Second blog post in a year…woohoo…go me! It’s been a long, four year journey creating this portrait project, but now I’m finally, nearly THERE. Only four weeks to go until the Kink portraits (all 12 of them) are exhibited at Brunswick Street Gallery (BSG) in Melbourne, Australia. If you happen to be in Melbourne between the 14 and 27 October, take a tour of the suburb of Fitzroy, and check out the many great exhibitions being hosted at BSG.
For all of y’all out there wondering what the hell ‘Kink” is (you’ll probably get it from looking at the pic below!), I promise to create a blog post about the project, along with all 12 images very soon, once I’ve finished prepping for the exhibition. In the mean time, here’s a shot of my mug with some of the exhibition prints:
Over the past 4 years I have been working on a series of stylised portraits of Wellington’s BDSM sub-culture. A total of 12 portraits were produced and I have just launched a campaign on the New Zealand crowd funding platform PledgeMe to raise funds to support the costs of exhibiting these portraits at Melbourne’s Brunswick Street Gallery in October.
For further information on the project and the PledgeMe campaign, take a look at the following link: https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/projects/4660-kink-a-portrait-exhibition
I’ve gradually been experimenting further with portraiture using a Sinar F2 large format camera. This is a very slow form of photography and can take an hour or more to make two images (well until I’m more confident using the camera). The speed of using large format is part of the appeal! There’s a lot to think about and a lot that can go wrong. But when it goes right, it looks really good.
I had the help of my test subjects Simin (in the throes of PhD madness), Tim (a colleague from work), and Simon and Cilla (my landlord and his partner).
The Bad and the Ugly
I usually aim to take two portraits of each person using a single film holder (to make the film go further in terms of the variety of images I can create with one box of film). One of the steps when using large format is to prime the mechanical shutter on the lens before taking the shot. I was distracted chatting with Simon and Cilla and could not remember if I’d primed the shutter at the time of making their portrait. It turned out I had……and I therefore did this step twice, creating a double exposure………
For the second shot, I had problems with the darkslide sticking after making the exposure and it could not be closed fully. Two weeks later I discovered that the sheet of film and fallen inside the camera! I learned the hard way that the darkslide has to be removed from the film holder in a slow and steady manner otherwise the darkslide can pull the film out of the rails which keep it in place inside the film holder.
It’s been a while since I last updated this blog. Only two weeks to go now until the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2014 awards. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and we’ll see how things go!
I’ve been rather busy with administration stuff over the past few weeks as Kaititiro Collective are currently working on organising a large documentary photography exhibition. This requires applying for project funding, hence the substantial admin work…….Anyway watch this space……..
I’ve always been fascinated by the characteristic gestures which people exhibit while smoking: staring contemplatively into the distance, hiding in a doorway with the weight-of-the-world on their shoulders, or looking like a 50’s Hollywood icon as a cigarette dangles precariously from their lips.
This may yet turn into a project for the above mentioned exhibition (assuming I find time to shoot more portraits). Below are some examples of recent test shots using the Mamiya 645 and Kodak Portra 400 film. I have to say I do like the results so far and it appears my light-leak mending kit has fixed the cameras leaks.
Having only used this camera for landscapes and abstract shots in the past, it’s a steep learning curving photographing dynamic subjects. The depth of field can be marginal (say 10 centimetres or so at a subject distance of 1-2 metres) even when using mid-range apertures like f8/f11. It’s relatively easy to miss-focus if you or your subject moves in between focusing and pressing the shutter.
When I’m not masquerading as a photographer, I work full-time for a government department. On the odd occasion, my photographic services a called upon. The shot below was a quick 20 minute job in the basement car park, using some simple cross lighting techniques to give the seedy, noir look. We were aiming for a James Bond/secret agent theme group portrait (not entirely sure why to be honest, maybe just for fun) but the point of the photo is to be used in an internal campaign to help the organisation achieve the goal of becoming one of New Zealand’s top ten places to work.
I’ve been a bit quite on the blog front over the past few weeks. I have been shooting more freelance work for the magazine but as the magazine is not published yet, I cannot post these pics on the blog as yet. I will also be posting a few more landscape photographs of Wellington’s South Coast (fingers crossed, hopefully this weekend) once I have gotten around to editing them. Sadly my laptop is old and very very slow and struggles to run Photoshop at the best of times. I think you can judge the age of a laptop by its uniform thickness. Mine is a good inch and a half think all the way through, baby. So it’s pretty old! Hopefully in the coming weeks I should be able to afford a laptop upgrade (woohoo!).
In the mean time I have been doggedly pursuing Photoshop tutorials (as and when the laptop allows), so I thought I would finally learn how to blend together the images from the Fishhead feature on Bureaucrats and their Hobbies. See the blended images for that assignment below:
Another “back in July” moment. I had planned to post these photos on here weeks ago, but sadly I forgot all about them until now. This was a commission for Unlimited magazine to produce portraits of Museum Hotel owner Chris Parkin. The brief was that the space was to be more prominent or representative in the frame than the sitter. Hence the reason why Chris occupies a small portion of the frame. This series of images were shot about 7am shortly after first light, and a little over an hour before I was due at work! I chose not to use flash for these images (with the exception of one where little ambient light was falling on Chris’s face), as this would have ruined the ambiance created by the lighting within the space. Plus trying to set-up multiple flashes in three locations would have been rather time-consuming. Below are the three different portraits of Chris, along with some of the artworks (to be used as space fillers) which Chris and the Museum Hotel are renowned for.
Here is some more work I have recently done for the local, Wellington based magazine Fishhead. Sadly I haven’t had much time lately to work on my own projects but hopefully that’ll be changing very soon. Starting in a few weeks in fact, with a road-trip around New Zealand’s South Island.
This work was commissioned towards the end of May. The article was based around the idea that many people who work mundane and tedious office jobs (bureaucrats), have interesting hobbies or persona’s outside of their working life. The brief was to photograph the chosen subjects in their place of work (sadly this wasn’t possible for all of them as organisational politics got in the way), wearing both their normal working attire, and clothing and props which would be representative of their outside interests. The images would then be split vertically down the middle and blended using Photoshop to produce a composite half-and-half image.
I had never attempted any shots like this before, and after mulling over the technical aspects and logistics of creating these images, I decided to also include a “rescue” shot, just in-case the split composites, for whatever reason, could not be blended to produce a pleasing and convincing image. For the blended split composite photos, the subject had to position his or herself in the exact same position. This is something that masking tape under the shoes and the camera view screen helped to solve. Things I failed to consider however, were the difference in reflectivity of the two different changes of clothing; the subject or subjects relatives moving items which are in the shot between takes; changes of shoes/roller-skates having a large height difference (this was partially solved by using small Lego blocks under the heel!).
The rescue shots involved photographing the subject in their two different outfits, in different positions in the same scene. This is pretty straight forward to do assuming you don’t accidentally knock the tripod.
First up we have the lovely and talented, Bailey McCormack. By day an employee at an unnameable media monitoring firm, by night, the foxy Fanciforia Foxglove, burlesque performer. Have to admit, Bailey was cool to work with and I hope to do some more shoots with her in the future.
Here are Bailey’s photographs which were used to produce the split composite image. Sadly my Photoshop skills do not stretch that far, so the image blending and final editing was completed by the magazine’s designer. Here’s a scan of the blended shot which appeared in the magazine.
Hopefully you get the idea. Below are the split composite images of Bailey, some of which became the image for the magazine cover.
Here is the blended split composite images of Bailey.
Next we have Shelly Wilton who works as a manager at ACC during the week, and plays for Wellington Richter City Roller Derby team Comic Slams, as persona Heidi Contagious at the weekend. This was shot at Shelly’s home as I was not given permission to photograph at her office.
Here is the blended composite of Shelly.
The final subject is Mervin Signham. Mervin masquerade’s as the Director of The Office of Ethnic Affairs, but his true passion is expressionist and abstract painting.
Continuing on from my last post, here are a couple of images from a commission by Unlimited magazine to create two portraits: one, CEO of Aviation New Zealand, John Nicholson; the other, director of Kiwi Landing Pad, John Holt (not the John Holt of reggae fame!). These two portraits demonstrate opposite ends of the spectrum when completing these kinds of assignments I think. I usually try to schedule between 30 minutes to one hour if possible, just to get a good variation of shots (and just in case the office-space isn’t to photo friendly!)
I had originally arranged to photograph John Nicholson for a period of between 30 minutes to one hour. When I arrived, John told me that he had to collect his car from the mechanic shortly, so I only had twenty minutes! The pressure was on. When time is limited, you are certainly forced to make quick decisions and in this case, I chose to forgo the fluorescent-lit office for the more interesting building lobby which had a number of features which could be used in the composition and for bouncing a flash off of. I think in this respect, having less choice and fewer options, helped to create a better photo.
Whereas when photographing John Holt, the options were endless. Kiwi Landing Pad is an entrepreneurial organisation which helps New Zealand companies break into the US market. As such, they do not have office space in New Zealand. I therefore had ample opportunities for choosing suitable locations with all the right elements to suit the subject. The ideal place to photograph John would definitely have been the helipad on top of the Intercontinental Hotel. The view would have been fantastic, the early morning sun would have helped to highlight John and the surrounding buildings (which would have also given the impression of the corporate or business world) and you also have a landing pad. To me, this would have been the most desirable location for this portrait. However, finding out who I needed to contact about access was a bit of a wild goose chase, and the deadline was closing fast. Even though I was happy with the locations I eventually chose, I think that having so much choice with location narrowed the creative possibility in the portraits some what.
Below are recent portraits I produced for a feature on creative couples for the Wellington-based magazine Fishhead.