“Ride The Cyclone” – new production at the Hayes Theatre heads into the studio

I have been working on lead photography for the upcoming Hayes Theatre production of the new musical Ride The Cyclone, directed by Richard Carroll. This will be the Australian premiere of this hilarious story about the lives of six Canadian teenagers from a chamber choir, who are involved in a freak accident aboard a rollercoaster. The Washington Post called it “ingeniously dark and funny”.

Before the actors and crew head into an intensive rehearsal period, they called into my Lilyfield studio to generate some fresh content for their marketing push. The Hayes Theatre is currently doing a lot of good work in the realm of musical theatre, spotlighting new ideas and young performers.

Here is a series of images that I captured as out-takes during the afternoon I spent together with the crew, make-up artists and actors (Natalie Abbott, Bailey Dunnage, Lincoln Elliott, Justin Gray, Ava Madon, Mel O’Brien, Karis Oka and Alec Steedman). More final imagery and production details to follow in a subsequent post.

High fashion and jewellery, high-up in Melbourne

I recently flew to Melbourne to photograph an evening of fashion and jewellery at the Morgan Stanley offices in the lofty heights of the corporate central business district.

The event was generously hosted by Morgan Stanley in Collins Street and featured wonderful outfits from Perri Cutten styled with beautiful pieces from the Circa AD Jewels collection, with a goodie bag bursting with gifts from ISoMLindt, Perri Cutten, Morgan Stanley and Circa AD Jewels,

The evening was a fund raiser for the charity Giant Steps Melbourne, supporting children and adults on the autism spectrum. The evening raised more than $10,000 for this valuable organisation.

The offices are immaculate and a wonderful space for hosting such an event. Perri Cutten’s garments were enhanced by an array of fabulous jewellery from Adrian Dickens of Circa AD Jewels, Melbourne.

I captured some video footage of the parade. See below:

“In These Shoes – Glynis Traill-Nash” performs at the Perth International Cabaret Festival

This year, from June 10 to 23, Perth is again the host to the Perth International Cabaret Festival (PICF)

Some time ago, I staged a shoot at my studio for the talented, intelligent and vibrant Australian fashion luminary, Glynis Traill-Nash. It was a great afternoon of creativity, fun and really, really stunning shoes!

We worked on imagery for Glynis’ forthcoming season of performances at the PICF in June. However, little did I know beforehand that Glynis the renowned fashion writer, is also an accomplished jazz singer (by night).

The show sounds great … incorporating her talents as a singer with stories, anecdotes, advice and even a tongue-in-cheek Q&A responding to the wacky world of fashion. The title says it all: “In These Shoes – Glynis Traill-Nash.” See this link:

“Tell Me On A Sunday”

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a dress rehearsal at the Hayes Theatre for Tell Me On A Sunday, the upcoming Sydney production of the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black. As a lover of theatre and photography, I was thrilled to be able to help stage some behind-the-scenes moments of the talented cast and crew in action.

Capturing these moments on camera was a privilege, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to document the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in bringing this show to life. I look forward to seeing the finished performance starring Erin Clare on opening night in Sydney. I know that audiences are in for a real treat with this stunning production of Tell Me On A Sunday.

Tell Me On A Sunday commenced performances at the Hayes Theatre this weekend, taking audiences back to the heady days of New York City in the late Seventies and featuring some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most hummable, emotionally engaging, touching and melodic work.

Working with lyricist Don Black, Lloyd Webber’s song cycle tells the story of a young Englishwoman navigating a new life – including work, culture and love – in New York City.

It includes the classic songs Take That Look Off Your Face, Tell Me On A Sunday, Nothing Like You’ve Ever Known, Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad, It’s Not The End of the World, Come Back With the Same Look In Your Eyes and Let’s Talk About You, among many others.

This musical features a knockout performance from Erin Clare as ‘The Girl’ and is directed by Blazey Best, with Musical Supervision by Guy Simpson. This is a unique piece of musical theatre featuring a multi instrumentalist six piece band on stage.

Cast and Creatives

  • Starring Erin Clare
  • Director Blazey Best
    Musical Supervisor Guy Simpson
    Musical Director David Gardos
    Associate Director Lisa Callingham
    Lighting Designer Kelsey Lee
    Sound Designer Tom Brickhill
    Stage & Company Manager Krystelle Quartermain
    Assistant Stage Manage Hana Barn

Check out the review in Australian Stage

Mainbrace – installs charging stations at Eastern Creek

Mainbrace Constructions, a well-known, Melbourne-based construction company has recently installed a series of high-tech charging stations for “Team Global Express” at Eastern Creek.

I headed to the facility situated amid western Sydney’s growing industrial estates to document the new infrastructure, set up to furnish a sleek new fleet of battery-powered delivery trucks.

My photographs show the regulated lines of vehicles positioned at the automated power stations, providing an impressive, almost futuristic look as they are “re-fuelled” for the next day’s work.

Together with my drone operator, Aymeric, we took wide-angle video footage of the site as well. See footage below:

New profile images for Bentley Estate Agents

The team at Bentley Estate Agents came into the studio recently to update their professional profile images.

The agency has recently expanded by moving into new premises in Elizabeth Bay.

It was a pleasure to meet Tanya (Director), Francesco (Director) and Costa (Property Manager) during the shoot. I am always reminded how lucky I am to be a photographer and have the continuing opportunity to meet great people in relation to my work.

Through the streets of Rozelle

One recent summer evening I decided to wander down Darling Street with my camera, to capture some images of the streets of Rozelle and Lilyfield as the skies turned to dusk.

It was a great exercise because not only did the light have an almost surreal quality, but it was fascinating to see how the corner shops, pubs and buildings which I pass by almost every-day are able to take on another dimension.

So every now and then, as I have done so in the past, I will continue to document my local area  … it’s worthwhile to record the changes over time, to highlight what stays the same and also to get some fresh air at sunset. 

Zombie The Musical – at the Hayes Theatre

Zombie! The Musical! has just opened at the Hayes Theatre in Sydney. I photographed a series of production images at the dress rehearsal for this world premiere in early March.


Here’s a text from the web-site of the Hayes Theatre with a brief explanation of the genre-bending show …

Sydney, Australia. It’s the turn of the 21st century, and a dedicated community theatre troupe are frantically rehearsing in the final hours before their big opening night. Little do they know that beyond the walls of the theatre, a highly infectious disease is rapidly spreading through the city – turning its victims into full-blown zombies. Will humanity take its final bow, or can the power of musical theatre save the friggin’ world?

From the creator of The Lovers, this brand-new Australian musical wields a genre-blending original score and a fast-paced, farcical script that combines two of the most subtle forms of storytelling: traditional musical theatre and cult-classic zombie films.

I must say I loved shooting scenes from this madcap production. With comic timing, Zombie! The Musical! includes optimism, ambition and impending doom. The music is fabulous, the cast were captivating and the whole thing is both fun and off-the-scale in terms of its energy and inventiveness. I think it’s a great production, guaranteed to entertain. I intend to return again, so I can better enjoy the ride without my camera. To book tickets, visit the Hayes web-site.

  • Cast & Creatives
  • Starring Natalie Abbott, Tamsin Carroll, Chelsea Dawson, Nancy Denis, Adam Di Martino, Ryan Gonzalez, Stefanie Jones, Drew Livingston and Monique Sallé
  • Director Darren Yap
    Musical Director Damon Wade
    Choreographer/Assistant Director Chiara Assetta
    Set Designer Nick Fry
    Costume Designer Esther Zhong
    Lighting & Projection Designer Verity Hampson
    Sound Designer David Grigg
    Dramaturg Brittanie Shipway
    Fight Director Tim Dashwood
    Wig, Hair & Makeup Designer Hayden Tee
    Video Associate Maddy Picard
    Intimacy Coordinator Chloë Dallimore
    Stage Manager Bronte Schuftan
    Assistant Stage Manager Jessie Byrne
    Wig, Hair & Makeup Design Assistant Ashleigh Grace
    Sound Operators Sam Ducker & Keith Muir
    Music Copying  Gianna Cheung & Damon Wade
    Arrangements Laura Murphy
    Orchestrations Laura Murphy & Steven Kramer
    Additional Orchestration Steven KramerMusicians: Maia Hopf (deputy musical director), Graham Hunt, Jonathan Lim, David Stratton

Here’s a couple of reviews…..to see what the critics think:

J Wire TimeOut

SMH Limelight

A Little Night Music – takes home Sydney Theatre Awards

At the annual Sydney Theatre Awards, Best Production of a Musical was awarded to the Hayes Theatre’s new production of A Little Night Music, directed by Dean Bryant. Nancye Hayes was awarded Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for her role in the same production, playing Madame Armfeldt in Stephen Sondheim’s acclaimed play. Congratulations to all involved. I am proud that the images used for these awards incorporated my own production shots of the cast of A Little Night Music, taken in 2023.

Update your head shot for 2024

The start of the year is a great time to consider updating your professional headshot or creating a new image of yourself.

I invite you to come to my comfortable and relaxed studio in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Lilyfield, where we can create your new image together.

We can discuss what options are best. I am happy to tailor the shoot to your specific needs –  this may be a corporate headshot, something more relaxed, or an actor’s headshot. You may want to use the images for your portfolio, your CV, your social media profiles such as linked-in, facebook and instagram … or you may have other intentions. We can create a number of different eye-catching looks. I am happy to advise you on what direction we could take.

Above all, we will make the process as fun and rewarding as can be.

Give me a call on 0419 619 161 or contact me via email: [email protected]

Let’s Be Frank – Skincare

I was approached for a new commission by Samantha Leith, who I have photographed several times before. Samantha is a powerhouse of creativity, known as a performer, business strategist and motivational speaker. She comes from a performance background and in the past, I had photographed Samantha in relation to shows/presentations that she was staging.

Samantha Leith

This occasion was a little different. In the studio, we would be photographing a series of women to produce imagery that will be used to promote the new skin care range Samantha is involved in launching. These women have agreed to become ambassadors for the brand, including her friends and colleagues Amanda, Angela, Monica, Sarah and Yvonne, as well as Samantha herself.

The skincare range is called “Let’s Be Frank Skincare”. It is an Australian-made skincare range specifically formulated for women who are experiencing some of the skin concerns associated with peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause.

It was a great day. These women were such fun to work with and they all made sure that they were going to enjoy themselves during our photo-shoot. From the moment they walked into the studio to prepare for make-up and hair, got dressed in the glam attire they chose to wear and then took up their positions in front of the camera, until it was time to skip out the door, it was a magical experience to portray women full of confidence and joy.

It was a hive of activity – women in makeup
Melanie Burnicle MUA performs her magci

Photographing an in-house conference at KPMG

I was asked to visit the offices of KPMG at their Sydney head office at Barangaroo to capture images of an in-house conference that was taking place with a number of their executives. I have featured a few of the images captured on the day as part of this blog.

I also managed to capture head shots of a number of the attendees. We set up a temporary studio in a section of the space to achieve these portraits.

It is always a great experience for me to work in these kinds of highly professional corporate environments.

A story of a mother, a daughter and a photographer

I was recently approached by Lena Kasparian, a talented dress designer who displays her work in the Queen Victoria Building, to photograph her eldest daughter, Laura Kasparian. Laura is embarking on a modelling career, and so we decided to stage a series of test shots in the studio.

It is invaluable for someone starting out in the industry to practice poses and gain experience, and to build on one’s ability to work well in front of a camera. So organising regular “test shoots” is the foundation for gaining that experience.

On the day of our shoot, Laura was styled by her mother while we photographed a number of different looks. To finish up the series, we decided to create a mother/daughter portrait, capturing the designer with her muse.

Here is a few shots from our short time in the studio.

Annual Portrait shoot for NAPWHA in the streets Newtown

For several years I have photographed for the team working in the HIV space, NAPWHA (National Association of People Living with HIV Australia). NAPWHA is a peak body which spans advocacy, representation, policy & health and promotion for people living with HIV. Each year, for the annual report,  I am asked to update their staff photos, individual portraits and group shots.

This year, as a point of difference, I decided to create an alternative representation of the individual images by creating composite portraits of three images of the same person … also as a way of showing the idea of diversity

As in previous years, we head into the back streets of Newtown, where the NAPWHA office is located, to find an interesting urban backdrop for the portraits. It is not hard to find a laneway or street lined with bold, colourful graffiti. A big thanks to the local street artists for helping us with the artistic direction of the shots

Margarita Sampson – Sculpture By The Sea, 2023

Sun Bather, exhibited at Sculpture By The Sea, 2023

Margarita Sampson is a regular in the line-up of artists who gain inclusion in the popular “Sculpture By The Sea”. This outdoor event occurs each year and extends along the Sydney eastern foreshore between Bondi and Tamarama beaches. Sculpture By The Sea is touted as the largest, free to the public, sculpture exhibition in the world. I know that many Sydney-siders eagerly wait in anticipation for this end-of-year cultural enterprise..

For a few years now, I have been asked by Margarita to photograph her sculptures when they have been selected and installed in the parkland by the coast. I jumped at the opportunity to go to Bondi to spend some time with the latest art works, which this time included Margarita’s filigree metal Sun Bather

Margarita is a talented artist, working across disciplines and using many different materials. See more of her work out here: Link

Flashback – Art Prize entries


Meat  John McRae, 2012
Pigment inkjet on cotton rag 112cm x 162cm
Edition of 6 (2AP)

As I was going through my archives of imagery for inclusion in the various art prizes that make up the artistic landscape each year, I thought I would start to post my past prize-entries from time to time. Here’s a photograph that was selected as a finalist in the 2012 Blake Prize.

Artist Statement

“The shot was taken in a local butchery.  Raw and visceral, a metaphor and reminder of the brutality and crudeness that life, all too often, presents.  Like sausages, packaged and processed as we deal with the regularity of the patterns of our existence, external and internal.  Perhaps the viewer is thrown towards the question of whether we are more than just our corporeal machinations.”

John McRae, 2012

Group portrait of the Prince of Wales Emergency Department staff

Prince of Wales Emergency Department, 2023

Just prior to the Christmas break, I was asked to photograph a large group portrait of the entire team who worked at the Prince of Wales Emergency Department at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick. This might well be the largest number of people I have photographed in one portrait.

However, it was not in one sitting, nor was it in a single frame. Understandably it would be almost impossible (nor ethically sound) to ask all the doctors, nurses and allied healthcare professionals to “tools down” at the same time and head outside for a photograph. I’m sure there would have been a few complaints from the patients, to say the least.

Therefore we decided to shoot various smaller groups at staggered times over the period of an afternoon. In the hospital carpark, I set up a make-shift studio. When people were available they could head outside to get their portrait taken.

As a solution to create one final image, I “composited” all the various groups together into one extended image of 120 people (example of separately captured groups, below) with the entrance to the hospital as the background (see background image of the Emergency Department entrance, below).

Image used as the background for the group portrait

Re:form creates its 2024 Calendar

Re:Form Construction is one of my construction clients. As a highly skilled, boutique building company, they are a joy to work with.

Gerard Murphy, the director of the company, decided that each year Re:Form would produce a calendar featuring members of its team, as a give-away at Christmas time.

I had the pleasure of capturing individual and group shots of different members of the Re:Form Construction team while they worked on-site at their respective trade skills. I visited one of their sites in Castlecrag in Sydney, and then on another occasion, I traveled to the Megalong Valley where another team of workmen were engaged in the construction of a large tourist project.

The calendar is a fun and inclusive publication, and it was an enjoyable process to capture these outdoor and working portraits. The men also get a kick out of having their “15 minutes of fame”, plus the idea of appearing as a month on the calendar.

Happy Holidays to all!

I wish everyone a safe and wonderful holiday period.

John McRae Photography will be taking a break from 22 December, 2023 and will head back to the studio on Monday 8 January, 2024.

I look forward to seeing you and working with you in the New Year.

The White Mermaid – naughty pantomime opens at the Seymour Centre

Tania McMermaid (Trevor Ashley) with her underwater father figure (Jacob Ambrose)

Trevor Ashley does it again! He presents a brand new mash-up of fun, satire and raucous sillyness at the Seymour Centre in Sydney. I had the pleasure of photographing production shots at the dress rehearsal earlier this week.

Gaviscon (Carlotta) confronts Tania McMermaid (Trevor Ashley) on stage in their zany underwater universe

As Trevor explains the plot…….

 
“Prepare to be transported to the magical world beneath the waves, where the vivacious Tania McMermaid (Trevor Ashley) takes center stage. In this heartwarming story, Tania finds solace after a recent loss as she checks into the opulent and mysterious hotel, The Little Lotus. Little does she know, this will be the setting for a life-changing adventure, where destiny and love intertwine. Weaving her way through this underwater paradise, Tania’s path collides with that of a handsome Italian Prince, setting the stage for a captivating romance that will leave audiences and the actors breathless. 
 
But beware! Lurking in the shadows is the malevolent sea witch, Gaviscon (the legendary Carlotta), determined to thwart Tania’s hopes and dreams. Will Tania overcome the challenges thrown her way? Will she find true love with the character formerly known as Prince? Will the evil sea witch shatter her hopes forever? Or will a live action remake kill the whole thing!?”

CAST: Trevor Ashley, Jakob Ambrose, Stephen Madsen, Jarrod Moore and Carlotta AM

Book a ticket here: For a hilariously entertaining night out at the Seymour Centre

I love capturing a few shots backstage, if possible. I find it interesting to see the players preparing for their performance….makeup, costuming, the conversation etc. The following are a few images in the dressing rooms just prior to the performance.