Shadow Play @ Testing Grounds

Melbourne’s winter light is one of my favourite things to experiment with when it comes to model test shoots. Having such short days, and having the sun at such a low position in the sky really allows you to play with light and shadow. There is also a kind of haze that falls upon the city, giving everything a glow that is hard to put into words. You also don’t have to wait as long for the golden hour.

The downside is, its heckin’ cold!

It’s been a while since I tested with a female model, so I was excited to shoot with Annabelle Curtain from GTR. I absolutely went to town on the styling, sourcing lots of shiny things, pinks, skirts, and metallics- things that just aren’t in the menswear ranges this season. I wanted to shoot at Testing Grounds in Southbank, because I walk past it on an almost daily basis, but had never stepped foot inside. I love the textures of the concrete in there, as well as the pink and mint colour palette. I knew there were also lots of interesting areas and different pockets of texture to work with.

It had rained the day before, so the ground was still wet. This also added some reflection to a few shots, which I really loved. I was so excited to shoot a few jackets that I got from Nana Judy- nothing is better in a photo shoot than an overdose of sequins. Nothing.

I think the garments went really well with the location, as I had a rough colour palette in mind when I was sourcing everything. Annabelle was great to work with too. She took direction well, and didn’t complain about the winter cold at all, despite having the beginnings of a cold. What a trooper.

Thanks for a fun shoot Belle! x

170609 Annabelle Curtain 014 R

170609 Annabelle Curtain 153 R


170609 Annabelle Curtain 181 R

170609 Annabelle Curtain 208 R

Keegan Arrives In Melbourne

170414 Keegan Venturato 155 R

Last week I got back into testing in Melbourne, working with some new talent. The face in question was Keegan; a young model who had only recently arrived in the city, having come from northern Australia. As he had only been down here a few days, he hadn’t yet acclimatised, and was feeling the chill! But this didn’t stop his enthusiasm for the shoot.

170414 Keegan Venturato 146 R

I had two huge bags of garments from H&M, with a few wild patterns thrown in for good measure. I continue to be amazed at the photogenic nature of some of the more ‘out there’ garments. Things you would question if seen in public, but that look great for shoots (the shirt in the first photo on this post, for example.)

Keegan was really easy to work with, he had a very calm nature and took direction well. He was also really good as posing with hands- which sounds a bit odd to notice- but hands are one of the toughest things to get right, in my opinion. It is easy to make them look awkward or stiff, so this is a real skill.

170414 Keegan Venturato 167 R170414 Keegan Venturato 044 R

Luckily I am really nice and had a lot of long sleeve garments and winter gear. It was one of those shoots where the talent didn’t mind being layered up. I was also lucky to find an old dock shed which had been converted into a carpark. It had really interesting light in there- a combination of strong down lights and natural light from the large entrances. There were hardly any cars in there, so we pretty much had free reign of the area.

170414 Keegan Venturato 184 R

Thanks Keegan for being a champ, and good luck with your career in Melbourne!

Keegan is signed with GTR Melbourne.

Fresh Face: Sam Kieseker


170212 Sam Kieseker 073 R

I always love working with new faces, especially when there isn’t an elaborate concept behind the shoot. I find that this really allows me to develop the expressions of the talent, and get them feeling more comfortable in front of the camera. Because there is no background or context, the model’s ability to emote and have something going on in their eyes is really important.

A few weeks ago, I had Sam come in to the studio for some new folio images. He had recently been signed with GTR, and was even off to Hong Kong the following week. Sam was a little nervous at first, but really enthusiastic and willing to try anything I threw at him. He took direction well, which I think is particularly important for new faces.

170212 Sam Kieseker 013 R

170212 Sam Kieseker 002 R170212 Sam Kieseker 053 R

As the shoot developed, Sam became more comfortable in front of the camera and relaxed a lot. This meant that I was able to capture a range of emotions, both light and serious, which added extra diversity to his book.

A quick venture outside the studio ended the shoot- I never tire of the textures and shades of the walls nearby the studio, but I think I’m going to have to come up with some new locations soon so that my folio doesn’t look too repetitive!

Thanks Sam for coming down to the studio, and best of luck in HK!

Sam is represented by Greg Tyshing.

170212 Sam Kieseker 133 R


“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

2016-03-02 Erin Test 0772016-03-02 Erin Test 2442016-03-02 Erin Test 0962016-03-02 Erin Test 3852016-03-02 Erin Test 3182016-03-02 Erin Test 328 v2ml2016-03-02 Erin Test 3462016-03-02 Erin Test 309

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

Welcome To Colour

A few years back, when I was still studying, my partner (who was interested in photography at the time) collaborated with an amazing makeup artist by the name of Jyoti Chandra. I loved her work, and her personality, and had wanted to work with her ever since. But I thought, she would never want to work with me. So when I replied to her casual facebook post “who wants to shoot?” and she said yes, I was really excited.

We had decided to do a colourful shoot. Something bright and fun and spontaneous. Just what I needed in my folio, which seems to have an aversion to colour at the moment. Jyoti turned up at the studio armed with props and garments, and bright paper backgrounds. We got talking straight away like we had seen each other only days ago, when in fact we had only spoken a handful of words to each other, three years prior.

It was going to be a great shoot!

Whilst hair and makeup was being done, I started testing out some lighting. I usually use a chair for this (which is not that accurate, as a chair has quite a different shape to a person’s face), but because the fabric began much higher than chair-level, I had to improvise.

Behold, my temporary model. She was very co-operative- didn’t complain or move once during my testing!

2015-02-17 Jyoti Collab13226

We had a few different ideas to play with, as well as a table full of accessories, props, and other fun things. We also had two models from Scene to work with- Olga and Stephanie. Olga arrived first, and we decided to start out bright. We used a piece of striped fabric as a background, and I light the set with my reflective parabolic, and flat lighting on the background. If you look at my folio, it is (in general) quite shadowy, with lots of blues, blacks, and neutral colour palettes. So it was very refreshing to shoot something bright and colourful. A little scary too?

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 1.36.31 pm

2015-02-17 Jyoti Collab13249

Olga was fantastic. Moved well, and fit into the characters we created quite easily. Whilst Jyoti worked on Steph’s makeup, Olga and I shot through around 4 different outfits, playing with accessories and poses each time. I usually shoot quite quickly, and this was no exception. I know when we have got the shot, and I don’t like to keep models going on and on and on, because it wears them out too. Moving quickly keeps things fresh, in my opinion. Plus, my phase files are huge, and having to sort through so many can take even the harshest critic a week.

With Olga wrapped, we began on Steph’s set ups. Still using bright colours, but with more of a punky/graphic vibe.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 1.36.40 pm
Photo from Jyoti’s instagram

Steph was great to work with as well. Behind her tattoo’d, short haired exterior, she was very sweet and I wanted to keep her! She also knew how to emote, so pretty much every shot was strong. We had a few coloured wigs for Steph, which added a pop of colour to the images. I knew we had to watch out for the hair getting caught in the eyelashes, because it is a nightmare to retouch. So I ended up being a bit of a wig police.

2015-02-17 Jyoti Collab13520Photo on 17-02-2015 at 4.17 pm #32015-02-17 Jyoti Collab13691

We shot a heap of looks in a short space of time, even some without wigs. The final shot of the day brought us to a gold metal shoulder ‘accessory’ (I have no idea what to call it!) It looked sort of like dragonfly wings, and draped over the shoulder. There was something about those last shots that were special, and I can’t wait to have them retouched and ready to show the world. But I guess you will all have to wait and see what we created!

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 1.36.22 pm
Photo from Jyoti’s instagram


HMUA + STYLIST || Jyoti Chandra
MODEL || Olga Gurkina @ Scene Melbourne
MODEL || Stephanie Hall @ Scene Melbourne


2015-02-18 Purl Collection13863 copy



I’ve been slack on my blog posts as of late, but having recently come upon a lot of down time (thank you distal radius fracture…) I thought I should get a bit of ‘behind the scenes’ documentary done. In the last two weeks, I’ve been to and come back from Japan (where said fracture occurred), but prior to that I was shooting like a mad thing. I was working every day of the week, and loving it. Because I had planned to be overseas for over two months, I had a lot of work to squeeze in. I can’t say no to people, and I love working with all of my clients, so instead I said ‘challenge accepted.’

One such job was a shoot for the incredibly talented Amber Reese. Amber is studying fashion at RMIT, and I shot her final pieces last year as part of her assessment. But she had some older garments she wanted re-shot. I am in awe of her talent, so of course I wanted to be a part of it.

The collection is called ‘Purl,’ and features very high-key, almost futuristic pieces. The garments are constructed from a white material, with clear plastic overlays in some areas. How you make clear plastic curl and ruffle and sit exactly how you want it to- that is beyond me! The garments also have small pockets of intricate bead work, and pieces of fabric or clusters of delicate beads dangling off in different areas.

2015-02-18 Purl 310

I’d seen these pieces online before, but seeing them in the flesh was amazing. I have such respect for designer’s pieces, and I could clearly see how much time and effort had gone into their construction and conceptualisation.

But of course we could not shoot these garments without the help of two more very talented ladies. Shati was our gorgeous model, and the lovely Rovielyn provided us hair and makeup (and she was incredibly fast!) At one point I came to check on the progress of the makeup, thinking perhaps just the base layer would be done, but Roveilyn declared she had already finished! And what an amazing job she had done. Clean, dewy skin with white highlights, and a gentle braid, dusted silver and pinned with tiny semi-transparent beads.

Garments on, and we were ready to go!

2015-02-18 Purl

The shoot was over in about an hour. For a few reasons. Firstly, we only had three looks to capture. Secondly, the setup was very simple, as a lot of the aesthetics were to be added in post. And thirdly, Shanti was a brilliant model. She could really move! No hesitation, just straight into the poses. Every frame was a winner, so I was glad I didn’t have to make the selections. I loved shooting Shanti, her eyes are so big and beautiful, and she has a very captivating look.

2015-02-18 Purl 136

So, shoot over, it was time to express-retouch these babies. Amber had sent me some reference images of the feel she liked, and she let me go with whatever direction I thought would work. I wanted to blend the photographic with the graphic, and construct a kind of ‘scene’ out of flat tonal panels and textures. I had no clear result in mind, so there was a lot of experimentation. Firstly, I tried something like this (below), working with angles, texture, and tone.

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 3.45.56 pm

Then I kept playing, and came up with a few other options to show Amber. She liked on with smooth marble lines, as the flow and softness enhanced the mood of the garments. So I applied this to some of the other chosen shots. However, I wasn’t happy with them, as the resolution of my texture wasn’t great, and the colours started to band and look weird.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.55.35 pm

Next, I tried different backgrounds, which I painted myself using brushes in photoshop. This way, I could retain the resolution. I played with bold graphics, soft curves, and other more subtle patterns.

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 3.24.48 pm copy

But finally I found the right texture! A watercolour sample, which I could orient in different ways to give different shapes. It was perfect, and it worked with each of the chosen poses. Amber loved it too, so we went with it, and I finished off all the shots within the hour.

I’m really pleased with how the images turned out, they have a beautiful sense of quiet to them, and
I love the neutral colour palette. I really enjoy work that blends the photographic and the graphic. I also made an interesting discovery when accidentally turning off a layer, resulting in the following image. I think a new experimental series may be on the way…

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 5.05.50 pm

Check out my website to see the final images from this shoot!

Thank you amazing team!

DESIGNER || Amber Reese
MODEL || Aliyah-Shanti Kenny
HMUA || Rovielyn Mabilangan