Yenda Beer Advertising Shoot

Not all of my trips to the hometown end up being for personal reasons. On this trip south, I was hired to create this imagery for Yenda Beer, to fit in their "Proudly Local" campaign. For the many who won't know, the farmlands of Yenda and Albury look pretty similar, since both towns are only a couple hours apart.

I didn't make it back to the Riverina region while the posters were out and about, which means I didn't get to see this work in the wild of Wagga's pubs and bottleshops.. So here's the next best version!

Coors Halloween Video

I'm really not good with anything horror related. I'm a bit of a baby when it comes to anything scary. So when I was approached to shoot this short Halloween video for Coors Beer, I got a little bit nervous. But I'm an adult, so I figured I could handle it. After all, I knew what the scary parts would be! 

I still got a little bit scared while filming. It probably didn't help that the building we were shooting in was pretty damn creepy to start with.

Hannah & Az's Christmas Farmhouse Wedding

While I was back in Albury over Christmas, I had a last minute wedding request from Hannah and Az. Now, first things first, I love last minute bookings. They're good fun, the couples are often pretty laidback, and I do actually enjoy shooting weddings! People are in good moods, I get to socialise, and take a whole bunch of gorgeous photos (plus the food is always delicious!)

Hannah and Az were the perfect example of the kind of bride and groom I love to photograph. They were friendly, funny, relaxed, and the farmhouse they were at was beautiful. It almost made my job too easy.

Anyway, enough of the chatter, here's the photos.
 

The Sambar Hunt. Somewhere near Corryong, Vic

I found myself unexpectedly in Albury 3 weeks ago, at the same time as my brother (which is, looking at the odds, some kind of miracle). Even more unlikely, his partner and daughter were out of town for a couple of days. Somehow, Torren and I had just found the freedom to get into the hills together for the first time in a long time. 

It had been more than a few months since I last shot anything related to my personal project around hunting, so I was very keen on the idea of an overnight hunt in the hills with Toz, his Vizsla puppy, Lulu, and his cousin-in-law (is that a thing?), Heath. Especially as I'd never had the opportunity to document bow hunting.

I didn't even flinch at the 5am call time. While I would try and pass that off as eagerness, combined with a newfound maturity, it's definitely just a bi-product of a growing frequency of very early mornings. But I have to say that 5am is much nicer outside of the cities.

My next realisations came when we started the hunt. When you're stalking through the forest, in search of a deer species that is allegedly one of the smartest and hardest to hunt in the world, it pays to be silent. My camera shutters are not silent in the slightest. Then again, neither was Lulu. But she's only 6 months old, she can't be expected to not crash through the bush for 9 hours straight.

Now, rather than get too in depth with the details of the hunt, I think it will suffice to say that, although 24 deer were spotted, including 8 stags, 24 deer lived healthily past that trip, thanks to a combination of being out of distance for a bow, or a rifle jamming. That said, Heath and I both learnt some new tricks about tracking Sambar deer, and I got a good dose of bush before my return to the city.

 


Leah & Michael's Wedding, Dunbar House

This wedding was too much fun.

There’s a distinct change of pace that comes with being hired to photograph a job for a friend. Whether it’s photographing their business, their fashion range, or a wedding.

In this case, the bride and groom, Leah and Michael, were exposed to my photography by Leah’s sister, one of my closest friends. During my years overseas, she was showing them the travel portraits I was creating, and they were apparently loving it. Conveniently, they became engaged shortly after I moved back to Australia, and they locked me in for their big day.

Fast forward to the morning of the wedding, and I’m walking into Leah’s house, greeted by her mum Wendy, with a coffee and a hug (because friends). Some laughs, preparation photos, and a brunch sandwich later, and I’m en route to Michael’s borrowed penthouse to see how the men are going. To avoid going into too much detail, there’s more laughs and banter where the boys are, followed by delicious Japanese whisky, and a classy uber ride to the beautiful Dunbar House, in Watson’s Bay.

Now, Dunbar House is a pretty awesome venue, right on the water of Watsons Bay. The ceremony was held under the big tree on the front lawn (good weather, thankfully), and the reception was held on the second floor, with more killer views. Following on from some of the best wedding speeches I’ve ever heard (Bonus points to the maid of honour, Renee, for talking more about herself than Leah or Michael), and the dance floor came alive. As the evening progressed, I caught myself dancing more and more, having far too much fun for someone at work. But in my defence, the best man, Andy, took it upon himself to get everyone partying, and was dragging the waiters, barstaff, and venue manager onto the dancefloor as well.

So, yes, this wedding was too much fun.

Leonie & Steve's Blue Mountain Wedding

I don't often shoot weddings. As a result of my previously unpredictable travel patterns, it was always difficult to accept a job if I wasn't certain I would be in the required country. However, since recently establishing Sydney as a home base, my schedule magically opened up for bookings in advance! This wedding, however, was very last minute. The booking reflected the casual nature of the entirely untraditional wedding, and I loved it.

Located at Megalong Valley, deep in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, the wedding was held in the bushland outside the Town Hall. The bride, Leonie, wore an amazingly colourful dress, complete with reversible cape and tiara of native shrubbery. The days events commenced with a mini colouring festival, where guests had the chance to attack Steve with coloured powder, to bring his level of decoration in line with Leonie.

The bride and groom MC'd their own day, loosely directing the days events from start to finish. There was a piñata, handball, and my personal favourite, a scavenger hunt through the bush for the wedding rings. The ceremony was simply Leonie and Steve making their own vows (There was no celebrant. They wanted the wedding to be for their family and friend's recognition, and they went to the registry a couple of days later to make it "official"). The wedding's final touch, for me, was forgoing a single wedding cake, and replacing it with a tray of cakes and slices baked by their parents and grandparents. They were delicious.

There was only one element of the day I wished to be different, and it was born of entirely selfish reasons. Leonie & Steve didn't want preparation photos, and didn't factor in, or prioritise any time for bridal portraits. They were both happy with their decisions, preferring to party with their friends. I just wanted to take more beautiful photos!

While admittedly not even close to the traditional definition of a wedding, the day was undeniably full of love, family and friends. Everyone had fun, and from all accounts the casual, mildly disorganised, frequently hilarious, and honest wedding was a perfect representation of the couple.

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2015 National Photographic Portrait Prize

Late last year, I entered a photographic prize on a whim, with a day before it closed. Before that point, I hadn't entered many competitions, and this was a big one, considered the most prestigious of it's kind in Australia. So, when I received a phone call that I was a finalist, I was understandably chuffed, a bit surprised, and also reassured about the quality of my work. Out of 2500 entrants, my image was one of 44 finalists. I organised the printing before I left Sydney for the summer, and the framing happened while I was in Europe (side note, Graphic Art Mount, in Sydney, now comes with my highest recommendation). My framed print ended up on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery before I had seen the final product. Cut to last Friday, 20th March. I'd organised to fly back from London on the 18th, landing in Sydney on the morning of the 20th, via Delhi, flying on two of the most heavily baby-populated flights I had ever encountered. Seriously, multiple crying babies within 10 rows, for 24 hours. But I digress. Arriving in Sydney, with little sleep, I then got a lift down Canberra for the 5pm opening and announcement of the winner. I also stopped in Canberra Target to pick up a shirt, because jetlag brain left my shirt hanging on a door handle.

Long story short, I was joined by a couple of my closest family and friends, who relieved the gallery of a respectable proportion of it's donated drinks. I didn't take home the win, didn't really expect to. I consider being a finalist in the 'most prestigious photographic portrait prize in Australia' as a big win, considering portraiture is something I take great pride in. I certainly can't begrudge the woman who won, Hoda Afshar, because her image was pretty marvelous (And I would do many things for photographic access to Northern Iran).

This is probably the point where I should post my image. It looks beautiful framed, and will be hanging on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery until June 8, before the exhibition travels to rural centres. Check it out, if you have the chance.

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Seljavallaug, Iceland

I left Australia again. Only for 6 weeks this time, and only to the UK, Iceland, and a brief visit to Prague. As I write this, I'm in Vik, Iceland. Rather than go into detail, I'll keep this brief... Saving my energy for late nights chasing the Aurora Borealis.

For now, here's the current highlight of the trip. Seljavallalaug pool, nestled at the foothills south of Eyjafjallajokull (That volcano that erupted in 2010). I nearly fell in a semi-frozen creek on the 20 minute walk to find it. It's still the tail-end of winter, and the roads are icy. Even for a geothermal pool, it's not the warmest at this time of year..

But look at the view. Mountains on one side, and a valley leading toward the ocean on the other. 25 metres of serene bliss, followed by a near-freezing towel off and redress.

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Injury and Hiatus Explained

Shortly after the last thing I posted, I had a slight run-in on the roads. I was riding through town, heading straight through a green light, when a car on the opposite side of the road decided to turn in front of me. The cars before me cleared the intersection and there were no cars behind me, so he decided to turn, and cut me off, with no possibility of me avoiding an accident. I went over the bars, and snapped my collarbone into 3 pieces, swearing all the way through the incident. Of course, after probably 15 years of cycling on the roads, it was basically inevitable that I wouldn't be lucky enough to avoid the idiotic/ignorant drivers that exist on these roads.

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Anyway, that was just over two months ago. I had a plate drilled into my shoulder, to join the (very) separated pieces of my left clavicle, and taught myself how to be a right-hander. Writing, toothbrushing, and chopstick handling are now skills I can conduct ambidextrously... So there's the positive!

It started as a mostly quiet period of recovery, with lots of internet browsing, pork rolls, TV series, and books. Until I reached the 6 week mark, where I had too good a job opportunity to pass up, shooting for MPGL magazine, down on the Mornington Peninsula (see: facebook). I jumped on a plane, the sling came off, and I spent the next week behind the lens doing what I love. More on that later..

Return to the Trails

It's time for a confession. Throughout my teen years, and all the way through university, I was in love with Mountain Biking. Spent all my money on it, had little time for other sports. I almost lived on 2 wheels, to the point where, living on campus, I would carry a bike down a flight of stairs, just to ride it 200m to a mates room. When I bought my first camera, during university, I had grand visions of photographing mountain biking and other extreme sports. I went up the hill a few times, but the desire to ride often overcame the desire to stop and take photos of my mates riding. I started shooting concerts, which I'm certainly not complaining about.

Fast forward a few years, and I've shot concerts, portraits, events, travel, documentary, editorial, even some landscape. But I never shot mountain biking after the first year, which occasionally puzzled me.

Now that I've moved to Sydney, I also finally reconnected with some old friends that I rode with back in Wollongong (it's 90 minutes south). One of whom hand-builds his own custom frames, under his Ed Racing brand. His mention of an untested prototype, and the offer for me to borrow it, led to my grand reunion with downhill mountain biking one recent Sunday.

While I'm stoked that somehow I rode fast, hit big jumps, and didn't crash... I'm more stoked at catching up with 3 old mates, catching up on each of their big life events of the last few years, and actually stopping to take photos, like these.

Two Brothers Hunt

My younger brother's an avid hunter. It's one of his biggest passions, outside his family, and he's always finding excuses to get into the hills. He bought himself a new 4WD, this little noisy rock climbing shoebox. I had the ... pleasure (?) ... of picking it up for him and driving it down the highway from Sydney. Although an uncomfortable 7 hour ordeal, it did make for a more memorable drive down the Hume Highway than the many I made in the past. But that's not part of this story.

I was down in Albury a while back, with an idea for a potential photo project. Luckily, my brother was thirsty for a quick jaunt into the hills, and hell, so was I. The morning after I arrived, we woke at 4:00am, jumped into the noisy little Zook, and bounced up into one of his secret hunt spots. There's a photo of that morning buried in my instagram.

It was cold, the air was fresh, the sun hadn't quite come up, and I was feeling good about this first experimentation of my project idea.

We set off, stalking down a trail, and, unexpectedly to me, came across signs of a deer in front of us. My brother insisted we swap roles, his interest in me shooting my first deer apparently outweighing my interest in photographing him on the hunt. Just as the sun reached over the mountains ahead of us, and the leaves blazed orange, the two does passed our trail, pausing to look up at us, barely 50 metres away. Through the sight I saw the buck bound onto the trail, and without breaking his stride, disappear into the other side. Unlike my brother, I'm not a great hunter.

After a few minutes of clowning around doing handstands in the new sunlight, we walked back up the hill, and my brother took the chance to test his new 4WD. The mudguards were immediately, and unintentionally, ripped off.

 

Hunting's an interesting topic, and it can really divide people. I'm very passionate about environmental conservation and animal welfare, yet I have absolutely no issue with hunting for food, or conservation purposes. If someone's shooting introduced, or pest species, I'm alright with it, as long as they're hunting safely and consciously. I'm certainly not alright with people hunting protected and endangered animals, or people who act irresponsibly with firearms.

 

Culture on Cockatoo Island

I finally made it to Cockatoo Island. What was meant to be an afternoon of art appreciation (for Sydney's Biennale), became more of a photographic wander around the half empty buildings. I'm not sure what is happening in the art world, but it seems like multimedia and video are faaaaar outnumbering any other artistic mediums these days.

So, that's why we ended up wandering and taking photos. And, I'll just say, I want to come back.

Lunchtime Wanders in Chinese Gardens

  I've fallen far too easily into following a routine, now that I've settled down in a location, and have weekly commitments. After spending 3.5 years making plans from day to day, I moved to Sydney and started studying again. It's interesting to wake up one morning, 9 months after moving here, and realise that I've become very complacent in my curiosity and exploration. I'm becoming a creature of habit again. Things like class 3 days a week, lunch breaks at the same tables, on the same days, with similar food. Yoga two evenings a week (free at the community centre). A regular, and normal job. You know, habits. Sure, I had habits on the road, and in the other places I lived for the times I lived there, but it feels different here. Too comfortable.

But last week, things got mixed up a little. Not crazy mixed up, just the tiniest little amount, but enough to break the equilibrium. With an unusually long lunch break, and a partner in crime equally eager to do something different, I went for a wander. Instead of the usual metal bench, my comrade, Reni, and I, ended up at the Chinese Garden of Friendship. While I usually carry a certain disdain toward paying entrance fees, the recent granting of a student ID, and subsequent student discounts have made me slightly more compliant. That, and Reni shouted my ticket.

There's not much for me to say about the gardens. They're pretty, and look like Chinese gardens. Very relaxing, and their juxtaposition against the hotels and skyscrapers behind is entertaining. They were also very quiet, but that may have been because it was Tuesday.

But all this is just an introduction for photos. Yes, I took photos.

One Light, Three Portraits

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I've been spending a lot of time in the studio lately. I'm still uncertain how I feel about it... I know I absolutely prefer shooting on location (wherever the location may be), but at least the studio affords a certain level of harmless photographic experimentation. This excessive studio time is a direct result of the Diploma I moved to Sydney for. Now, you would be forgiven for thinking that studying photography would be expected to foster this creative curiosity. But, speaking for myself, it's more often stifling than inspiring. That's not to say the isn't productive, or expanding my knowledge, or beneficial to my technique. It just often fails to provide inspiration.

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Some days give me stoke. When granted free time in the studio, even just two hours, with an idea in the head and no assignment to shoot. These are the times when I'm inspired, having free reign over the insultingly large range of Broncolor studio equipment, and likeminded compatriots to stand in front of my lens while I juggle a ring flash, ND filter and f/1.8 aperture. 

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That's it for now.

 

Jamming on George.

Friday night, George Street, Sydney. German 6 packs and Coopers longnecks on the ground. Josh, Chris and I are leant against a wooden construction door, waiting. The dolled-up party crowds are starting to thicken on the footpaths around us, ready for their new chance to 'paint the town red'. The drummer, Tom, arrives, welcoming us through the wooden door into the unfamiliar darkness beyond. We stop in the expectedly hip office on the first floor, searching for, then creating, a makeshift pick. Once armed, we start the ascent. The remaining 8 floors are empty, abandoned. Office space unutilised, unpowered, unoccupied. The building, apparently, is nearing its expiry. Waiting to be gutted, and built over the top of. Wrapped in fairy lights, an extension cord runs up the centre of the stairwell. The only power supply available at the roof, wrapped in the only light source for the rest of the building.

On the rooftop, a room awaits, a single worklight looped over the empty light fixture. 2 guitars and a drum kit, surrounded by a sea of leads, splintered drumsticks, woodchips and empty beer bottles. Beers opened, the room is enveloped by sound.