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Testing with Mikio in Kyoto

It has been ages since I did a test shoot, as I’ve been busy moving countries! But I finally got the chance to do an un-structured, freestyle shoot with Mikio, a model that I met in Tokyo. He was in Kyoto for a trip, so we decided to meet up and do a test shoot for his book.

One thing that I really love about Japan is the light. Photographers, you will understand. The quality of the light here is beautiful, its much softer and hazier than Melbourne, which has a very hard, intense kind of light. I feel very inspired shooting in Japan.

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We shot these images at a university campus in Kyoto (I pretended to be an exchange student so that we could get free parking.) It was surprisingly diverse with many different textures and areas to explore, and a lot of the buildings were brand new, with gorgeous architecture. I really wanted this shoot to be about Mikio, and not about the location, which is why I opted for simple backgrounds. I also didn’t want it to be stereotypically ‘Japanese,’ which is why we didn’t shoot at a shrine or other similar structure.

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Japanese folios are so different from those in Melbourne. They really lean towards the smiley, happy, commercial look, whereas in Melbourne it is all about looking serious and slightly pissed off or bored. The contrast is really interesting. So I tried to include some more serious expressions in Mikio’s shots, so balance out his very ‘happy’ images. We got a few smiley ones in there too though, to keep his agent happy! Thanks Mikio for a great first shoot in Kyoto!

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Richie @GTR

I love working with models on more than one occasion, because it means that the initial ‘awkward’ phase is already broken down. If I’ve shot a model before, and get to work with them again, we already have an established level of rapport, and that makes the second shoot even more fun! After photographing Richie Barron in the studio a few months back, I worked with him again (literally the next day) on location. I think we got some pretty decent shots!170630 Richard Barron 029 R

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Johnny Harris also came along to play for a while, and we worked on some doubles images. I think these two work really well together, and they are both such lovely guys! Thank you GTR Global for putting me in touch with such fantastic talent!

Johnny x COOLS in the Studio

Testing with Johnny in the studio, with funky garments by Barney Cools. I love their simple designs (I am particularly in love with one jumper that I wish they made in a girl’s size!) Thanks Johnny for coming down to the studio to test!

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Johnny is represented by GTR Global.
Garments by Barney Cools.

Winter Sun (Publication)

A test shoot that I captured last year has been published on Sticks & Stones online! Jonny Harris from GTR and I braved the winter cold to capture some images around the arts centre. I love playing with light and shadow, so this time of year is one of my favourite times to shoot. Jonny was amazing to work with, really relaxed but also open to trying anything. A lot of models feel awkward contorting their bodies into strange poses, or trying potentially unflattering expressions, but Jonny actually initiated the slightly ‘odd’ feel to the shoot.

Here are the images that made it into the online feature

And here are some more shots that didn’t make the cut…

(The first one is probably my favourite!)170630 Jonathon Harris 171 R170630 Jonathon Harris 106 R

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Check out the full editorial in all its website-ey glory here: Sticks and Stones.

Johnny is represented by GTR Global.

2x Japanophiles

If you have even a slight interest in Japan or Japanese culture, you and I will get on just fine. Those that know me know that I can talk about Japan endlessly for hours, and rejoice in re-living the noise the 7/11 ATM makes when it gives you cash, or the way the trains line up at EXACTLY (like, to the millimetre) where they are supposed to stop on at the platform. There are other people in this world that share the same fascination with Japan as I do, and apparently we are called “Japanophiles.”

So when GTR sent me a fellow Japanophile model to photograph, the stars aligned.

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I actually didn’t know that Shaun Ripper was as obsessed with Japan as me until I met him on shoot day. I chose to photograph him in a local park in Prahran, because it offered lots of textures and different pockets of light to explore. But once we got talking and worked out that we were both Japan heads, there was no stopping us.

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It was actually supposed to storm and pour with rain on this day, but the weather held out and we actually got some fantastic afternoon light. The dark storm clouds also coloured the sky and stopped everything from just being blown out white. Thanks meteorology.

After the shoot, and bonding over ramen stories and a fellow love of J-vloggers, Shaun and I parted ways. I knew that I was moving to Japan, so I suggested that if Shaun ever came over to visit, we should do a shoot together again. (Spoiler alert: I’m writing this literally 5 months after I shot it, and we did end up doing a test in Tokyo. Stay tuned for that post!)

シャウンくん、ありがとうございますね!

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Shaun is represented by GTR International

Tokyo Film Scans

The feeling of picking up your developed film is so exciting, and has a certain air of nostalgia to it as well. I was really excited to pick up two rolls that I had shot in Tokyo last year, because I couldn’t remember what was on them.

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These frames are all from test shoots with models from Folio Management in Tokyo’s Minato ward. They were taken on 35mm film that I rolled myself back in highschool, but had not yet shot. Hence the little imperfections like dust, scratches, and leaks. I actually love these features and think they give extra character to the frames. Because the film was so old, I had no idea if it had been exposed, or if it would even look any good. These shots were digitally scanned, but no retouching or adjustments have been made. Not even exposure or contrast adjustments. They are completely raw.

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I find that there is something really ‘real’ about film photos. I tend to look at them for longer, rather than skim over them quickly as I might with digital photos. There seems to be a part of the subject’s soul in these frames, as if they are really looking at me. This might sound weird, but that’s how I feel. I think film also has a timeless sort of look to it.

When I was in Hokkaido earlier this year, I went one step further and purchased a disposable camera from the convenience store there. I’ve been shooting single frames on it, but still haven’t finished it. So I’m really interested in what is on that camera. The suspense is all part of the excitement. I also like the way that having such an “ammeter” camera removes a certain barrier when shooting. Nobody seems to notice or care if I put the $10 disposable to my eye, whereas they may change their behaviour or shy away if I raise my DSLR. Observing the difference in psychology is interesting.

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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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