August Newsletter


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.


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.



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...


Actually got some ambitious plans... Stay tuned. 



Polaroids and... Polaroids - Laneikka

Laneikka and I had worked together back in April. There's a blog post about that shoot here. She's such a talented girl, is just lovely to work with and understands my need for capturing emotion. 

So Laneikka needed some standard modelling polaroids for some agencies she was talking to. Easy. Studio strobe-lit photos are formulaic and take a bare minimum of skill and zero creative input from the photographer. I set up the Elinchrom strobes in the loungeroom plus a grey backdrop. Used two lights for the full length shots and one light, butterfly style, for the waist up shots. All done in about 40 minutes.

I had some styled art-fashion shots in mind to shoot on film - polaroids and colour 6x7. These were inspired by some recent browsing of Paolo Roversi's work, who I've admired for ages.

We didn't have the time or resources to create anythign exotic, lighting wise but I'm real happy with what we achieved in that small poorly lit corner of the loungeroom.

I ended up taking a window out so I could shoot from the right angle and still have good light. Also used a small 300W fresnel for a few shots and even bounced the Elinchrom soft box off a piece of white foam core in a few other shots. Using the Pentax 67 and a strobe needs a bit of thought as to the strength of natural versus strobe light as the synch speed is only 1/30 second. 

Laneikka had taken the brief seriously and brought along the most beautiful outfits - three of them that were almost perfectly matched to the reference images! So grateful for that. Her wardrobe is something else. Gina from GIAN Designs had designed and created some beautiful floral head adornments and also created a cool head wrap with some material.

The backdrops were a mish mash - I literally threw and draped various fabrics over the stands, knowing they'd be out of focus and merely provide some nice coloured texture to the images.

Laneikka put together a brief blog post on her increasingly popular fashion blog. You can see it here.

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.

Conversation with Myself

"This concept is loose theme of having conflict between being and artist and a creator and vs model and subject and dealing with multiple perspectives and personalities within myself. Video/music "A conversation with myself". - Loz Lightyear - Art model-muse

For me this is what artistic collaboration is all about and this was an amazingly rewarding, enriching, moving, insightful and human experience. It cuts to the core of why I'm a photographer. It's 'about someone'. Thanks Loz 😍 for sharing your ideas and a part of yourself with me.

I look forward to the next last minute challenge where I'm briefed in the car on the way to the shoot 😀 The spontaneity though, helped make this even more amazing and I love that aspect of it.

I hope people have 3 minutes 36 seconds to watch this.

Loz's Thoughts

"I woke up with a flurry of ideas, spare of the moment stuff on the morning of our shoot, and I told Mike of the imagery and vague concept I had in my mind on the way there!"

"I can't emphasize the importance enough of trust and faith, to get ideas from the mind, to the point of being expressed in reality, and I have heaps of gratitude for Mike for that trust, even when my ideas seemed vague and a bit crazy, and also for the provision of his amazing technical skills and his own insights to help make that happen."

Video and Edit: Mike Stacey
Concept and choice of soundtrack: Loz Lightyear
Artist: Loz Lightyear
Music: 'Conversation with Myself ' - Fabrizio Paterlini
Filmed in Sydney, April 2017

Romp: 'To Play or Frolic Boisterously'

So this was a big one. Flavia and I had been plotting for this shoot for a while. Lots of planning, purchasing of outfits and searching for a location etc. And she had a new second hand film camera and she wanted to shoot too :)

We finally settled on a hotel in Sydney - and I'm glad we did, this place is perfect for the stuff I do, and the light, well it's something else (I've been back and shot there again since then).

I bought a couple of dresses and brought along some other stuff too. Flavia brought a crazy collection of amazing things packed into a small bag, but what a gold mine it was in there.

Basic plans were to shoot some video and a few sets of images.

So we started shooting at about midday with an hour or so for lunch in the bar downstairs - that's one of the benefits of shooting in a pub, drinks and food are real handy. Much craziness and lots of laughter later, it was 7pm when we wound it up.

Rather than waffle on about the day's activities, I'll post some shots with captions to tell a bit of the story. Many shots from the day won't be published publically yet - until we sort a few details out, and then they'll most likely be available through

First up here's a 'making of' or BTS video.

Compilation Video - Behind the Scenes

Model: @smartcookiecookie
Video: Mike Stacey

Rich Bitch

A set based around a distinguished, classy theme but a highly irreverent attitude and juxtaposed to the style and class of the wardrobe and the setting - Flavia would be perfect for this. In other words, a 'fuck you' attitude - she's good at saying that :) She's also a good actor - being able to emote and express without the need to be 'posed' - to be able to carry a storyline - all this is perfect for a more realistic and cinematic style of photography, also great for video of course. And... more challenging for a photographer, which is great. Challenge me please!

This is a preview, full set coming soon...

And the smoking video...

A bit of an idea as to who rich bitch is. And don't smoke in hotel rooms kids.

And another short clip

Video and Styling: Mike Stacey - Model, Styling and Acting: @smartcookiecookie

Romp: 'To Play or Frolic Boisterously'

Synonyms: antics, pranks, larks, escapades, stunts, practical jokes, tricks, romps, frolics, fun, fun and games, skylarking, mischief, horseplay, silliness

A crazy set with crazy wardrobe (to be submitted for publication).

A Sexy Set. Of course.

All the sets of images contained a sexy element, this was very much part of the intent and the idea. No hiding behind any kind of 'art' premise, yes this is about provocation, about the art of being sexy and alluring, a skill and a talent with so many dimensions around control, power, pride, desire and all the rest. No shame in that. It's called Eroticism. And it's art, whatever that is.

Previews only - full set coming...


Flavia's Film Pics of Me

Eeek. See her photographer account on Insta. for more: @cookiepixpix


A Story Set - Waiting

This is a video and some stills of a girl waiting for her boyfriend to arrive, but he never does, so she starts drinking and smoking and getting a bit wild.


This is Flavia's thing.