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John McRae Photography & Studio – Sydney Professional, Commercial & Corporate Photography

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: john@johnmcrae.com

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.

“Murder For Two” at the Hayes Theatre

I photographed production shots for “Murder For Two” running now at the Hayes Theatre in Potts Point. This is a truly fast, furious and entirely silly crime farce with a touch of Xmas, being performed until 22 December, 2023.

“It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s bonkers” – Limelight

The story of “Murder for Two” is marked by playful intrigue. Officer Marcus Moscowicz is a small-town policeman who dreams of being promoted to detective. One fateful Christmas Eve, shots ring out at the surprise Christmas-birthday party of the Great American Novelist Arthur Whitney, and the writer is “fatally killed”. With the local detective caught up doing last-minute gift shopping, Marcus jumps at the chance to prove his sleuthing skills, with the help of his silent partner, Lou. Did Dahlia Whitney, Arthur’s scene-stealing wife, poison the eggnog? Or was it the celebrated star of The Nutcracker, Barette Lewis? Whodunit?? You’ll have to come along to find out!

Director Richard Carroll
Musical Supervisor Damon Wade
Choreographer Shannon Burns
Set & Costume Designer Keerthi Subramanyam
Lighting Designer Priyanka Martin
Sound Designer Daniel Herten
Stage Manager Jessie Byrne
Production Manager Abbey Pace
Production Assistant Kaylee Ashton
Dialect Coach Linda Nicholls-Gidley

Starring Maverick Newman, Kala Gare and Sam Marques

*Sam Marques will play the role of Detective Marcus on 12th December 2023.

Georgia & Luke’s urban wedding


I traveled to Victoria to photograph the wedding of Georgia and Luke in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick.

Many years ago I lived along Sydney Road in Brunswick, and I have very fond memories of this quintessential “Melburnian” urban landscape. The weather for Georgia and Luke’s wedding was perfect, so what more could you want for a successful and joyful event.

The wedding took place along Lygon Street. The ceremony was held at a great space called the Noisy Ritual Urban Winery. The reception was also held here, so there was no need to move great distances to find the reception … you just sat down. Actually it wasn’t too “noisy” at all. It was a lively space that was perfect for such a celebration, with attentive and generous staff on hand.

During the ceremony at the Noisy Ritual Urban Winery
Brunswick Bowling Club entrance

We also made great location shots in the general area. We didn’t have to walk far to find colourful graffiti-covered laneways which provided the best backdrops and perspectives for location images. The bride grew up not far from this area. Georgia has a particular affinity for the Brunswick Bowling Club grounds, so we staged a couple of shots of the newly-weds at the entrance gate. The East Brunswick Hotel also holds a special place in her heart, so we included this iconic venue in the background of a few shots for good measure. I enjoyed the tour of the back streets as we made our way from one brightly coloured spot to the next.

Sod turning in Blacktown and Eastern Creek

Sod turning, also known as groundbreaking, cutting, sod-cutting or “turning the first sod”, is a traditional ceremony in many cultures to celebrate the first day of construction of a building or other large-scale project. Such ceremonies are often attended by dignitaries including politicians and financers. In two recent ceremonies in Sydney which I recorded as photographer, the dignitaries were various business people associated with the developments, namely the developer (ISPT) and the two respective builders (Prime Constructions and Texco).

The actual shovel used (see above pic) during the groundbreaking is often a special ceremonial shovel, sometimes coloured gold, and it is meant to be saved for subsequent display. It may also be engraved. Sometimes a bulldozer is used instead of a shovel (but not at these two events, although an excavator was moved into the background at the Eastern Creek site for dramatic effect).

Sod turning at Eastern Creek with ISPT and Prime Constructions
At Eastern Creek golden shovels were used for the sod turning

Groundbreaking ceremonies have a long history, celebrated for centuries  to officially mark the beginning of construction of a new property, partly to thank those who made it possible (noting that the people concerned may have already been working for years to finance, design and develop the project to the point of actual construction). The first documented groundbreaking ceremony took place in ancient China, in 113 BC. Many early groundbreaking ceremonies were intrinsically linked to religion, however this is not necessarily the case in modern times.

In November, I attended two ceremonies on the same day … both featuring the developer ISPT, who partnered with Texco (builders for the Bessemer Business Park in Blacktown) and Prime Constructions (builders for the Eastern Creek site). I appreciate how important it is to acknowledge the hard work and achievement of people through these “rites of passage”, such as sod turning. Of course this is just the start, since these men and women are about to embark on a new phase of hard work, in the building of these new structures and warehouse facilities, due for completion in late 2024.

Much to my delight both ceremonies included cakes and coffee following the speeches and formalities.

Nancye Hayes shines in Sondheim’s, “A Little Night Music” at the Hayes Theatre

Nancye Hayes as Madame Armfeldt

Stephen Sondheim’s acclaimed and seductive musical farce, A Little Night Music, opens tonight at the Hayes Theatre in Sydney.

Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, Sondheim’s A Little Night Music is a wonderfully witty and deeply moving romance, exploring desire, passion and regret. IN this new Sydney production directed by Dean Bryant, the audience is swept away by classic songs like “A Weekend in the Country”, “The Miller’s Son” and the iconic and pensive “Send in the Clowns”.

I ventured to the Hayes Theatre for the final dress rehearsal last week to photograph dramatic moments of the players on stage. Although most of my attention was on capturing the best images, I couldn’t help being carried away to Sweden in the 1900, caught up in the drama of the suspicious trysts and love triangles of these engaging characters.

Desiree Armfeld (Blazey Best) with Count Carl-Magnus Malcom (Josh Robson) with Frederick Egerman (Leon Ford) hiding in the corner.

I loved seeing Nancye Hayes on stage as the stylish doyenne, Madame Armfeldt. She certainly defines stage-presence with panache.

If you are in Sydney, I suggest you see this magnificent performance…..a great night out, witty, entertaining, clever use of language, with captivating music and lyrics. Playing until November 11, 2023 Book here:

More production and rehearsal images below…..

A man, a saw and a shed

I visited the Megalong Valley in the Blue Mountains near Sydney to capture mid-construction images of a large hospitality complex for a building company known as Re:Form Construction. Apart from documenting some of the recently constructed buildings, including a high-end restaurant, I also individually photographed several of the workmen.

Pictured above is Kurt, a talented carpenter with Re:Form. He asked to be shot in front of a refurbished shed that he had worked on. This barn was completely ruined, then after extensive rebuilding it was brought back to life (pictured below), with added character.

Roberts & Co update their marketing imagery

I recently spent time documenting a couple of sites in Sydney that are currently undergoing construction by Roberts & Co. The first site is part of the upgrade and on-going infrastructure expansion at Westmead Hospital and the other is the massive extension to the Wentworth Point Public School at Wentworth Point.

The brief was to work on collecting more personalised imagery for marketing purposes, including for their web site. There is a move away from using stock imagery for these purposes. Instead, several companies now prefer to produce their own branded images, and to focus on the many people who are working in a creative manner. 

It fascinates me to go onsite for such clients. I get to see a professional, fast-paced environment, involving many aspects of the building industry. There’s continual movement of people and construction materials, which for me creates a dynamic picture of activity and growth. I aim to capture this in my photos for Roberts & Co, and I walked away inspired by the commitment of the people involved in their work.

Trevor Ashley and the legendary Carlotta team up in “The White Mermaid”

Following a recent photoshoot with Trevor in my studio (see blog entry 15 August, 2023), it has been announced that a raucous team of intrepid thespians are returning to entertain audiences at the Seymour Centre in Sydney, starting from December 7, 2023.

Not remotely referencing a beloved musical film or a cult TV show, the vivacious Tania McMermaid (Trevor Ashley) is checking-in to the underwater hotel The Little Lotus. It doesn’t take long for Tania’s bedazzled fins to catch the attention of the handsome Character Formerly Known As Prince (Jakob Ambrose), but beware – lurking in the shadows is the malevolent sea witch, Gaviscon (the legendary Carlotta AM).

Curtain call from “Moulin Scrooge”, performed at the Seymour Centre in 2022 with Jarred Moore, Carlotta, Trevor Ashley, Jacob Ambrose and Stephen Madsen

For 18 performances only, the full cast of Moulin Scrooge! are reunited for The White Mermaid, under the sea in a musical dose of the ridiculous – starring Trevor Ashley, Jakob Ambrose, Stephen Madsen, Jarrod Moore and the legendary Carlotta AM, with dazzling costumes by Angie White, lighting by Sam Wylie and choreography by Heath Keating.

Angie White (costume designer extraordinaire) puts the finishing touches on Trevor’s costume before the shot
We produced a series of other looks during our photo-session

Tickets for the White Mermaid can be purchased at the Seymour Centre here:

“High Scrollers” on NOVA

We ventured to an inner city hotel for a recent shoot for NOVA Entertainment in Sydney. High Scrollers is the latest addition to the company’s line-up of vibrant podcasts. It features Brittney Saunders and Matt Hey, best known for his online persona, Alright Hey.

Brittney is a business and entertainment powerhouse. Her meteoric rise started as an influencer through her YouTube channel, where she “vlogged” and documented her everyday teenage life, amassing over one million followers. Now at 30, Brittney is at the forefront of several successful business ventures – FAYT The Label, Form Active, Staple Swim, Outdo Collective, Outdo Espresso and Flamingo Coffee.

Once we set up lighting in the bedroom area of the hotel suite we went to work on the High Scrollers photoshoot. Both Brittney and Matt knew exactly what to do and how they would like to be portrayed. It was great to see the two friends bounce energy off each other, keeping the mood playful yet professional, often saying things that had each other in stitches. Suffice to say they were having a lot of fun while I captured each frame.