Vanilla Life Issue 2 is Out Now

Vanilla Life Issue #2 is out now. Subscribers to the newsletter receive a 10% discount to the mag in either print or digital versions. I highly recommend the print version - I'm personally very happy with the quality of this one - MagCloud have got their printing sorted.

What's in it?

124 pages of:

  • Magazine quality, editorial-style fashion nude and portrait photography, both film and digital
  • The first in a series of articles to help you develop your own creative self which will help shift your work toward something acceptable in an arts based forum or gallery
  • A brief summary of each of the three editorials in the mag
  • Info on my workshops and mentoring programs

Newsletter subscribers will receive another email (sorry!) with a unique link to the discounted copy. It's the only way that MagCloud can do it unfortunately so I need to send that other email via MagCloud as they generate the unique link for you.

Coalesce Magazine

Very soon, Lauren Michelle (Loz Lightyear) and myself will be releasing a series of magazines called Coalesce. The first one is ready to go to print, we're just finalising some details. Coalesce is an arts-based publication containing images and text, most of the work being based on a particular concept. Keep and eye out for it, I'll send a reminder soonish when it's out - the first issue is looking really amazing! Much of the content you won't have seen before as we're trying to keep content for this exclusive and out of social media and personal websites.

Cheers and thank you so much for supporting me. All feedback welcome. Let me know if you like the mag and also if you don't like it - let me know why.

My MagCloud shop is here: but if you're a newsletter subscriber don't use that link for purchasing, I shouls have alreasy sent you a unique lknk to a discounted copy.


Here's a little preview of Issue #2

What Are You Looking For When You Look Through the Viewfinder?


This article is a snippet from a larger article that explores how to achieve your personal voice as an artistic photographer. The full article is in Vanilla Life Issue #2, which will be out soon - 15% discount for all newsletter subscribers. More specifically it discusses how to find what it is you're looking for when you look through the viewfinder, and then how to go about creating the images that represent whatever it is you are looking for. It's for mature photographers looking to take their work beyond a visual snapshot of reality into a more artistic space and it's based within the context of shooting a muse or model. 

I always think back to something a gallery owner said to me years ago. “Your work is fantastic Mike, technically perfect in every way, but any technically proficient photographer could have taken it - what are you saying with your photographs?” This is a fairly typical comment from a gallery owner/curator, or from any art critic for that matter, and it made me think long and hard (after getting over the initial shock!). Art galleries need to see meaning and depth in work, they care little about aesthetics and beauty if that’s all there is to it.

Whether it’s painting, sculpture or photography, an artist’s personal style revolves around what they feel, how they see, and what they look for - inside themselves and in life. Many think it’s the particular editing style (photography), or colour palette choice (painting) that gives the work it’s final look. That helps, but it’s only a very small component of an artist’s personal style. 

Article continued in Vanilla Life Issue #2, where I provide a 4 step approach to achieving your personal artistic style. Issue #1 is available here - print or digital download versions available.

Personal Mentoring

I am available as a personal mentor to help photographers develop to the next level. You work on your own projects and I provide goals and exercises for you to complete each month. We review the work together and I provide feedback and guidance to the next phase of development. I'm also available for limited time during the mentoring period on an informal basis via email or Facebook messenger. 

References are available from photographers who have been a part of a mentoring program. I do love this style of teaching/tutoring - don't hesitate to drop me a line if you'd like to know more about it.

Just get in touch via the contact page on my website.

A group of happy photographers! The lovely folks who attended the one day Photographic Art Nude course at WEA College in Sydney last month. This course was written and tutored by Lauren Michelle and myself and was the first course of its kind in the country as far as we know.

Vanilla Life Magazine Issue #1

The first issue of Vanilla Life is out now.

Quality editorial edgy fashion-nude photography, mostly shot on film, home processed, scanned and edited. The first five have already gone at the introductory price to blog subscribers only. Many images have not been published anywhere before. Grab a print copy or a downloadable one from the following link. 

  • $22.50 for a print copy plus postage (about $13 in Oz)
  • $5.50 for a high res downloadable PDF copy.
  • Or grab both for $22.

Subscribe to this blog at for bargains on Issue #2 of the mag which is almost ready to go to print.

Vanilla Life Magazine, Issue #1. April 2018.

By Mike Stacey in Vanilla Life Magazine

70 pages, published 4/18/2018

Fashion nude and edgy editorial portrait photography by Australian photographer Mike Stacey.

In Future Issues

Much of my editorial style shooting (which is most of what I do) won't be posted on social media. One or two, then the rest published in the mag, or to another mag - which has often been the case in the past. What will be in there? The stuff I shoot of course :) Which ranges from my own style of emotive and artful portraiture shot on film with my established workflow and gear, to nude art, to sensual, erotic; to my style of edgy fashion and story-based shooting (acknowledgements for inspiration to Lindbergh and Tran).

There is a lot of work in my archives that hasn't been published over previous years and even recently. The next post will have some examples.

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. 



July Newsletter - Genevieve, Sylph Sia, Sass-Kia


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!



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.