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

NSW Ambulance – new planes take to the skies

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.

NAPWHA – the annual group shot in Newtown

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.

Signs of the times……

Macleay Optics features Rolf eyewear

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.

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Qween Lear as part of the Sydney Festival – Ruled by drag qweens, fuelled by love.

I was asked to produce imagery for the production of Qween Lear which will be one of the headlining performances in the 2022 Sydney Festival. So along with Dee Dee as a fierce Sydney drag identity, we set up a photo-shoot in the mens toilets of the Cricketers Arms pub in Surry Hills to promote this immersive theatrical performance. As part of the festival programme, Qween Lear will take place in the Hordern Pavilion, itself the site of so many parties in the age of excess and ecstacy.

Part rave, part theatrical extravaganza, Qween Lear explores the demise of Sydney’s party era through the tale of an ageing drag matriarch played by Minnie Cooper (AKA Aaron Farley), abdicating her nocturnal throne. Set over one night around the turn of the millennium and stacked with Australia’s fiercest performers, a dazzling light show and throbbing original score, it’s a joyous love letter to the legends and legendary stories of Sydney’s lost nightlife.   

The story of Sydney’s nightlife is inseparable from its queer history. Sparked by the 1978 Mardi Gras protest, the birth of house music, and a flourishing queer counterculture, our fair and feisty city gained an untouchable reputation for hedonistic nightlife in the eighties and nineties. Hordern Pavilion parties were the red-hot and sweaty epicentre of this fantasy world of love, fetish and house music.  Now it will the home of a queer version of the Shakespearean tragedy King Lear.

Producer, Adam Lowe (ALG – art and culture events management), prompts Dee Dee on set.
Sydney Festival Guide, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 November, 2021

Post-show Exhibition:  At the conclusion of the Qween Lear performance in the Hordern Pavilion, ticket holders are invited to a free digital photography exhibition representing some of Sydney’s most iconic parties from the late twentieth century. This project has been proudly supported by the Powerhouse Museum.

Book your tickets here: https://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/events/qween-lear

Lorraine updates her image

Lorraine Chai (see link here) is a young, dynamic musician who not only teaches and plays music but has formulated her own instructive method for musical education. I first met Lorraine 8 years ago when she came to my studio for a series of head shots and recently she returned to update her image portfolio.

Although classically trained, Lorraine has extensive music skills having studied with many renowned jazz teachers such as Judy Bailey, Sandy Evans, and Kerrie Biddell and music theatre with Pat H. Wilson.

Having grown up with a musical family, Lorraine began playing and performing from the age of four. Lorraine has studied the Guitar, Percussion, Oboe, Violin, Clarinet, and Voice. She is an international multi-talented instrumentalist and educator.  Lorraine graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with a Bachelor of Music Studies in 2008 and then completed her Graduate Diploma of Education at the Australian Catholic University a year later. In 2009, Lorraine completed the ATCL Recital (Associate Diploma Trinity College London) in classical singing and in 2011, completed a certificate of conducting from The Australian Band and Orchestra Director’s Association (ABODA).

Lorraine Chai with some of her teaching guides for musical education

New talent for the Christmas show at the Beresford

It’s coming up to that time of year once more in Sydney … yes it’s the Beresford Hotel’s annual Christmas show. Under the direction of Minnie Cooper, the forthcoming pageant features some of the bright stars of the Sydney drag scene. 
Surrounded by tinsel and diamonds, Fran and Coco came to my studio to pose for a series of Hollywood glamour shots for the Beresford’s poster, accompanied by dancer Hayden dressed as the Little Drummer Boy.

Fran Giapanni
Hayden as the Little Drummer Boy
Coco Jumbo

In 2021 The Beresford continues its tradition of Absolutely Xmas. Joining Minnie Cooper, and Tora Hymen is Coco Jumbo, Fran Giapanni and Hayden as the new talent.

Prinnie Stevens – Lights, Camera, Action!

There’s excitement in the air. Prinnie Stevens, Australian singer, performer and all-round entertainer extraordinaire is gracing the stage for brand new productions. She came to the studio with her team (hair, makeup and styling) to create new, vibrant imagery for upcoming shows as we all rocket out of lockdown. Her performance in “Sisters are doing it for themselves” begins at the Brisbane Powerhouse in February……see Link here

Outtake, Prinnie on the set in my studio

Prinnie shot to fame for her amazing performances as a contestant on “The Voice” and subsequently she has appeared in several major stage productions including Rent, Thriller Live, The Bodyguard, Hair and Oh, What a Night! and many other theatre, cabaret and television appearances. On her instagram bio, Stevens describes herself as “Polynesian RnB Soul Singer”.

Prinnie Stevens in “Sisters are doing it for themselves”

Mid-construction photography and head shots for Hansen Yuncken at their Meadowbank site

Hansen Yuncken is well underway into the construction of their extension to the Meadowbank TAFE. I was asked to document the current state of the building project and to highlight the diversity of their workforce, including such technological innovations as 3-D modelling, computer visualisations, the use of i-pads and drones.

On the same day we organised additional corporate head shots of several site executives, for the Hansen Yuncken corporate profiles, see below.

“The Lyin’ Queen” hits the Opera House with Todd McKenney joining the cast.

Todd McKenney

At the end of November, the new season of Trevor Ashley’s production of “The Lyin’ Queen” begins at the Sydney Opera House.

Trevor came to the studio to complete a series of new publicity shots with Todd McKenney (Dancing with the Stars, The Boy from Oz and numerous TV and stage productions) who has just joined the cast going into the new season in Sydney.

Todd as eccentric billionaire Dr Richard Rabbitborough and Trevor as Gaye Wray

The day after the shoot, the Sydney Morning Herald published a story (30-31 Oct, 2021) promoting Trevor’s show and the return to normality in the theatre world, reproducing a still from our shoot (see below).

The Weekend Telegraph ran an article in “Sydney Shortcuts” on the weekend with a one of my production images from last year’s sell-out season to promote the 2021 season (see below).

Production still of Trevor Ashley on stage as Gaye Wray, The Lyin’ Queen.

As Trevor says; “I couldn’t be more thrilled that Todd has joined the cast of the show. He’s an Aussie legend and has the best sense of humour, so I can’t wait to be on stage with him in this outrageously hilarious comedy.”

Expect dinosaurs, politics, parodies and an inflatable gorilla in this laugh-a-minute musical extravaganza and wild romp.

Todd McKenney and Trevor Ashley ham it up in my studio for The Lyin’ Queen

Book a ticket now! Follow this link to The Lyin’ Queen at the Sydney Opera House

Memorial Sculpture at Tamarama

Urban Arts Project (UAP) was commissioned by ACON and Waverley Council to create the Bondi Memorial to victims of LGBTQ hate crimes in Marks Park, Tamarama.

The Bondi Memorial public artwork honours the victims and survivors of homophobia and transphobic violence along the Sydney coastline. It acknowledges and heals the significant community trauma caused by these events, it raises greater community awareness of this issue and promotes the continuing need for relevant information to be brought to police attention.

Mark’s Park was selected as the location for the permanent memorial given its place in international history as the site of numerous attacks. Many gay men and transgender women were assaulted, and in some cases murdered, at Mark’s Park. 

 UAP’s design for a six-level stone terrace represents the six bands in the pride flag, and was seen as wholly embracing the memorial’s guiding principles of remembrance, diversity, inclusion, justice and acceptance.

Paula Masselos, Mayor of Waverley Council & Nicolas Parkhill, CEO of ACON

Voices from the gay community have said:

“It’s been too long in recognising these terrible events from our not-so-distant past,”

“Finally, we will have a permanent reminder by which we can pay respect to these men, their families, friends and the LGBTI community.”

Pictured below is Reg Domingo (ACON Communications) together with the rest of the team from ACON documenting the completion of the Bondi Memorial Project.