Life Of Willow + Body Art

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It has been two months since I shot with the fabulous Kate of ‘Life Of Willow,’ and so these images are long overdue. But life has become very busy with work (68hrs/week anyone?) and so I’ve continually been delayed in retouching these babies. But I tied myself to my computer the last 2 days and finally finished them off.

Let me backtrack.

I’ve shot a few portraits for Kate before, and she approached me again to photograph some of her body art. This lady is crazy talented, so of course I said yes. I let her take over the studio for the day and paint away, whilst I went and did some shooting in the surrounding streets. On this particular day, we were to capture two full-body designs, and that obviously required two lovely ladies getting completely naked. I’ve shot nudes before, so it didn’t phase me, but there was a little apprehension in the air for Sarah and Michelle (as would be expected.) But they were both good sports, and let Kate go about painting them without hesitation.


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Once they were painted, however, a transformation took place. The nervousness disappeared, and the girls strutted around as if they were fully dressed. It did look like they were clothed in tight body suits, and so they both felt more and more comfortable as they realised it wasn’t that bad.

A quick lighting setup, and we were ready to shoot.

Kate had a plan for the images, which involved a lot of retouching. I was to add in flames and ice and awesomeness in post production, so the shooting part of the day didn’t really take that long. A few basic poses, and we had it. I think I only took 20 or so frames per person.

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So the painting took hours, the retouching took hours, but the shooting didn’t take long at all.

We were really happy with the results of the shoot, but I knew I had a lot to do in Photoshop before the images were complete. The idea of these shots was to make the girls into fire and ice queens. Kate gave me a lot of creative freedom with this, and just trusted me to basically “go nuts.” Which I suppose also added to the time it took me to finalise each shot. Without a definitive end point in my head, I had to do a lot of experimentation and playing before I reached what I thought was the finished product.\

Kate had mentioned adding ice and flames into the shots, but I decided to take them one step further and construct each character’s hair out of the elements. I’d never sone this before, and so more advanced retouchers will almost definitely see the flaws in my manipulations, but I thought they were decent for a first attempt. I am not a digital artist or a professional retoucher, as I prefer to keep my photographs close to their originals. So, needless to say, my digital art skills are not top of the line. But I am still really happy with the results.

Have a look, let me know what you think!!

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And for those of you that like before and after shots, here are a few to show you what I started with and where I ended up.

I think I want to practice digital manipulation more, as I’m interested in it. Might look out for a course that specifically deals with it, or watch some more youtube videos.

Also, make sure to check out more of Kate’s work here.

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Tea Party With Alexia Petsinis

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Wow, it was a long time ago that I shot this series, but I had such fun doing it that I thought it deserved a blog post! Alexia Petsinis is one of those amazing people whose talents you should be jealous of, but you just can’t be because she is just a lovely human being. I had worked with Alexia before, when she modelled some of her own clothing designs (gorgeous, by the way!) So when she asked me if I’d like to work with her again, I jumped at the chance.

The concept was a tea party, and Alexia had been asked by a child modelling agency if she would model alongside two of their young girls. We thought this would be a lot of fun, and make the shoot a whole lot more interesting. The two girls, Ella and Eden, were so cute, and were instantly captivated by the giant jars of lollies and colourful props that were set up in the studio.

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Everyone’s hair and makeup was done by Stephanie Broad, who is incredibly fast at creating perfect makeup. And I mean perfect- not an eyelash was out of place.

I knew that I would have to shoot fast, and keep moving quickly, because when working with kids, you don’t have a lot of time, and attention spans are easily broken. But I was so impressed with how both of the girls performed. They listened to instructions and co-operated, and had fun as well! I loved capturing their inquisitive moments as they tried to sneak lollies from the jars when their mums weren’t looking.

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The shoot went very quickly, both because we got through each set up fast, and because after a few hours Eden, the younger of the two girls, got a bit tired. She sure hung in there though! We had a few renditions of love songs from the soundtrack of the Disney movie “Frozen” to keep Ella entertained, which gave us the time to capture two more ‘looks.’ Both girls were awarded with very large babychinos at the end, which (ontop of the mountains of candy they had consumed) would ensure for a sugar crash later on.

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Alexia sent me some unique illustrations that she had done especially for this shoot, which I plan to work into the backgrounds of the photos. She is brilliant at drawing, and her illustrations are just gorgeous! I really love to add a graphic element into my photography when I get a chance, so it’s great to be able to work across two mediums again. And naturally, I’m bursting to share the results of this shoot!
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Back in the studio today after trying for weeks to find a model for this shoot. I am working on a series that revolves around cosplay (“costume-play,” where individuals dress up as characters from Japanese anime and manga.) It’s all about the transformation from ‘regular kid’ to the alter-ego of their character, and there is going to be a fight scene!

I was lucky enough to lure (lure?… that sounds creepy..) Rai into the studio before her exams begin in a few weeks. Rai’s character is one she designed and created herself (‘Inner Self’), and she made the entire costume! I’m so impressed… I can barely sew a button onto a shirt.

I also had the fabulous Kat Menze in to do makeup, and she brought her new pup Yoshi in too, for moral support.

Here’s a shot straight out of the camera.

After some action shots involving swords, it seemed only logical to add battle wounds.

There was even pus! I cringed just looking at these.

And look who joined in the cosplay action! Little Yoshi loved sniffing everything and being patted by everyone who passed by.

Bird Bits

Anyone who knows me will be able to tell you I am deathly afraid of birds. Whilst I have become a little more self-restrained over the years, I still shudder when I walk past a dead bird with its feet in the air, and have to surpress tiny screams if one should happen to fly near my head. Which is why decapitated bird pieces may seem like strange subject matter for my photographic folio.

Having already shot the landscape and model for this series, all that was left was to photograph detail shots of nests, eggs, and feathers. Nothing too labour intensive. I borrowed the pieces from my amazing prop person, Ros, and got to work setting up a makeshift dark studio in my boyfriend’s apartment. (To be honest, he set up the whole thing and I watched from afar, eating muesli.)

Because these objects are so small, and my lights so huge, I planned to use a torch and long exposures to light each object. But to do so, I first had to remove them from the tupperware box and arrange them carefully on black card. And that meant touching them. It took me a good ten minutes to work up the courage to pick up the wings, but I couldn’t go near the sparrow feet. Bird feet are the worst part of the bird, in my opinion. They look too much like dinosaur feet.

I ended up carefully tipping the objects out and using a stick to manoeuvre them into place.

What a whimp.



I’m in the process of experimentation for my mixed-media series about immigrants. I have taken photographs of girls from Asian countries, and want to present them as collaged, re-photographed works. I originally wanted to include sketches and ripped bits of the current photo, with the sketches representing the projected future, and the photographs representing the past and present. But it didn’t work out the way I thought, as I wanted the girls to be wearing the traditional dress of their country in the photos, but nobody owned it!

I’ve been sort of inspired to create imagery very different to what I first planned. I think I just need to loosen up and relax with it- not make everything so formalised. And to simplify! Here’s one I whipped up in about 10 minutes… I think it has potential to develop into something good…

Thanks Sophia for modelling this one for me!