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Warning: Undefined variable $ub in /var/www/wp-content/plugins/advanced-page-visit-counter/public/class-advanced-page-visit-counter-public.php on line 160 General Posts – John McRae Photography & Studio
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
Five brand new, state-of-the-art aircraft flew into Mascot over the Christmas break, to become part of the fleet of Beechcraft King Air 350C planes, recently purchased by NSW Ambulance.
I was commissioned to visit Kingsford Smith airport to capture this line-up of “white birds” on the tarmac … most likely the one and only time that all five planes will be in the same place at the same time.
Here’s an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the recent acquisition by NSW Ambulance: See Link
I was chaperoned onto the tarmac by Gael, Operations Manager at the Mascot NSW Air Ambulance base, pictured below. Two of the pilots who had just landed the aircraft at Mascot were standing across to one side. I couldn’t help asking them what it was like to fly in brand new aircraft. Luckily for us, the impending thunderstorm was delayed just long enough for me to get the shots of the aircraft that I wanted, before the skies opened up and a summer rainstorm bucketed down.
Each year I photograph the hard-working team at NAPWHA (The National Association of People with HIV Australia). The shots are used for their annual report, which aims to highlight NAPWA’s policy of advocacy, health promotion, effective representation and outreach on a national level. The logistics needed to get a large number of busy people to be free at the same time for a group photo is not always easy, however Saysana (Communications and Community Engagement) manages each time. We usually set up the shoot in the laneways not far from the NAPWHA offices, where the graffiti adds to the atmosphere. The urban street-scape of the back streets of Newtown creates an interesting location, although we have to continually make way for passing cars. This year we also completed a number of individual shots of Aaron, Adrian, Brent and the team posed in front of the graffiti and ivy.
For the discerning admirer of eyewear, Macleay Optics in the heart of Potts Point has a large range of the lauded brand Rolf. The eyewear manufacturer ROLF was founded in 2009 in the midst of the Tyrolean Alps. The family business produces its signature line of unique wooden frames – made without screws and maintenance-free – each in its own clever geometric case.
Sometimes in the art world, coincidences can be a great joy. I just received an invitation to a solo presentation of new ceramic sculptures by Dutch artist Frans Franciscus (www.fransfranciscus.nl), showing one of his elongated, nude figures. Franciscus has posed his male subject upside-down, like a naked totem. Immediately I was reminded of one of my own works, a surreal portrait of Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham. In my photograph taken in Sydney ten years ago, Matt poses in his diving trunks, balanced on his hands in the abandoned rail yards at Lilyfield.
The silhouette and mood are very similar in both of our works. Franciscus says he “combines or re-arranges compositions of old masters depicting biblical stories in an up-to-date and idiosyncratic fashion.” Using sculpture, paintings, drawings and photographs, his art tackles racism, discrimination and social discomfort. I sometimes do the same thing in my photographs. Frans Franciscus, who is also a great friend of my mate the Dutch artist Erwin Olaf, will be featured in “This Art Fair” to be held at the Kromhouthal in Amsterdam, August 26-29, 2021, with seven new sculptures presented in his solo called as “Clay Only”. Inspired by medieval and Renaissance painting, Surrealism, religious iconography and classical mythology, Franciscus’ artwork always tries to create space for a broader view on humankind.
My portrait photograph of Matt was taken in the industrial area still “under development for the West Connex”, at the site next to the Lilyfield light rail, from where you can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was taken as part of a fashion shoot that I was staging for the Australian label “Gossip”. I had decided to incorporate different narratives into the fashion shots … to that end I enlisted “extras” to appear in the backgrounds. Matt, who at the time lived nearby, was included as part of this concept.
This was only three years after Matt had won his gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in the 10-metre diving event, with what is still the highest-scoring single dive in Olympic history. My photos were taken in March, 2011.
The Lighting Council of Australia commissioned me to document the recent visit of Ed Husic MP to the Signify head office in Mascot. The Shadow Minister for Industry and Innovation, Husic is also the first Muslim to be elected to Federal Parliament.
There was a short presentation of the latest innovations and future projects for urban lighting by Signify, formerly Phillips Lighting, as well a general tour of the facility.
During the visit to the manufacturing division of Signify, the Shadow Minister met one of his constituents, a fellow Bosnian, and they happily recognised each other. The two of them are pictured below.
One calm Friday morning in January, I walked onto a retro set which had been constructed at Sydney Props Specialists in Marrickville. I love this place. It’s like walking through the door of a “dressing cupboard” into a magical universe in a parallel dimension.
Vanity Fair and Courtney Act were putting the final touches to their make-up, as they were getting ready for their close-ups. I quickly set about constructing the lighting rig on the set so we could commence shooting. Playing the roles inspired by two friends in a 1980s chat show, Vanity and Courtney posed on the two main sets … one a “high-tech” office reception area with a huge desk-top computer and antiquated Eighties technology, and the other a pastel pink bedroom scene reminiscent of a Barbie boudoir.
These images are being used by NOVA Entertainment to promote their upcoming podcast by Vanity Fair and Courtney Act entitled “Brenda, Call Me” beginning on February 11. Here’s the promo blurb….
Drag sisters in crime, Courtney Act and Vanity have a new podcast: Brenda, Call Me! Friends for over twenty years, they’ve gone through it all together. Catch up with them each week as they let it all hang out discussing everything and nothing. It’s the Seinfeld of podcasts. Coming soon.
I have been photographing the legendary Bob Downe for many years now and I feel that I must comment on the fact that for some reason Bob never seems to age. See for yourself in the images from my latest shoot with this iconic stage, cabaret, theatre and television personality. Like many of his ilk, Bob never gives away his ageless grooming secrets, although in a recent post he did mention that he “sleeps in a rubber mould”. However, I suspect he was pulling our proverbial leg.
Bob was wearing some of the magnificent creations of Maude Boate. Maude is one of the true originals of Australian drag, as well as an incredibly talented designer and dress-maker. Maude’s trademarked polystyrene wigs were adapted for the movie and stage-play, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Bob’s good friend and confidant, Mark Trevorrow feels that Bob should be at Madame Tussauds. In his sequinned leisure suits, sometimes he almost looks like he is. (Incidentally Mark Trevorrow is performing on March 4 at Claire’s Kitchen at Le Salonin Oxford St, Darlinghurst). Others have described Bob as “naturally fabulous”, and “ageing like indestructible Tupperware”. All I can say is that I always have loads of laughs with Bob on every photo shoot in my studio. He’s a real pro and he makes my job so much easier, despite the highly flammable fabrics.
It was a joy to photograph Samantha – performer, business strategist and motivational speaker – who is forever on the move. She is a great communicator with a vivacious energy and we had a fun afternoon shooting new imagery for her branding and corporate profile.
As Samantha says, “If you haven’t noticed, I’ve stopped listening to the ‘experts’ that tell you to only have one business. I happen to love and excel at being a multi passionate entrepreneur.” To find out more about Samantha visit her website here.