On a recent job for Prime Constructions I organised drone photography to be shot at one of their sites. It is hard not to feel like you’re revisiting your childhood with such technology … you know, a bit like when dad and you made one of those remote controlled planes. Fortunately the drone is a bit easier to fly than the bungled attempts I remember trying to get the plane off the toy plane off the ground.
Prime is regarded as one of the leading building contractors in NSW. It was established in 1983 by Ron Masters and Phil de Gail. Paul Christopher and John Drake joined the company in 1988 and 1989 respectively and both became joint managing directors in 2010.
I also captured some images of a recently completed logistics centre by Prime Constructions at Homebush. While I was working until dusk, waiting for the light to become more seductive, it was a welcome surprise to find that there was a fast-food van next door with outdoor seating. Of course I couldn’t resist trying the “Little Weiner cuisine” in between shots.
I was in the Sydney suburb of Liverpool to photograph the opening event of a new accommodation facility in Liverpool for people with disability.
United For Care is an organisation which promotes the idea that people with disability can live, to a large extent, a happy and fulfilled life and that means having their own independent accommodation. It strives to move away from any model of communal living in dormitories, shared bathrooms and lounge rooms and gives the individual the pleasure of having their own space, at the same time offering all the allied support that may be necessary.
The event kicked off with an acknowledgement of the traditional custodians of the land in a welcome to country by Aunty Gail followed by a smoking ceremony.
Speeches were made by the Chief Operations Officer, Karim Amin and Dai Le (Federal Member), who also cut the ribbon to mark the official opening.
Guests were entertained by “The Weeklies”, the Disability Services Australia band who created a melodic background for the day’s activities. The catering was next level, as you can see from some of the images which follow.
During the recent Sydney World Pride festival, I was commissioned by Booking.com and CSM to photograph events along Crown Street, to document the installation that Booking.com had created as part of their “Travel Proud” initiative.
Travel Proud has been created as a way of making travel for the LGBTQA+ community more inclusive. Companies, organisations and people who offer travel and hospitality experiences have been encouraged to take a short course to understand and connect more effectively with LGBTQA travellers. This reduces any barriers or uncomfortable situations for LGBTQA+ patrons and has been welcomed by Booking.com’s partners.
Passers-by were encouraged to share “travel proud” messages of goodwill and anecdotal travel stories by recording them (usually on their phones), then uploading them to the “giant suitcase” containing a large LED screen which then played them back.
I enjoyed capturing the atmosphere in Crown Street during this event. I started early on a Sunday morning to document the construction and reassembling of a giant suitcase which was to become the central focus for the Booking.com promotion. Alongside the suitcase, a stage was built with lights and sound gear, ready for the line-up of local and international talent.
And the artists, at least in the shows I experienced, were really magnificent. There was Nick Pes wooing the public with his dulcet tones (and a stunningly ripped midriff clearly on display).
Greg Gould had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Trevor Ashley gave Shirley Bassey a run for her money.
Of course the big draw card on the night was the Austrian winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, Conchita Wurst. Conchita was in town as an ambassador for Booking.com and the Travel Proud program.
There were fabulous drag queens from interstate, including Big Thick Energy, Vassy, Haiku Hands and Chela, as well as drag queens well known to the Sydney crowd such as Verushka Darling. Plus there was a string of DJ’s from Sydney and beyond, including James Tobin who I had photographed many years previously.
The night closed with a stunning performance by Paul Capsis who would have blown the roof off, if there was a roof in the first place. I loved watching the faces in the crowd during Paul’s performance. One comment I noted was, “Capsis is a creature with incredible force. His screams can be heard from Mars.”
All in all it was great to see Oxford Street and the neighbourhood come alive with a great feeling of celebration and sharing over this period. Bravo to the organisers for creating a really successful new event.
Scroll through more photos by clicking through the images below:
It was an early rise for Sunday morning, especially after working long hours the day before. However it was well worth the effort to be able to participate in a major civic event on the final official day of World Pride Sydney 2023. I met my two friends Ann Maree and Michele at Central Station, to join 50,000 of our closest friends, to walk across the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Domain.
This was the first time in 23 years that the Harbour Bridge had been closed to traffic. Participants marched in solidarity for the LGBTQA+ community, in honour of past, present and continuing struggles both here and internationally, particularly in places where the rights of members of our community fall far behind the respect given in Australia (you know who you are!)
It was an exhilarating experience to be in unison with so many. The crowd was colourful and joyful. The weather was superb and the walk was the perfect bit of exercise for a Sunday morning.
As I walked, I thought about those people in other parts of the world who do not experience the freedoms that we enjoy here in this country. I then thought about all those in Australia who weren’t as lucky as us right now, being able to congregate under the banner of LGBTQA+ and march together, but instead have had to lead a life of non-acceptance and vilification. I thought about those who have had to endure social exclusion and even violent attacks, those who lost their lives, or the many hardships and painful journeys. It’s good to be able to clock just how far we have come, to act as a reminder to be vigilant in our protection of our hard fought freedoms.
Approximately 160 new graduates of the NSW Ambulance training course for paramedic and call takers gathered for the graduation ceremony with friends and family at Homebush.
Key speakers at the ceremony were David Dutton BM ASM, Executive Director, Clinical Operations and Clare Beech ASM, Executive Director, Clinical Operations who welcomed the new graduates to the ranks of fully qualified employees.
The Senior Chaplain, Peter Van Praag, gave an introductory speech followed by a moment of stillness and prayer. The audience also heard from different representatives from the classes of paramedic and call takers, and a sense of pride was shared by the family and friends who also attended. Later there was a special appearance by the NSW Ambulance mascot, “Bearamedic”
Feature Point Constructions is a boutique construction and building company based in Melbourne, specialized in shop and office fit-outs and home renovations. Its hallmark is precision and quality finishes. The company is run by the well-presented and professional master tradesman, Ali Yucel (pictured above).
I spent the afternoon in Torquay, Victoria, photographing a home renovation that had recently been completed by Feature Point Constructions.
Torquay holds a special place in my heart as it was the “go to” holiday spot for my mother, aunty and us children. I have lots of fun memories of frolicking endlessly by the beach, long sunny days and loads of oysters and crayfish at the end of day in the hotel room.
I was impressed with the clean lines, rounded corners and beautiful finishes on this renovation. The following is a gallery of some of the shots.
During the recent Sydney run of La Cage Cage aux Folles, the chemistry on stage between the two leads, Paul Capsis and Michael Cormick, was palpable and electric. This iconic stage musical is about two eccentric men (one more-so than the other) bringing up a child above a nightclub in St Tropez, where one of the parents, Albin, performs as a drag queen. I took these production photographs at the final dress rehearsal in late January at The Concourse Concert Hall. I couldn’t stop myself laughing – the jokes are still relevant, even decades after they were written.
I remember when I saw the Franco-Italian film version in my 20’s … it broke many taboos in such a fun and ground-breaking way. Initially it was created as a play by Jean Poiret and was performed by Michel Serrault and Jean Poiret. It was a huge success and hence made into a film (also starring Michel Serrault) in the French language, which broke into the international mainstream market and certainly took Australian audiences by surprise. Not only did we see a successful homosexual relationship front and centre on the big screen, but there was cross-dressing, drag and hilarious slapstick on display … a far cry from the tortured, artistic, foreign-language cult films we were used to seeing from France.
The David Hawkins production of La Cage Cage aux Folles was a joy to shoot. If you appreciate colour, movement and good humour, then this version is the ultimate production. I loved watching Paul and Michael play the roles of Albin (and ZaZa, the drag phenomenon) and his more conservative partner Georges (who was previously married and produced a son).
News Flash!!!!!! La Cage is getting another run this time at the State Theatre in Sydney from 19th – 23 April, 2023. Click here to book tickets:
It was a real pleasure to shoot the Sydney dress rehearsal of director Richard Carroll’s new production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the Hayes Theatre.
The two leads, Emily Havea and Georgina Hopson, are fabulous in the roles of Dorothy and Lorelei and the rest of the cast are equally brilliant. When you are producing a theatrical shoot, it can be very difficult to appreciate the bigger picture of what is happening on stage. Your attention as photographer is focused on multiple things while you apply your craft, including technical considerations and stylistic decisions. However, in this case, it was impossible for me to ignore the magic of what was happening on stage, even though it was only the dress rehearsal.
If you see this post before the production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes finishes at the Hayes Theatre on March 18, 2023, make sure you book tickets to see this wonderful piece of musical theatre. Book here
Director:Richard Carroll | Featuring:Octavia Barron-Martin, Thomas Campbell, Ruby Clark, Adam Di Martino, Emily Havea, Georgina Hopson, Tomáš Kantor, Leah Lim, Tomas Parrish, Matthew Predny, Monica Sayers | Musical Director: Victoria Falconer | Band: Nathan Barraclough, Amanda Jenkins, Abi McCunn, Jarrad Payne | Choreographer: Sally Dashwood | Set Designer: Dan Potra | Costume Designer: Angela White | Lighting Designer: Benjamin Brockman | Associate Musical Director:Abi McCunn | Stage Manager: Bronte Schuftan | Assistant Stage Manager: Anastasia Mowen | Dialect Coach: Benjamin Purser | Intimacy Coordinator: Caroline Kaspar
The team at So French So Chic hit the sandy shores of Watsons Bay to shoot the latest summer range of garments designed by Valerie Tsoukaris and manufactured in Italy. We were collecting imagery for the summer catalogue.
I have fond memories of the time when I lived in Watsons Bay twenty years ago, so it was a bit nostalgic to return to this pretty environment to capture the gorgeous Valeria Sizova (our model) by the water’s edge. It is amazing what a calming effect being near the water can have. Normally there’s a modicum of stress when shooting fashion, paying attention to detailing, styling and time constraints. Somehow all this falls away when you are barefoot in the shallows of the sea while you work and the sun is shimmering in the background, reflecting on the ocean.
The team comprised of model: Valeria Sizova, make-up and hair: Kevin Vella, photographer’s assistant: Nick Jones, stylist and dresser: Carolyn Turner, designer: Valeria Tsoukaris and designer’s support and all-round “tout-faire”: Nic Tsoukaris.
It is my first week back at work after some wonderfully relaxing time off. I am now ready for the exciting challenges that the new year will bring. I wish everyone a fantastic 2023 and I look forward to perhaps working with you on something photographic.
On Friday night (December 9), I had the extreme pleasure of being entertained by Trevor Ashley’s production of Moulin Scrooge at the Seymour Centre in Sydney. Only a week prior, I was backstage photographing the performers during their preparations for the dress rehearsal of this new adult panto, which I also recorded.
When it’s possible, I like to capture informal shots in the dressing room, with the actors applying their makeup, prior to the main shoot. This helps to establish a good working atmosphere. Trevor said to me: “Come a bit earlier, if you like, because I know how you love to get a few shots backstage”. And it’s true, I do find these behind-the-scenes photographs and outtakes fascinating.
Now a week later, as an audience member, I thoroughly enjoyed the production, cleverly written by Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott. And performed beautifully by Trevor, his “high-kicking” supporting trio of Jakob Ambrose, Jarrod Moore and Stephen Madsen, and of course his magnificent co-star Carlotta (“the Queen of the Cross”). I also have to mention the fabulous costumes by Angela White.
Carlotta’s show-stopping performance of the Sondheim classic “I’m Still Here” (with a poignant libretto rewritten by Ashley and Scott), tracked her journey from a vilified Balmain schoolboy to national icon. Her rendition moved the audience to their feet for a well-deserved standing ovation. It is a testament to why Carlotta is considered one of Australia’s ground-breaking treasures and why Ashley so generously provided a new platform for one of his all-time “drag mothers”. Nearing her 80th birthday, Carlotta especially came out of retirement to perform as the club-owner of Moulin Scrooge.
A stately Vaucluse residence set the scene for my latest fashion shoot for the label So French So Chic. My trusted team of Valeria Sizova (model), Kevin Vella (MUA & stylist), Valerie Tsoukaris (client & creator), Caro Davis (styling) and Nick Jones (photographic assistant), worked together to create our vision of the upcoming autumn range.
It was a fine Sydney day, so it was wonderful to be working outside on the verandah of the house, and taking photographs down into the landscaped gardens. We all worked hard and the crew produced a strong series of images … see our contented faces in the group shot at the end.
Now that the autumn fashion range has been photographed, we are working on a selection of images for inclusion in the new published catalogue. For a look at the entire So French So Chic collection, follow this link: So French So Chic
Upcycling an existing 1970s office block paid off for the architects behind Sydney’s new Quay Quarter Towers, which won the World Building of the Year in late November 2022, the second major international award in less than a month. I photographed the project management team and the final stages of construction for Multiplex back in March 2021, when it was clear that the redesign would have a huge impact on the city skyline.
Designed by Danish architects 3XN with BVN architects in Sydney, Quay Quarter Towers was announced as the world building of the year at the annual world architecture festival in Lisbon, which attracted nearly 800 entries across a range of categories. The shortlist of 252 completed buildings included diverse projects, ranging from homes to museums around the world. The 206-metre-high building at 50 Bridge Street in Sydney’s CBD, which was developed by AMP Capital, also won the award for the world’s best new skyscraper.
The construction of Quay Quarter Towers retained two-thirds of the beams, columns and floor slabs and 95 per cent of the original core built for the AMP Society in the 1970s. Adapting the earlier skyscraper was a smart financial decision because repurposing a building rather than demolishing it to rebuild meant a faster return to market. It was also smarter for the planet because it saved more than 7 million kilograms of carbon. That’s equal to 35,000 flights from Sydney to Melbourne.
“Moulin Scrooge” has opened at the Seymour Centre in Sydney to wild laughter and much merriment, both on-stage and off. I have had the pleasure of photographing the various stages of the production, including the poster and the dress rehearsal, which gave me a sneak preview of Trevor Ashley’s latest parody. This pre-Christmas spectacle features the iconic Carlotta, known as The Queen of Kings Cross, who shares the stage with Trevor, Jakob Ambrose, Stephen Madsen and Jarrod Moore. The mood is fiery and fierce.
Playing the role of club-owner Astrid Zeneca, Carlotta is a force to be reckoned with. As Australian entertainment royalty, Carlotta is an original cast member of the long-running Sydney-based male revue Les Girls cabaret show, which established an international following starting in 1962. Although best known as a cabaret performer, Carlotta appeared in the television series “Number 96” in 1974 as Miss Robyn Ross, in a storyline where she reveals that she is transgender. Her ground-breaking appearance in the show is the first time a transgender actress played a transgender TV character anywhere in the world. We need to applaud our true legends.
Meanwhile Trevor Ashley is known for his irreverent revues which include the likes of “The Bodybag”, “Little Orphan Trashley”, “Fat Swan” and “The Lyin’ Queen”, some of his long line-up of stage hits. Now, together with Phil Scott, Ashley has written a madcap adults-only panto as a satirical twist on a beloved Dickensian tale.
Here are a few images from the fast-paced show, with choreography by Rhys Bobridge, costumes by Angie White and lighting design by Sam Wylie. Book a ticket and treat yourself to a hilarious evening of stirring musical extravaganzas, purposely bad jokes, salacious dance numbers and lots, lots more.
I was commissioned to produce the poster and publicity material for the show being staged early next year, with Georgina Hopson and Emily Havea as Lorelei and Dorothy. We used the grand marble staircase at the State Library to replicate the decor of the luxury cruise liner The Ile De France, setting sail across the Atlantic in the company of two of musical theatre’s most dazzling heroines.
GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES tells the raucous and subversive story of Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw – two smart young single women with a burning desire for experiences beyond the conventions of the 1920s. Armed with only their vitality, ambition, quick wits, and above all their unshakeable friendship – these thoroughly modern women play the men at their own game.
The creative team that brought you the critically acclaimed, sold-out season of Godspell take the leap from grunge to full glamour to bring you a glittering production of this beloved classic starring Hayes favourites, Emily Havea (Caroline or Change) and Georgina Hopson (Merrily We Roll Along).
“We’ve had our eye on this diamond of a show for years now, and we couldn’t be more excited to finally bring it to the Hayes stage in conjunction with Sydney World Pride in 2023,” said Co-Artistic Directors Richard Carroll and Victoria Falconer.
Featuring songs like Bye Bye Baby, I’m Just a Little Girl From Little Rock, and Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, prepare for a wet and wild voyage of self-discovery through a queer lens. And remember – in international waters, all the usual rules are suspended – indefinitely.
Richard and Victoria added, “We’re thrilled to have Emily Havea and Georgina Hopson as our two fierce, fabulous, and fashion-forward heroines, leading a cast of hilarious performers.”
Director: Richard Carroll, Musical Director: Victoria Falconer, Choreographer: Sally Dashwood, Costume Design: Angela White, Graphic Design: Razzle Dazzle Design (@razzeldazzle.design)
GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES plays Hayes Theatre Co in Sydney from February 16, 2023.
More than 300 people came together at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney on 17 August to celebrate LGBTQ community members whose work has made a difference to the lives of sexually and gender diverse people in NSW.
The Sydney Star Observer printed my portrait of Laura Hart, winner of the Arts & Entertainment Award, on the cover of the September issue of the magazine. Laura was acknowledged for her contribution to nurturing and developing “drag king” culture in NSW. After the ACON award presentations, I photographed Laura and several other winners in a make-shift studio I set up in the foyer area of the Ivy.
I was going through a long-forgotten trove of family photographs which had been hidden away in the attic of my aunty’s house in Melbourne. She was doing a spring clean and she decided to transfer ownership of the box to me.
Amongst the hundreds of faded images of my childhood was one image that I had totally forgotten. It was a photo that I had taken when I was 7 years old. My aunty Jo (famous in the family for diarising, noting and archiving all things) had marked this image as “Gates Paddock Matthews, 1967, taken by John”, written on the back of the photo. So this would have to be the very first photograph that I ever made.
The image shows a dead kangaroo lying at the gated entrance to a paddock (presumably “Matthews” is the name of the owners of the farm). I must have been fascinated by the majesty of the animal that was lying dead and motionless on the grass.
I vaguely remember the experience … but only very vaguely. I don’t think I was impressed by the gore or shock value – it was much more about contemplating the idea of death. It also reminds me that, even at this early stage in my life, I had discovered how the camera lens and photography can provide you with another way of looking at something, a different point of view … and that there are so many different points of view.
So there you go … you never know what little personal treasures you may find in abandoned boxes laying around in attics … always worth a closer look.
I recently travelled to Melbourne for a break (and some welcome sunshine, much to my surprise) and to catch up with friends and family.
I stayed for a couple of nights at my friend Ned’s place in Yarraville (a great suburb, so convenient to the CBD). He has recently renovated a large garage area (previously vacant and under-used) on the ground floor of his duplex. I took some shots of the job that has been immaculately realised by Ali of Feature Point Constructions, creating a Mid-Century Modern atmosphere. Well done to all involved. Of course, the star of the shoot was Ned’s rescue greyhound Bürschi, who is rather sculptural by nature and very much part of the colour palette..
I was commissioned to document changes in the “under-construction” landscape at the new airport at Badgery’s Creek on the outskirts of Sydney. I have been photographing aspects of the construction to date, as well as taking working shots of various Multiplex employees. The scale of the project is huge and the sky is full of cranes as the work progresses rapidly.