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July 2023 – John McRae Photography & Studio

Paul Capsis visits the studio for a new head-shot

I love, love, love the work of Mr Paul Capsis. It seems everything he touches he brings to new life….it moves and emotes with a depth of soul.

For anyone who is not familiar with Paul’s body of work, he is an award-winning Australian actor of Maltese/Greek extraction, a singer and playwright who has been working consistently for decades. He has released four albums, appeared in several films (for example alongside Alex Dimitriades in Ana Kokkinos’ 1998 film “Head On”), appeared in countless theatre productions in Australia and Europe, written and performed in his own auto-biographical play and is a regular in musical theatre and cabaret. In 2012, he won the category of “Best Male Actor in a Play” and “Best New Australian Work” at the 12th Helpmann Awards, for his one-man play “Angela’s Kitchen”, with Capsis portraying multiple roles from his childhood. For more details on his body of work visit this link: Paul Capsis..

It was time for Paul to sit for an updated head shot, so he came to my studio. Usually when I shoot Paul, he undergoes a transformation into some other-worldly character, complete with makeup and costume. In the past, I have captured images of Paul as part of the various productions with which he has been involved, including as the cynical Emcee in the stage production of “Cabaret” (he was amazing in this role) and more recently, in the flamboyant role of Albin in David Hawkins’ Sydney production of “La Cage Aux Folles”. As a chameleon, Paul magically disappears into the skin of his different theatrical personas. This time we aimed to create a simple and more natural portrait of Paul, without makeup or any glitzy trappings. Paul Capsis “unplugged”, if you will.

Paul as Emcee in “Cabaret”
Production shot for “Cabaret”, Hayes Theatre
Paul as Albin in The David Hawkins production of “La Cage Aux Folles”, with a new season at the Arts Centre Melbourne from November 9, 2023
Paul as Albin – see what I mean when I say it’s not often that I have the chance to photograph Paul without makeup and glitz.

We had a great time catching up during the photo-shoot. Shooting one-on-one, as in this situation, allowed us more time to reminisce and to have a chat. Normally, with a whole production attached, there is little time and since many more people are involved, you need to keep focused to get all the shots in the limited time-frame. Our recent shoot in my studio was far more relaxed.

Paul is an exciting performer who never sits still, so I can’t wait to see what professional challenge he will tackle next.

Sydney International Piano Competition at the Opera House

Photographing at the Sydney Opera House is always a great pleasure. No matter what the occasion, the view is always amazing. One is always struck by the beauty and grandeur of this impressive structure.

Virginia Braden OAM (Chairman) & Gerard Willems at the media wall prior to the start of the concert.

I was commissioned by “Piano +” to photograph the media wall and VIP reception. Piano + is the entity that has been newly formed to organise and stage the long-standing Sydney International Piano Competition, a program that has been operating annually since 1977. Every four years a competition is held, open to international performers, to compete for a prize money purse. Held in July/August, the prestigious competition is broadcast nationally and internationally.

This year’s competition was won by Jeonghwan Kim (article here:). Kim takes home a $50,000 cash award, as well as being invited to perform at different concerts, a national tour of Australia, a digital and CD release of his performances during the competition, and further recording engagements.

Marcus Barker (Chief Executive Piano +)
Piers Lane OA, Artistic Director
Guests at the reception before the concert
Shane & Andrew Scanlan at the media wall

Bek Jensen releases new album

The fabulous Bek Jensen stepped into my studio recently to work on some images around a new album that she is about to release.

Bek is a talented singer/songwriter and from the age of 16 she has been working professionally as part of the Australian music scene. She comes from a very musical family with both parents also working as musicians….. so it’s no wonder that this enthusiasm has been passed on.

Bek has recorded and toured nationally with many of Australia’s iconic artists including Cold Chisel, Jimmy and Mahalia Barnes, Tina Harrod, The Sleepy Jackson, Paul McDermott, ALPHAMAMA, Morganics, Jackie Orszaczky and Clayton & Lachy Doley. She has released numerous original recordings, both signed and unsigned, under different guises.

The new single from the album is called “Energy”…..available on AppleMusic here: Listen to the music of Bek Jensen now!

You can also hear more on soundcloud

All the things you need for a shoot….
But the most important is chocolate!!!

Multiplex completes addition to Mosman High School

View of part of the new outdoor rooftop play space

The first phase of an extensive upgrade to Mosman High School has recently been completed by Multiplex. I was commissioned to photograph the completion of this initial part of the project which extends along Military Road, between Avenue Road and Belmont Road, Mosman.

View of the rooftop multi-purpose courts.

The build comprises of 16 new flexible learning spaces, new staff and administration facilities, new library, a beautiful new, extensive multipurpose gym/hall, a new canteen and a wonderful outdoor and rooftop play space.

Interior view of one of the many flexible classrooms
Mid-construction NE corner
View of completed wing from NE corner

This has to be state-of-the-art learning facilities and as I was traveling through the building with my camera I felt a bit of FOMO coming on as I was reminded of the not-so-state-of-the-art learning facilities I experienced, back in the day, at Horsham High School.

Erick’s Ark

Luciolle and I bonded immediately. I know one shouldn’t have favorites but sometimes it just happens.

My long time friend Erick lives in Burgundy in the east central France. We met years ago in Australia, not long after he had arrived to forge a new life for himself in the Antipodes. After nearly 30 years in Australia, Erick decided to return to live in France. He purchased a wonderful old farm in Bourgogne.”

Bourgogne is a rich farming region of southern France, famous for its Burgundy wines (as the name suggests) and also for its Beaujolais. At one time the Duc de Bourgogne was touted as the richest man in France, better financially endowed than even King Louis XV, which must have irritated the King to no end. This wealth attracted even more wealth, as many of the aristocracy from the time moved to the region. The dinner parties were legendary. Hence there are amazing chateaux and country mansions dotted all over the countryside.

Erick preparing endive for some of the tortoises

Erick has a particular penchant for looking after animals. Partly to satisfy this nurturing need for his fellow creatures he has created what he calls “Erick’s Ark”. The farm caters to animals which have been abandoned or are destined for the meat-works. Erick intervenes, for the most part, by purchasing as many of these animals as he can, providing a caring, peaceful life on his farm where they can live out the rest of their lives.

Some of the Breton Draught horses as well as the 2 mules (front)

For example, when he hears about a horse destined for the Japanese sushi market, he mobilises and pays the “meat price” (usually 3.50 Euro/kg) to rescue the animal. He then organises transport to his farm, so it can frolic in the pastures of his Burgundy sanctuary. A normal sized Breton Draught horse (he has four or five of them) can sell for up to 3,500Euro, depending on the weight of the animal.

If I remember correctly, Erick’s family now consists of various tortoises (I keep getting confused between turtles and tortoises – Erick set me straight with the fact that turtles live in water and tortoises live on land), 5 dogs, 4 pigs, 6 peacocks, 14 donkeys, 2 mules, 12 horses and 3 Spanish mountain goats … and growing.

Some of the 14 donkeys. Of course Erick has names for all of them….I wouldn’t even try to keep up.
Elle at the local cafe
Elle being followed by Luciolle

It was also really cool that my niece from Australia, Elle, was traveling from the French Alps to England, and Erick’s farm was on her way through. So I was able to spend a couple of days with her. She has known Erick since she was an infant. We hung out in the nearby village of La Clayette and travelled around on a sight-seeing/sugar pilgrimage adventure to various local patisseries. I am sure that the further you travel from Paris, the more butter and sugar goes into the local patisserie. Heaven!

Feeding time for the tortoises

Feeding time at the farm is quite the event, particularly for the tortoises, which consume mountains of fresh greens which need to be specially prepared. They are avaricious in their approach to food (not uncommon for any animal, I suppose)…they may be slow to move but they are certainly not slow in finishing a meal.

Elle feeds Lola, the pig.
Valerie with her killer tart, freshly baked in the morning.

Erick and I were invited for a scrumptious lunch in a nearby village. One of my fashion clients, Valerie, has a house in the area and coincidentally she was also visiting France while I was there. Valerie is originally French and grew up in the region. After marrying an Aussie, she set up her new life in Australia. As the saying goes, you can take the girl out of the French countryside but you can’t take the French countryside out of the girl! We had the best lunch in the most immaculate French provincial setting.

How cute is this house, so French provincial.
Valerie feeling very patriotic. Allons enfants de la……
Erick says hello to his donkeys
Erick talks about the animal refuge he has established on his farm.

Here are the details:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089560924981

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/larchederick

Bank Details:

IBAN: FR76 1780 6003 5004 1877 8690 382