First XV: Theodora (2016)

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First XV: Theodora (2016)

In some ways, this final image was the hardest to choose - probably in part because the work I've done most recently is so fresh in my mind, but also because I think I've been doing a lot of good work in the last year! If I can be allowed to say so myself. (Hey, it's my blog, okay!?)

Having already posted my favourites of 2016 at the start of this year, it shouldn't be a big surprise that my favourite image is one that was on that list - from Handel's Theodora, the Pinchgut Opera production at City Recital Hall in late November...

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First XV: The Dapto Chaser (2015)

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First XV: The Dapto Chaser (2015)

The Dapto Chaser is one of those shows that will stick with me for years to come.

For me, it's great when I have the opportunity to be involved with a production at several points along the way, from the initial publicity images through rehearsals and onto the stage itself - getting to know the production, as well as the cast and crew, as we get closer to the opening...

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First XV: Vivid Festival (2014)

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First XV: Vivid Festival (2014)

Today's image is a funny one - and a little different to most of the others. It's one I'm fond of nonetheless, which is why it made the list of course!

What looks like a random collection of glowing orbs is the out of focus blur of a number of coloured lights, suspended under the awning of the Museum of Contemporary Art during Vivid here in Sydney, in 2014...

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First XV: Angels In America Part 1: Millennium Approaches at Belvoir (2013)

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First XV: Angels In America Part 1: Millennium Approaches at Belvoir (2013)

This image marks a new beginning in my career to date, as it's the first production photography I did in Australia after relocating to Sydney in December 2012; fortunately for me, it was also a really great production, both in terms of how it looked in the images, and how it played out on stage...!

Belvoir's production of Angels In America is one I've written about before, and one I'm always happy to have another look at; so it's not so surprising that this image is one of my favourites from that year. Really, the hard part was choosing just one moment from the show...

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First XV: Eleanor Catton (2011)

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First XV: Eleanor Catton (2011)

This week's image isn't just one of my favourite images, it's one - by virtue of Eleanor's own success - that has been reused & reprinted far more than anything else in my career to date.

Of course, it's impossible to know the actual number of copies of this image; but I've seen estimates that the book sold 560,000 copies (with one copy of the image in the back of each of those); plus, the image appeared in countless media around the globe when she made the long list, then the short list, and then won the Man Booker Prize in 2013 - so I can scarcely guess the number of printed copies of all of those newspapers!

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First XV: The Arrival at the New Zealand International Arts Festival (2010)

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First XV: The Arrival at the New Zealand International Arts Festival (2010)

It's always tough to choose a single image from a New Zealand International Arts Festival - after all, I photographed for 24 days straight, usually working 17h days; so there are a few to choose from!

And 2010 was a particularly good year, between visiting companies and New Zealand works; but somehow I come back to Red Leap Theatre's production of The Arrival often, when I'm thinking about that festival. It caught me by surprise, I think - in the same way Giselle did two years earlier, I came into rehearsal not knowing much about the show, and came out a fan of the company...

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First XV: Giselle at the New Zealand International Arts Festival (2008)

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First XV: Giselle at the New Zealand International Arts Festival (2008)

If you've visited my website at all in recent years, you've probably seen this one already! Taken at a rehearsal for Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre's production of Giselle at the New Zealand International Arts Festival, it's been one of my all-time favourites for almost a decade now.

As with so many of my favourite images, it doesn't explain itself - but with a graphic shape and strong colour (if not quite clean lines), it lures you into wanting to know more...

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First XV: Dead Letters (2005)

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First XV: Dead Letters (2005)

I've written about the short film Dead Letters before (here, here, and here) - but I couldn't go past this image of Yvette Reid when I was looking through some of the work I'd done in 2005.

I hadn't worked on-set as a stills photographer before (though I'd been an extra on Lord Of The Rings and a few TV series & commercials before that, so I had at least some idea how it would work); but I really wanted to commit to this production, to see what full days on set would be like and whether I could both stay out of the way of the crew, and get what the producers needed...

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First XV: Te Matarae I Orehu at the New Zealand International Arts Festival (2004)

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First XV: Te Matarae I Orehu at the New Zealand International Arts Festival (2004)

2004 was the year of my first New Zealand International Arts Festival as the official photographer (I'd been a box office manager, followspot operator & lighting technician in previous years); and while there were a number of images I really like from that Festival, this one still grabs me the most, I think.

This was also my first time photographing traditional Maori Kapa Haka performance...

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First XV: The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King premiere (2003)

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First XV: The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King premiere (2003)

I wrote a few months ago about the first Lord Of The Rings premiere at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, and I'm sure I'll be looking at the Two Towers one again in December; but this image, as much for what it represents to me as anything else, has made it into my First XV list - celebrating fifteen years of my career, photographing the arts.

I'd photographed the previous two premieres by the time of the third one, and seen the crowds on the street (and in the media pen) grow exponentially each time; but I think, perhaps because I was still fairly new to the industry, I was still a bit shy, a bit hesitant about being elbow-to-elbow with the world's press in a tiny fenced area.

Don't get me wrong, I planned ahead and got there early, to make sure I got a good spot! But this time was different...

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I Love You Now at Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Sydney

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I Love You Now at Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Sydney

Last time I was over at Darlinghurst Theatre Company, it was for a surrealist door-slamming farce; this time, it was a bit less farcical - but doors were slammed nonetheless...

Jeanette Cronin (who I photographed last year in The Shadow Box at the Old Fitz, also directed by Kim Hardwick) is this time both writer and co-star in I Love You Now - not so much a farce as a series of overlapping stories about modern love, lust, relationships and death, all played out in a single hotel room. Punctuated with live music, and tango...!

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First XV: Dave Douglas Quintet at the Wellington Jazz Festival (2002)

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First XV: Dave Douglas Quintet at the Wellington Jazz Festival (2002)

I realised recently that I had an anniversary coming up - not one of the obvious ones, but a quiet anniversary that I'd likely to be the only person to notice.

At the end of May 2002, I took the decision to give up my other work - I was doing about three different jobs at the time, working with a lighting company in theatre and events, helping the local film office, and doing a bit of consulting as a former box office manager as well - to concentrate completely on my photography career, which was starting to occupy more of my time.

Fifteen years later, I'm still at it - so to celebrate, I thought I'd look back and pick one image from each year along the way. And let's not underestimate how hard that is, to go through an entire year's work and choose just ONE image - but sometimes tough choices are needed...

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Photographing the arts: turning a 3D stage into a 2D image

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Photographing the arts: turning a 3D stage into a 2D image

I was back at Darlinghurst Theatre Company recently for their production of Hysteria, by English playwright Terry Johnson. It's a tough one to sum up quickly, but let's just call it a door-slamming French farce starring Freud & Dali, and leave it at that for the moment!

After my last entry into the Photographing The Arts series of essays, about how to create depth in a production image on stage, I was watching myself work and once again analysing the decisions I make on the fly - how I choose my point of view, both in terms of camera position and lens choice; and it reminded me of something I learned early on as a photographer, from a workshop by Freeman Patterson.

The trick to photography is to translate a three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional page, on the fly. And make it compelling...

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Photographing the arts: creating depth in production images

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Photographing the arts: creating depth in production images

I've worked with the good folks at Critical Stages a couple of times recently, and I was happy to hear from them again late last year about a new tour of Stones In His Pockets - a marvellous, funny Irish script I'd seen performed some years ago in New Zealand.

We did a studio shoot for the poster & promotional images, and then a couple of months later (due to a last-minute cast change) we did it again; then recently I was out at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta for the dress rehearsal, and something about the way the stage was set up got me thinking while I was editing the images.

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Photographing the arts: working with a traverse stage

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Photographing the arts: working with a traverse stage

"A fox called Scruffilitis."

I knew there'd be something different about this show, from that description alone.

"This is the tale of Jonah, Sophie, and a fox called Scruffilitis. It’s a true story, and it’s a love story. A quirky, dysfunctional, voyeuristic love story, but a love story all the same."

I don't usually take much convincing to photograph theatre, as it's one of my favourite things to work on - but when I started talking to director Luke Rogers from Stories Like These about working on this production, a couple of things caught my interest. The fox, for one - and the stage itself for another...

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