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John McRae – Page 2 – John McRae Photography & Studio

CABARET – Hayes theatre production with Paul Capsis

One of my favourite photo commissions this week was shooting the very talented Paul Capsis for the cover image for SX magazine.

As well as being a ground-breaking actor/singer and all-round performer, Paul is cheeky and fun to be around. Over the years, I have photographed him in numerous disguises. The new portraits of Paul show him in the role of the unhinged, slightly diabolical Master of Ceremonies, from the stage production of Cabaret. They were staged at my Lilyfield studio, which overlooks Callan Park. (It’s only a coincidence that I work in a studio which overlooks an abandoned insane asylum).

“Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome,” sings the MC. “Leave your troubles outside! Life is disappointing? Forget it!”

With Mariel McClorey on make-up and Drew-Elizabeth Johnstone on hair, excellent results were assured. Here are some shots of the preparation in my studio and three finished portraits which demonstrate Paul’s dramatic flair.

 

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Hansen Yuncken – ceremoniously turns the first shovel of dirt (with help from some young students) at the site of their new construction at Trinity Grammar

The team at Hansen Yuncken is about to start work on a new project at Trinity Grammar in Summer Hill, Sydney. To mark the occasion it is customary to stage a ceremony where the first “sod” is turned on the site of the construction.

Happily on this occasion the grown-ups had some welcome help from a few younger “construction workers” in long-fitting hi-vis and spacious hard-hats. Perhaps the new cadets of the future.

For more information on the extent of the renewal project, click on this link:

Marketing images – construction

A number of my clients are in the construction business and occasionally I am asked to go on-site and produce images that can be used for marketing purposes. One such occasion arose recently at one of Hansen and Yuncken’s building sites at Meadowbank TAFE. I was commissioned to capture a series of images of their staff, on site and at work, that could be used for marketing purposes such as tenders.

Unless there is a concise brief, in which the client requests specific shots, my general approach is to go on-site and to work in an impromptu but professional way. It is not always necessary to direct the subjects when setting up the shot. I prefer to wait for the right moment and then step in to take the photograph. Besides, it’s not as if my subjects are paid fashion models. They are usually the employees of the company, photographed by me as they go about their normal day-to-day duties.

I enjoy this type of photography, since it allows me to step into the universe of construction and to see how a large-scale operation works from a human point of view.

BRENDA CALL ME – Season 2

Courtney Act and Vanity are at it again. Following their very successful first season of the NOVA podcast of Brenda, Call Me, where our two partners in crime would meet each week to “chew the fat” on what had got them all fired-up, Courtney and Vanity will be back on the airwaves from this Thursday, May 19, 2022. 

In mid-April, we shot these promotional images at Sydney Props with the team from NOVA, as well as Stephanie Liebeck (On-site Stylist) and Russall Beatie (Head Stylist), both from Giant Panda King, who were responsible for the concept, set design and additional photo re-touching.

But wait…..there’s a narrative!

According to Courtney’s instagram (@courtneyact), while she was exploring the planet Octopoda, Courtney “has gotten herself into trouble” while on an Intergalactic Lady Grindr date gone wrong. 


“You don’t look anything like your picture! You have 9 arms instead of 8! BRENDA, CALL ME!”
“Don’t worry Brenda, I’m coming to save you.!”

While aboard the USS Brenda, in orbit around the planet Octopoda, Vanity hears a distress call from Courtney, whose intergalactic Grindr date has gone horribly wrong. “Don’t worry Brenda, I’m coming to save you!”

Vanity finds Courtney hand-cuffed to a Chick-Feather-Boa Tree and tells the 9 armed catfish, who looks more like an octopus, to scarper before she zaps him with her stun-ing gun.
Courtney and Vanity beam back up to the “USS Brenda” to relative safety.
Finally, the two friends celebrate in the safety of the mother-ship.

Catch these two characters from this Thursday on a weekly basis at NOVA Podcasts (Brenda Call Me). As Courtney states….”Vanity and I are bringing you more astounding honesty, friendship and some queer history!”

Prime Constructions builds new hall at Jamison High School

Prime Constructions was established in 1983 by Ron Masters & Phil de Gail and is now regarded as one of the leading building contractors in NSW. Paul Christopher and John Drake have joined Ron and Phil as the current executive management team.

I was commissioned by Prime to document a recent construction at Jamison High School in Penrith. This educational facility will enjoy the benefits of a brand new, state of the art, multi-purpose hall.

Screen Australia – Further Head Shots

We recently returned to the offices of Screen Australia in Ultimo to set-up for a series of corporate head shots.

I love shooting head shots because I get to meet and interact (for a brief while) with members of various companies and organisations who commission me to produce portraits.  Often, in my role as a photographer, I might work with only one or two people from a company – be it the PR person or the head of marketing. However, when staging head shots, I am able to meet other professionals within an organisation, and establish a different rapport.

I maintain a lot of respect for my subjects and for each situation. To be in front of the camera, and under the spotlights, is not the most comfortable position for many people. It is my job to make it as pleasant an experience as possible, also for those people who are not normally on the screen themselves. 

NSW Ambulance – welcomes their new aircraft with a smoking ceremony

Rex subsidiary Pel-Air and New South Wales Ambulance organised an official hand-over ceremony, smoking ceremony, and blessing of the new aircraft fleet after Pel-Air commenced operations for the NSW Ambulance Air Ambulance. This follows the arrival of their fleet of brand-new Beechcraft King Air 350C planes at Mascot on January 1, 2022 (see my previous blog entry:  https://www.johnmcrae.com/nsw-ambulance-new-planes-take-to-the-skies/ )

The event was attended by Rex Group Deputy Chairman, Hon John Sharp AM and NSW Ambulance Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Coombes (pictured below), and other key staff.

NSW Ambulance Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Coombes and Rex Group Deputy Chairman, Hon John Sharp AM
The fleet of 5 new planes on the tarmac at Mascot

La Boite announces Courtney Stewart as the newly appointed Artistic Director

In late April I had the pleasure of photographing Courtney Stewart. Courtney has recently been selected as the incoming artistic director of La Boite in Brisbane. She is currently working on an STC production in Sydney but will be heading back to Brisbane to take up her role at La Boite in July.

Courtney required some updated portraits to accompany the official announcement and press release. With Courtney’s busy schedule, as well as juggling a family, there wasn’t much time. We ventured into the “textured” back streets of Marrickville on this occasion.

For more information on Courtney and her appointment visit: Limelight or ArtsReview

Upstaged – by the star of the show!

I recently photographed the legendary singer/entertainer Shauna Jensen in my studio. Shauna and I got together with Kerrie Stanley, the make-up artist, to create images of some new looks that Shauna will use to promote up-coming shows and performances.

I have been photographing Shauna for many years both on stage and in my studio. However on this occasion she brought a very special friend with her for her studio shoot. His name is Bucky and he’s the cutest thing. Of course it would be rude not to get a few shots of Bucky and Shauna together, so I asked Bucky to “strike a pose”, and he obeyed. There is a common saying that you should never appear on stage next to children or dogs … they’re bound to upstage you.

If you want to catch Shauna at her next appearance for a night of fine food and wonderful entertainment (great voice and stage presence) she is appearing at Claire’s Kitchen on 27 May, 2022. See below for details:

Shauna receives the finishing touches by Kerrie Stanley (MUA)
Go and see Shauna…”she’ll tear your heart apart with her talent”.

Maisonnets – when you’re searching for that get-away shangri-la

If you’re looking for a perfect place to get-away, a short-term rental for any reason, look no further than Maisonnets.

I’ve been shooting for some time now the various properties that become available under the Maisonnet banner. Maisonnets is a company that manages properties for owners in the short-term rental market. They manage a concierge, cleaning and maintenance service, a kind of middle man between the owner of the property and the various clients decide to rent the properites.

It has been interesting to see the interior of all the homes I have photographed.

Charles Cooper – Australian Artist

I recently had the pleasure of spending an afternoon at the studio of the Australian artist, Charles Cooper. Charles is a long standing professional artist of high repute.

Charles has started an exciting project of producing a monograph of his work and required some additional photography for pieces he wanted to include.

I must admit I am really into the “surface” of painting and the surfaces of Charles’ paintings are lush and seductive which does it for me.

Charles has a long standing relationship with Annandale Galleries and his work can be seen if you click on the link.

Anglicare, Minto – an update

I recently returned to Anglicare Minto Gardens where I had shot a number of images for Hansen Yuncken of their build for this sprawling retirement facility in the western suburbs of Minto.

The first shoot I concentrated on the exteriors however this time it was all about the recently completed interiors. The Hansen Yuncken business development team required shots of the interiors which could accompany presentations that may make in the future for related work.

Creating a mobile studio for Multiplex head-shots

Producing multiple head-shots can be both a challenge and a rewarding exercise. It is challenging in the sense that you have limited time available with each subject and within that short time frame you must capture the best possible photograph of that person. Part of the task is to make the person feel relaxed and confident in front of the camera. Every photographer has his or her own individual “bag of tricks” to make sure that this happens. I enjoy this challenge as much as I like the chance to meet the many diverse human faces behind the organisation you are working for … from the personal assistants to the senior executives. You have the privilege of photographing a vast range of people, although you don’t always know their professional roles within the company . While the days can be long, they are, at the same time, invigorating.

I recently completed the task of updating head-shots and corporate portraits of Multiplex employees. It was a complex job spanning numerous days over a period of months, based on setting up a series of mobile studios in different offices in Sydney. 

SFI Health – time for a new look

SFI Health is a global natural health care company working to market and develop natural biochemical solutions for the complex needs in the areas of microbiome and cognitive health.

I was commissioned to capture a series of head shots in their Sydney offices at St Leonards as well as to capture shots of the team in various locations within the building. The imagery is part of their global marketing direction to use a combination of different coloured backgrounds to create a cool point of difference.

Cherry, Katia & Nadia step into the studio

Nadia, Katia and Cherry photographed in one of their extravagant performance costumes

It was an afternoon of colour and movement in my Sydney studio photographing the three Thai beauties Nadia, Katia and Cherry. These hard-working showgirls make up a dedicated trio who entertain across the country in clubs and entertainment centres, performing with Las Vegas glitz and Hollywood glamour. 

Coming out of lockdown hibernation, the girls required some new, beguiling imagery for their upcoming performances. Filled with costumes, feathers and diamantes, my studio was like a backstage dressing room and performance space for Mardi Gras. Setting up the shoot was a lot of fun.

Cherry, Katia and Nadia

Screen Australia – Board & Chair – group shot at drama report briefing.

Claudia Karvan and Deborah Mailman AM pictured together at the briefing

I was asked to set up a group shot of the executive members of the team overseeing the drama report, in the offices of Screen Australia, pictured below.

©johnmcrae

The 31st annual Screen Australia Drama Report shows a record-breaking level of expenditure on drama production in Australia in 2020/21 of $1.9 billion, made up of $874 million on Australian projects and $1.04 billion on foreign projects produced or post-produced in Australia.

For more details on the announcement follow this link:

Ms Leake AM, Nicolas Moore (Chair of Screen Australia), Claudia Karvan, Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Michael Brealey (Chief Operating Officer) and Deborah Mailman AM
Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts of Australia, pictured with esteemed film director Dr George Miller AO.
Behind the scenes

Hennessy’s Hotline – new podcast for NOVA Entertainment with Tanya Hennessy

Well-known comedian, radio announcer, social media star, author and talented all-round entertainer Tanya Hennessy is the reigning daytime queen of crossed lines. NOVA Entertainment recently staged a photo-shoot at the film studios of Sydney Prop Specialists in Marrickville for a brand new podcast series Tanya will be spearheading, called “Hennessy’s Hotline”.

More details will follow about Tanya’s upcoming podcast. In the meantime here are some images from our January shoot.

Lisa & James’ Wedding in Robertson

Just prior to the Christmas break I headed to the Southern Highlands village of Robertson to photography the wedding of Lisa-Mae Driscoll and James O’Connor.

It was a stunning occasion held in the wooded grounds of a turn-of-the-century hotel on the outskirts of the township. The Robertson Hotel was built in 1924. It ran as a country hotel with manicured lawns until it was purchased by the Catholic church and requisitioned into a monastery. More recently it was sold once more, and its original use as a sprawling hotel was re-established. It was the perfect venue for the December wedding of Lisa and James.

Quentin greets the guests at the reception

The wedding ceremony took place a short walk away from the entrance of the hotel, on the lawn of the lush gardens. The guests took their seats as they waited for the Bride and Groom to make their entrance with an entourage of flower girls and boys.

At the end of the ceremony, a special touch created a sense of wonder and magic. Once the celebrant presented the couple as husband and wife, each of the flower-girls and page-boys (pictured above, sitting on the ground) released a wanderer butterfly into the wild.

MMXXI – Matthew Mitcham Annual Portrait

MMXXI
Pigment inkjet on cotton rag, 112cm x 78cm
Edition of 9 (2AP)

Since 2008, every year I have taken an “official” annual portrait photograph of Matthew Mitcham, Australia’s gold-medal Olympic diver, award-winning cabaret performer and television entertainer, in my studio in Sydney.

Facing the camera with a direct, unflinching manner, each consecutive portrait is added to the growing series of similar portraits, which commenced when Matthew was only 20 years old, before his rise to Olympic fame.

Each portrait is taken under identical conditions, plotting the changes in his physical appearance and growing self-assurance. MMXXI marks the 14th portrait and the 14th year in this ongoing series.

Matt continues to reside in the UK with his husband, Luke. If you wish to keep an eye on his professional progress I suggest following him on instagram at the following link: https://www.instagram.com/matthewmitcham88/

The complete sequence can be seen at  

The series is printed by the artist in an edition of 9, with 2 artist proofs, and is available for purchase.

Contact: John McRae mb: 0419 619 161 e: john@johnmcrae.com