Video

Heart

Loz and I had planned for a big day in a local abandoned building where we’d shot back in 2016. We’d discussed a few of her ideas and as usual I was in the dark a bit! I’ve learnt to not worry about that and just go with it. Her ideas are usually more conceptual than literal. When it comes to shooting something, I tend to be looking for something concrete to latch onto because I'm actually thinking about OK what do I point the camera at; but often the ideas haven’t formed fully until shoot time and that’s fine. Scripting just doesn’t work and never has for us. Best to just have a starting point and start working, letting things evolve organically at the moment of shooting. There will be mistakes, but mistakes is the wrong word, and these are usually left included in the final edit. Perfection takes the edge of things, and pushes things toward a more polished outcome, which is not the goal. My compositions during shooting often don’t adhere to the usual formulas and are deliberately random – whilst still being carefully designed. Things can be ‘wrong’ but they have to be ‘wrong’ in the ‘right’ way.

Lauren painting.

I’ve approached my video work in the same way I approached still photography over 35 years ago. I deliberately didn’t want to learn from someone else how to do it. And I didn’t want all the technical rubbish. I literally started by switching the camera to video mode and shooting. My life has been engineering and maths, this couldn’t be the same, and that approach seems to have worked just fine. My left brain doesn’t work well in creative mode. So the end result is you’ll see sketchy pans, skewed compositions, rough timing and then all the rest in the edit too. That all works perfectly for the kinds of ideas we’ve realised with video.

Apollo, with eyes.

So, this was the chat convo a couple of nights before the shoot:

Loz: "Now I just need a heart hahaha. Got any local butchers that would have an animal heart?"
Me: "Oh dear...
Loz: "Haahahaah".
Me: "Serious though? "
Loz: "Yeah"

So next morning I shopped around for a few hearts, not knowing how they would be used. Didn’t need just one, but a few. Got a 4 pack at Woolies in Katoomba – they looked like hearts too and were a good size so all good. Oh, some gaffa tape was required, so I got that too.

Lauren and Apollo.

So we shot about 4 videos in the end I think (plus stills), HEART being one of them toward the end. All up we were shooting continuously without a break for about 10 hours. Then I lost my phone kind of.

We both ended up both editing and assembling the pieces into the final sequence. I found some cool music for it and voila.

More videos currently on the editing table. Stay tuned…

Heart

Please read Lauren's description of the concept behind the film. That's what it's all about and it's a concept that's important.

https://laurenmichelleartist.squarespace.com/#/artistic-film-heart/ 

Concept: Lauren Michelle
Featuring: Lauren Michelle
Video: Mike Stacey
Edit: Mike Stacey & Lauren Michelle
Music: Ori and Humanfobia - 'Lux Entities Invasion'
Filmed in the Blue Mountains, January 2018

And finally here's some random footage of me shooting Lauren painting and Apollo being cute...

Intuition

This is another film produced by Loz and myself. It's probably the biggest in terms of time and production effort. We had shot a lot of footage, over three (I think) separate occasions and we spent some time on the edit. The idea of Intuition required more thought than previous films too, there's a number of different interpretations and finding ways to visually portray those was challenging from a performing point of view and also from the shooting and editing side. I hope those differing interpretations are possible in the final edit for various viewers. In the end I'm blown away by it and I love it.

The concept of the film was Loz's idea, I think it came to her in the night like they often do :) I can't express how much I enjoy and appreciate working with Loz. There are few truly collaborative partnerships like this around - we're very lucky, it's gold.

We've shot a lot of video over the last few months, and this is the first to be released. Stay tuned for about 6 more! 

INTUITION

Concept: Lauren Michelle
Video & Edit: Mike Stacey & Lauren Michelle
Music: Fever Ray 'Keep the Streets Empty for Me'
Featuring: Loz Lightyear & Reuben Johnson
Filmed in Sydney: December 2017 & January 2018

July Newsletter - Genevieve, Sylph Sia, Sass-Kia

Genevieve

July kicked off with a shoot with Genevieve out on the Sydney coast at my fave spot. Perfect Winter weather as usual, and working with a model of the calibre of Genevieve made for an amazing afternoon.

Genevieve hadn't shot many portraits previously but who would know? She was so comfortable in front of the camera and her performance background in gymnastics I'm sure helped her move freely and in an uninhibited way. 

I'm so happy with that shot. The light on Genevieve's skin, her poise and expression, her hair, the slight wind movement in her hair... 

Shooting portraits like this is always a result of a great collaboration - it just can't be done without that creative connection. It's not like shooting anything else and needs to be more connected. I'm always so grateful for the chance to create in this way with like-minded souls and Genevieve was so lovely to work with.

I love the expression that Genevieve invested into these shots. She really gave it everything.

This next shot was one of the last few of the day. We were walking back from where we'd shot the video, and as we were talking I noticed Genevieve's form with this amazing backlight. So we got the gear out again and did this last set with Genevieve in full flight.

Video - A Short Winter Story

On the spur of the moment I asked Genevieve is she'd like to do a video. "Yeah of course". So in a very impromptu way, we did this...

 

Sylph Sia

Sylph was in Sydney for a two week tour so we hooked up and I arranged a cool warehouse-style apartment in Chippendale to shoot in. I'd shot here before a couple of times and the light was pretty special.

Shooting with Sylph is always something I look forward to - there's a great confidence there because I know we're going to walk away with something special. The following are only a few of the images we did as most are still in edit.

We shot a range of material from edgy-lingerie-sensual to T-shirt polaroids. These Polaroids were actually Fuji FP100C, which people call Polaroid but the true Polaroid fill film was discontinued February 8, 2008. That film was really something special. For some good examples see the work of Marc Lagrange - his series Polarized. What that film did with skin tone was something else. For colour Polaroids, shot on 8x10 also, see the work of Paolo Roversi. The colours that Paolo got from the Polaroid colour film were truly sublime - virtually no primarys at all, perfect.

We shot some pretty edgy content using a sheer top that I'd brought with me. Sylph had some ideas for the top so we did it. Those images will probably be for her Patreon page and for my "Vanilla Life" magazine, which will be out soon.

Of course we shot some film too. Portrait-sensual style. Just my thing.

One of my fave portraits is the one below. Sylph's presence and poise is something else.

More images coming from this shoot!

 

Sass-Kia

Last time we shot together, Sass had mentioned wanting to do a video where she could express herself using her dance skills. So we arranged to shoot out at a new spot which I'd scoped on Google Earth the week before. Sass had actually been close to the spot I had in mind previously, so she knew the way down through the cliffs - that was handy. We walked around and got to the spot I was thinking of pretty easily, but I wouldn't try it at high tide!

This shoot was mainly all video and the main video is still in edit - and that will be for Sass-Kia's Patreon page. But I put together a short portrait-style video also...

That video was shot at my usual location out at Cape Banks, which we walked over to after shooting the main video.

Here's some stills too. We had such a blast, Sass was getting into the dancing in such a happy way, the vibe was really cool for the whole day - and these stills reflect that. There's no fake smiles or laughter, it's real. And wonderfully human.

And here's some film... and I love the out of focus feel...

The purists will say, "But it's out of focus" - yep sure is.

Wrapped Up

So that's July. Only 3 shoots, but a lot of video in there which is a lot of work usually - plus a few commercial gigs and a full time job - things have been hectic but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

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

Video

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