What is the best thing you can think of to do on a 32°C day? Go to the beach? Drink iced tea poolside? Turn your air conditioning up so high that you need to wear a jumper and snow pants? How about go out to an open field and photograph men’s winter fashion? Sounds like the logical thing to do, which is why I spent my Thursday sweating it out in Batesford.
The shoot was for Joseph Jang’s new menswear range, which just so happened to be winter garments. When he first showed me the garments, they reminded me a little of birds, with colourful plumage and big puffy proud breasts. We talked concepts for a while, and I thought that this might be an opportunity to pull out my old favourite location- Dog Rocks.
This is the place where dreams are made.
I’ve shot at Dog Rocks numerous times before, and it never ceases to amaze me. Protruding form the dried out yellow grasses are huge boulders. Rock formations in weird shapes, slopes of pure greyness rising up out of the golden ground. It looks like another country, another planet, another time. It is purely amazing. There is not one part of this curious landscape that I do not love. Not one corner that I don’t think it beautiful.
Oh, and there is also this…
The giant bonsai that is the deal-sealer of this location. I have thousands of photos of this one tree. Actually, the first time I ever visited Dog Rocks, it was in the late afternoon. I was setting up for a dusk shot of the tree, as sunset approached. Then, I heard footsteps. Another photographer approached, nodded at me, and set down his tripod. Then more footsteps, more photographers. Before long there were a ring of 9 or so tripods set up around the tree. Nobody spoke. Nobody made eye-contact. Nobody got in each other’s way. The sky changed from golden to red to deep indigo, and all you could hear were camera shutters and self-timers. Then, with quick nods and little smiles, each photographer gathered their gear and left, still not saying a word. It was quite surreal.
In any case, I was excited to head back to visit my old tree.
Que disaster!! The shoot had been planned for weeks. Models booked, call sheets sent, garments packed neatly into bags. But the morning of the shoot, I received some bad news. My regular makeup artist and long time friend (who was supposed to do the makeup on the shoot) was in hospital, and had been ‘out’ for 10 days. Luckily she was alright, but still in no condition to be venturing out on a shoot. In addition to this, it was very very very very hot. I called Joseph and we considered a plan B- shooting somewhere nearby to the studio (instead of trekking all the way to Batesford) just for a short while, and then rescheduling the big shoot for a later date. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to go to Dog Rocks. We were shooting guys, so makeup wasn’t integral. And it was hot, but we could put up with it and shoot quickly (also good training for the models!) By the time everyone arrived at the studio (some an hour late due to the mix-up) I was full of excitement and motivation to go.
So we went.
The models, Anei and Alex, were both from Scene Model Management. I had tested with Anei before, but Alex was a new face. Everyone clicked really easily though, and got along really well. It felt like we had known each other for ages. The dynamic of the group was really interesting for me, because usually I am working with lots of females, and maybe one male, but this time I was the only girl. Tables have turned.
We all piled into my little Mazda 2, and I drove the 1000 or so kilometers (not really) to the location. It was great fun driving along and chatting. Everyone was funny!
When we finally got there, after about an hour, we had forgotten how hot it was, thanks to the car air con. But we quickly remembered once we got out of the car and the sun started to beat down on us.
Dog Rocks looked like Africa this time. I have only ever been when the grass was green. But this was even more awesome!
We set up camp under some trees, then got to work. I had packed everyone chicken and avocado rolls, as well as lots of snacks and treats and water to keep us going. We hung them on a tree branch to keep them off the ground.
The boys would wear 3 garments each, and we started with the lightest (weight) ones. It was ok under the trees, but once we got out in the open, the heat was quite intense. There was a little breeze though, so it wasn’t actually that bad (easy for me to say, I wasn’t wearing the heavy coats!)
Joseph used a water spray gun to ‘steam’ the garments. Improvisation!
I made sure to shoot quickly so that the boys didn’t overheat. This was both easy and difficult.
Easy: Because everything looked good thanks to the amazing garments and awesome location.
Difficult: Trying to stop shooting, because everything looked so good!
Joseph helped me by holing up reflectors and diffusers, which was a bit hard sometimes because of the wind.
Walking to the exact spot before donning the heavy coat..
The boys stayed cool by napping in the shade when it wasn’t their turn to shoot.
There were also some sheep in the paddock that became very interested in us and out camp. Sometimes they wanted to be in the photos, so there are a few sheep in the background of a few shots. They were (luckily) all shawn, so they didn’t get too hot. There was even a tiny lamb which we all wanted to take home and love.
Alex took a portrait of me. I look really fashionable in my $6 Kmart hat, and with pink/red heat face.
Time really flew, and before we knew it, it was already 6:30pm (but still bright!) With all the water gone, and the snacks eaten, we gathered up all the things and got ready for one last shot. A ‘couples shot’, as Anei called it. The boys looked awesome in Joseph’s garments, and worked well with each other in the shots together.
So that was the end! We all trudged back to the car, loaded it up, and then collapsed into our seats. I cranked up the air con, and then we took the highway back to Melbourne. I think Alex and Anei both fell asleep for a little while.
I had such a great day with these three, despite the heat. What troopers!! Thank you so much to Joseph for letting me shoot his garments, and to Anei and Alex for braving the winter wear and giving it their all for the images. The shots straight out of camera look amazing, and so I can’t wait to retouch (and submit??!!) them!! Keep your eyes peeled!