It feels like 2016 was just starting and it’s already over. And what a year it has been! This year I have taken my photography to a whole new level, changed camera systems, started a new job and got a pet dog.
So I thought it would be a good idea to write about it even if only to refresh my own memory and help look forward to what 2017 can bring! I might keep a few things out, like shooting with couples, as this relates more to our Wedding Photography than to fashion/beauty.
The Wedding Photography business and how I got into portraits/fashion/headshots
My wife and I decided at the end of 2015 to start a wedding photography business. After investing in lights and other gear, getting the ABN, public liability insurance and what not, things slowed down as it’s very hard to get a client when you only have one wedding in your portfolio. We did shoot some engagement parties and had some couples’ photoshoots mid 2016, but booking a wedding is a whole different story. This is something for 2017 as we have our first client in March and another excellent prospect for August/September.
So why is this information relevant for my 2016 review? In February I realised it was a bad idea to just wait for the weddings to come. I needed more practice photographing people. I can’t show up in my next wedding and be just a camera operator. My solution for that was to start shooting with models.
The struggles of not having a portfolio, Portfolio Builder workshops and a Facebook community to rule them all
What now? Let’s find some models willing to shoot with me as TFP. It sounds super easy, right? Nope.
In my whole collection of years of photography I had two photos to show, both from 2009, before moving to Australia from Brazil. One was of a friend of mine who asked me to take some pictures and, as a guy with a DSLR believing to be a photographer, I did. The other one was taken at a makeup workshop for photographers, organised by a camera club I had just joined. My “photography” website, Facebook photography page and Instagram account were full of landscapes, Aurora Borealis and other things like that. Who would shoot with me, right?
So after receiving quite a few “thanks but no thanks” and being completely ignored (a lot), I went to a Portfolio Builder workshop, in March, hosted by Kayell Australia. The host photographer was the amazing Christian Blanchard and we had 6 different models/setups to shoot for a few minutes each and try to get some good shots to use in our folio.
The cool thing about it is that everything is ready, you just get the flash trigger, talk to the model and start shooting. The bad thing about it is that everything is ready, you just get the flash trigger, talk to the model and start shooting. So in theory everyone’s photos will look the same. But it’s ok, the idea is to have something to show when approaching people to shoot with.
And so after a day shooting there and a couple of weeks editing (I was also learning a lot online about retouching), I had this:
A few of these were taken with a Sony A6000 + 50mm f1.8 but most of them with my Canon 5D3 + 85mm f1.2/ 50mm f1.4.
That really changed things for me and I slowly started getting some “yes let’s do it”.
Brisbane Models Facebook group and my first shoots
So one day the beautiful Bella Mcallan was looking for photographers in the Brisbane Models group to shoot with and I put my hand up. I didn’t have any concepts apart from walking around an area shooting with natural light. My 9-5 job (more like 8-4) was in South Brisbane so I thought the Cultural Centre area was a nice place to shoot late afternoon. I did make sure her father went to the shoot with her as she’s under 18. I knew beforehand this protects me and also helps young models understand that being safe is very important.
07/04/2016. Yes my edits were all over the place. Canon 5D3 + 85mm f1.2. Natural light.
Soon after I had the chance to shoot with the beautiful South African model Jessica Veitch, in Brisbane CBD area/Cultural Centre.
17/04/2016. First time using my Jinbei 600HD. Canon 5D3 + 85mm f1.2. Jinbei 600HD + 60x60cm softbox.
Then Man Sit had access to some graffiti walls soon to be demolished in West End.
30/04/2016. Canon 5D3 + 85mm f1.2. Natural light.
My wife and I always wanted a dog and have been waiting for the “right time” to have one for quite a while. We realised there’s no such thing as the right time to have a dog and so by the end of April, Helga arrived.
She’s a Lakeland Terrier and as any other Terrier, FULL of energy. So I found myself running around with work, shoots, editing photos, family and Helga. She changed our lives so much that in the next couple of months I would actually lose ten kilos.
Make sure you follow her on Instagram!
And that was the end of April 2016.
Bec deserves a special place here. She’s not only an incredibly talented, experienced and versatile model but also one of the best friends I made in the industry. She wanted some gym shots and at this point I had the idea of trying almost everything once, to find out what was really my thing. I went to the gym where she teaches Body Combat, prepared for the worse lighting situations, but ended up shooting with ambient light. Having an f1.2 lens helped a lot.
For this shoot Bec had no makeup and I had my friend Lyndon with me to help out with the lights if I needed and also to shoot some BTS. It was a fun shoot with some challenges and the first of many with Bec.
07/05/2016. Canon 5D3 + 85mm f1.2. Ambient/window light.
I found that shooting with experienced models was easy so I wanted to try shooting with non models to see if I could still create great images. I had two shoots two days apart to try this out and what I learned from them is that I learn something new with every shoot. In these two cases I understood I had no idea how to pose or get expression out of people. We did get some really nice shots but there was still a lot to learn. Madeline Monique Bradshaw and Kim Von D.
16th and 18th May 2016. Canon 5D3 + 85mm f1.2. Natural light.
Another thing I had to try to at least see if it was something I wanted to do was shooting with male models. Winston C Phung, AKA “Determinator” was looking for someone to shoot with a Harley Davidson and my friend Richie at work happened to have a couple of them.
21/05/2016. Canon 5D3 + 85mm f1.2. Natural light.
By the end of May I had the opportunity to attend Peter Coulson’s workshop. I wanted to learn more about studio lighting so I attended the Saturday part of his 3 days workshop. I regret so much not going to the other days, but this is getting fixed in June/2017 when he’s back in Brisbane.
28/05/2016. Canon 5D3 + 85mm f1.2 and Sony A6000 + 55mm f1.8 ZA. Peter’s studio light.
I don’t know where to start. I learned SO MUCH with Peter in one single day. The first 3 hours of this workshop are quite overwhelming as he dumps a lot of information on you, but it’s so worth it. From this moment I started to change the way I shoot in many different ways.
Two other important things happened on this day: I saw a Metabones adapter on a Sony A7R II for the first time (thanks Rozanna) and I met for the first time another one of my new friends in the industry: Paul Tran.
Shooting with the Sony A6000 only
One of the reasons I got the Sony A6000 was to have a good small lightweight camera with me at all times. The 55mm f1.8 ZA lens is a 82,5mm equivalent on this camera so pretty close to my favourite focal length for portraits (85mm in case you didn’t notice yet).
I have been talking to Nina Henderson to have a shoot together for a while and one day she messaged me saying she was around and we could shoot. I told her I only had my Sony and she was ok with that so we shot.
14/06/2016. Sony A6000 + 55mm f1.8 ZA. Natural light.
Nina is amazing and her feedback has helped me a lot! We will shoot again soon!
New job and the Cinematic Headshot
My main job is in IT and I’ve been working for a mining company for almost 5 years so it was time for a change. Right after my shoot with Nina I received a job offer (still in IT), accepted it and resigned from the other job the day after. Because of how things played out I had 3 weeks on my hands to shoot and take care of Helga.
Within these 3 weeks I completely changed my camera system, moving from Canon to Sony and shot lots and lots of Cinematic Headshots to try the technique I had found online.
04/08/2016. Sony A7R II + 70-200mm f4. Two speedlites with modifiers and a reflector. A third speedlite and some other lights for background effect.
Hunter Creative is an online community for creatives. They often post inspiration pictures casting for photographers, hairdressers, makeup artists, stylists, nail techs and so on and get the team together. The team then decides on a concept and date to shoot and then model castings start. I don’t think I will do it again (got two concepts to work with the first time I applied for it, really cool) but if you are looking for a way of working with other creatives, this is a great experience.
Lady in Red
The first concept I shot was called “Lady in Red” and we had a big awesome team!
I asked Eric Oliver to be our assistant and Corrine asked Niki Teljega for a beautiful dress. We decided to shoot on a Monday night around the Brisbane Powerhouse. Big challenge as I haven’t really shot at night before!
04/07/2016. Sony A7R II + 85mm f1.4 GM. Rotolight Neo as key light, speedlite as back light.
This work was later published in Surreal Beauty magazine.
Unfortunately for my first concept, our HMUA had a family emergency, and the model and I had to do it on our own. Still, it worked out really well.
Model, hair & makeup: Heidi Sun.
09/07/2016. Sony A7R II + 85mm f1.4 GM. Natural light.
Amazing teams without even meeting each other
On my last day before starting the new job, Bec and I wanted to shoot some fashion in the City. So she grabbed a dress from Yuri Chang, met with Katrina Burgess for hair and makeup. I haven’t really met Katrina yet but had already shot her makeup three times! It’s really amazing when people can communicate in such ways that even without being in the same place at the same time, things just work.
So Bec and I met in Brisbane and ran around taking some awesome photos!
07/07/2016. Sony A7R II + 85mm f1.4 GM. Natural/window/ambient light.
After this shoot I decided to take a break to catch up with my edits.
Rodney Cossor‘s awesome invitation
Rodney is a well known photographer in our community and he invited some photographers to spend a day on his property.
I wrote about this before so I’m not getting into details now. If you would like to read about this awesome group shoot, please click here.
I shot Beth for my headshot portfolio and we became friends within seconds. Working with her is so much fun it’s difficult to put into words! Shooting at her place was super cool and there I met Emilia-Maria, one amazing Hair & Makeup artist!
06/08/2016. Sony A7R II +85mm f1.4 GM/55mm f1.8 ZA. Window light.
More shoots with Beth are in the plans!
Natalie is one of those models, so beautiful you think “she’s not gonna shoot with me”. Well, she said yes! We agreed to do a very casual shoot so Katrina (again) did the makeup and when I arrived she was already gone home and Natalie was ready. We picked the outfits on the spot for her to get ready and go out, but then I realised how beautiful the light coming through her window was and we shot there first. These window light photos gave me an idea and I created a project called Alma (more about it soon).
13/08/2016. Sony A7R II + 85mm f1.4 GM. Natural/window light.
Natalie is a sweetheart and so beautiful, extremely easy to work with and to create great images with!
After shooting with Natalie I came up with the idea of shooting the models at home using window light only. The challenge is to shoot in an unknown space and light conditions, trying to improvise and get better in the process. The rules are: window light only and black & white photos.
13/08/2016 – current. Sony A7R II + 85mm f1.4 GM/55mm f1.8 ZA. Window light.
Natalie Ryan, Ellena Gene, Chantelle Locket, Emma Debrincat, Carol Larsen, Lauren Ball, Lucy Luxe, Bec Cook, Sarah Lemos (Brazil), Cris Eifler (Brazil), Leticia Machado (Brazil), Meisha Demears.
Hair & Makeup by Katrina Burgess, Meisha Demears, Melissa Taylor and the models themselves.
Now what can I say about this lady? She makes a dress a day and they are all amazing. When working with her you also get Yassine (we first met at one of the Brisbane Models meet ups and talked for hours like we were old friends without even knowing each other’s name). So every time we shoot I know they will be there and I will have a lot of fun and get great images of amazing designs. I first came across her work when shooting “Lady in Red” for Hunter Creative but soon after she was looking for a photographer to help her friend out. Her friend wanted to try modelling and I thought it would be a good idea to shoot with them so I could actually meet Niki.
Things didn’t go well, we planned the shoot on father’s day without realising so we changed to the day before but the model couldn’t make it. So I contacted Chantelle Lockett as we had been talking about organising a shoot together and she was in. Then we started casting for a HMUA and Meisha Demears offered her services. Little I knew it was a day I was going to make so many great new friends!
This was also the first time I took my new friend Morgan to a shoot, after learning he was interested in learning some photography! He’s now my number one assistant.
We shot 6 dresses: 3 of the previous (current at the time) and 3 of the new (current now) collections.
The photos of the previous collection have just been published by Surreal Beauty Magazine.
Some photos still cannot be shared as they were submitted to other magazines.
03/09/2016. Sony A7R II + 85mm f1.4 GM, 55mm f1.8 ZA and Sigma 35mm f1.4 ART (with Metabones adapter). Natural light.
Time for holidays
Because now we have Helga and money saving goals, my wife decided to not go to Brazil for holidays this year with me. She was there not long ago for work so she stayed back with Helga this time.
Brazil is very far so to make it worth the trip it’s good to stay for a bit, so this time 19 days plus travel time. That’s a lot of time to be doing nothing for someone who’s always busy, so talking to an old acquaintance, some shoots were organised.
You can read about my trip to Brazil here.
Special note: Editing
Coming back from Brazil with so many photos plus all the photos still waiting to be edited in my Lightroom library got me really behind with my edits, so I decided to slow down with the shoots. I am slowly catching up but it’s a lot of work.
Special note: Brisbane Models and the meet ups
The Brisbane Models Facebook group has been a great help to get my photography going. It is there I find most of the people I work with. It also where I met amazing creatives and made so many friends. They have a meet up every months and in the first ones I was meeting a lot of people. Now I still meet new people but it’s also an opportunity to catch up with the ones I already know. In these meet ups I made some awesome friends and great creative professional contacts. Too many people to name here, but two in particular deserve a special mention: Paul Tran and River Sand.
River, Paul and I have been send each other photos asking for advice, so much so that we decided to start a secret group chat (oh not so secret anymore) so there’s no double sending photos.
Another point worth mentioning is the admin side of the group. The admin team do a great job keeping the group organised and safe for it’s members. Special thanks to you guys!
The November meet up was the first one during the day so I even managed to take some photos after a pint (or three).
Getting back to it
The lovely Karis Spencer was looking for a photographer to take some photos and as we worked together before for her Lolita cosplay, this one was a no brainer. We met one afternoon in Teneriffe for some natural light photos.
07/11/2016. Sony A7R II + 85mm f1.4 GM. Natural light.
Meisha and I had lots of concepts to shoot together so Morgan and I drove to her place one day to check the property. Her place is amazing, the light is incredible and it has enough space for a studio setup. We are having more shoots there very soon! Meisha is one of those people, our friendship just happened the second we met!
Queens of the Forest
I was cast last minute by the amazing Emilia-Maria for a shoot the photographer backed down. This was a massive team effort and I was happy to be their photographer.
The amazing team: myself, Emilia-Maria (HMUA), Sasha Rose (flower crowns), Niki Teljega (dresses), Karla Gutteridge(model), Georgia Cook (model), Morgan Carew (assistant), Yassine Dahiri (assistant) and Joel Dixon (assistant).
The Viking Misfit
I teamed up with Ellena Gene and Andrea Templeman for something a bit different. I saw a BTS photo of Katheryn Winnick having her hair and makeup done for Vikings and wanted to replicate that, but didn’t want a Viking themed shoot. So we shot some City stuff and studio (my garage really).
28/11/2016. Sony A7R II + 85mm f1.4 GM. Ambient light in the tunnel, handheld; Jinbei 600HD + 95cm Octa and reflector in studio.
Back to Meisha‘s place, we had an awesome shoot with her stunning friend Suzz. From studio beauty shots to swimming pool.
Natalie Ryan – Swimwear
This was my second shoot with the gorgeous Natalie Ryan. She wanted to shoot some swimwear and during planning stages we realised it would be hard to shoot on the beach at this time of year (very hot, crowded beaches, etc) and the weather forecast was not very good, so we decided to shoot studio and by her swimming pool. We had Akansha Srivastav for Hair & Makeup and Lesley Spinks assisting me.
18/12/2016. Sony A7R II + 85mm f1.4 GM. Jinbei 600HD + 120cm Octa and reflector in studio, natural light in the swimming pool.
Gigi needed some shots to submit to an agency so I agreed to help her out (with her World Domination plans). She came to meet me all ready with amazing Hair & Makeup by Nadine Kelly. Also got to meet her mother, Terri!
20/12/2016. Sony A7R II + 85mm f1.4 GM. Natural light.
Watching Paul Tran
My last day of shooting for 2016 got cancelled so I used my time to go see my friend Paul Tran test his new lights and cameras at the Warehouse Studios. I met some great people there: Grace Ronnfeldt (model) and her mother Tara Herron, Tina Hager (model), finally met Neeka Dewar (HMUA) and Paul’s friend Tim Black. Also got to see my good friend Eric Oliver and say hi to Gary Moore (studio owner).
I also managed to move Paul’s lights around and get some shots:
21/12/2016. Sony A7R II + 85mm f1.4 GM. Godox AD600 + 150cm octa.
Thanks again Paul!
A special thanks to the amazing people coming to my shoots to assist me!
Eric Oliver, Lesley Spinks and Morgan Carew.
And that’s a wrap! Still lots of photos to edit and no more shooting in 2016 but back as soon as the 8th January 2017 with lots of cool projects!