Portrait Nude

Melbourne - Feb/March 2018

During February and March I made three trips to Melbourne. What's so good about Melbourne?  Well, it's just a great city with low stress for one thing. Like drive into the CBD on a Monday morning at 9.30am no probs. I wouldn't dream about even considering that in Sydney. Plus, the weather was great - more like a proper summer with some beautiful long twilights. Also, I was able to to stay with my dear friend Bianca and check out her new place - she moved from the Mountains to Melbs a little while ago. What else about Melbourne? Some great social aspects :)

Essentially my shoots consisted of impromptu ones around Bianca's house with her and her housemate Luca - and his partner Quinn. I also shot a number of times with @sotto__voce and we did a bunch of stuff ranging from sensual portraits, to edgy fashion/conceptual to a night time shoot in the CBD. More about that later. 

Staying with Bianca and Luca actually took me back a few decades. So refreshing to see this style of living thriving. The only difference is the lack of drugs, maybe not a bad thing. I felt like I haven't 'grown up' through all those intervening years.

Here's some shots around the house. 

Luca & Gloria

Bianca, Luca & Quinn


These shoots were literally almost done as part of breakfast and these guys were nude before I could even grab the camera.

Luca & Bianca

It's a happy household full of love and sharing where things are open and on the table.

Love is key. And no, it's not a fantasy world.

Quinn & Luca cooking pancakes for breaky.

Gloria laid an egg underneath the bungalow (love shack) I was sleeping in, that's what the torch was for.

Love Shack

This was such a home away from home. Maybe even more of a home than home.

Backyard people.

Quinn and his pancakes

Until next time sweet people...

Quiet Achiever

I made contact with Andrea after a friend had recommended her. At the same time, another friend - Eric Clayton, was shooting with Andrea at a Surry Hills hotel. I'd been assisting Eric do the planning for this shoot. Looking at Andrea's portfolio it was obvious she could do just about anything, but to me, she had a beautiful expressive style which I thought would be perfect for my emotive portrait work. So when I contacted her through her Model Mayhem profile, I proposed this idea to her. I also offered to shoot whatever she wanted to do as I was proposing a TFP arrangement.

Oh, and the name of this story, "Quiet Achiever". A term used a long time ago to describe the quintessential Australian character which is largely irrelevant and plain incorrect these days. We aren't like that anymore, social media and Americanisation has changed it all. So anyway, Andrea still is a quiet achiever, she doesn't do Facebook or Instagram, preferring to go about her business in a more understated way. I like that.

TFP - or Artistic Collaboration?

TFP gets a lot of bad press. It gets abused by people. My take on it is that is the best and only way to work if you care about artistic collaboration. Sure, I can go hire a model for a specific project, and I do that regularly - it works well as I can choose the mode based on his/her looks, ability and other factors. But, if I want true artistic collaboration - meaning my collaborator actually also wants to work with me - to create the same thing - then that's wonderful, and the images that get made will reflect that investment, engagement and level of collaboration. That kind of artistic collaboration is probably the most satisfying part of my workflow - I absolutely love engaging and collaborating around the same set of ideas. I don't know it all and I'm always open, right up to the actual time of the shoot, the incorporate ideas.

Another dimension of this involves the nature of my work - which is often based around emotive aspects. Many genres of photography don't involve that level of connection and presence. Some genres involve an almost routine approach to posing - and a subsequent routine approach to shooting - where neither photographer nor model are  really connected. Presence is often not a part of that styler. So, having  that level of presence before the camera is much easier when there is a good emotional investment - from both sides of the camera.

I met Andrea at Central station and we drove over to my spot at Cape Banks. It was the least I could do, sh'ed caught the train down from the central coast. Just doing that, demonstrates a large degree of commitment and interest in the shoot and I'm so appreciative of that. This was going to work.

It was a Saturday but as usual, not many folks around. The sun was shining, it was near perfect. We struck up a good rapport on the drive out and I had that feeling wee'd get some great pictures and video today.

The Big Cave

After going through our bags of wardrobe we started shooting in the big cave. Andrea's expression and look was amazing through the viewfinder. 

Andrea's sheer top/dress worked perfectly in this light.

She had an other lovely vintage looking top with her which worked great too.

Expressive Nude Portraits

I don't shoot many nudes these days, unless it's based around a portraiture type aesthetic where the model's character, emotion and expression is involved. In my opinion, there's a lot of 'art nude' photographs which objectify the woman and leave out the human aspects of that person.

We talked about the use of hair as an element in the photos as it's always been a prime aspect of what I do. I love it, and I love seeing it used in creative ways. Apparently, many photographers ask the model to get all the hair out of their face? Or, "just move that one strand of hair from across your eye..." Hahaha, throw that hair everywhere I say. Andrea found some beautifully creative ways to use her amazing full bodied hair, including creating views that accentuated her incredible lips and mouth.

Photographs don't need to be complex when they are directly about the person in front of the lens. Big grandiose poses just aren't necessary, in fact that only detracts from this style of photography.

Edge of Light

So next we moved out to where the shadow ends on the wave platform. And worked that area of light/darkness. These shots are fluid, model moving, me moving, hunting, searching for composition, poise, expression, sun flare - all at the same time.

Andrea was so relaxed and good at this style. Her movements were so fluid and smooth and expressions varied. Such a pleasure to shoot with her.

Final Sunset Shots

I always finish up at this location with sunset shots, shot in a particular way. There are so many great shots from this set, but I'm saving them for later.

Where the Wild Roses Grow


During the final set of stills, we shot video. I'm still editing the video, in collaboration with Andrea, so stay tuned.

Sass Kia

Sass Kia and I hooked up via Facebook some time ago. The world of freelance photographers and models is a small one and in the art-nude area, everyone knows everyone. This is good, it means, to a certain extent, there's an inbuilt trust mechanism, important where nude models are concerned and it makes it easier for them to make connections that are trusted and also hopefully skilled. The networking also works from the photographer's point of view too.

We'd decided to do a set for her patreon which would essentially be a boudoir/strip set, and then some portrait stuff. Sass had some nice lingerie which always looks great in these old rooms. We worked various locations in the room, making the best of the ambient light. The mirrors in these rooms are always great to use too and this room has three of them. From certain angles when you look into one mirror you can see the reflection of other mirrors so with some careful positioning we got some interesting effects.

This set will be available on Sass's Patreon so why not support a hard working and dedicated Australian artist and check it out! For that reason I won't be posting any images from that particular set here.

The first set was shot entirely on digital so the metal brick with the timber handle came out next loaded with some fresh XP2. Sass is mainly an art-nude model so shooting portraits was a little different for her but she (we) got into the swing of things pretty quickly.

I'd brought a few wardrobe items with me and layed them out for Sass to choose from. She picked a sheer black top, which always works so well - sheer black things are my absolute favourite item. They can look elegant and they can look real edgy and sexy, depending on how they're worn and photographed - but they always work! The kind of light you choose should effect wardrobe choice too, and I know that sheer black looks great in my favourite lighting.

I picked a spot in the room that had great light and made sure Sass was facing directly into it (butterfly lighting style). Then she just sat and leant in various positions on and against a lovely little seat that I'd pinched from the hallway.

Mark Rhodes had kindly sent me a roll of Cine Still 800 to try and I really like the cooler colour palette - although I tend to like a bit more grit and grain.

The old staple, Portra 400 always gives such nice grain and vibe - the colour in some of these shots was a bit wild straight off the scanner but I decided to leave it like that - looks like some sleazy 90s movie scene. Keep thinking of the film Blue Velvet for some reason.

It was great shooting with Sass Kia - she's absolutely cool and easy to collaborate with and adapts herself amazingly quickly to a number of different looks and scenarios. She managed boudoir, portraits, and an edgy variety of portrait that doesn't adhere to any preset posing routine. This was great, as it's my preferred way to work, it's more challenging for me and more challenging for the model - resulting in more interesting pictures, in my opinion.

I used to do a lot of art nude photography but as a photographer found it very unchallenging. When I looked at my pictures, they were almost entirely a result of the skill of the model, not me. Coming from a landscape and architectural background, it was so easy; find some good light, find a good landscape composition (easy) then just plonk your model in the right spot and let her do her routine; snap, snap, snap voilà.

Since the shoot I've been talking to Sass about another project which involves some video and another major passion of hers - dance. I'm looking forward to collaborating with her on this to create something meaningful and human.

Her Place

This collaboration was a real last minute thing, Mark Rhodes had connected me with Indie (Emma) as I'd posted to Facebook looking for a model due to the arrangement I had in place falling through at the last minute. Mark and Emma had worked together several times before dong mainly artistic nude type work.

Indie is a burlesque showgirl, circus performer and life drawing model. So as usual, what I wanted to do was totally different to all of that! 

We arranged to just shoot at her place. I bothered Emma with endless questions about the light in the house, which directions certain windows faced etc, she even went to the bother of looking up her place on google maps so she could give me the exact orientation of the rooms! She also sent me some pictures of the inside of the house and through all of this I was able to gather together some ideas before heading over there. I'm so grateful for all of that.

We shot in four different areas of the house where the light and compositions were best, starting in the living room where there were some lovely windows with large sills for Emma to sit on. Her cat Russell was around for most of the shoot too but it was real hard to get a good shot of both he and Emma together.

Russell and Emma

The hallway had a great patch of fleeting and reflected light coming in from the front door, so we quickly grabbed a few shots there.

I'd noticed a striking painting in one of the rooms - a portrait looking sideways, and decided to use it somehow. I'm really happy with these experimental shots and Emma's input into these was great.

I also noticed a nicely curved vase, whose outline seemed to mimick that of a woman's hips. So we used that too!

We finished off in the dining room where was a nice patch of light in the corner. After shuffling some bikes out of the way we shot the final roll using some neat shadow effects across Emma's face and body.

All these images were shot on film. There's plenty more yet to be edited, as always!

My fave image? I really like the last one and the first one. Thanks Emma for the shoot!




Darby's one of the best life/art nude models around the place. She doesn't do many portraits so this was very different and somewhat challenging for her, and challenging for me to shoot it right. I love that. I want to see the human, the person, beyond the physicality of art nude or life model posing. But that's just my thing, I totally respect others point of view and reference - this is mine.

Recent conversations with another life model said she found this very confronting, working with me in this way. The fact that I was looking beyond her physicality - that can be scary. People aren't really truly nude just because they have no clothes on - there's another dimension to nudity and nakedness - and that's where I want to go, sometimes. Thank you Darby, for goingthe extra mile.

All of these shot on film.

Wanna book this space to shoot in? Email Flavia:  flafonta91@gmail.com

Darby: http://instagram.com/darby_breckderry