The Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellowship for 2016

In early February, I spent the day with some great young classical musicians, making portraits of them individually and as a group for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellowship programme. These are the best of the best, young Australian talent who have been chosen to spend a year in the company of the country's top orchestra, working together as a chamber group, attending masterclasses - and, of course, playing with the orchestra as well.

I actually knew a couple of them already, as we'd done a shoot together before - with the Sydney Youth Orchestra a couple of years ago - so it was nice to see their careers progressing in the city, as they make their way into larger and more prestigious company.

Behind the scenes of the portrait shoot, on location at Carriageworks

Of course, a shoot like this doesn't just happen on the day - we'd been discussing and planning it for a few months, scouting various locations before settling on Carriageworks.

The venue we decided on was their Blacksmith's Workshop - which has great character, but is essentially an open-air venue, which on the one hand gave us a certain amount of natural light, but given that the brief included portraits against a backdrop, it also meant building a studio on location.

Not a problem! One backdrop and a range of lighting later, we were set to go. Kate from You Beauty set up a makeup table and worked her magic on everyone, and we got underway; and as you'll see in the images below, you can't detect the fact that we were outside - where the Saturday markets are usually held...!

From a technical perspective, it just meant for the individual portraits I set up the lighting so that the daylight had no real effect on the images; that way, as the sun moved over the course of the day, we could keep a consistent studio setup going.

The schedule was fairly tight for the day, with 16 young performers needing portraits both with & without instruments, plus three separate setups for group portraits, each of which needed to be arranged & lit in a short period of time. At one point, we had to break up the portrait studio to use the lights for a group image, then put it all back together and carry on with portraits!

But with good planning (and fast setup), we got everyone done and finished on schedule - and most importantly, the musicians look great, and the folks at the SSO are happy.

The nice thing about working on a bigger shoot is, of course, you sometimes have an assistant who can take a few behind-the-scenes production photos. So, with thanks to Oscar Colman, here's a glimpse of the making of the shoot!

To me, the best part of all was going to a concert of Beethoven by the full Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of music director Vladimir Ashkenazy just a week later, and seeing six of the Fellowship on stage with him - ah, they grow up so fast, don't they?

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