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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

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Strangers at F1.8

In Tokyo last year I challenged myself to walk up to random strangers on the street and take their portrait. I had a roll of black and white Ilford, and a plastic 50mm lens. I am inherently shy, so asking people if I can take their portrait is pretty intimidating. With my lens choice, I had to be close, and I also wanted to capture engaged (rather than candid) portraits.

These are a few of my favourite ones. I spent quite a while talking to the man in the glasses, after taking about 15 minutes to work up the courage to approach him. He was dressed very eccentrically in bright colours, and was sort of pacing on the spot in Akihabara. He seemed like a real character, but from the way he was moving I wasn’t sure if he had been drinking for a while or not. But I knew I’d kick myself in the butt if I didn’t at least try to ask him. He ended up being really really lovely, and I talked to him for a good 20 minutes. He told me about how he made his own earrings out of metal and bottle tops. He had a very calm, gentle nature and complimented my terrible Japanese. I’m so glad that I got to speak with him and learn a little about his life.

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This girl is one of the many school kids who approached me at Asakusa shrine to ask “what is your country” and “what is your favourite Japanese food?” If you have ever been to Asakusa shrine, you will know that being bombarded by school kids is to be expected if you are a foreigner. I think that the English teachers all take their classes there, as this happens literally every time I go. In any case, this girl was part of a group of 5 that were asking me the aforementioned deep and philosophical questions. Because the ice was already broken, I took the opportunity to ask her to take a picture.

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I kind of cheated on the last one, it’s my friend’s son. Isn’t he just a nugget! Gorgeous light from the balcony door.

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Finally, a non-portrait. This may look like somewhere in developing Asia, but it is actually a game arcade in Kawasaki that is designed and fitted out to look this way. The design is actually more interesting than the games themselves (in my opinion.) It is meant to look like the slums of Hong Kong, and the attention to detail is amazing! To get in you have to cross a misty aqua body of water, carefully stepping on rocks. The doors also make noises as you go through. It’s called Anata No Warehouse (あなたのウェアハウス). I loved the hanging chickens.

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Dodging Puddles

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So much testing lately! But it keeps me on my toes so that’s a good thing. A few agencies have been keeping me busy with model portfolio updates, and I really enjoy working with different talent. I also love getting out on location to shoot- it gets me away from the studio and the computer for a while. Those who know me will also know that I hate looking at screens (yup, I’m in the wrong industry, I know!), but unfortunately there is so much back end and admin work when you freelance, that spending a long time in front of my computer is inevitable. So as I was saying, I embrace the opportunity to work with a model on location, especially if the natural light it working in my favour. Whilst I love my flash, sometimes I just want to streamline the process and not have to worry about positioning the light or deciding how I want to blend it with the ambient. It’s faster just to spin myself or my subject around, or find a great patch of golden sunlight to work with.

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For this reason, I have been getting back to using natural light when doing test shoots on location. Aside from being quicker, I also allows me to work solo and not have to worry about an assistant or bringing a huge pile of gear. It also keeps me reactive, as I have to find the best light around, no matter what the weather is doing.

Shooting with Chloe, recently signed with GTR, provided a lighting challenge for me. We had planned to shoot on a Sunday, as Chloe is still studying, but the weather wasn’t looking the driest.. Huge clouds hung in the sky, and it would occasionally pour with rain. Still, I met Chloe and her mum at the meeting spot and hoped that the rain would hold off.

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As you can probably see from the shots, the rain did subside, and the clouds acted as a huge softbox, which actually worked in our favour. I was really impressed with how Chloe moved, especially being so young. She didn’t need any warming up and just got straight into it. She seemed really aware of her body and the shapes she could make, and took direction well too.

I styled the shoot myself (something I have recently started doing, and that I am loving!) and I loved the colour palette of the garments I had chosen. I think they suited Chloe well too. The tough bit was not keeping everything, as some of the pieces were super cute (I’m looking at you blue and white shorts…)

When we were shooting our last shot, a friendly walker stopped to comment that “the model had arrived” (referring to himself.) I played along, asking him to get in the shot and pose, which he completely didn’t expect. I think he loved it though. Haha.

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Thanks Chloe for a fabulous shoot, looking forward to working with you again soon!

Chloe is represented by GTR.

 

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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From The Hip, With Love

Some shots from yesterday that I was too sleepy to edit last night. They’ve just been roughly processed, so excuse the quality. I had no idea how these would turn out when I took them, because I was trying to be subtle and shoot by holding my camera down near my hip. I also wasn’t looking at the subjects when I shot them, so there were a few wonky and blurry ones. I really like these two, as they show the true characteristics of each subject. They don’t know they are being photographed, so they are not putting on a ‘face’ or orchestrating the way in which they want to be perceived.

Click to see them bigger- it’s worth it, I promise!

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