melbourne model

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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XY: Blake

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Last week, Blake from the newly founded XY Management visited my studio for a test shoot. XY, despite being quite small, have a great range of talent on their books, so I was excited to begin working with some of the boys. As the name may suggest, they only represent males.

As this was my first test with the agency, I thought I would do a range of lighting setups in the studio, as well as a few natural light shots outside, to give diversity to Blake’s book.

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Blake was very serious, but could definitely do the ‘smouldering model look’ well. He mentioned that he was always asked to do a serious expression in front of the camera, so it came naturally. Getting a few lighter, more ‘smiley’ expressions out of him was a challenge, but we managed a few.

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It was one of those horribly hot, still Melbourne days, but we did go outside for a few moments to snap some shots in the sunshine. Full marks to Blake who even wore long sleeves for the shots. What a trooper. Thanks Marta from XY for organising the shoot, and Blake for making it down to the studio.

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Finally Getting To Work With Jimmy

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I’ve been meaning to work with James Ford for a while now, but our schedules have never aligned and he is often out of the country. But last week I had the pleasure of having him come into the studio for a test shoot. I’ve worked with Jimmy’s sister Peggy a few times, and we had spoken via social media, but it was great to finally be able to meet in the flesh.

I could tell right from the beginning that Jimmy was a seasoned professional. He knew his poses, had great expressions, and got straight into it without needing to warm up at all. The frame above on the right was literally the second frame I took all day.

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I got all of my garments from H&M this time, so we had a few different outfits to work with. I find it hard to source quirky, interesting pieces for males, as there seems to be a lot less available (on the mainstream market) than for females. Luckily Jimmy’s strong expressions and great posing easily carried the frames. Because of this, the shoot was over really quickly. Thanks Jimmy for finally getting in front of my camera, and good luck in Asia!

Fresh Face: Sam Kieseker

 

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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.

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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.

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