected.  As an artist (and a human) I guess I tend to fear rejection as if it's something personal.  And in my rational moments I can clearly see it's definitely not personal...  But you know how it is.  You're investing every ounce of yourself in the process.

But you can't fear what might happen.  You step up to the plate and take a swing.  Hell, if you only do as well as major league baseball players you're talking about what - a 20% success rate?

If I could recommend one book to read, get your hands on 'The War of Art' by Steven Pressfield.  It's all about recognizing and moving past that Resistance that seems to creep into things we want to achieve most.  It's incredible.

I think part of my inspiration shooting these buskers is because they go out and sit down in front of the whole world to practice their craft and play... Exposing themselves and their art.

I find that amazingly brave.