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.
I have recently returned from working in sunny Italy to an equally sunny Australia. And after spending quite a long time away it was great to have an excuse to travel down to Victoria. It was fortunate that one of my clients was shooting his annual jewellery catalogue in Melbourne and rural Victoria, so that gave me a perfect pretext to make the journey.
One of the locations was conveniently close to Pomonal where my sister lives. I have blogged several times before in reference to Pomonal…so here is an up-date of rural life at the foot of the Grampian mountain range.
I arrived on the Saturday afternoon after a non-stop drive from Melbourne, where I had been working the previous 3 days. I found Helen sitting on the verandah of her little country hide-away (see picture).
I then headed straight for the Stawell Show Grounds from Melbourne. It was a push since the show was starting to wind up and I had to get there before 4pm, if I wanted to see Denise and her winning entries. Thanks goodness I had a reliable GPS and I could head off the highway, onto the dirt road leading to Stawell.
I arrived in the car park, and Denise eagerly awaiting. I was quickly whisked away to the grand pavilion, on the edge of the main arena, where there was some exciting news……
Surprise, surprise! Denise had several prize-winning entries. She is so proud of her baking efforts and was over the moon at the fact that the local agricultural establishment had chosen to acknowledge this by awarding her several first and second prizes.
The real surprise was the Cappuccino cake…a relatively complicated layered construction which she managed beautifully, to win her a first ticket. I found out from Helen that the 2nd prize for the Anzac biscuits was also hard won. Apparently, they had some difficulty with the first batch, which lost shape and pured out all over the baking tray. With an insightful variation of the recipe (don’t try this at home, only a skilled technician, which Denise is, can play around with changing recipes) she managed a second prize.
A slight disappointment….(well, I suppose you can’t really say disappointment when you have already won 2 sections and 2nd in another)…was the tea tray section. Denise, unfortunately didn’t cut the mustard in this years effort. It’s always good to have something to strive for and next year, I am sure, Denise will be hoping for a better result.
We still had half an hour left before the show ended, so we decided to exit the baking pavilion, to visit side show alley and see what else was on offer……….
So I thought……..but no! We were off to another pavilion for more of “Denise on show”! To my surprise Denise had extended her kit bag of talents to the photographic awards and had entered her work in 2 sections. There was quite an impressive selection of photographs on display. Some of the contestants were obviously professional or semi professional photographers. Denise wasn’t…but that didn’t deter her from entering because they had a section for amateurs.
How wonderful…..the side shows were still in progress after we left the photography. Although the guy on the Cha Cha had started to pack up, it didn’t deter Denise from having a go on the darts and the clowns. Denise was full of confidence after her wins and this was reflected in her deft delivery of both the darts and the balls. She started first on the darts and quickly made a number of successful throws to land herself a soft toy bear (see image). She was also successful on the clowns but the prizes on offer were less impressive.
Another fascinating feature was the Sheaf Tossing Competition. I have never seen this type of sport before…but here it was at the Stawell Show. The idea is to stick a pitch fork into a small bag of hay and throw it as high as you can, over a horizontal suspended beam. Have a look at the shots for a better explanation. The 2014 World Sheaf Tossing champion was defending his title…..he was unsuccessful. He lost to a rather shy young man who was on a “come-back” after retiring from the sport a few years ago.
Well after all that excitement it was time to pack up and collect the prize money. Yes….the prize money! How exciting! Those hard won tickets translate into cold hard cash! We quickly retrieved the cakes and photos and proceeded to the admin office for the loot! Rob and Elle helped carry the goods to the car.
Now it was time to collect the money…..finally! Guess how much 2 firsts, 2 second and a third got you ahead at the Stawell Show? I’ll tell you…….$8 (AUD). I mean it’s better than a slap in the face….but I hasten to say that the $8 wouldn’t even pay for the matt board on the photos, let alone the ingredients of all those prize winning cakes….but better not look a gift horse in the mouth (as they say in the country).
Well that was the Stawell Show. I decided that I would make an effort to go again next year, but arrive earlier so it won’t be a rushed….get to go on the Cha Cha. In fact, I think I will make a weekend of it.
It was obvious that Rob and Denise shared a common interest in cars….before our departure they took time out to have a look under the bonnet and Rob got into the driver’s seat (See picture)
So that ended day 1 of my trip to Pomonal and Stawell. There’s a day 2 coming up! I think I hit the jack pot. Not only was it the weekend of the Stawell Show but it was also the weekend of the Show and Shine car rally, organised by the local Holden Car Club, of which Denise is the secretary.
Sunday morning, after a hearty breakfast with my sister at the Halls Gap coffee shop I headed off to the nearby oval. Denise was just pulling up in her non-renovated Holden Kingswood. Her pride and joy. She commandeered that lump of metal in true style as she slowly moved onto the oval to take her position in the field of motoring enthusiasts.
Signage had to be put onto the car windows. Elle and Rob were there to lend a hand. Denise opened the bonnet for an inspection proudly admitting that nothing had been done to the car since it was bought.
When Denise felt that the preparations were complete, we all went for a little wander through the fair. It was a great turn out. Many of the cars were renovated versions of their former selves….great testaments of the love and devotion of their owners.
Wow….looking at all the different coloured cars really builds up an appetite. We headed for the sausage sizzle, a fund-raiser for sure!
A flashback from the day before….clowns and fairy floss.
I had to leave to go to and work at a nearby homestead. We were about to shoot the last model for the 2017 Circa AD jewellery catalogue…..hence why Adrian was in one of the above shots. But before we all left Denise and finish the day at the “Show and Shine”, Adrian kindly lent a couple of his pieces that we were going to shoot later on that afternoon for Denise to model. I think she enjoyed the experience…she is certainly a lot more relaxed in front of the camera than when I first started shooting her, so long ago.
That brings me to the end of all the fun and games of the “Show and Shine”…and for that matter, a fond good bye to Halls Gap and Pomonal. It was now onto Lexington, a property near Moysten, for the continuation and last shoot for CircaAD Jewels. But more about that on another blog post. Later that evening I started my long road trip back to Sydney…..14hrs of listening to ABBA on a very boring stretch of road.
And………don’t forget to get that particular shot you wanted in, before Xmas!