It’s been a long journey, but finally everything has come together and our book collaboration is finished!
It has been so rewarding to work on this project, I am just thrilled to bits with all we achieved together.
Copies of the book can be ordered from the link below, but before doing so drop me an email to see if there are any pre-ordered copies left.
I hope you enjoy flicking through the book, and meeting these lovely rescue animals and their families!
Last week, I decided it was high time for some long overdue adventures. I pulled some strings, waved some cash, and took myself on a bit of a whirlwind tour.
First, I ducked up to the Arctic to get a glimpse of those famed polar bears. This chappy seemed a bit interested in being friends initially. I can be quite boring company though, and before long he was lulled into a harmless sleep.
I then casually circumnavigated the globe, to whiz down to the bottom of the planet and acquaint myself with some penguin friends. I’m not sure what’s going on down in the South Pole, but I ended up with all sorts of funny spots dirtying up my lens.
All that traipsing around the Arctic and Antarctic makes a girl feel chilly, so I headed back to warmer climes for a spot of shark spotting. How brave am I? Normally, I am terrified of sharks, but on this day I managed to rise above my fear.
When I finally returned home, exhausted but pleased with all my adventures, my pet dolphins were so excited to see me, they spontaneously leaped out of the water to celebrate my homecoming. It’s nice to be missed!
* OK, OK, so maybe I went to Seaworld. It’s in Queensland at least, which did require getting on a plane.
Dear Stranger on the Street,
Today I was photographing on Sydney’s streets. Photographing people and street scenes. It’s a genre of photography known as street photography. Otherwise known as people with cameras who like to photograph in the public realm.
Sometimes my approach is direct. I walk up to strangers and ask permission to take their portrait, or to photograph them engaged in doing something. I’ve asked men, I’ve asked women, I’ve asked parents if I can take pictures of their kids.
Mostly people say yes. Sometimes they say no. I understand that having one’s picture taken by a stranger on the street is not to everyone’s taste. If I’m told not to, I don’t do it.
Other times, my approach is less direct. I am looking for candid moments, little photographic slices of life in the world around me.
I never hide when doing this. I’m always direct in that sense. I figure if I make it obvious what I’m doing, then people can move out of my line of sight, or ask me what I’m up to. I’ve never had anyone confront me before, but I’m always conscious that it might happen.
Mr Stranger on the Street, you were walking towards me. You were talking on your phone. The street behind you was clear, and for a moment you were framed between 2 buildings. I liked the juxtaposition of elements. To be honest, it wasn’t really a photograph of you, it was a generic image of a man walking down the street, with his phone glued to one ear. Like everyone else with their phone glued to their ear.
It’s a theme. It’s contemporary life. In this instance, with nice light and nice framing. I pulled my camera up to my eye and clicked the shutter.
Without breaking stride, you zeroed in on me. Walked straight up to me and asked what I was doing.
I told you that yes, I had taken a photo of you. You asked to see it, and once you’d seen it, that I delete it. I apologised and did as you asked. Straight away. In front of you.
You’re a big man, Mr Stranger from the Street. I’m 160cm tall. You towered over me. As you stood right in front of me. Angry. Crowding me.
Not happy that I had deleted the picture as you asked, you demanded to know what I was doing. I explained that I was taking photos.
On the street.
Yes, of strangers.
At your insistence, I flicked back through some previous pictures to show that I had only taken that one shot of you, and that it was deleted. Gone.
I apologised again.
You threatened to steal my camera. Your words. As you towered over me. That to teach me a lesson you should run off with my camera.
I started getting angry, because you would not let it go. You asked my name, and I gave it to you. As my name is the title of my blog, perhaps you’re reading this now.
Your parting shot was to threaten to call the police. I’m still not sure why you thought that I could be arrested for taking photographs in a public space. But I wonder. Did you call the police? What did they say?
I don’t take photographs to hurt, upset or intimidate other people. Clearly, the split second that involved you with my camera breached your sense of etiquette, or privacy. As I said at the time, I’m sorry for that, and I meant it. I still mean it.
However, I’m not going to stop taking photographs on the street. But I am sorry that I responded to you with anger.
You just took me by surprise. I wasn’t being malicious, but you acted like I was intentionally trying to hurt you.
I’m just a girl with a camera taking photos of my city and fellow inhabitants. You don’t want to be part of that. Fair enough.
I respected your wishes.
No hard feelings?
As usual (because I’m a rubbish blogger), it’s been very quiet around here in my little corner of BlogLand. First things first, though. Can I just put my hand up and say if anyone has invented some type of awesome time-bending machine that allows me to find the time to pursue my dream, keep a roof over my head AND get the requisite amount of sleep to keep me sane – well, sign me right up. Twice. In a time-bendy sort of way.
Last week was brilliant. I undertook a big job – one that saw me fly around (literally!) between Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in the space of only 3 days. I had a partner-in-crime to keep me sane and focused on the brief (which she had devised, and so knew exactly what I was meant to be photographing). She also doubled as a particularly wonderful assistant who quickly learned the ropes in lens juggling. Furthermore, she bossed me around, moved me on when I got too involved in fun, abstract reflections (that had no bearing on the brief), and helped me to keep seeing when my tired eyes and brain just wanted to give up.
I’m going to have to come over all Secret Squirrel though about the details, as the job is highly confidential.
Here, let me distract you! It’s a still life of a flower made from a plastic bag and bubble-wrap. Recycling, off-camera flash and…..boredom – all rolled into one!
My Secret Squirrel job did teach me a few fun things though, which I’m going to share. In list format.
- Inter-state travel on a tight deadline is knackering. Not glamorous – just plain exhausting. Starting the day at 4am, boarding flights, driving hire cars, working working working. And collapsing in bed at 9pm. And getting up to do it all again the following day. Oh yeah…I know how to have a good time!
- The restaurant at the Crowne Plaza in Adelaide makes scrumptious food. Especially when you’re eating on account.
- Investing in a Canon 5D Mark II earlier this year is one of the best decisions I have made in 2011. Shooting in low light, lit by flourescent bulbs and dealing with working people all at once. The latitude this camera body gave me TOTALLY allowed me to do a good job for this client. One for the gear-heads I’m afraid!
- Ditto for Lightroom. I love you Lightroom. From the bottom of my girly little heart. A gazillion gigabytes of images; edited, catalogued and processed down to a more manageable mini-zillion of gigabytes. All in a single day.
- Tea and TimTams is the best way to greet your bleary-eyed photographer first thing in the morning. Pass it on.
And so to other news.
In case you’re wondering folks (breathe, breathe!), the shoots for SHELTER are being ticked off rapidly. I’ve done about a dozen so far. Unfortunately, editing and processing time is lagging behind, but I’m hoping to find a window soon-ish to knuckle down and catch myself up. Because, honestly, the doggies and puddycats I’ve been meeting are the cutest darn things. I love hearing their stories, and each one is a mini-heartbreaker and then heart-filler-up again. The book is going to be so lovely, I just can’t wait. I know…tease, tease!
OK, here’s a little taste. This is Zak and Sam letting me know that this modelling business is pretty boring really. Are you done yet lady? Hmmmmm????
Oh, I do so love when a plan starts to come together!
This particular book is an all-or-nothing type of project. We needed to get 40 contributors to want to be involved in the book, and unless we met that target, there was not much point in doing it at all. I’m so pleased to say that after a couple of months of crunching numbers, many emails and fabulous co-ordination on behalf of the DCH ladies, we have got our requisite rescue success story contributors, and it’s all steam ahead. ‘Shelter’ is very much an idea that is definitely going to come to fruition.
So now, for me, the hard work begins. My task – to shoot 40 sessions of pets and their rescue parents, compile a write-up of each story, and design and put it all together into a fabulous little book. It’s all a little overwhelming.
Luckily, I have multi-talented friends stashed around the place. A good friend is a talented graphic designer, and she is going to ensure our end product is completely lovely. Also on board is a professional writer who is going to help me compile and edit the accompanying stories. We’re fast becoming a little team of book elves.
The gargantuan shoot schedule kicks off next weekend. In the weeks and months following, I’ll attempt to fit the 40 shoots into as short a time-scale as possible, in the hopes of reaching our (fingers crossed) deadline of having this mini-monster ready for sale by Christmas.
I don’t see too many wild parties or weekends away in my immediate future.
Let me tell you, though, it feels so good to be involved in this project. The money we raise will go towards the shelter that DCH are working towards making a reality – a half-way house for those abandoned dogs and cats in the pound, that are otherwise living on very short amounts of borrowed time.
When I first went to live in London, it was a pretty lonely time. I was with my boyfriend – so I wasn’t completely alone – but it really took some time to find a good circle of friends. London can be a tough place for a newbie.
My first summer there I was working a part-time job, I had enrolled in a university course that I eventually dropped out of, while I kept searching and searching for….something. What I was searching for I didn’t know, and so I started spending my days just wandering around the labyrinth that is the streets of London, delighting in getting lost in endless alleyways and enjoying the juxtaposition of modernity and ancient history that I never experienced while growing up in Australia.
For my birthday, I received a second-hand Pentax SLR. Surrounded these days with all the technology of digital photography, this first camera of mine looks like a tiny, archaic object. A beautiful tiny, archaic object. It only cost about 100 quid, and is in no way any sort of collector’s item or classic camera. But it was mine, it made satisfying clunking sounds, and I loved it. Even knowing absolutely zero about anything photographic, my daily wanderings took on a fabulous new dimension. Each day, the hours flitted by as I discovered this new and exciting way of looking at the world. By peering through the tiny eyepiece of my camera, I was no longer walking through streets aimlessly. I was slowing down to look at the little details that suddenly exploded into focus all around me.
Of course, I was mostly disappointed with the translation from the picture I thought I was taking to the prints that I picked up at the photo lab. It was frustrating, but thrilling, and years later I am still coming to grips with the ever-yawning gap between my expectations and my work. My photographic journey has been full of fits and starts, of putting down and picking up a whole slew of cameras, but no matter – photography is here to stay with me.
Anyway, all this to say that I am excited about a photography competition. The London Street Photography Festival is taking place over a couple of weeks in July. As part of the program they are running a competition, calling for entries from all over the world. My little entry winging its way over the internet-ether from all the way down here, makes me feel connected again to the place that I loved so much. I’m under no illusions about making any ripples in the pool, but with a first prize of an all-expenses trip to London, I can’t quite quench that little flicker of hope.
Last weekend I was booked for a commercial shoot. The brief? To spend the weekend wandering the streets of Sydney for a collection of images for a corporate brochure. Basically, I was being paid to do some street photography. This is the type of thing I do for fun – whenever I get the chance – and so to be given it as a paid assignment was a double dose of excellent.
It was a great brief I was given too. I was armed with a ‘treasure hunt’ type of map giving me the heads-up for relevant locations. Two days for a comprehensive set of specific imagery from the streets is a tight window. It was made feasible by the fact that I didn’t have to waste time trying to hunt down a heritage building, a funky dog-cafe, or the best street for cafe culture that Sydney has to offer. I had my map, my iPhone and the car. Sorted!
Now, one of the main things I loved so much about living in London for years, was the sense of infinite nooks and crannies that make up that city. It is so dense and layered, so old and mysterious, that even after 10 years of living there, I knew that I had only scratched the surface. One of the things I find hard about Sydney is a lack of these nooks and crannies. Sydney is beautiful and glistening, but it just doesn’t seem to have many dark corners.
Turns out I’m the superficial one here.
Through my assignment last weekend, I was directed to an abandoned mill. Mungo’s Mill is an old flour mill from the 1920s. I’ve done a quick internet search and this is all I can find about it:
The Summer Hill flour mill was built circa 1922, utilising the north-south goods railway line that was constructed during World War 1. The silos were added from the 1950s onwards. The flour mill has been owned by various companies, including Mungo Scott, and Goodman Fielder, and then Allied Mills. In October 2007, the mills were sold to a developer, EG Funds Management, who plans to redevelop the mill site into a residential and commercial precinct.
(disclaimer: I’m a lazy internet researcher, there is probably a whole website on this place and I’ve completely missed it)
Now…this isn’t a tiny building, is it? I have driven around in the area of Summer Hill before. I have actually driven down the street that this mill backs onto. AND I NEVER SAW IT. It seems that Sydney is not entirely to blame for a lack of nooks and crannies. Just open your eyes, woman. Peer over a hedge or two!
I only had about 15 minutes at this site. I walked the block and took shots of the outside from various vantage points.
When I finally arrived at the front gates, I fully expected the gates to be locked.
The gates are NOT locked.
Joe and Jane Public can walk right on in and have a nice wander around. I was instantly smitten, but mindful that (a) time was limited and (b) detail shots of a 1920 Flour Mill were not part of my client’s brief relating to community and family.
I indulged myself for about 10 minutes, but regretfully had to move on. Guess what’s been added to my endless TO-DO list? Especially if this is beauty is going to be knocked down to make way for yet more yuppy Sydney property development in the near future.
A few weeks back I answered a Twitter callout for a photographer. Now, firstly, I’ve only joined the Tweet-iverse in the last couple of months. This photo shoot is one opportunity which has come out of Twitter, and really makes me slap myself on the hand. Why, oh why, did I wait so long?
Well, there is no secondly.
(Oh, maybe there is…let me think.)
Oh yes. Secondly, I figured that answering a random call from a random person from the depths of the internet would not actually amount to anything. I was wrong. In fact, I continue to be as wrong about this assumption as I have ever been wrong about anything. Over the last few months, as I have finally overcome my web-shyness in favour of throwing myself out there with abandon (not literally… imagine that – throwing yourself at web pages literally. My computer is big and strong, but I’m not sure it would withstand such physical abuse), my photographic exploits have exploded (again, not literally – what a mess! - in fact, not even metaphorically – it’s all been quite modest, but exciting nonetheless).
(See what happens when I leave it too long to write a simple blog post. It’s a mess here, a mess!)
Danimezza writes a popular blog about all things fun and fashion. She is also a fellow photographer, which is why her blog piqued my interest in the first place. And so having joined Twitter I followed her on Twitter. She tweeted for a photographer and I responded to her tweet. She tweeted back, we moved on to messages, swapped numbers, then texts and finally…a phonecall! Virtual reality turned reality. Success!
After a couple of delayed rende-vous-es, we finally got to meet up one Sunday. I lured Dani out my way with promises of beach and sun and cliff-top wonder. What she got was grey skies, drizzle, and one of those annoying winds that seems to be determined to stick a model’s hair to her lip gloss. Over and over. And then blow off a model’s hat. To get to the hair and stick it back onto the lip gloss.
She didn’t let the chill or the wind put her off though. One thing I learned about Dani was that she is not put off by petty weather inconveniences. We had wardrobe changes, gawking passers-by and a persistent drizzling wetness, and she just put her shoulders back, chin up, and got on with it.
And can you tell? Isn’t she gorgeous? Two high-fives to the girl who puts up with all that and still manages to look fabulous.
Dani blogged about the whole swimsuit shoot over here. She’s courting controversy because she is not a tiny size 8 and – *gasp* – is happy in her own skin. Imagine that.
A few weeks ago, I had a photo shoot with Maree for my We Live Here : Sydney project. This shoot was particularly fun, because Maree is so bubbly and vibrant, and has one of the most infectious laughs I’ve ever heard. We chatted for ages, drank some seriously delicious coffee, and on Maree’s urging got everyone in the place in front of the camera at one point or another.
I’ve been playing around with the images some more, and have made a new selection that I’ve decided to post up here. You see, Maree chose our location – a homey and comfortable coffee shop called Piccolo’s in Rozelle – because to her it’s practically her second home. In the years that she has been going there for a daily caffeine fix, the owners and other locals have become fast friends.
This is the space where she wrote her recently successful short play. This is where she takes her first dates, and even hosts match-making parties. She loves that coffee shop, she really does. After an hour or so hanging out with them all, I came away seeing why she was so smitten.
At the beginning of this year I did what most of us do, and decided to take stock, and make a list of resolutions that I was determined to actually keep. For a change, I didn’t bother worrying about weight, or chocolate, or too much wine. Instead I decided to resolutionate (I just made up a verb!) entirely around my photography. I really do have a tendency to flit around in too many directions, picking up projects and often not finding the focus to even define what I want to achieve with them, never mind work out how to bring them to fruition. 2011, I decided, was going to be different.
And so I made myself a list. A short list, granted, but a focused one. I picked 3 projects that I wanted to spend this year working on; projects that would be tangible and achievable. I then wrote them down on the big white-board I have in my study. That’s always Step 1, isn’t it? Writing it down.
The main difference in these ideas as opposed to previous attempts, is the element of collaboration that they involve. And here it is, only February, and things are taking shape. It feels great, and I am constantly busy trying to keep up with it all. It’s been a fab couple of months, and I hope the rest of the year continues in this direction.
In the spirit of throwing myself out there, I’ve decided to ask for some help. If anyone reading this feels they can contribute, advise or get involved in any other way in any of these projects, I would absolutely love it if you got in touch. Leave a comment, or send me an email. I’m finally using my photography to connect, and I want to keep that momentum going.
This is a portrait project that I started up at the end of last year. Since shouting out for willing subjects, I’ve had a really great response. Everyone I have met so far has been lovely, and for that experience alone I’m so happy that I decided to take the plunge. It should be weird – meeting up with a stranger for an hour or two, to take their picture for my silly little blog. But it hasn’t been weird in the slightest. Every shoot has been fun, I’ve been getting some great portraits of fabulous people, and I suspect that some of these folks may end up my friends. Details of how it works are here, and if you live in Sydney and want to get involved, just get in touch. If you know someone who might want to get involved, pass the link along. Don’t be scared….I’m not a serial killer. Just a serial shooter. (hah!)
Doggie coffee table book
This one is in its infancy, but it’s going to be a doozy. I’m working with DCH adoptions to produce a coffee table book of portraits of animals and their owners. Most of them will probably be re-homing success stories through DCH, but anyone who would like to take part is invited. At the moment, we’re still doing the number-crunching, and so I’d like to ask anyone out there who knows a printer who might be willing to cut us a deal on publishing the book to please let me know. I’m looking at photographing about 40 portrait sittings, and with so much time and effort involved, we want to make this as profitable as we can. The best way of doing this is getting publishing costs down.
Of course, DCH are also always looking for foster-carers (that’s how little Gertie-Girl – more recently nicknamed ‘The Gerticon’ – came into my life) or those ready to adopt a dog or cat into their homes and lives.
Working with an NGO or charity
This one is yet to get off the ground, and so really in this area I’m looking for ideas or advice. I’m an avid follower of many great humanitarian photographers, such as David DuChemin, and Matt Brandon, as well as the ever-growing body of work being produced by the community over at IGVP. I mention these guys because they have such a huge presence in this area of photography, but there are countless photographers out there getting involved in causes they believe in. This year I want to see if I can make some small difference too. The onus is on me to approach those charities that I feel are a good fit to my photography and experience, but I would appreciate any stories, or advice, from other photographers or non-photographers, or marketing people, or just generally interested parties out there who have been involved in a marketing or fundraising project.
If you know of a small NGO or charity who is looking for a photographer to help tell the story of the people they are trying to help, I’d really appreciate a link or phone number. The small guys probably don’t have much internet presence, and so can be hard to find. But mainly, any thoughts or ideas or advice, would be greatly appreciated.
There was a link to a link on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. A post on someone’s blog about a simple photographic exercise in keeping still and noticing images around you. In the hustle, the bustle, the search for something exciting and different, we often don’t just stop and pay attention.
(Here’s the link to the original post))
The idea is to find a quiet spot. Sit still. Look for the images that are there, right in front of you. And it only need take 10 minutes.
I sat on the floor of my study. My other half – as usual – remained bemused in the other room, with the background of clicks and whirs from my camera filtering through the door to him.
This is a paper lantern / wall dangler / pretty thing that I bought on my travels through Asia a few years ago. This is the first house I’ve actually had it hanging up anywhere. I’m not sure if it’s meant to actually go over a light bulb, or – god forbid – a lit candle. It’s paper so I’ve decided to be cautious, and give it a safe hook to call its own.
This guy was a present from one of my friends, YEARS ago. He’s followed me to England and back. When we lived in London, we nicknamed him “Dusty Justin” because he kept ending up under the bed and covered in dust. Not amused, is he?
Take one prime lens, add on a wide-open aperture, sprinkle an unimaginative leg into the frame. In hindsight, I should have drawn myself a home-made tattoo.
[click on image to enlarge]
I posted some images the other day as a pictorial portrait of Watsons Bay, the harbourside suburb where I’m currently living. I introduced the images by mentioning the sleepy seaside village feel that I often get here, but the pictures I had taken actually showed the touristy feel of the area. Charlene pointed this out to me, and she’s absolutely right.
In summertime, on Sundays especially, the normally empty beaches fill up with families and couples and dogs. Ferry loads of visitors pile onto the harbourside beaches, seagulls fly around picking at left-over fish and chips. The day I went out and took those photos was a one such Sunday – the sun was shining, and everything around me was blue and sparkly, stripey and colourful. Yet, late at night when I was putting it all together, I was thinking about the quiet times in the evenings, when I walk around after everyone has gone home. The boats bob in the harbour, the streets are quietly sleeping. The Sydney skyline disappears in the distance, and it feels like I’m living in the middle of nowhere.
So, I thought I might try again. To capture the feel of living here, the side of this area that comes out when everyone has hopped on the last ferry and gone home.
What I’ve ended up with is something in the opposite direction – a haunted, spooky image. Not quite what I was after (again!). There is something in it though – which is why I’ve decided to post it anyway. It makes me think of layers of time, the past sitting just underneath the present and sometimes peeking through.
Do you get that feeling? Does this image say anything to you?
Laura works for a promotions company and needed some shots taken for their marketing material.
We popped down to the beach near my place for a photo shoot. All taken with natural light, trying out different textures and backgrounds from the various surroundings Sydney harbour has to offer.