We ventured to an inner city hotel for a recent shoot for NOVA Entertainment. 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 she 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 suit we went to work shooting. Both Britney and Matt knew exactly what to do and how they would like to be portrayed. It was great to see the two friends bounce off each other and get each other going, often each in stitches….suffice to say they were having a lot of fun while I captured each frame.
Hayes Theatre Co has announced the cast for the acclaimed Stephen Sondheim musical A Little Night Music, which opens in October. Winner of five Tony Awards including Best Musical, A Little Night Music is a wonderfully witty and deeply moving romance, exploring desire, passion and regret.
As previously announced, Australia’s favourite leading lady and namesake of Hayes Theatre Co, Nancye Hayes plays the role of Madame Armfeldt. The recipient of many industry awards, including three Lifetime Achievement Awards, three Helpmanns, four Green Room, two Glugs and a Mo, Nancye Hayes AM takes on her favourite role for the third time in her illustrious career.
Members of the cast and crew came to my studio to capture a promotional image for their media efforts. We photographed each cast member separately firstly and then set up a group shot for the final capture.
Pollyxenia Joannou-Reddin is an award-winning Sydney-based contemporary artist working in painting, drawing, sculpture and installations.
She has only recently returned from spending a couple of years with her partner in London. London, however, is no stranger to Polly as she completed her MA in Communication Design at Central Saint Martins (UK).
The breaking news, however, is that Polly is having a new exhibition in a gallery on the fringe of the Sydney central business district, opening 23 August, 2023.
“The work or process is a path that evolved rather than a conscious, academic process. I see the world or landscape as structured architectural codes; the repetition of lines; 3D structures of an urban landscape and what I perceive as unnecessary, I discard. I seek in my work a quiet corner. The work provides a pause or a resting place before moving on. I try and achieve this through colour palette, a balance of aesthetics via shapes, line, repetition, and materiality.” (Pollyxenia Joannou-Reddin)
I love Polly’s clean, intelligent work…so it’s a pleasure to photograph and contemplate each piece as we manoeuvre it into position for the final capture.
Check out Polly’s work at CBD Gallery in the city (until 23 September), a relatively new space which also runs workshops in various topics.
There’s more new ideas and creations coming from Trevor Ashley as we approach the Australian spring, if the recent shoot at my studio is anything to go by.
Trevor is one of Australia’s most creative musical talents with a string of hits and accolades under his belt, including singing, acting, directing and writing. As well as performing in some of the countries biggest musicals such as Hairspray, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and more recently as Pharaoh in Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat, he also creates his own, original brand of cabaret and musical performances (in his spare time), inventing characters larger than life.
Many of you will have seen his brilliant live singing productions as part of the recently televised “Queen of the Universe” where he slayed both the judges and the audiences.
Prior to leaving to Europe for work we organised a shoot at my studio to record some of his new characters. Angie White (costume designer) and Kellie Richie (hair/makeup/wigs) were there to lend a hand with WigsbyVanity. Angie is a talented costume designer who has created many of Trevor’s extraordinary looks over the years. Kellie is a wig expert and makeup artist, known for weaving magic with hair.
As always, I really enjoy working with Trevor. He brings a great energy to every shoot as he unfolds each new character in front of the camera. From femme fatale to ditsy heroine, it’s a joy to watch and document each emerging look.
Keep an eye out for his next adventure when he returns from Europe.
Flick through the slideshow below for more out-takes of the preparation:
It has been my pleasure to photograph the development of Charles’ paintings, drawings and installations over many years. This time it was a little different … recording his artworks on public display, as part of two outdoor installations. This situation brought its own technical hurdles in terms of light and reflections, particularly as his drawing at The Rocks was displayed behind a deep-set glass window, which was also unevenly lit (a challenge for any photographer)
However we managed to get good results and Charles’ large-scale works have now been properly documented. If you are near either Botany Road in Alexandria or Nurse’s Walk at The Rocks, look out for his two installations.
On a recent trip to Sydney from his home city of Adelaide, prior to his departure on a working tour of Europe, performer Michael Griffiths came to my studio for a photoshoot. We worked on creating a new series of imagery for the promotion of upcoming shows on which he is currently working. .
His pedigree is recognized. For example, in 2016 Michael Griffiths won the Helpmann Award for best cabaret performer for his Cole Porter tribute. As a graduate of the well-known West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), he is a talented singer and musician who has been performing non-stop since his graduation in 1999.
It is always a joy to work with Michael. Not only is he a talented musician, piano player and performer but he’s got a great sense of humour. This helps to make any shoot good fun. He usually brings a quirky idea or two to the studio, and we go from there.
Michael has recently been performing at El Piano cabaret club in Sitges in Spain (see this link). If you happen to be in that part of Europe, check out his schedule. For the rest of us … we’ll have to wait until Michael returns to the land of Oz.
DJ Kitty Glitter has spread her wings again and is touring the world as an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability”, a title unironically given to adventurous USA 01 visa-holders like her. Nowadays Kitty is busy traveling through the US, Canada, Europe and Australia, adding colour everywhere she goes.
As one of Australia’s most successful international DJs, she was also invited to perform at the Australian Embassy in Washington to mark the beginning of Pride Week (and photographed with Kevin Rudd), and rightfully announced as an icon of the Australian LGBTQI community. See news article here which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, on 5 June, 2023.
She was also invited to perform at the Australian Embassy in Washington to mark the beginning of Pride Week (photographed with Kevin Rudd), saying that she is an icon of the Australian LGBTQI community. See news article here which appeared in the SMH, on 5 June, 2023.
I wish Kitty all the very best during her journeys around the globe. As part of her current promotional push, she is using some of the imagery we created together in a recent shoot at my studio. All that glistens is Glitter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
In summer, Pride marches happen all around the world … you can catch one soon in a capital city near you. Well, not only in the capitals, but everywhere where activism and politics make a difference.
Rome is no exception. I was so lucky to be in Italy with my trusty camera for the RomaPride March on June 10. You couldn’t miss such a colourful event, especially when it’s a once in a year chance to walk the streets of Rome from Piazza della Repubblica where the parade has its genesis, through the majestic streets, as the crowd finally descends on the area around the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia. The appearance of this giant amphitheatre as you walk down the Via Labicana towards the Piazza del Colosseo, is breathtaking. What makes the experience entirely “inclusive” is the way the RomaPride marchers, the deejays, the floats, the friends and the general public all mix, to form a general melee of colour and movement and happiness. This year, special attention was paid to fighting against the new social limitations imposed by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
I had an amazing time walking through the ancient streets of Rome in the late afternoon, with more than one million other participants. It was also great to be with my close friends Marvic, Davide, Samuele and Jonathan, who’d all agreed to meet up together in Rome for the week. There was a discreet and friendly police presence, and some very advanced sound systems on the floats. As dusk approached, the light in this beautiful city took on a luminous pink glow. There was a shared feeling of celebration, not only with the other people in the parade, but throughout central Rome as we headed back to our apartment in Trastevere. And the beat goes on.
For more photos click through the following slide-show (below)…..
Over the next few blog entries I will post various segments from my recent overseas trip to Europe. Yes, I recently spent 3 wonderful weeks in sunny France and Italy. Now that I am back in the icy cold (I’m exaggerating), I’m lamenting the fact that it’s winter in Sydney, and why didn’t I stay away longer.
With this entry I am going to share the experience of traveling to the north of France to a place called Armentières.
The above image is the train station at Armentières. Some things in France are all shiny and new … this train station is not one of them. When I got off the train I was desperate to go to the toilet … no, this was a train station without a public toilet and so the attendant suggested I find one in a cafe in the centre of town. I laughed.
The purpose of this trip was to locate my great-uncle’s grave. The name of the war cemetery is “Cite Bonjean”. I had no idea where to go once I exited the train, so I headed to the nearest cafe. I found a coffee shop not too far away and as I was finishing, I noticed a conveniently located florist right next door. I had intended to buy some flowers to bring with me, so this was fortuitous
The story became magical once I entered the florist. A lovely man greeted me and helped me choose a floral tribute for my great-uncle’s grave. As we spoke I asked him if he could possibly give me directions to get to the cemetery, to which he replied, “No, hop in my car outside and I will drive you myself”. He called his wife to mind the shop and he took me to his florist van. I offered to pay extra for the service but he refused, saying if it hadn’t been for men like my great-uncle, they would all be speaking German today.
He kindly dropped me at a small gate to the side of the cemetery and then departed. In this one section there were more than 1,500 grave sites. Each fallen soldier had a headstone and these were arranged in long rows of two headstones, backing each other and facing out. The cemetery is huge. I was alone in this memorial cemetery and had no idea of where I might find my great-uncle. So I just started to walk towards the centre. I thought I would look around before working out a strategy to locate the grave site. Less than minute had passed when I looked to my left and there I found the tombstone of Pvt Murdoch McRae. How wonderful was that! It was a moving moment.
I spent time reflecting on the sacrifice of not only my great-uncle but also all the other men (and women) who had died during the Great War. As I walked through the rows of well-tended graves and read the epitaphs, I was reminded of just how young these boys were at the time … 21, 23, 26, 24, 28, and on and on.
I spent a couple of hours at the cemetery. It was solemn and peaceful. There was absolutely no-one else around, so I could lay on the grass, still and meditative. I left the bunch of flowers by the headstone, and a print of an old portrait photograph of Private Murdoch McRae, who died on January 16, 1917, and whose christian name is my middle name.
PierFrancesco Grasselli is a Rome-based author/novelist and local personality in the charming inner city locality of Trastevere (note: Tevere, is the Italian name of the river that runs through Rome; we call it the “Tiber” and “tras” is the prefix for across) which not surprisingly is the area “across the river”, at the level of the Ponte Sisto. Trastevere is a vibrant meeting place for young and old, with wall-to-wall restaurants and bars. During most evenings the streets are teaming with people.
I was staying with my friend Jonathan, an Australian who has lived in Rome forever. He happens to have the most magnificent terrace overlooking Trastevere and the many churches and cupolas of the inner city (not to mention he is an amazing cook, his table being one of the best in Rome). A perfect backdrop for a portrait shoot.
With his tongue-in-cheek, PierFrancesco Grasselli’s books and self-proclaimed trash novels include All’Inferno ci vado in Porsche (“I’m going to Hell in a Porsche”), Ho Scaricato Miss Italia (“I Dumped Miss Italy”) and his erotic autobiography I Maschilisti (“The Male Chauvinists”).
The weather was great. I used natural light to shoot PierFrancesco. The set-up was very simple and basic – sometimes this is all that is necessary.
Prime Constructions have a number of projects underway at Marsden Park in Sydney’s west. I was recently commissioned to document the completion of two warehouses and also photograph another building in mid-construction.
I do like shooting this kind of work. There’s something very “zen” about photographing what is essentially a huge rectangle in an industrial setting, at dusk. I like walking around the structure by myself as the sun is setting, waiting for the best light. It also makes you realise just how much space is needed to store and manage all the commodities that people require to maintain their urban lifestyles. These monolithic warehouses are usually built on the outskirts of the metropolis, where they are rarely seen by the more centralised, inner-city dwellers.
Before leaving Marsden Park, I captured images of a new Prime project in mid-construction. Here you can see the skeletal framework of a warehouse, with the steel girders reflecting the dwindling sunlight of the late afternoon.
In a departure from the more traditional corporate headshot required for company portfolios, the architectural firm Hansen Yuncken has decided to approach this genre differently, aiming for a more relaxed and natural look during our recent photographic shoot of some of their Sydney team..
The idea has been to capture the individual subjects with various backgrounds and in informal poses, as opposed to having a standard plain background, with each portrait photographed from the same angle. Where conditions permitted, I used natural light as the main light source. The emphasis was on diversity, and a less contrived atmosphere and posture. Of course the mere fact that the subject is having a portrait photograph taken can work as a barrier … not everyone likes being put in front of a camera for that “close-up”. It is always the photographer’s challenge to make the experience as easy and relaxed as possible, to achieve a more natural image (in spite of the very “un-natural” situation). I think we succeeded with the task at hand.
Artist extraordinaire Laura Matthews has recently completed a new body of work, which I happily photographed and documented at her inner-west studio in Sydney. Her paintings often look at how figures interact with expressive landscapes, including her recent series of underwater images.
Laura is the product of the illustrious British art school, The University College London Slade School of Fine Art (informally known as “The Slade”). It is touted as one of the UK’s top institutions for art, design and experimentation. A notable teacher at the Slade was the well-known British painter Lucien Freud.
After her studies, Laura moved to Australia with her husband, where she has worked as an artist ever since.
I enjoyed photographing her recent work. I admire Laura’s draughtsmanship as well as the looseness of her painting. I love “painters who paint”. What I mean by this is that I appreciate painters who really push their colours around on the canvas … where you can see the medium of paint and their techniques.
I captured images of a recent installation at Allianz Stadium, at the head office of the Sydney Roosters NRL team. The designers at Sydney Commercial Interiors created an impressive display with furnishings to house the many trophies and important football memorabilia collected by the club over the years.
Sydney Commercial Interiors is a Sydney-based company which leads the field in commercial interiors, spanning a broad spectrum of activities designing for office, hospitality, industrial and medical projects, as well as sports and recreation.
A second season of La Cage Aux Folles was staged at the State Theatre. Not only did I manage to shoot part of the dress rehearsal but I also attended the opening night and shot the red carpet at the beginning of the evening. This also meant that for the first time I got to sit in the audience and actually see the show performed from start to finish as a “normal” person.
Paul Capsis was stunning in the role of Albin. Also the chemistry between Georges (Michael Cormick) and Albin (Paul Capsis) was just magic. I loved the dancers (Les Cagelles) and the choreography (Choreographer: Veronica Beattie)…really well done. In fact the whole cast was perfectly drawn. It was a delight to be thoroughly entertained by all the colour and movement and I found myself completely engaged and invested in the story and the dialogue.
Obviously I wasn’t the only one that liked the show. Here’s a review posted in “Time-Out”