Blog

August Newsletter

Danielle

Model: Danielle

Danielle’s only been modelling for a month or two and had only done a couple of shoots prior to ours. One of her fave photographers is Kesler Tran so we were off to a good start. I asked her to put a mood board together, which she did, and I couldn’t have done a better one myself. It was perfectly in-line with my own style. Not that everything has to hinge around what I want to do but for TFP to work well for both parties it has to be done one of two ways:

  1. Shoot together – one style, one look, vibe, feel, aesthetic. To do this means you both want the exact same images at the end.
  2. Shoot two or more sets – one for photographer and one for model. In that case they’re probably two slightly different styles.

I hear of many photographers abusing the TFP privilege and just shooting what they want – or at least expecting to only shoot that. For some reason, there are photographers who think they're above having to pay - ever. That sucks bad, especially when the photographer's skill is questionable and the images that result are essentially the result of a very talented model. 

The absolute perfect way to shoot as far as I’m concerned is in artistic collaboration with a like-minded model/muse. You both put in 50/50 in terms of ideas and motivation. You are BOTH invested in the outcome. You BOTH suggest things and work collaboratively at shoot time. You bounce things around during the shoot and communicate. This is a very rewarding way to work and usually results in amazing stills or video. Chances of publication are also increased, which is an added bonus (and motivator) for both parties. It’s the way I normally work unless I have a specific project in mind and know a model who can do that particular thing really well – then I’ll happily pay for the model’s time and skill.

Tangent finished now. Back to Danielle.

Point is I could see Danielle and I were in aesthetic alignment by the mood board she made for our shoot. It was going to work. And it did.

Even with her very limited experience in front of the camera, I could see angles and glimpses from her handful of portfolio images that she would be able to do the images we'd planned to do.

She brought a bundle of wardrobe with her and we mixed and matched to get some slightly varied looks.

When the wind was blowing Dani's hair around, she started moving it back off her face. Apparently most photographers don't like hair over the face? After a while she got used to just letting it go and even moving her head slightly to get the effect where one eye is covered.

Danielle was an absolute joy to work with. Quiet, humble, totally invested and connected in the moment. I’m looking forward to the next time.

Zoe

Model: Zoe Rayne

Zoe was keen to shoot some pictures with BB, her ’69 VW Bug. She’s selling her soon and wanted some nice visual memories with her. I looked at the colour of BB and was in love right away – an old vintage blue, colours like that just don’t exist anymore. So some Portra 400 would be perfect as blue is rendered amazingly well by Portra. And, Zoe was keen to only shoot film – even better!

We headed up to a spot I know well but have never shot in. There’s some big pines and grassy paddocks where the car could be parked in various lighting conditions for some variety. It was one of those perfect days – Spring weather in Winter. It was fun shooting in, on and around a car, they’re actually the perfect studio with almost any kind of lighting available as long as you’re prepared to shift the car every now and then.

I’d forgotten how small these cars really are. We had one just like this as a family car, 2 adults 2 kids. Not sure if an average family could do that now? People were thinner in those days I think. It’s perfect for Zoe though cause she’s tiny so seeing her driving it is cool, cause it fits her perfectly.

Zoe hadn’t modelled for quite a while so it was a great way for her to get back in front of the camera but it’s obvious from the pictures she has a great presence and look with the most amazing eyes. I love shooting portraits with her for these traits of hers plus she just fun and easy to hang with.

We shot quite a few serious shots.

And some not so serious...

We shot 8 rolls of 120 and 1 of 35mm all up. Still scanning and editing this set but I totally enjoyed shooting this little story. Why? Cause it was fun and it was real.

 

Ivy

Model: Ivy Rose Raven

I've been working with Ivy longer than any other model. What we do works so well, she knows what my aesthetic tastes are, and she can do it very very well.

Ivy's one of those women completely empowered by their sexuality and it's exactly that that I love to photograph in her. To see that level of control and pride in any person, whether it's related to sexuality or some other trait, is essentially just humanity - and it's very powerful subject matter - for me anyway.

The first shots in the story were shot out in the elevator. These were shot on digital as I wanted that 'flash' paparrazzi effect. They'll be changed to B&W for the final set but the colour is pretty amazing.

The story we shot was designed to be sophisticated, classy and sexy but also edgy. Girl comes home, starts thinking, relaxing, drinking, clothes come off bit by bit, she moves from loungeroom to bedroom, and she chills...

Ivy has some great wardrobe for this kind for thing too, including a custom-made corset. What she does with makeup too is pretty amazing. The one thing she didn't have were stay-ups. So I went to 5th floor "Intimates" section at David Jones in the CBD before the shoot and perused the shelves with some uneasy looking women and got what we needed.

The first shots in the elevator were interesting. Ivy's left hand is on the door button to keep that door open. Initially we'd thought that the doors would stay open after just pressing the button once. Nup. Doors closed and Ivy disappeared downstairs somewhere - lucky we didn't go for the nude look in the elevator.

The full set of images we shot won't be released willy nilly to Instagram or whatever - I honestly feel they're too good for that. The continuous stream of imagery through social media channels really tends to nullify any kind of depth that may be there in the images. People aren't interested in looking for more than a second or two so what hope is there of conveying a story line and some meaning beyond the physicality and instant gratification that most social media people want? Instagram is probably the absolute worst platform to view photography - in terms of the resolution and lack of control over how the image is displayed. And then on top of that there's the censorship...

We shot nearly all the images on film and I spent more time than usual being a little more precise about things in general. I'm thrilled with the results.

Unedited straight off the scanner glass, except for the censor bar. Full edited version and more in Issue #2 of Vanilla Life magazine.

 

Vanilla Life

Today I sent the file off to the printer. I only sent out for a small number of copies in case something's not right. I've used this printer for two other magazines, but they were one off jobs done years ago so I had to relearn the magazine workflow, and also get some new software to output the right sized pdf file. They say I'll have the magazines by 11th September, then I'll be contacting those who've expressed their interest and sending them out! Cost will be $24.95 (not including shipping), and no I'm not making a huge profit, almost zero actually but that means nothing - this isn't about money.  My commercial photography has nothing to do with what I do artistically - and I'd hate money to come into come into the equation for as far as the art is concerned.

The title of the mag? Has a lot to do with some shit that happened years ago in my own life - when I first started shooting nudes actually. 

Here's some title pages from the mag...

Next?

Actually got some ambitious plans... Stay tuned. 

 

 

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. 

Custom Portraiture Workshop

I'd worked with Damo once before when I helped him out with a shoot that he did with Anne Duffy. We had a great and rewarding afternoon that day - read about
it back here
. Damo was keen to further explore his portrait photography and obtain something a little deeper and more natural than what he'd been getting.

So this was essentially and 'Emotive Portraiture Workshop' - these are custom designed (and usually one on one) to suit the Client as they are very specific in order to tick off all the outcomes for each individual person. Damo's a great photographer. I asked to see his images from the day out with Anne. I looked at them and asked, "what can I teach you? You've done what you wanted to do right there". The images he showed me were excellent, they had all the qualities of great portraits, they captured presence, poise, beauty and personality aspects of Anne that only a stills camera in skilled hands can capture. His answer was "yes but I know Anne and she knows me, we have a great rapport so it's easy". Essentially he wanted to be able to do what he did with Anne - with any model. One of the key statements he made to me during my questions prior to working out the content of the workshop was, "my photos tend to end up looking like model posing 101".

So I engaged Flavia as the model for this. Flavia has an incredibly natural presence in front of the camera and doesn't go into auto pilot as far as posing goes. She moves and emotes according to what you want to do. But you have to communicate and connect with her so she knows what is required of course. In the end, a photoshoot is in the hands of the photographer - so there are decisions to make and there is control required. That sounds heavy, I hate directing and my style of directing is more like not directing at all!

So we would shoot near Flavia's place on the Northern beaches of Sydney. Just before the workshop I quickly scoped a place I went to years back to shoot seascapes but it was blowing a gale and showers were coming through. Not on. The other side of the headland looked OK and was out of the wind a bit.

So we met at Flavia's flat, got acquainted, had a chat, then headed down to the location. Weather was not good, but at least it had atmosphere. We shot for about an hour here doing a few varied things (for content detail you'll have to do a workshop!). Unfortunately, due to the weather, we couldn’t continue shooting outside and drove back to Flavia's flat to shoot inside. This was very impromptu and wasn't really what I'd planned for. The break in the session meant a loss of continuity to what we were doing. The up side was that we got to shoot inside and outside for variation.

Here's a couple of sneaky shots I got in whilst setting things up.

Shooting indoors, for me, is a very different workflow. Nearly all the emotive
portrait work I've done that I wanted to use as the basis for this workshop has
been done outdoors - with the wind and open space being primary components.

The variety though and the challenge that brings with it was good. We had to adapt on the spot, so important to be able to do that. Damo did get some great shots and I'll post them when I get them.

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.

Timeless Class

I've wanted to photograph Sophia for years now. We communicated a couple of years ago when I had an androgynous idea to do. For whatever reason it never happened and I didn't hear of her again until my mate Flavia shot her. Flavia's pics were inspiring, Sophia's amazing bone structure and face was easy to see and being a portrait photographer, well, it was a no brainer - shoot her.

We arranged to shoot in the CBD using some locations I've used previously. I asked Sophia if she had a suit - based on some images of Lindbergh's I'd seen recently. She sent me this photo:

So if that isn't cool, what is? I took one look and knew 100% we'd get some great images. Always nice to have that feeling before a shoot.

Gina and I met Sophia at the Post Office in Martin Place. I didn't have a plan until I walked around the block just before Sophia got there. It was all so clear. There were patches of reflected light everywhere, even in the middle of crowds - so to any photographer it's kind of obvious what to do, I was excited and just hoped the light would hang around until Sophia got there. It did.

I wanted to shoot this almost street photography style, so to capture other people in the shots but have them out of focus - that wouldn't be a problem as I rarely shoot higher than f4 on a long lens.  

Some shots took two or three takes and Sophia did the 30 metre walk through the crowd a few times to allow me to isolate her in patches of light and also to try and grab focus - this was pretty challenging. At one point I was standing on top of one of those round poles that are about waist high, in order to get the right vantage point.

Final shots were in a quiet location which had some perfect light, shadow and modern sharp lined architecture.

These are some of my favourite locations and I used to shoot straight architecture this way just usi the available shadows and lines to create abstraction. So having this beautiful model in Sophia to concentrate on within that context was really awesome.

Sophia was absolutely perfect to work with, very relaxed, so much so we had some afternoon smoko half way through the shoot. I couldn't even see Gina at one point from all the smoke.

And yes, there are plenty more images to come from this shoot.