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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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The Worst Time Of Day To Take A Photo

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Sometimes spontaneity is best. I was talking with one of my best friends (who also happens to be my go-to talented makeup artist and stylist) Jyoti Chandra, and we decided we should do a random test shoot. We had no model, but Jyoti got in touch with a girl that she had worked with before, Jasmine, and we organised a spur of the moment shoot.

Because of everyone’s availabilities at short notice, we ended up planning the shoot for 11am in the middle of summer. Two things that we failed to consider; a) it’s darn hot at 11am, especially when the temperature was set to hit 30. And b) hard summer light isn’t the most flattering when it’s right above your head.

Time to problem solve!

After getting ready in Jyoti’s apartment, I brought the Profoto B2 kit on location with me to try to add some light into the deep shadows that the sun was giving us. Unfortunately, that particular kit isn’t powerful enough to overpower such strong sunlight. So I had to change tact. Instead, I worked with pockets of shade, keeping Jas a little more evenly-lit, and avoiding the horrible shadows that were otherwise forming under her eyes.

The shoot was over in about an hour, as Jas had to go to work. But as she was leaving, she put her glasses on and I knew I had to get a shot of her with them (because they were super cute glasses!) This ended up being my favourite shot of the day, I think because of the colour in the background, and the side light (which was just the apartment door being slightly open; so complicated!) Thanks team for a great shoot!

MODEL: Jasmine Geen
HMUA / STYLIST: Jyoti Chandra

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Stunning Dayana

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Can we just pause a moment and look at how beautiful this girl is?

I might have a new model crush haha. A while ago now, I did a test with Jimmy Ford, and his girlfriend Dayana came along too. She had only been signed to GTR a few days before, and this was to be her second shoot. As usual, I spent some time at H&M gathering garments for the shoot, but this time I decided to get a hair and makeup artist on board too, to add that extra polish to the images. Que my go-to MUA and super-bro Jyoti Chandra.

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I photographed Jimmy whilst Jyoti worked on Dayana’s makeup. Then we got shooting. Dayana was fantastic, especially for being inexperienced. She wasn’t stiff, and kept moving, experimenting with poses and expressions. We worked through the outfits really quickly, continuing to change garments and lighting.

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I will not be surprised if this face becomes world-famous one day. Dayana was really fun to work with, and I was overwhelmed with how many great frames I had to choose from. Good luck in your career Dayana!

Oh and don’t forget to check out some more of Jyoti’s work too. Clicky click.

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Harvey Petito + A Fishy Friend

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I’ve been testing a lot in the studio lately, but a few weeks ago I had my youngest model on set yet. Harvey Petito is making a huge name for himself in Melbourne, and no wonder- he is a champ! I had been following Harvey on Instagram for a while, but had never thought to ask if he wanted to test. But a little emoji comment on one of his pictures caught the attention of his mum, Sharon (who manages his account), and it snowballed from there.

I was really excited to work with Harvey, because I hadn’t worked with a model of his age and experience before. What I liked was that he was just himself. Asking questions, telling puns, eating the lollies that I purposefully placed out on the bench. He was full of energy, but also knew how to work the camera. It was fascinating to watch, and I found that I approached the shoot and my way of reacting to him differently than when I shoot older talent. I really liked that fluidity, and the way that we both kind of adapted to each other’s rhythms.

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One (silly) idea that I had, was to do quite a dark portrait, involving Harvey holding a squid. Something quite deadpan and a bit faded or washed out. Long story short, I couldn’t get a squid, but I did get a garfish, which provided a bit of fun and a little bit of “grossness” to the set. Something different, that’s for sure.

Thanks Sharon and Harvey for coming down to the studio- I had a great time, and I think I would like to do more testing with young models. It’s a different way of thinking and working and I liked that a lot.

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Testing With Marlon

On a cold, wet, miserable day, I had a shoot scheduled with Marlon, a new recruit signed with GTR. Poor Marlon is from the more northern shores of Australia, and was down in Melbourne for only a few days, so the cold was probably a shock to the system. In any case, he was such a trooper, and a pleasure to shoot. I’d photographed his sister earlier in the year, and his father is an ex model too, so it must run in the family!

This was Marlon’s first test, but you wouldn’t know it by watching him. He moved really well, and wasn’t afraid to try out a few different poses and techniques. He also took direction well, which can be hard for newer models.

We both ended up getting really soggy by the end of the shoot, but the overcast weather created excellent light for photographing, and so I was pleased with the results. Marlon’s new agent was also thrilled, instantly sharing the images all over social media. I don’t think this is the last time I’ll see Marlon- if he wants to continue modelling I have no doubt he will go places!

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^ My favourite image from the shoot – the colour of Marlon’s eyes really shines here.

“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.

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

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Testing With Lara de Koster

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I love working with new talent, and testing with new faces is one way that I get to constantly do this. Often, the photography and style of images needs to be quite simple, as the model will need images that show them with minimal makeup and styling. This makes expression and posing very important.

A few weeks ago I was asked to shoot Lara de Koster, who had only moved down to Melbourne a few days before. Lara is a musician too, but is aiming to break into Melbourne’s modelling scene. She had such a sweet look, and was a little shy at first, but she quickly opened up in front of the camera.

I had Marlene Olsson as my hair and makeup artist. She is brilliant at what she does, so I was glad to have her on board. Marlene agreed to start off with a more natural look, but then wanted to experiment a little later on once we had the basic shots in the bag. I think its important to let your team experiment when testing, so that everyone gets something out of the shoot. So of course I was more than happy to let her experiment too!

Our second look was more of a wet hair look. Here, we focused on expression and conveying a bit more attitude. Lara is such a sweet girl, so this was a challenge for her. But I think she did really well, and by the end of the shoot she let loose a bit more and was able to convey more of an attitude through her face and posing.

Finally, Marlene wanted to experiment with braiding the hair for one last look. I was amazed at how quickly she put this look together. The braiding was incredible! For this look, we wanted to focus on the textures in the hair, but a strong expression was also important.

I’m looking forward to seeing where Lara’s career in Melbourne takes her.

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