street photography

Ena in Tokyo

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In Tokyo a few months back I did a few test shoots with some faces from Folio Models in Azabujuban. One of those faces was Ena, who needed some new shots for her comp card. I photographed Sakura and Ena on the same day, and it was great working with their different personalities. Their agent came with us as we walked the streets nearby the office. I found this really intersting, as I’ve never had an agent come with me on a test shoot. But it didn’t phase me at all. Once I have a camera to my eye I am in a safe place and fear, nervousness, and any other emotion are totally evaporated. I can completely focus on what I am doing (pun not intended.)

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I shoot really quickly, no matter who my subject is. I find that this keeps the energy up, and helps the shoot flow. I’m not sure if my models were used to this fast paced type of shoot or not! We spoke both English and Japanese, which was really enjoyable from my perspective. I was surprised at how much I was able to direct Ena using only Japanese to convey what I wanted.

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Thank you Ena for being a gorgeus model and putting up with my broken 日本語!

Here’s a cute beind the scenes from before we hit the streets…

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Sakura giving Ena a brush down to remove dog hair. #foliooffice

 

Glam Rock [x] Pivot Point

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It’s getting close to the end of the year now, and I’ll admit I’ve been very slack with my blog posts. There has been a lot going on, and I’ve done numerous exciting shoots, and it’s not even winding down yet. Currently, I’m booked all the way up until Christmas, at which stage I’ll take one week off to visit my family in Tasmania, before coming back and facing a January that already has numerous appointments. Exciting times ahead!

In any case, a few weeks ago I shot some editorial-style images for the graduates of Pivot Point hair academy in the city. I shot their final collection last year as well, in the studio, but this year, we decided on a location shoot.

The students had to come up with a theme, organise models, outfits, and decide on a location. They decided on the theme of ‘Glam Rock,’ and wanted to shoot it in an alley way nearby to the school. I had gone in to meet the students a few weeks before the shoot, and discuss any ideas or concerns that they had. They seemed stressed about it then, but on the day they were all very focused, and once they began styling the model’s hair, they seemed to be doing ok. Of course my knowledge of hair styling is very limited (I can do a ponytail or a bun, and that is pretty much it), so anything they did looked impressive to me.

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The students had a timeline and schedule of who was shooting when, but they ran behind time (as I suspected.) But eventually the first person was ready, and so the shooting began. The lane way the students had chosen was quite good, because it had lots of different colours and textures, not too far apart. That meant the shots wouldn’t all look the same. I had two battery heads, with a softbox and a shallow dish, so I was able to move around quite easily. I decided to make the images a little punchy, to go with the ‘attitude’ of the models and their look. So I used the softbox as a key light, with the dish as a hair light from behind.

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I photographed each model for about 15 minutes. There were 7 students to get through, so we didn’t have that much time. But they only needed 2 shots each, and I work quickly when I have to.

It was really interesting to see how each student approached their shoot. Last year, everyone was in the studio together, and the students’ tutor was also there watching. They seemed a little timid and unsure then. But this year, the students had a bit more of an idea of what they wanted, and how they wanted their image to look, which was great. I’m not sure if this was because their ideas were clearer, or they weren’t being scrutinised under the watchful eyes of their tutor and peers.

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The shoot went pretty smoothly, aside from the times when trucks wanted to drive down the alley, and I had to move all the gear into a side street and squish up against the wall. Lots of people walked past all the time and thought that we were doing something really flashy and important. Some tourists even wanted to be in the shots.

There was one group shot to do at the end, which required a bit of shuffling around. I really had to think on my feet here, because everyone was down on location at that stage, and looking to me for direction. So I arranged the models in mini groups, and had them posing like a kind of tough girl motorcycle gang. Obviously the shot below does not convey the feel and mood of the series.

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Once we were done, the students all looked very very relieved. I went with them back up to the classroom where they had been doing their prep, and we were faced with a scattering of brushes, bobby pins, and hair spray cans. They began tidying their stations whilst I loaded the images onto my laptop. I didn’t bother shooting tethered because I was moving around a lot, and I didn’t want to have too many valuables down in that street without an assistant/ second pair of eyes.

Well done to all the students! The shots look great, and they are in the process of being submitted to a few magazines. Keep an eye out!

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PSC Visit Blue Tree

Well well, this was a few weeks ago now! It’s a very busy time of year for me, with lots of shoots happening all over the place. I love being busy though, so I’m happy. And my tax return is finally parcelled up and mailed away, so that’s a huge relief. I’ve been putting it off since July…

Me: “Im going to get it done as soon as possible. End of July, easy.”
July 1st me: “Yep, this thing is definitely going to be done before my birthday.”
August 22nd me: “Ok, end of August. I still have plenty of time.”
September 1st me: *panic!!* “Crap, was I meant to have this done before September?!”
September 2nd me: “Phew, still time. 30th September, absolute deadline.”
Monday: “Holy moley this thing has to be in the government’s hands in 3 days!”

I’m confident the exact same thing will happen at the end of next financial year.

***

Financials aside, a few weeks ago I played teacher and had students from Photography Studies College come to visit the studio. I used to study there, and the tutors had asked me if the final year students could come and visit, and listen to me talk about myself (#funtimes)

I remember being in this class and having lots of photographers come and visit the school, some of which were more engaging than others. So I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t boring for the students, and they wouldn’t hate me forever. One of my old tutors suggested doing a lighting demo, and that then turned into a mini fashion shoot (because I mostly shoot fashion, and it would be a bit more exciting than just photographing a flower ontop of a box or something.)

Que team…

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I’m lucky in that I have spent the last few years testing and building up my contacts, so I was able to pull a team together pretty quickly to make this happen. I wanted to give everyone involved a chance to play, and get some new images for their folios, so that it would be worthwhile for them. I’m a strong believer in everyone benefiting from any collaboration- whether that be financially or with images as appropriate- so I just opened the shoot up to anyone who wanted to come and play.

I borrowed some garments from Joseph Jang- a designer I have worked with a few times and whose collections I adore, and then had Melanie Kirby from Scene Model Management come in to wear them. Marlene Olsson was hair and makeup artist, and seemed excited that she was allowed to do whatever she wanted with the hair an makeup. She had been doing a lot of commercial work in the previous weeks, and so a little creative freedom was an exciting prospect.

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We got set up, and then the students arrived. I won’t bore you with details, but I talked about my photography career path thus far (with no script or preparations, so I was a bit all over the place!), and then when the student’s eyes began to glaze over, I started shooting.

We had set up two ‘shooting areas’ in the studio, and many lights and modifiers to impress the students. Of course, that included using the Bron parabolic umbrella with a ring flash inside, purely because it is big and looks fancy. I showed the students what each light was doing, and how I normally go about setting up (working with one light at a time so I know what they are all doing.) Then I let the students have a go, using my medium format camera. They were both thrilled and terrified to touch it!

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Next, I got the students to be a little more hands on. I had them do a lighting set up for me, shooting as they developed it. Earlier, I had taped a tree branch to a c stand, and put it behind a white paper roll. I then set up a picolite behind that, pointing towards camera (ie: shining through the screen.)

This was the result, and also the students’ starting point.

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I then asked them to light the model, however they wanted. They worked really well as a team, moving around the lights from the studio, and pulling out cutters and reflectors to tweak their lights. I shot a frame after each change, so they could see what they were building up.

They did a great job, and solved lots of problems. It was great to see their enthusiasm.

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In the afternoon, there was another group, so I repeated the whole thing again. This group was a little less enthusiastic because they had mostly photojournalism students, whereas the morning class had mostly commercial major students (so they would be more likely to be in a studio environment.)

We changed up the hair, makeup, and clothing, for some variation (also so Marlene and Melanie had some different images for their books.)

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Here are some of the retouched shots. More to come!

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After the second group had gone home, I took Melanie out into the carpark behind the studio to do a few extra shots. I wanted to make sure, once again, that she had a few more variations for her book.

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We shot for about 7 minutes. I shoot quickly, and also I didn’t want Melanie to be late for her train!

Some of the retouched shots from outside…

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Such a fun day! I love teaching and sharing my knowledge (however limited it may be!) Thank you team for making this happen!

MODEL || Melanie Kirby @ Scene
HMUA || Marlene Olsson
DESIGNER || Joseph Jang

Cameron & James

Just finished the retouching on images from a shoot with Australian designer, Cameron & James (read the behind the scenes blog here.)

Model: Dylan Peck
Designer: Cameron & James
Stylist: Amy Johnston

In other news, I’ve been very busy as of late. I’ve shot some big name events as well as some fun editorials, and have a lot of work that is bursting to be shown to the world, but is in lockdown due to submission and magazine releases. Exciting stuff! I’m also going to launch my new website soon, for the events division of my photography. Stay tuned for that one.

Allow me to get all sentimental and soppy for a moment. Sometimes it all seems a bit overwhelming, but I have to remember why I chose photography and why I want to take this path with my life. There are of course, hard times and struggles, and frustrations are plentiful. But when I am behind the camera, nothing scares me and nothing is too hard. Things ‘make sense’ inside a viewfinder. I know what I am doing, I relax, and I follow my instincts. Photography is what I am. But I also need to keep shooting for myself. Getting caught up in client’s jobs and mundane tasks takes its toll, so I always need to ensure I keep creating for myself. Because that is what keeps me sane, keeps me interested, and keeps me learning. If I am no longer doing all of those things, there is no point in continuing this career. When I stop learning and stop enjoying pressing the shutter, that is when it is time to move on.

I don’t think that will be for a long time.