Fishhead Magazine Markets Feature
Here are some of the images from the latest feature article I have worked on for Fishhead magazine. The article was based upon the three main fruit and vegetable markets in Wellington: Harbourside, Victoria Street, and Hill Street Farmers market, and the Turners and Growers wholesalers in Grenada North. The main thrust of the article was regarding food miles and whether the food sold in the markets is grown locally by the stall holders themselves or whether it is bought from a large fruit and veg wholesalers like Turners and Growers.
This was a relatively large assignment and consisted of photographing five different people from the various markets, producing good filler shots to illustrate the story and producing the magazine’s cover image, over a period of four weekends (plus one early morning jaunt to Turners and Growers during the week before work!).
The first person I photographed was the lovely Ania Upstill who runs a stall at the Hill Street farmers marker for the Local Food Network. As well as being snappily dressed and having a cool old-school, recycled Raleigh bicycle, Ania was also very comfortable in front of the camera, thanks to her experience posing as a model for art classes, which made my job so much easier! I convinced Ania to get to the market reasonably early (about 9am after some protesting) to beat the harshness of the late morning sun. Unfortunately it’s not always possible in these situations to guess where the sun will be in the sky at a certain time. The market, being held at the carpark of Wellington’s Cathedral, was still cast in heavy shadow when I arrived. Luckily by the time I had set up, chatted with Ania and positioned her in the tree, sunlight was just starting to peak over the imposing structure, to provide some dappled backlighting.
For editorial work, I always try to arrive at a shoot location armed with prior research of the subject and location, and a couple of ideas of how I would like to shoot the images. As I was to be photographing a number of people at the markets, I wanted to get a variety of different images, if possible. For Fraser Ebett’s picture below, I’d seen portraits using a variety of items to bury people in, so with Fraser, I wanted to bury him in fruits and vegetables. The usual way it works with these assignments, when photographing normal folk, is that you often don’t have much time to get the photo’s.
In Fraser’s case, being the manager of the Harbourside market, he was working on the morning I met him (he starts at 4 am). I arrived at the market prepared with a black sheet and a cardboard boxed large enough to fit head and shoulders, and Fraser was kind enough to introduce me to a stall holder who allowed me to pilfer some of his fruit and veg for 20 minutes. I set-up my cardboard box and cloth in the shade and lay out some of the vegetables, using journalist Max Rashbrooke as a test dummy while Fraser continued to work. I used a small soft box attached to a synch cord and set the flash and exposure. Once I was ready, I grabbed Fraser, laid him in position, and buried him in fruit and veg and snapped away. Ten minutes later, I was finished and Fraser went back to work. Not studio perfect but not bad for a ten minute improv session! Sadly this picture wasn’t used for the finished article which I think is a shame as it is one of the best pictures from this feature.
Max and I left the Harbourside market around 10am and headed for Victoria street market to photograph market founder and manager, Graham Hamilton. By this point the ozone-less New Zealand sun was high in the sky and incredibly harsh. Barring a nice shady area, like the back of one of the trucks, I resorted to using on-camera flash to fill the shadows. Also the market was incredibly busy by this time so expecting to have any control over the scene, including setting up flashstands, was an impossibility. Graham was a fantastic character to meet: chain smoking cigarettes while simultaneously reminding us that he’s riddled with cancer, and referring to everyone as “jokers” (Max assured me that this is an old-school New Zealand phrase) while taking us on a who’s-who’s tour of the market.
As mentioned above, it’s always beneficial to do some background research on the subject and location and to generate some ideas of the types of images you hope to capture, rather than walking-in empty handed. However, remaining open and adaptable is also a great asset to cultivate. One of the stall holders told us about the wholesale warehouse where they purchase their perishable fruits and vegetables from. It was described as an enormous warehouse with crates of produce as far as the I can see. In my mind, I had an image of the warehouse manager, John Crowther, shot from above, lit by a flash, standing beside the crates of produce as they disappeared off into the distance.
Sadly the dream didn’t turn into reality. The warehouse was far smaller than I expected, and when dreaming up pictures, you tend to ignore the fact that this is a working warehouse with hideous sodium vapour lighting and forklift trucks whizzing about. As John was being interviewed by Max, it did give me plenty of time to look for possible locations and set up the flash, which all up, gave me about 15 to 20 minutes to photograph John.
The final portrait of this feature was the cover shot for the magazine: photographing model Anica Bura at Harbourside market. I pushed to have the shoot start at 8am as I new it was going to be a bright, clear day with the New Zealand sun on full blast and I would only be able to use a single strobe to kill the shadows. I knew the market was going to be busy, and by 8.30am when we got started, there was a flood of early morning shoppers milling about the market, making the shoot rather difficult to control. Being so busy, it was impossible to use more than one flash, due to the high possibility of people tripping over equipment. As the shoot went on and the sun climbed higher, and shooting at the synch speed of 1/200 at f4, with the flash on full power, you can see how the flash begins to struggle to fully over power the sun.
And last but not least, the page filler shots of the markets………