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Blog Archive

Check out some of my recent work, and my essays on Photographing The Arts!

Photographing the arts: on deadlines (or, the best you can do by Tuesday)

“It was a matter of the best you could do between now and Tuesday.” However, he was quick to add, “the best you could do between now and Tuesday is still a kind of best you can do...”

I first heard this quote from cinematographer Alex Funke, at the time a neighbour of mine in New Zealand - who worked for many years in the offices of Charles & Ray Eames - and it stuck with me as being something that applies to all creative work, especially in performing arts.

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Photographing the arts: talking production photography on the Closing Night Theatre Therapy podcast

I had a chat recently with hosts Nate Edmondson and Suzy Wrong at the Closing Night: Theatre Therapy podcast, along with photographer Clare Hawley, about what’s involved in theatre photography - the business, as well as the art - and that episode has just been released over the weekend.

We talk about a lot of different elements of what we do, so I though I’d put together a few links here to some of my blog posts that overlap with the discussion, in case anyone wants to read more about a certain subject - or if I make more sense in writing than I do on the radio!

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Photographing the arts: how do I support design decisions through production images?

Six characters in search of a voice, Small Mouth Sounds is a near-silent play featuring a group of individuals sharing a silent retreat, the quiet broken only by the pronouncements of the self-declared guru they’ve come to learn from. But will they learn anything from him, or each other?

The play is as much about the baggage the characters bring with them to the retreat, and how each of them handles their own failures and weaknesses - or, completely fails to - over the course of a few days together. In silence…

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Photographing the arts: on shadows, strobes, & saturation

I wouldn’t describe myself as a massive fan of horror films, but I’ve seen my share. So when I was contacted about photographing Alice In Slasherland for Last One Standing, I was certainly interested - the idea of doing horror-comedy on stage is something that doesn’t get explored that often; apart from Evil Dead: The Musical I’d seen in Toronto years ago, I couldn’t think of another example off the top of my head.

Of course, theatre lighting is an interesting challenge at the best of times for a photographer; add in saturated colours, strobe lighting during action sequences, and fast movement in low light…well, it’s tricky!

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Photographing the arts: on working long-term with your photographer

I’ve been working with director Dino Dimitriadis from Apocalypse Theatre for several years now, on shows around Sydney; in fact, I think Angels In America is our tenth production together! So it’s only natural that we’ve gotten to know each other’s methods of working, over that time.

It’s interesting to have an ongoing working relationship like ours; it’s not something that happens all that often, as a freelance photographer in the arts. Often we’re not contacted until quite close to production, with the result being that whoever’s available on the day is the person who does the work…

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The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, at Darlinghurst Theatre Company

I’m really pleased to be spending time with Darlinghurst Theatre Company this year - their whole mainstage season, in fact - not only because they do good work, but they’re also really lovely to work with. So it’s great to be ducking over to the Eternity Playhouse on a regular basis, all through 2019!

Our first production in this collaboration, which is on through 24 February at the Eternity Playhouse, is The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice - starring the amazing Caroline O’Connor as Mari, and the wonderful Geraldine Hakewill as her daughter “LV”.

Directed by Shaun Rennie - who I also worked with on Only Heaven Knows at the Hayes - it’s a dark comedy about finding your voice, breaking out of old relationship traps, and being true to yourself…

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Carols by Cabaret at the Hayes Theatre, Sydney

The annual Carols by Cabaret event was earlier this week, once again raising funds for the Wayside Chapel’s annual appeal - donating a plate, to feed homeless residents on Christmas day.

This was my third time at the event, volunteering my time once again, to help in a small way - and as always it was a great deal of fun, featuring some of Sydney’s best performers from shows at the Hayes this year…

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The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King World Premiere - 15 years on

Has it really been fifteen years?

As I mentioned this time last year (and the year before!), not long after I moved to Wellington in the late nineties, Peter Jackson started filming the Lord Of The Rings right in our neighbourhood of Seatoun, where I was living at the time. By the end of principal photography, I had been an Elf, an Orc, a Gondorian and a Rohan - most of them dead, some of them killed by the person I'd been playing the day before - on sets all over the Wellington region.

By the time the films came out, I was also a photographer - and by the premiere of the third film, there were a few more of us there…

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Photographing the arts: is your photographer part of your creative team?

Theatre, dance, opera and music are some of the things I most enjoy working on as a photographer. But surprisingly often, I get a call or an email that starts off, 'I know this is short notice, but' - and it can be anything from 'we've just realised we need a photographer for next week' to 'our dress rehearsal is in an hour, can you make it?'

Often, this isn’t the production's fault - they had someone booked, something happened, they need to find another photographer on short notice. But it got me thinking recently, what's the best way to involve a photographer in a show? In an ideal world, how & when would I like to be contacted…?

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Elinchrom Skyport Transmitter Pro with Hi-Sync for Fuji Cameras - a brief introduction

For photographers who use the Elinchrom lighting system, one of the appealing parts of the kit has been the ability to take portable studio lights into the field, and do (more or less) whatever we could do indoors with them, out in the wild.

The Quadra / ELB battery powered system has been around for a while now - I started using it a few years ago with my Canon gear, but when I switched completely to Fujifilm’s X-Series cameras earlier this year, it limited a few of my options in terms of how I could trigger the lights. The high speed options went away - but as of now, late September 2018, they’ve released the Fuji version of that trigger; so naturally, I got in line to get my hands on one as soon as they arrived…

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Chronicle90 project at the Kage Collective

Over the past few weeks, we've embarked on a new project over at the Kage Collective - we've called it Chronicle90, and we're posting a new essay every day for three months straight.

As there are currently seven of us in the collective, it's broken down relatively easily into a different person each day of the week (though we did swap days after the first month).

In the course of those first seven weeks, I've been over to Canada and back again; so my essays so far have been in and around those travels, visiting family and friends where I grew up before moving to New Zealand and Australia…

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Photographing the arts: testing & transition

I've written before about the friction of change when you upgrade or change photographic equipment; how getting a new camera can actually make you a worse photographer for a while, as you re-learn everything you've done by instinct for a long time.

Well...I've done it again. (Hopefully it doesn't show, except in a good way!) But sometimes, everything just falls into place.

I worked with Alex Berlage back in January on his marvellous show, There Will Be A Climax - so I was really pleased when he got in touch a little later to talk about his next project, and see how I could get involved on it...

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Photographing the arts: inclusion & exclusion

For me, this show started in a warehouse, lying on the floor.

The director, myself, and a model needed to put together an image for the Mardi Gras brochure, before casting was even underway; so we worked together (on the floor) to come up with a look that could say something about the production, without revealing too much - either in terms of the show, or the body.

Because we did know at least that - there were certainly going to be bodies, on stage...

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How to hashtag (and photo credit) #likeaboss

I get it. I do.

It's hard to remember to credit the photographer every time you post something on Instagram. There are so many hashtags and tags to include, plus the location, not to mention the caption - something sometimes gets missed.

But...what if it wasn't that hard? What if you could automate your hashtag / photo credits, for every show? And what if it was actually EASIER than typing them on your phone, even ONCE?

Oh, but it can be. It really, really can.

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Life at 320FPS & Life Between Trains at the Kage Collective

In November 2016, I spent ten days travelling in Japan - my first time in the country, and also my first few days with a new camera, the Fuji X-T2, so naturally it was a great way to test out and bond with the new equipment.

I only took three lenses, the same three I've used for a few years now - 18mm, 35mm, and 56mm, which work out equivalent to 28mm, 50mm and just under 90mm - a classic travelling kit of prime lenses.

The result of the trip is a pair of essays I've posted at the Kage Collective site, Life at 320 Frames Per Second in December, and Life Between Trains more recently in January...

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