Winter Sun (Publication)

A test shoot that I captured last year has been published on Sticks & Stones online! Jonny Harris from GTR and I braved the winter cold to capture some images around the arts centre. I love playing with light and shadow, so this time of year is one of my favourite times to shoot. Jonny was amazing to work with, really relaxed but also open to trying anything. A lot of models feel awkward contorting their bodies into strange poses, or trying potentially unflattering expressions, but Jonny actually initiated the slightly ‘odd’ feel to the shoot.

Here are the images that made it into the online feature

And here are some more shots that didn’t make the cut…

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Check out the full editorial in all its website-ey glory here: Sticks and Stones.

Johnny is represented by GTR Global.

Human Canvas

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Something that often raises its head in my mind is the topic of personal insecurity. Not in the financial or physical sense, but more in the way of a mindset or mentality. Being a photographer, my work is a visual medium, and therefore every job has infinite possible resolutions and outcomes (rather than one ‘correct’ answer). That makes it highly subjective, and very open to interpretation. I think that many artists are a little insecure about their work deep down, and I am not a stranger to doubting my own abilities or artistic vision. So when someone approaches me with praise for my style, I get very very excited (if not a little “aww shucks” esque.)

One such kind soul was Alex Nixon, a student studying makeup. Alex had seen my work online and asked me to document one of her projects, which involved body painting. She sent me some references, and noted that she wanted to create a piece that was inspired by Chinese and Japanese traditional paintings. This was, of course, right up my alley, so I agreed straight away. We organised a date and time, as well as a gorgeous model – Chervil Tan from Vivien’s.

On shoot day, Alex pre-painted Chervil’s back before arriving at the studio. The references she sent me had been quite well-lit, with a pale grey background, so that is what I started off with. I wanted to ensure that I documented Alex’s work clearly, so that you could see the brushstrokes and fine details.

But after that, I wanted to have some fun of my own.

I thought that the concept and subject would really suit some darker, more moody lighting. So once we had the lighter shots captured, I changed the lighting to something more directional, to really accentuate texture and form. I love the way that the light falls on the body (in the image above), as the physical 3D nature of the back and shoulders blends with the painted landscape. I was also careful to keep the face in shadow, so that the emphasis was still on the painting, and the image had a sense of anonymity about it.

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Of course, I took some portraits as well, and some shots to show the makeup on Chervil’s face (not just her back!) How gorgeous is the kimono? Alex whipped it up herself the night before. So much skill! The colours were also really gorgeous, especially against the hues of the cheeks.

I wanted to capture a quiet, almost still mood for these images, and I think they came out well. Alex was absolutely stoked with the shots, which I was really pleased about. All the best with the folio Alex!

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“Changes” Editorial

It seems like a long time ago that I worked on this collaboration with Marlene Olsson and Erin Tunn, but its finally allowed to be shown to the world. We photographed this collaborative piece around the time when David Bowie passed away, so there was a little bit of an influence in that respect. We also had no stylist on the day, as our scheduled stylist unfortunately fell ill. So the styling was all up to me, and therefore ended up featuring such designer garments as a vintage kimono (inside out), and a queen size bed sheet. Going to be all the rage next season, I hear.

Read about the shoot in an earlier blog post here.

Steph Doran
HMUA: Marlene Olsson
Model: Erin @ GTR Global
Assistant: Josephine Tut

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Touring The Port With Peggy

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Sometimes I love shooting really really loosely with no plan at all. A lot of time time I am working in the studio with lots of pre-production, planning, and conceptualising. I’ll make mood boards, work with a stylist to match outfits to concepts, or have my models sit through 3 hours of hair and makeup.

But sometimes I like to be spontaneous and go into a shoot with no plan. Particularly for tests. I like reacting to my surroundings and working with what I have got. I think that this kind of shooting keeps me on my toes.

Last week I invited Peggy Ford from GTR to test with me in Port Melbourne. We had worked together before, and I really loved Peggy’s energy and persona. Plus she lived nearby, so a casual shoot was easy to organise. We had no hair and makeup, and no stylist. Literally Peggy, myself, and a camera. Peggy did her own hair and makeup, which was natural and clean. I wanted to focus more on her, and her expressions.

So we got in my tiny car and drove around Port Melbourne, jumping out and taking a few snaps as we arrived at locations that caught our eye. It was a really overcast day, which I quite liked because the light was even and flattering.

At one stage we stumbled upon an abandoned indoor swimming pool- so of course we ventured inside. There were some shattered windows that let in the most gorgeous light, which provided an interesting contrast to the almost apocalyptic background. The water in the pool was bright green- it looked like it had been sitting there a while. So we were very conscious of not falling in!

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The final shots of the day were taken on the beach. I usually don’t like shooting models on the beach, because I feel like it can look quite typical or overdone. But I loved the soft light and washed out tones that the weather gave us. Teamed with a light blue sweater, the mood of these images was very light and natural. I was really happy with how the whole shoot came out.

In total, we spent about and hour and a half shooting and driving around. Peggy was brilliant in front of the camera, and so diverse, so we were able to shoot really quickly. Plus I enjoy a fast paced shoot as I think it keeps the energy of everyone involved on a high level, and also stops the shoot becoming a drag. I like to think that if I’ve got the shot- move on. If I haven’t got the shot and it’s not working- move on.

I’m really looking forward to my next test shoot.

Published In Solstice UK

Very excited to see my work published in issue 3 of Solstice magazine in the UK. This series is called ‘Colour Is Cure,’ and features some stunning Antidote activewear made by Aussie designer Lara Ulasowski.

MODEL || Peggy Ford @ Scene
HMUA || Jyoti Chandra
ASSIST || Bella Plush

If you want to hold my work in your hands, the MagCloud link for purchasing the issue is here

Suits and Ruffles

In the past few weeks, I’ve been asked by a handful of fashion students if I can photograph their latest collections for assessment. All have been from RMIT. I love working with these students, and seeing their designs. And I have been very impressed with their work and craftsmanship! The concepts and execution of the garments are of such high quality- I am continually blown away that the pieces are created by students and not seasoned seamstresses.

Amber Reese is one such fashion student that I worked with. She is not yet in her final year, but is already kicking butt in her course. Her garments are for men, and play on the combine the historical and contemporary styles that reflect the tuxedo. They reminded me of historical European garments, with their elaborate frills and beautiful cuts.

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This was the brief Amber sent me;

Essentially the collection is a study of masculinities, particularly looking at the Tudor period and amalgamating decorative elements with menswear garment archetypes and styles like the shirt and tuxedo. It also toys with preconceived ideas of ‘sensibility’ and ‘manhood’ associated with modernist tailoring; contrasting my initial ideas of a male child’s Tudor clothing.

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The model was Tom from Scene. I thought he had a great look in terms of the concept, and he looked great in the garments.

Amber had hired out L1 Studio in the CBD, so I was shooting in unfamiliar territory. But it had good natural light, as well as a few simple flash heads. The paper roll was filthy, however, so we kept full length shots to a minimum.

As there were only two garments, the shoot was over very quickly. Both Amber and Tom were very easy to work with, which also helped it flow along smoothly.

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The second garment reminded me of Spanish flamenco dancers- so frilly and fun! I loved all the details, and how the light fell in and out of the flaps.

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There is news that maybe Ambers garments and my images might be featured in an exhibition some time soon- exciting times! I’ll of course keep you posted on what happens there.

In the meantime, check out some more of Amber’s work here. One talented lady!

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Road Trip To Dog Rocks

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Walking to the exact spot before donning the heavy coat..

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The boys stayed cool by napping in the shade when it wasn’t their turn to shoot.

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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.

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Alex took a portrait of me. I look really fashionable in my $6 Kmart hat, and with pink/red heat face.

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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.

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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!

Steph x