narrative

By | blog | No Comments

I had a negative narrative stuck in my head for days and couldn’t get it out. Perhaps, the effort of getting it out of my mind was making it worse. The story in my head goes like this. I didn’t deliver what I promised. I disappointed my client. I could’t attend an event I RSVP’d already. I disappointed myself for taking on a project that caused the same anxiety and stress that I’ve been running away from for years.

The story I tell myself is the story I make up. It’s not something someone else created for me. It’s all invented, derived and interpreted from situations I found myself in. The story could be completely different if I look at it from a different perspective.

Today, I’m trying to write a different story. A story that looks at things the way they are.

Look Book Shoot Process

By | Art, Photography, Style Discovery | No Comments

I sometimes have no idea what I’m doing. In fact, almost always I have no idea. Sometimes I think of myself as a person with no ‘ideas’.

I met up with someone yesterday, who is totally different from me, as part of my ‘reaching out’ exercise (more on this later). She is an idea person. She said so herself and while I was talking to her over my coffee and her Turmeric Latte, I could sense that she could be perfect to complete my puzzle. She has my missing piece! She comes up with ideas and I then make things happen. Do you get the picture? It would be perfect.

Danielle Marklew’s Visual Diary

That is not to say that I’ve given up coming up with ideas. I’m steadily building my idea muscles. This is how I tackled my lack of idea situation.

When I decided to give my time for lookbook shoots for Rena and Danielle I was in the same quagmire. I didn’t know what I would do with their garments. A part of me was thinking I should be doing something amazing but I had no idea of how to create something amazing. The fear set in and the frustration of not being creative enough to come up with brilliant shooting ideas was consuming me.

After a few hours of emotional struggle, my logical (troubleshooting) brain kicked in. This was my logical self at work:

  • It’s not about me.
  • It’s about their work.
  • Ask them what they would like to see / do with their shoot.
  • Work things out / analyse from there what is needed.

This is the beauty of allowing others to feed my creative channel. Understanding that I wasn’t alone in creating the shoot, I made myself available to receive, synthesise and produce photographs that are richer in context and feel because it wasn’t just about me (coming up with the idea).

Photographs resulting from collaborating with Danielle

The shoot was successful by any measure (although measuring such work is futile if not impossible). I could say that without any shame because Danielle made a comment that if it wasn’t for the photos we created together she would not have been in this (fantastic) situation (I cannot say what this is… You’ll find out soon).

Opening up for possibilities and enable others to feed my creative energy worked for me. If you feel stuck why not try what I’ve done. It might not work but it might be just what you need.

Visual diary to a Lookbook shoot – Rena Hermone

By | Art, Style Discovery | No Comments

Rena’s fashion & textile graduate collection ‘spoke’ to my former depressed self in a very intimate way when she started her presentation during the first assessment class, and all the way up to completing her collection garments for the graduate fashion show in 2015.

Looking at the images from her visual diary I learned that:

  1. Strong collections (high impact) of garments are created from strong concepts
  2. Creating and developing concepts cannot be outsourced or bought
  3. Fashion can be / is a form of Art.

These pointers are quite important in my own learning/practice as a creative. So if I were to translate these into my own practice as a photographer:

  1. Consider concept and intent before pressing the shutter
  2. Concept generation and development is part of what I see through my camera (rather than spending hours in front of computer processing images which could be ‘outsourced’).
  3. I get inspired by all manner of Art (e.g. Fashion) as a photographer not just by ‘photography’.

It’s fascinating looking at a visual diary getting translated into a collection of garments. The process could take 12 months or more. Then we had another process of translating the collection to a lookbook shoot. I’d like to talk about that in my next post to show Danielle’s visual diary as a similar process to what I went through.

There’s always learning to be had in all aspect of life it seems. I just have to open my eyes and look (properly).

Taking it slow

By | Style Discovery | No Comments

Everything seems to be moving at lightening speed. Messages arrive instantaneously. Things I order from a far away land get here within a few days. Often, I find myself getting agitated because things don’t happen fast enough.

Lately, however, I came to realise and accept the simple fact that some things just take time. It applies to many things, especially when one creates and puts work down as part of creative processes which could take weeks, months or years.

Since 2015, I’ve been privileged enough to attend and observe assessment classes of students who were preparing for their graduate fashion shows. Watching undergraduate students from ECU’s Fashion & Textile program create their collections of garments really let me see how creative processes work and just how long it takes to produce a robust collection that is worthy of a fashion show. Discussions of concepts and ideas of students work make fertile ground for my own inspirations.

3-rena-hermone-visual-diary-

A leaf out of Rena Hermone’s visual diary

 

64-danielle-marklew-visual-diary-4408

A spread out of Danielle Marklew’s visual diary

 

The two students – Rena and Danielle – I picked out from last year’s class, with whom I collaborated in photo shoots, are those who challenged and inspired me a great deal.

As much as I would like to do everything fast and get things over and done with within seconds… truly good things just take time.

I’ll do another couple of blog posts on ideas/concepts getting across to look-book shoots and the result although some of you might have already seen it.

 

Oh my god, that woman just kicked her dog

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‘Oh my god, that woman just kicked her dog!!’ A woman walking a dog on the opposite side of the track about 20 metres away from me was talking on the phone telling the other person on the phone how this awful person abused a dog.

The woman who (she thought) kicked her dog was me. Well it might have appeared that way, but that’s not what happened. You see, my dog, Lush, and I walk 6kms or so every day along the river. Despite my best efforts, this little puppy gets too excited when she sees other dogs and pulls on her leash so much so that I often get worried about her being choked. In order to avoid strangulation, I sometimes balance on one foot and hold her back by hooking the other foot around in front of her. This also distracts her from running after the other dog. So that was what the ‘kick’ was.

Now, for the other woman, I’m a low down dog kicker. Clearly, at first, I was annoyed by her overreaction and her judgement. Not that I would worry about ever meeting her one day and being remembered as the ‘animal abuser’. Having said that, with Perth being so small, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility entirely.

We all know the axiom, there are always two sides to a story. It made me wonder how many times I have judged other people, rightly or wrongly, for their actions. After being judged by some random person for doing absolutely nothing wrong, I reflected on my past actions and I repented for the judgements I had made against unsuspecting individuals, and I paid particular attention on the way back home not to ‘appear abusive’ to my dog.

 

P.S. Some mobile pics from the walk with the dog.

Why big retail stores are bad

By | Style Discovery | No Comments

Big retail stores are bad. Alright. Let me qualify that… The people and the machinery that run big retail stores are only interested in $ – the bottom line. And these stores sell cheap cheap cheap stuff! Oh boy was I surprised to find brand new tee shirts selling for a mere $5 (a little more than the price of a coffee!) at Kmart. Add an extra $5 to that and you get what they call a ‘premium’ tee. And do these cheapo tees last? I hate throwing away stuff after a year or, worse still, after only a season because it is simply just cheaply made. Alright, I don’t go to big malls these days so you may say that I’m out of touch. Perhaps that’s the price of normal things? Seriously though? I can’t even buy a metre of fabric for $5!?

So I looked at where that $5 tee shirt was made. Not surprisingly, the big retailers had tapped into ‘cheap labour’ in Bangladesh. China is no longer the land of ‘cheap’ but Bangladesh is when it comes to mass production as, apparently, it is now the second biggest exporter of garments in the world. (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/bangladesh-garment-industry-rana-plaza-wage-hike-524125)

Hopefully, buying these cheap tees may increase the quality of lives in the country? Will it? Their average monthly wage is less than USD$40. It is the same old story though. Big corporations go into these poor countries then indirectly screw the workers over to make bigger profit margins. The worker might not have any proper safety standards or employee welfare, which all costs $ to implement and maintain. When you and I pick up a bargain tee-shirt of $5, it should make us wonder what extra should we (or more accurately Kmart/Target/BigW or name any other big corporation) pay so that workers get their due and we don’t suffer from a moral dilemma over buying a mere tee.

The reason why I don’t go into malls a lot – believe me I love shopping and I used to frequent these stores heaps back in the day – is because not only I decided to buy ‘less’ but also I now work with local fashion designers. Knowing how things are designed and handmade in a smaller scale, I can no longer casually pick up cheap crap. Besides, when I know that I’m supporting local businesses (remember I am one of them as well!), why would I buy from stores run by big corporations? There are plenty of people who would willingly help out the big bad boys. For me, I opt out.

If you feel the same way about all of this, I can tell you a bit about my clients. Currently, I work with two local labels – FuMoso and Megan Salmon. Both have been around for more than a decade. People may moan how bad retail businesses are, but if we shop more responsibly, there is no reason why local labels like these should not thrive.

FuMoso has a huge range of what the designer/owner, Gail Thompson, calls Basics. They are simple-(ish) garments you can layer under and over. There’s singlets, tees, and slip dresses in different colours. The finishing and the quality of the clothes are second to none. I know this because I unpicked the stitches of a few pairs of pants from FuMoso due to my recent weight loss! I hear ladies saying how long Gail’s garments last – literally years. Gail designs and produces her samples herself in her studio in Byford. An added benefit of buying FuMoso is that it’s made right here in Western Australia.

Megan Salmon, the label, is a well known establishment within the Fremantle Fashion Collective. Megan, the designer, not only designs fashion but she is also a prolific artist who paints and draws. At the back of her Fremantle store, you’ll find her continuously working on her next fashion collection with her production team. Or experimenting with new ‘dye’ in her dye studio. Or working on her original digital prints which are present in her past and current collections.

Where do you buy their stuff? You don’t have time to travel to Byford or Fremantle? Well, you buy online, of course! That’s because I built their online stores. Now you know where to get quality clothes without having an ethical / moral dilemma and you’ll also be supporting local businesses and creatives who hire local people.

Sadly, I don’t know any local menswear designers who sell everyday garments online. If you do, would you like to hook me up?

This is why and how I lost 5kg in 4 weeks

By | Style Discovery | No Comments

I lost 5kg in 4 weeks. I say that to people and then their reaction is always one of admonishment. Typically because they think I was thin enough before I lost all that weight. I have never really been overweight at any stage in life for the past forty or so years.

So why then I get asked. It’s entirely because I want to wear things that demand a particular figure tailored, fitted, angular. Very vain? Yes.

Before I embarked on the journey of losing weight and changing the way I eat, I had to make a fundamental decision of giving myself permission to be vain and frivolous. No matter what others say or think, the important thing is to be happy with myself. I told myself to hell with whatever else is stopping me from doing the things that needed to be done to lose that extra 5-7kgs I had gained in the past decade.

Rather than just dreaming, I decided to take action. That meant several things. In fact, several ‘doings’ instead of just :

  • thinking I should exercise
  • giving up on those trousers I bought in Paris in 2004
  • procrastinating on clearing out baggy garments that are uber comfortable
  • eating copious amounts of fluffy white rice and noodles
  • fearing I wouldn’t get there.

We often talk about not having willpower. I found that willpower alone would not have helped me to get to where I am now. I took advice from various sources.

  • Dr. Michael Mosley on his calorie restricted eating
  • Dr. Chris Van Tulleken’s report on veganism
  • Cowspiracy – Finding out the truth about animal farming and its effects on our environment
  • Remit Sethi on human psychology

All the information I consumed while watching several documentaries/reports on the health and wellbeing of our planet was enough to get me out of the rut that I had been in for a long time. This doesn’t mean I suddenly became a vegan or an anti-animal farming activist. It simply means that I’m consciously opting for more plant based food and I weigh my food to ensure that I know how many calories I consume each day. I also walk every day with my dog.

Photo I took using my Nexus 5 while I was out walking the dog

Photo I took using my Nexus 5 while I was out walking the dog

 

This is what my lunch looks like. A pile of vegetables topped with NO TOAST.

This is what my lunch looks like. A pile of vegetables topped with NO TOAST.

 

vegetarian-dinner-weight-loss-1

This is what I have for dinner most nights – vegetable stew with some beans and peas.

 

From there, losing 5kgs was simple. It happened so quickly that I couldn’t believe my scale when I weighed myself. The biggest thing was being able to wear the trousers that were destined to be thrown away/donated to charity shops. It doesn’t stop at trousers though. There are boots, rings, jackets that were ever so tight before. Now they fit nicely with a bit of room. Oh joy.

Am I worried that I would gain all that weight back at some stage? Obviously, I thought about it. The conventional wisdom is that the faster you lose the quicker you gain when it comes to weight loss. According to Michael Mosley, it’s not so especially if the healthy eating habit sticks and it becomes your lifestyle. I’m not in any hurry (if ever) to venture back into the meat aisles when shopping. And my dog won’t be happy to be sitting around all day.

The New Guildford Hotel Launch Party

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The-New-Guildford-Hotel-May2016-0441Eight years in the making. That seems to be the headline of today’s launch party of the new Guildford Hotel. There were times when all of us in the Eastern suburbs thought the historic building would remain as a ruin. Then there was talk of developers not willing to fork out a ton of money to redevelop and a lot of back and forth with the local Council. We saw hundreds of socks getting hung on the scaffolding of the building in protest. People were willing to give up their socks for access to beer (and to have a beautiful historic building restored).

Although I drive along Guildford road all the time, I didn’t pay much attention to the construction site. Tonight, I was getting dressed up  I use this phrase very loosely as I don’t have a cocktail dress to speak of, although the mention of tonight’s dress code by David Gardner, the man in charge of PR for the launch, didn’t literally mean that ladies had to put on a cocktail dress on a cold windy night  to attend the reopening of the new Guildford Hotel.

Funnily enough, there were women literally dressed to be frozen while their +1s were rugged up with a winter coat. It was an especially peculiar experience for me as I have never been known to queue up to enter a bar. There were hundreds of shivery people wrapped around the side of the building, lined up to get into the venue. Luckily, it didn’t rain so we only had freezing ladies (not the wet ones).

I admired the turn out. Mid-week opening of a bar attracting this many people? Suppose it’s because the building had quite a bit of a reputation over the years getting built, not built, abandoned or demolished. I was quite amazed by the PR guy’s ability at that point. And now the building is back with all the ‘reconstruction surgery’ completed and it’s looking younger than ever. Walking inside, I felt a welcoming warmth, not only from all the bodies but also from several fireplaces. The lighting was warm as well, with just enough visibility.

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The new hotel has several distinctive areas. Main bar, outdoor beer garden (I’m guessing), upstairs lounge and a function room. Every area has a number of details evoking the hotel’s history and charms. I felt rather envious of the person (a photographer) who would get to use every nook and cranny of the place as backdrops for photo shoots.

And oh boy did they put on a spread!! I must say if it wasn’t for the fact that I already had dinner and that I’m on a calorie restricted diet I would have had a really good feed at the party. I did not pick up a single bit of finger food on offer. Not even a drink. There was food and drink everywhere. My +1 went the whole hog on ribs and fried little morsels and he wasn’t alone in milling around the bbq area to pick up freshly carved ribs straight out of the charcoal grill.

There was lots of cheer and glitter. As the formality began, I heard the names of ‘distinguished guests’ and among them was the Premier of the State. I assume if he was turning up to an event like this it must have been quite significant, hence the large crowd. It’s still a bar opening though. There are quite a lot of significant events that he skips.. makes me wonder…

Just a few titbits

– my dressing up involved Gail’s Dawn top by Gail Thompson and a pair of tux trousers from Abu Dhabi purchased in 2003.

– interestingly, the ladies at the door didn’t have my name on in the guest list although I did receive their RSVP confirmation. They asked who invited me and my answer (correctly) was David Gardner which let us in.

– there were so many (mature) ladies I would have liked to photograph. It was too busy, crowded and noisy to strike up much of a conversation with anyone. Well, that’s my excuse.

What is my camera setting – Food photos at events

By | Food | No Comments

Once, I was asked what my camera settings were at a fashion runway show. You’d think I get asked that question a lot. Not really. I’d guess that most people just ‘point and shoot’, not requiring to know anything other than pressing the necessary button. That time when I got asked about my camera settings was when an amateur photographer, who had spent quite a lot of $ on gear, wanted to do more with his newly purchased equipment (or equipment he had for a long time but never ventured into using anything other than ‘Auto’ mode). Read More

Elle Campbell’s Solace – 2015 Central Institute Graduate of Fashion & Textile

By | Graduate shows

When I did a post on this year’s Graduate Showcase from Central, I didn’t have runways photos ready to share with you.

I finally finished with the runway images and I can now show you how wonderful Elle Campbell’s Solace collection was at the show.

One thing led to another, I managed to get in touch with the designer, Elle. Good news is that she has a lot of exciting works/events lined up with her collection after the show. Bad news (for me personally) is that I cannot have any of her designs because she is obligated not to release until all of the aforementioned activities are completed.

It’s good to know that a lot of other people enjoyed her work as much as I did and she is getting the recognition she deserves.  The textile lecturer at Central, Kristie Barnett, must be proud of Elle’s work as well. Solace is really about bold textile design. Wouldn’t you agree?

After all this, I sincerely hope to see more of her work beyond the graduate collection. Wouldn’t that be nice!

Curtin University’s Graduate Fashion Runway 2015

By | Graduate shows

I was wow’d last night at the Curtin Graduate Show by a more than a couple of students’ work. The stand out for me was Demeter, eco design, by Emily Tutungis. It’s a totally different kind of eco fashion. I’ve seen a lot of organic looking eco design coming out of fashion schools. This is chic eco fashion made with recycled suits. The Demeter collection wow’d me right from the show program even before I got to see it on the runway. All it comes down to, very selfishly, ‘Would I wear them’? Oh, yes please.

4-curtin-grauduates-2015-No13-front-row-1912

The view from where I was sitting.

Then there was Trinities by Daphne Diting Wong. To me, her collection epitomises what an ideal graduating fashion student’s work could be.

17-curtin-grauduates-2015-No13-front-row-1952

I do feel quite strongly about what the graduate collection should be. It’s students’ core concepts which have to be then transferred into physical garments that evoke appropriate emotional responses. This could involve a lot of experimental approaches in terms of scale, volume and colour, sometimes to the detriment of actual wearability of the garment. Commercially ready garments and very much ‘ready to wear’ – they should not necessarily be.
Daphne made me happy with her exaggerated triangles. Her collection was another one that stood out from the show catalogue.

This year’s graduate showcase also included Honors and MADA students. It was great to see their (more refined) work once more.

Sheona Cowden was chosen to go to India next year to work for a few weeks.

I was so pleased to see Sheridan Joyce’s ecological (zero waste pattern and construction) collection. This year’s work is so much more refined and cohesive.

Finally, Seth Cray. What more to say really than his name. Since I’ve decided (not sure when) to spend my hard earned money to purchase graduate students’ pieces (rather than giving it to big name brands) I asked him to make me a long sleeve sheer jumper with pencil embroidery (in black).

What I really appreciated last night was that there were no other frills to the show, as in pre-show drinks, canapés, lengthy speeches (altho I was one of those who did give a speech last year), or any other ramblings. Because of that, the show started and ended at a reasonable hour and invited VIPs were able to have a look at each student’s work up close and personal after the show – the BEST.

Entire set of the runway images are viewable in No13 Curtin Graduate Showcase 2015 in Flickr. ENJOY.

No13 – Curtin Graduate Fashion Showcase 2015

By | Graduate shows | No Comments

I was wow’d last night at the Curtin Graduate Show by a more than a couple of students’ work. The stand out for me was Demeter, eco design, by Emily Tutungis. It’s a totally different kind of eco fashion. I’ve seen a lot of organic looking eco design coming out of fashion schools. This is chic eco fashion made with recycled suits. The Demeter collection wow’d me right from the show program even before I got to see it on the runway. All it comes down to, very selfishly, ‘Would I wear them’? Oh, yes please.

4-curtin-grauduates-2015-No13-front-row-1912

The view from where I was sitting.

Then there was Trinities by Daphne Diting Wong. To me, her collection epitomises what an ideal graduating fashion student’s work could be.

17-curtin-grauduates-2015-No13-front-row-1952

I do feel quite strongly about what the graduate collection should be. It’s students’ core concepts which have to be then transferred into physical garments that evoke appropriate emotional responses. This could involve a lot of experimental approaches in terms of scale, volume and colour, sometimes to the detriment of actual wearability of the garment. Commercially ready garments and very much ‘ready to wear’ – they should not necessarily be.
Daphne made me happy with her exaggerated triangles. Her collection was another one that stood out from the show catalogue.

This year’s graduate showcase also included Honors and MADA students. It was great to see their (more refined) work once more.

Sheona Cowden was chosen to go to India next year to work for a few weeks.

I was so pleased to see Sheridan Joyce’s ecological (zero waste pattern and construction) collection. This year’s work is so much more refined and cohesive.

Finally, Seth Cray. What more to say really than his name. Since I’ve decided (not sure when) to spend my hard earned money to purchase graduate students’ pieces (rather than giving it to big name brands) I asked him to make me a long sleeve sheer jumper with pencil embroidery (in black).

What I really appreciated last night was that there were no other frills to the show, as in pre-show drinks, canapés, lengthy speeches (altho I was one of those who did give a speech last year), or any other ramblings. Because of that, the show started and ended at a reasonable hour and invited VIPs were able to have a look at each student’s work up close and personal after the show – the BEST.

Entire set of the runway images are viewable in No13 Curtin Graduate Showcase 2015 in Flickr. ENJOY.

Central Institutes of Technology Fashion and Textile – The Graduates 2015

By | Graduate shows, Uncategorized | No Comments

Graduates 2015 pre-show Exhibition. I grabbed some images using my mobile phone (just like everyone else…)

The Graduates 2015 Central Institute of Technology’s Fashion & Textile Graduate Runway Show was a hugely cohesive and a very ‘Ready to Wear’ show.

First of all, I have to say I was very impressed with the students’ folio exhibition that accompanied the show. Each student had a folio of textile design along with proof of their concept development for garments to be presented in the show, which formed part of the pre-show exhibition. The quality of the pre-show heightened by my expectations for what I would see on the runway. The visuals were impeccable. Every detail was superb, and I mean each element was properly designed and presented, and that could be seen from the seating tags right through to the ticket design.

After what I thought to be quite a long opening ceremony/speeches/awards the show started. I should mention here also that, for the first time in seven years, I was seated at the show. I wasn’t taking photos (WHAT? Yes, really) and instead, I was simply watching while trusting my right hand man, Aron Lee, to capture all the garments. For that reason, I don’t really have garment photos to share with you here (yet).

I mentioned earlier about how cohesive the whole show was. So much so that when I came back home last night it almost felt like I had watched a show by a one designer. I know that this may sound fairly negative but hold your judgement until I finish.

Pattern cuttings were bold but not outrageous. I saw a variety of materials being used. Some finishing in construction was good and some were not so good. What was missing were conventional gowns or cocktail dresses. It was all very 21st century or rather futuristic. There were a couple of experimental works but apart from those the entire show presented extremely wearable and ‘commercially ready’ work. I wouldn’t go so far as saying they were slick and refined. I think I was hoping for the wonderfully adventurous or maybe the fabulously crazy, but that wasn’t what this show was about. I loved what I saw but I wasn’t WOW’d by it.

Having said all that, my heart was arrested when Elle Campbell’s collection Solace came out. I would love to get Elle to make this jacket for me. I don’t know how much it would cost. I may have to sell my kidney or a limb but I just love it.

I’m off to see Curtin’s Graduate Show today. Will I see some outrageously adventurous stuff then?

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 8.07.32 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 8.07.40 PM
Images from Elle Campbell’s Portfolio Site – http://ellecampbellart.wix.com/portfolio

Official Runway Photographs for Fremantle Fashion Collective 2015

By | blog | No Comments

I was the house photographer for the show last night at the PS Art Space. It was a great show with a decent lighting setup and electrifying atmosphere.

Huge hugs and congrats go to the team at The Studio (Jacqui Brown). Hopefully, you would enjoy these photos especially if you’ve missed out on the show last night (as it was another sellout event).

For the first time, I’m selling these images (online) on this website as well so if you’d like non-watermarked images just use the ‘buy now’ button. :)

Designers

  • Poppy Lissiman
  • Sea Dreamers
  • Alexandra King
  • KINN
  • One Fell Swoop
  • Wild Horses
  • Monster Alphabet
  • Empire Rose

Like these photos?

Non-watermarked high resolution images can be purchased.

Write to studio@songyknox.com.au.

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Backstage Exclusive images from TPFF2015

By | blog | No Comments

I was hired by Style Voyeur to photograph Fashion Paramount evening show backstage during 2015 Telstra Perth Fashion Festival.

I attended the following 10 shows. Each set contains 200 or so images. You may find some repeated photographs with slight variations but I didn’t edit those out as I wanted to show pretty much what I delivered to the client after each show.

I was trying to be as discreet as possible when photographing but I know that I was in the way of people (models, dressers, makeup artists and hair stylists) who were busy working. Big hugs and thanks go to the backstage crew for being so supportive during the most crazy and hectic moments.

For that reason alone, these are precious to me. I have to also thank Style Voyeur for the amazingly exciting assignment.

Making a Foba diffuser alternative

By | DIY | One Comment

I’m shooting jewellery a lot lately so I thought it was about time I had sturdier cone diffusers made that are going to last me longer than a few weeks.

Arguably, the best cone shaped diffuser is made by studio photography equipment specialist Foba in Switzerland. I don’t own anything from Foba so I’m just going by what I read and see online. One of those diffusers (Foba Large Acryl Diffuser Cone) that I would like costs than USD$565 + $90Shipping from NYC – frighteningly expensive.

Foba-Large-Acryl-Diffuser Cone

I’ve searched high and low but there isn’t any alternative/copy/Chinese knock-off that I could buy on eBay or anywhere else (someone in the UKwas trying to flog a frosted white plastic lamp shade as a diffuser but such a thing is not readily available or, for that matter,  much of an alternative). The only way, I’ve determined, is to make one myself. However, it’s easy to say just look online and find some DIY articles and do it yourself but what I found, however is that a lot of photography DIYers are in the USA and what they could easily find in America is not so easy to find (or cheap to buy) in Australia! Besides, I’m not a patient type (like my husband) who spends time to carefully measure and plan. It has to be simple!

After much searching and headache I did manage to make my very own set of cone-shaped diffusers. Here are my quick and easy DIY diffuser cones that I made out of desperation using materials I could get/have delivered in Perth, Western Australia.

Materials:

Savage Translum Backdrop

It is essentially a rolled up thin sheet of plastic and it is not readily available in Australia so I get this shipped from B&H in NYC. The shipping costs more than the product itself.

White cloth tape

This is one thing that is not hard to get. I got mine from Masters but you could get it anywhere really.

Metal Hoops

This is my own finding. I say that because a famed product photography guy, Alex Koloskov, shows how to make these diffusers using a plastic pipe. I tried that and, oh boy, what a disaster that was when I tried his method. That’s because I couldn’t get hold of the kind of pipe that he was using so I came up with an idea. What if I use some thin metal wire? It would be better if it’s already in a hoop/loop shape. I did some thinking/searching and I found out that it is in fashion these days to make dream catchers using metal hoops. Yipee! I was so happy when I found these on eBay. I bought 18″ and 12″ for my diffusers.

How I made them:

diy-diffuser-cones-121522

  1. I didn’t use rulers or any other sophisticated tools. OK, rulers aren’t all that sophisticated. ;-) All I had were a pen and a piece of string to draw a half circle on Translum sheet for the outer bigger circle. And I drew a smaller circle where my lens would go through at the top.
  2. I rolled the cutout sheet to meet the straight edges and taped to secure the shape while I put the hoop down from the top to secure the bottom. The bigger the diffuser gets, the flimsier the bottom part is. This is really the reason why I have a metal hoop.
  3. Once I find the right place for the hoop to secure the shape (about an inch off the bottom) I tape various places to hold the shape together.
  4. Since I didn’t measure anything and made them kind of as I went along I had to trim the edges to make them neater.
  5. I made some small cuts all around the top hole and folded the little bits outward. I found that with those cuts it’s easier for the lens to go through when shooting.
  6. That’s it.

Next time, I could perhaps share photos I’ve taken with these cone diffusers.

Orange, Tangerine Colour Fashion Guide

By | blog | No Comments

It was raining as I was thinking of writing this piece. Then a few minutes later, the sun came out. Winter is on its way out I think although it will probably have a few of cold nights up on its sleeve. Our friend came and visited last week with a bag of tangerines and oranges. It is the orange picking season! On that note, let me show some gorgeous orange coloured outfits that you could try.
Orange

Orange is a tangy, optimistic colour that demands attention! Strong, joyful, and happy, adding orange to your engagement session is always a hit on camera. Couples with a more extroverted nature might enjoy orange-themed outfits. Orange also looks wonderful in urban settings, such as against concrete, brick, and stone.

fashion modelling portfolio photography for anyone

By | blog, Business | No Comments

modelling-portfolio-photography-page-capture

 

Modelling Portfolio Package wasn’t something that I was planning on offering at the start of my photography business. People may think that there is something very glamorous when fashion and model are mentioned together although the reality is quite far from it. For that and more, I wasn’t particularly keen on doing any (so called) ‘test shoots’ with models. Why would I want to when we could have more fun transforming regular, every day women?.

Therefore, My main gig has always been ‘making every day women beautiful’. And my team and I could really make anyone to look and feel like a model.

Then earlier this year, we got to help Nikita who wanted to update her modelling portfolio. When she first contacted me for this, I was a little hesitant. Interestingly, she really wanted to have her folio updated with the style of images that I’ve been producing for my portrait clients. That was really it. The whole team got involved and we did a shoot. Nikita was very pleased with the result and she subsequently (with her new folio) signed with an agency.

I’m good at directing and posing women (as every client who did a shoot with me told me) and that goes a long way when creating a compelling portfolio for modelling. With that in mind, I decided to create a page dedicated to modelling portfolio. It was created some time ago but I have been tinkering here and there for some time. Today, I think I’m ready to tell everyone that we are doing this.

 

Father’s Day Gift Guide

By | blog | No Comments

This post below was sent out to my mailing list last week (with a major typographical error in the heading! Duh). I thought it would be good to have a post here with some additional content for those who are not part of my newsletter subscribers’ list.

mail-header

I did promise to give you Father’s Day gift ideas earlier. What I present here are something that I love (well, I do like guy stuff as some of you may already know!).

Some are Perth local which means you don’t have to wait for a long for them to arrive. Others (the wallet) offer a free express shipping so you might just get them before Father’s Day which is Sunday, 6 September. Not long now!

Happy shopping and keep loving!

xo
Songy

gift-guide

1. Chapels Fine Teas

Chapels on Whatley is a restaurant, cafe and a tea merchant. I love their tea more than any other tea products available in Australia T2 included. If your Dad or your man is a tea drinker, see if you find something he might like. If you like me you’d like Skinny Bi**h Teas. Don’t let the name put you off. It’s simply delicious! Their teas range from around $15 to $30.

If he is not a tea drinker I suggest having breakfast or lunch there. Make sure you book a table well in advance (about now would be a good time) as tables booked out fast for special occasions. Chapels is located near Maylands train station.

2. Rhus Watches

Serious covetable watches. I love them all but my particular favourite for boys is Sand / Matt Black Watch. This watch brand is based in Perth! Me LIKE. This particular watch is $130.

3. Bellroy Wallets

You may say ‘Not another wallet!’. He may already have a wallet as well. But probably not this one. This is the only wallet I own. Trust me. He will like it if he carries no cash and just a bunch of cards. My favourite (the simplest) is Slim Sleeve.

Hang on, but he has everything!

Well, in that case, I might still be able to help.

fathers-day-special-2015

CELEBRATE DAD!

This father’s day, capture the amazing love between Daddy and the kids with one of my relaxed mini photo sessions. Each session is short but sweet, offering your family an affordable way to get beautiful, professional portraits to enjoy for generations. These mini sessions sell out very quickly, so be sure to book your time slot with me well in advance.

PERFECT GIFT FOR DAD

1 hour Mini Photo Session
5 hand-retouched high resolution digital photos for $350

Find out more about Father's Day Mini Sessions

Indigo blue colour fashion guide

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Indigo

 

Today would have been a perfect sunny day to pull out some summer clothes (although it’s still winter where we are) as the temperature went all the way up to 27 degree C. That is practically a summer weather in some parts of the world!

Blue is not definitely not my colour but my friend Simone looks great with blue. Probably some of you out there would definitely prefer blue to brown (my colour). Don’t get too excited with this summer attire though as it will soon get colder towards next week. We may get some more rain then.

Here’s some story on the colour indigo blue.

Indigo – or deep blue – is a rich, exceedingly popular colour which looks beautiful in almost any setting. Outfits with blue elements create a sense of calm and quiet – perfect for a more introverted couple or natural backdrops. Blue can be dressed up or down to fit your tastes, and can be used either as a main colour or accenting in your outfits.

Gail Thompson’s FuMoso

By | Cools shops in Perth, People

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What is your name?

Gail Thompson

What do you do for a living?

Designer and Owner of THOMPSON Clothing

How did you get to that for a living?

Single mum designed and sold children’s clothing

If you weren’t doing that what would you be doing?

Design 3 days per week and the rest play with my grand babies

What is your favourite colour?

All colours because combined they become Black

What do you like to eat?

Everything except Pasta

What is your favourite movie?

Devil Wears Prada and Steel Magnolias ask my girls

What are the website(s) you visit most often?

Not Many

What did you do in the past four weeks?

Opened a new store in South Perth

What are you doing next four weeks?

Designing my Spring Collection

If I were a ‘Genie’ what would you ask of me?

Nothing my life is Good

I first met Taryn (the blond in the top photo), Gail’s daughter, when Head Studio first opened in King Street in 2009.  That was my pre-dread lock era! Ah, time flies. I then finally got to meet her fashion designer mother earlier this year when I got to help her with autumn collection. The garments you see in the website, Merchandised, are essentially all her designs. Ah yes, FuMoso is her company name (trading as Thompson Clothing). Despite the fact that she could possibly retire – there’s more than enough encouragement in the family – and that fashion retail is tougher than ever, she is not slowing down.  I’m definitely not in the ‘Gail to retire’ camp. I’m actually in the ‘Gail to keep going’ side. I love what she does with patterns. That’s why I built a website to sell her garments.

Thompson Clothing has been around for more than a decade in case you haven’t heard the name before. The biggest thing for me – what compelled me to build an online store with her garments – was the fact that all her clothes are made right here in Perth. And the manufacturer (a team of seamstresses?) only works for Thompson Clothing.

Seriously, I wonder sometimes why and how things happen the way they do. I could have met Gail six years ago but I did not. Perhaps, back then she would have been too busy running her business which would have been running at a much larger in scale. Thompson Clothing is changing. Gail has been streamlining her designs that are more HER and OTHERS. This time, she is doing it for her.

Her designs resonate with me and that’s why I wear a lot of her stuff these days. If you’d like to help her to continue her creative work – instead of getting into retirement – head over to her new store in South Perth. FuMoso is open from Wednesday till Saturday.

 

Green Colour Fashion Guide

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Green

Here’s me thinking, perhaps, spring is peaking his head although it’s still cold at night and my toes suffer from chilblain of some sort (could you believe it!?). At least, we are having a bit of break from rain this week. I’ve been loading the washing machine (ran out of my undies!) non-stop today.

Green is a perfect colour for me today. I’m a big fan of slightly ‘cooler’ green such as turquoise. See if you have anything in green in your wardrobe. Wear some green!

Here is a little story on Green. Enjoy.

Nothing says fresh and new quite like the colour green! Green comes in a wide array of shades, ranging from a yellowish, pea-like hue all the way to turquoise! Green looks beautiful combined with earth tones, and therefore makes a wonderful choice for outdoor shoots and backdrops of wood and stone. Even small accents of green, such as jewellery, scarves, or shoes, look wonderful with whites and tans.

Violet, Purple, or Lavender Colour Fashion Guide

By | blog | No Comments

Violet

We had quite a wet day. I haven’t been able to walk with my dog and had to remain at home. Not so good when my GP sent me a letter saying that (after a full blood test) I have vitamin D deficiency. I suppose I just have to stay out in the sun (if and when it does come out again) for a bit.

After posting a yellow guide earlier this week, today I felt like purple (or violet or lavender if you’re more romantically inclined) today. I don’t have anything purple in my wardrobe. I’ll have to look for some (not that there’s any more room!)

Here is a little story on Violet. Enjoy.

In ancient times, the creation of purple dye was an incredibly lengthy, expensive process. Purple garments became a symbol of wealth and nobility, even royalty; and were sought after world-round. Although violet is now far easier to come by, the colour is still associated with its royal roots. A violet-themed engagement outfit exudes playful sophistication and looks great on camera! Small accents of purple, such as scarves and accessories, can also liven up an otherwise muted palette!  

Yellow Colour Fashion Guide

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Yellow

This isn’t about how to wear yellow if it is indeed your colour. This is about show some options for those who often tell me that they don’t know what to wear. It’s a glorious winter’s day today. I found these fashion guides online and loved them so much so I purchased them (for you). Here’s some blurb on today’s colour YELLOW.

Ah, yellow! The colour of happiness, of light and sunshine. Yellow is a wonderful colour to wear in outdoor, buttery natural-light shoots, and looks amazing on camera! Although yellow can be difficult for some to wear because of its tendency to wash out skin tones, patterns with yellow or a single yellow garment in an otherwise neutral palette adds wonders to your images. Adding yellow florals, jewellery, or accents also helps to make your photos go “POP!”. We love yellow. 

STYLEAID GOGO 2015

By | StyleAid

After a bit of break from runway shows, I went to StyleAID 2015 GOGO. What could I say? It’s good. The show is always excellent albeit difficult to shoot.  The atmosphere is always electrifying as the venue is glossy, music is loud, the crowd is excited (more so than other fashion parades) as  it is no regular fashion runway. The annual event has been running for over a decade and it raised more than million dollars for WA AIDS Council.

Each year, the theme is different and its list of designers varies although there are some staples such as Costarella and aelkemi (who starts and ends the show would be of some tricky business I would think).

This year’s theme GOGO was quite apt as it is the case each year. The retro feel was felt through out the show specially by retailers such as Varga Girl.

This year’s show felt a little leaner than previous’. That must have been felt in the ticket sales. According to someone inside, it was similar for Boobalicious  this year (similar charity ball for Breast Cancer Council). That said, the fashion show is always big requiring a little less than straight forward walking up and down the catwalk due to the number of designers. This year, there were three runways. (gah… yes..I couldn’t take photos of quite a few garments but not the end of the world).

StyleAid2015-gogo-0706

This year’s standout for me were, Nell’s Collection (fenella peacock), Salasai (as if fashion god asked someone to create a wardrobe specially for me) and Yuuki (just because I wear it on a day to day basis).

 

 

I’ve met Fenella in 2009 at a talk organised by Fremantle Art Centre on running a fashion business. Since that I haven’t really had a chance to talk to her in person. Perhaps, this might be an occasion after seeing her latest collection to visit her store and have a wee chat with the designer herself. As for Salasai, I do not know who the designer is. If anyone is interested in hooking me up with the designer please give me a shout!

 

I’m hoping to see the latest from Yuuki more up close so watch this space.  Until then stay stylish. xoxo

View StyleAID 2015 GoGo Show View photos from Before the Show

 

Blackman+Bromley at Claremont Quarter

By | Things to do

Australia’s celebrated painter Charles Blackman’s, original paintings (not just prints!) are still available. Ah yes, one could own one of his original paintings for mere $37,000. Knowing what I know (very little mind you), I would have thought (proven to be wrong once again) most of his original and any substantial work would be owned by someone else by now. Not so.

Yesterday, Claremont Quarter opened its gallery/event space for Blackman+Bromley exhibition with selected guests. Several pieces already had a red circle, meaning sold. I would guess that quite a few from the invited guests would consider purchasing a piece or two from the opening night before the show is open to general public today.

There were lots of drawings, prints, and graphics which I think people would find more approachable unlike some abstract art. Dare I say, most of his work reminds me of child’s drawings. Yes, there I said it. And they are worth a lot because it’s done by Charles Blackman. There’s a little advice for you, parents! Keep your kids’ drawings and frame them. They are going to brighten up your stylish white wall if you couldn’t or wouldn’t want to pay for Blackman’s artwork.

 

Aside from my blatant statement of artist’s work looking like child’s play, the show was lovely. Well merchandised – I won’t even say that it was well curated as I know nothing about curating arts – so that any art novice would want to own some of Blackman’s. In addition to Blackman’s there were several works by David Bromley titled Homage to Blackman. If Blackman’s work wasn’t your cup of tea Bromley’s work could tickle your fancy.

I would like to see more exhibitions like this. Better still, people with some extra dosh should buy more art so that many more artists could flourish right here and could make a decent living. Someone pointed out the other day that the reason why artists are struggle so much is because of the labour government. The legislation was introduced some five years ago preventing from having artwork on the wall if they were purchased for superannuation purposes. What that means is that if you buy art for your retirements you can’t have them displayed on the wall. They have to be ‘stored’. It sounds just so stupid but politicians who were behind this legislation would have had pretty good reason for that (or they were just not into art!).

Despite all that, I believe in abundance. There are plenty of wealthy individuals out there. They could easily make a huge difference in events like this. I just hope that many people get to see the show. I also hope that the show could inspire people (specially those who otherwise wouldn’t see art exhibitions).

If you’re an art lover, you’d already know about this show. Go and see it. You never know you might want to buy one of the prints instead of shelling that out money for a bag by Marc Jacobs. Just saying.

 

Sheree Dornan

By | People

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What is your name?

Sheree Dornan

What do you do for a living?

Design textiles and garments and run Love in Tokyo retail store.

How did you get to that for a living?

I also paint and wanted to apply my artwork to fabrics ..so it all started from there 12 -13 years ago.

If you weren’t doing that what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t in the creative industries I’ve often thought in another life I would like to be a research scientist discovering cures for cancer and other diseases.

What is your favourite colour?

I have many favourites

What do you like to eat?

I could live on seafood

What is your favourite movie?

Again more than one! Amelie is always a delight to watch.

What are the website(s) you visit most often?

Yellowtrace

What did you do in the past four weeks?

Worked a lot ! both with Love in Tokyo and preparing artwork for an upcoming exhibition

What are you doing next four weeks?

As above and a short trip travelling for work

If I were a ‘Genie’ what would you ask of me?

To solve all the world’s problems with a click of your fingers.

I first met Sheree back in 2009 when I walked into her store Love in Tokyo while strolling down High Street in Fremantle.

Her STYLEAID contribution Dolly Paper Dress was the instigator for this long overdue catch up with Sheree.  The dress is made out of paper (Tyvek) which has been digitally printed with Sheree’s artwork. The silk circles are laser cut by ExpressLink in Perth. She showed me a tiny antique glass with a pinch of sequins telling me how they inspired all this and more. It’s simply NUTS and I love it. I could tell that she had more than a little bit of fun making this dress. I hope it does well in the silent auction at STYLEAID GO GO.

I also had glimpses (okay, let’s say a little more than just that as I screamed with joy and excitement looking at prints from her painting) of her work for the ART PLAY GROUND show in August. What I heard there in her studio was:

 ‘Exactly what I wanted to do!’

I heard this more than once or twice from several other people. What stops us from doing exactly what we want to do? Some of us are doing it. I think I am doing it. How about you?

I thought about that a lot on my way home from Fremantle – creatively charged up.  There’s a lot more to come from Sheree’s creative world. I’d say watch this space as I’d be unabashedly stalking her around.        

How I made free stock photo download page

By | blog | No Comments

My friend suggested giving away some photos on my website. They don’t have to be great work. They just have to be good enough to be used as background images in website projects etc so she said.

Even after years of somewhat hoarding my photos by watermarking them (usually do that for my fashion runway images) and reserving rights (copyrighted), it didn’t seem like a radical idea. After all, I don’t do anything with those images and it’s not like they are like some kind of ‘work of art’ – ah yes, they are in a way, but I still think I have a long way to go with my craft.

It didn’t take much to take some photos for that very purpose, since looking through old archives to select sharable images would take so much longer, on early cold mornings. That’s when one could get spectacular micro (macro a la Nikon) photos. Having photos made and ready to share is easy but how do I make them downloadable?

I causally thought about, after having looked around various other free stock photography websites, what my page should look like. Here’s the list of things I wanted.

  1. Photos downloadable without having to navigate to another page
  2. Photos laid out in a neat grid format
  3. Page is mobile device friendly (modern standard!)
  4. People could buy me coffee via PayPal (make a small or big donation)
  5. Photos are stored not in the web server space but stored externally (i.e. Dropbox or iCloud or Google Drive) with a cloud storage service.
  6. Photos could be categorised and sortable. This means preview images (low resolution) have to exist in the web server as ‘posts’ so that I could apply tags and categories.
  7. I don’t have to upload photos one by one (That would be a deal breaker as I don’t want to spend too much time maintaining the page)

The list is not in any order of importance. They have been used as criteria for deciding what kind of plugins I need to make the page happen. What I need to point out here is that I am not a programmer, or a web or a front end developer. I’m just a photographer who makes simple websites with the use of readily available themes and plugins.

After a few days of experimenting with different methods, here’s the list of plugins/services I used to make the page to work the way I wanted (according to the seven items listed above).

  • WP Download Manager Pro (Paid)
  • PayPal Donation (free)
  • Quick Featured Images Pro (Paid)
  • 30 minutes of front-end developer’s time (Paid)

The result of all that is now available for you on Photos. The page itself doesn’t look all that special. However, it took some time to make it work. Let me explain.

WP Download Manager Pro

It’s a pretty comprehensive piece of software built by a guy in Bangladesh. They have a slew of add-on programs to go with the WP Download Manager. I had to pay for their Pro version because they following features are not available in a free version:

  •   Bulk Import – this meets (so I thought) criterion 7
  •   Download Stats – didn’t think I’d need it but would be handy to know how many people are benefiting from these images
  •   Custom Templates – really needed it because of criterion 1 

I thought this plugin would fulfil all of the requirements. However, I found out, after trying out their bulk import feature (simple CSV file with various columns), that it was not quite enough. It does do what it says but not completely. The biggest problem is that after loading a bunch of images, they don’t actually show up in the Photos page until I assign a preview image (which have to be stored locally and not in Cloud to make my photos sortable/categorised) for each downloadable item one by one. That clearly defeats the purpose of having a bulk importer although it does save a little bit of time. The guys at WP Download Manager, when I pointed out the obvious flaw of their software, were kind enough to suggest an additional plugin called Quick Featured Images Pro which eventually solved the problem – read on to find out how I got the work around.

The Custom Template was definitely needed because I really didn’t want people to click through to another page (which was a default behaviour of the plug-in) to download actual image files. I’m not selling these images one by one (like other stock photography sites) so there is really no reason for people to move away from the list of photos. That meant I had to modify their ‘download link’ template. I never want to tinker with plugin’s core files as that would jeopardise future updates of the plugin which is critical for website security (in case you don’t know, outdated plugins are one of the key reasons why websites get hacked). With their custom template function, I was able to simply delete all other links, icons, click through and make the page to show list of preview images with download links.

So far so good, but what I ended up with was a list of small thumbnails and download links as text which are not really ideal. That’s when I got my front end developer to help. He spent half an hour tidying up CSS and made the page to look the way it does now.

Quick Featured Images Pro

Lastly, this plugin saved a lot of my time by allowing me to grab attached images – Bulk Importer above could attach images as a piece of content but not as preview images as Featured image. That meant, l could run Bulk Importer to upload multiple images all at once. Then run Quick Featured Images Pro to attach preview images.

wp-download-manager-file-list

So what?

What this means that I could upload several images at once spending perhaps half an hour or so rather than hours across several days to upload new photos for people – YOU – to enjoy and perhaps to use for work.

I hope this was helpful for anyone who is thinking of doing the same thing (saving you time and some headache). Also, you know what I do when I have spare time – stuck with my computer tinkering with websites.

Until next time… ciao.

Winter Specials

By | blog | No Comments

Exactly what the title of this post says, we are offering a special photo package for July and August. I hear that the day are getting longer from today (or has it begun since yesterday?) but it feels rather too cold (and wet until yesterday) to go out. 

Having a photo shoot with us would be an excellent indoor activity for you, ladies. That’s actually what my client told me today.

If you want your partner to do something special for you, this ‘image flyer’ would definitely be a good ‘hint’. It cannot get easier than this, can it?

I don’t usually offer this type of special – some of you may already know if you’ve been watching – so it would be a good opportunity to get your gorgeous portrait made by my team if you’ve been umming and ahing about coming in for a shoot.

3 hour photo shoot including:

  • Professional hair styling and makeup
  • 3 outfit changes and styling
  • Set of 6 gorgeous digital photographs
  • Choice of 1 archival mounted 7×10 inch print.
    ** Bookings available every day except Saturdays

The package price is $1,295.

Booking request form

 

Madison Mclerie from Hug the Ground

Body image experiments

By | Journal, Musing | No Comments

I’m currently experimenting with different things with different people. After my film noir nude session, I got to meet Madi from Hug the Ground.

Madi’s current work involves woman’s body in its raw form – including fat rolls, body hair in places we don’t get to see much in public. Provoking? Yes, someone commented when I showed her work. Personally, I didn’t find her work provocative. When I first saw her work, I had goose bumps and I just had a strong urge to meet the talent behind the amazing artwork.

I told Madi before I met her that I’d love to photograph her. What I didn’t realise at the time was that she wasn’t going to wear much (in fact, nothing at all) during the shoot. Also, the projection of space image was her idea – acquisition of mother of all projector was my responsibility and huge thanks goes to Caspar who graciously lent me his Sony Bravia projector. While she was moving in front of the projector, I was really an observer the whole time and I captured what I thought would make good frames.

Madison Mclerie from Hug the Ground Madison Mclerie from Hug the Ground Madison Mclerie from Hug the Ground Madison Mclerie from Hug the Ground

After this ‘Space set’, we shot two more and images got more interesting each time.

Will these make some great pieces of art work? Probably, not. Is this ground breaking? I do not think so. Oh boy, I had a great time though. I also have a huge respect for this young woman (half my age and just became legally adult).  Her drawings are brutally honest and heart ranching. Her Photo Booth project is sexier than some seriously sexy porns. Her work is getting recognised – some published and some will be exhibited.

What Maid’s work has that others don’t seem to have is emotional connection. She may be young and naive still. People may turn their nose up for all that nudity. However, what I know for sure is whatever medium with which she chooses to pursue her art, she would be able to survive as an artist. By that I mean, making a living from it. That’s because she has the ability to evoke strong emotion with her work. That I believe will get her far. I hope I am not wrong and I hope I get to do just that with my own work. :D

—–UPDATE———
After this post went up I received the following comment via Facebook. I thought I should share with you.

Nelly Reffet said

Interesting work, Songy. I suffered from anorexia and bulimia for a very long time (respectively 2 years and 9 years) and I had a very distorted image of my body. I basically only saw it as a burden, something that was trapped to my mind, that was slowing me down, a big ball of flesh I hated. So… I decided to model nude… It became a job eventually that got me to travel a fair bit and earn a living. But more importantly, it became a massive step in my journey towards acceptance and self-esteem.It took me way more than one session to familiarize myself with my body: how it looks for real, how it could be beautiful and gracious at times, and completely unbalanced and awkward and not elegant at all at others. It took me time to accept seeing photos of me without hating both photos as such and the body on it; it took me time to look at the photos and like (some of) them, even if I didn’t like the body on it; it took me time be more indulgent towards my body; it took me time to find my body beautiful on paper; it took me time to feel present during the session, totally connected to my body, embracing it, not trying to escape, to hide, to be elsewhere. The progress was slow but life changing. I whole-heartedly encourage women with low self-esteem and body image issues to work on their problem this way. xxx

Film Noir Nude

By | blog | No Comments

I read somewhere or heard from someone that when I feel stuck I should try something different. So that’s what I did. I haven’t been very shooting actively. I blame my cute puppy for that inactivity  but I know that I must own my schedule!

My joy in taking photos of women has always been in dressing & styling. Undressing then taking photos has never been a thing for me. I didn’t think about it until lately that I don’t need pretty garments to make women look beautiful in photos.

What if I could do just do that with shadows? Painting with shadows would just be effective hiding multitude of things and highlight the curves that I love seeing in women’s body. Jacqui, in these images, is very tiny so I would love to try this film noir style nude with curvier ladies soon.

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Would love to try again with people with crazy tattoos as well. Oh possibilities and opportunities! Who is feeling stuck now?

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Portrait for Elite Athlete Genie Colllin

By | blog | No Comments

I don’t often do portrait sessions without my team these days but sometimes it is just so easy to have a session with no one else around me. After all, it was how I used to work.

This 18 year old young lady  just came back from Brazil after winning a bronze medal at the ICF canoe slalom Junior and Under 23 World Championships. And she will soon be off to Europe and the USA for other international level competitions and training. 

Unlike in America where Senior Portrait (for those who graduate high school) is popular, I don’t really get to take portrait of girls like her here in Australia.

It is quite apt that she got to do this session with me as she will be able to use these images to replace her profile photos (after all, she is an elite athlete!), to approach potential sponsors and employers.

I also managed to dress her in a more grown-up attire, namely, a lattice pattern top from a local designer Gail Thompson whose work I recently found and fell in love with. I also put her in a peach dress from our massive shooting wardrobe (which is growing day by day).

Love making gorgeous images of young girls (ahem, adults, thank you very much, she would respond)… more images to be seen in my portfolio.

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What is her favourite colour?

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What is my mother’s favourite colour?

That question popped into my head and I realised that I had absolutely no idea. Do you know your mother’s favourite anything – colour, food, magazine, singer, movie etc?  I don’t know anything about my mother. She has always been just the carer, provider, someone who nagged me for not doing the right thing (by her standards of course). I never knew her as a woman just like me. In Korea, she wasn’t even called by her name. She was simply known as Songy’s Mother (that’s was a normal thing until the early 90s’ but not sure if it is still the case).

Margaret, my client Neonie’s mother, brought her favourite hoodie jumper for her shoot. She seriously wanted to wear a hoodie (and insisted on wearing it up) and she looked fab. Neonie lives in Perth and her parents are in SA. This photo shoot was something very special for both of them as they don’t get to see each other that often.

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Does your mother have her favourite hoodie? Or simply does she like colour black? Or would she look absolutely fabulous in black?

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Or does she have her favourite dress in which she looks great and makes her look 20 years younger? When was the last time she wore that dress?

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If you know answers to all of those questions you are lucky because I, as mentioned earlier, know nothing about my mother (not having seen her for 10 years doesn’t help either).

Quite a few daughters – clients – came to me with their mothers in the past 12 months. I’m very grateful for the experience because those sessions helped me to understand finally that my mother was once a woman.  While I plan to have a visit back to Korea at some point to re-discover the woman who brought me to this world, I suggest that you do the same if you don’t know much about your mother.

Having a photo shoot with her, of course, would be something exquisite (as my clients all call it now) but it doesn’t have to be that grand. Just find out, look and talk to her not as your mother but as a woman for once.

Session with Stephanie Labrousse

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Sexy, crazy, and cool is what the shoot was like with Stef Labrousse. Jillian, our stylist, well I’d rather call her my Creative Director, had a brilliant idea of setting up a backdrop with what was sitting in my backyard to be thrown away, a decade old brushwood fence.

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From there, it got wilder as the shoot progressed. The resulting images are something that I couldn’t have been able to create if it wasn’t for having my team. A big thank you also goes to the makeup guru Miss Gower who did a fab job.

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Just wanted to share what happens behind the scenes of a creative photo shoot. _DSF1028 _DSF1031

These following close-up photos were taken by Hollie Gower while I was taking photos. It wouldn’t be long before she switches side (from makeup brushes to a DSLR) but I guess I could be totally wrong there. You be the judge.

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Session with Amy

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Amy is tall (5′ 11″), has short blond hair and she’s a young professional. An invitation to a photo shoot was sent to her quite a few months ago. As she ‘confessed’, she’s been putting off a session with us. When I finally plugged a date into our shooting schedule, she just accepted the appointment without much of a reaction.

The day came. Jilly, the stylist, started ‘inspecting’ what the client had brought with her for the session. Lots of pearls. Didn’t make sense to Jilly. Amy’s style isn’t usually the girly pearly look. As Jilly was whispering that in my ear, I called out to Amy loudly, ‘Hey, what’s with all these pearls?’ She explained that they were from her mother who passed away quite a few years ago. Silence. We then went about incorporating the pearls in the shoot with a few modern twists.

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The image above was a huge hit when I posted it in Facebook. Amy didn’t know that the pearls were going to be used this way. When the image was uploaded, she left comments with photos from her childhood taken at a portrait studio – probably with her parents watching her. Little Amy is wearing her mother’s pearl necklaces.

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As a little girl, she is so small that the pearls came down to her knees. If Amy had brought those images along to the photo shoot, we could have easily simulated the looks and poses. Then again, it might not have worked out all that great. More than likely, I would have been a sobbing mess and would have made everyone else cry. Amy now has gorgeous photos of herself as a grown-up wearing her mother’s pearls. We love what we do. Could you tell? I’m teary already.

Before & After March 2015

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Every woman feels insecure. This very generalised statement seems not very far off from the truth. This morning, I watched a TEDx talk by Cameron Russell who has been a super model for over a decade. Even she came out and said, despite all her lucky genes (her words), she feels insecure about how she looks. Most of us understand that even the most beautiful woman could feel that way. Knowing all that doesn’t make us happy or confident about how we look. Actually, it rarely works that way. 

However, these ladies told us that coming to the studio and having a photo shoot was a great way to boost their confidence. That’s because they realise they also could look like a super model given there’s a team of specialists whose job is to make ladies look beautiful. Some ladies refer to that as magical. I’m almost sorry to say this but there is no magic in this.

I have a great team of creatives who share the same vision: makeup artists, a hair stylist and a fashion stylist. I try to have my full team of three in as many sessions as possible. I send big thanks and kisses to them for this month’s Before & After images.

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For mothers

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Within a few weeks, after consuming a copious amount of chocolate during the Easter break, Mother’s Day will arrive in May. While some of us would still try to wake up from the ‘choc coma’, others will be busy preparing something special for their mother.

I have a solution for those who haven’t got a clue as to what to do. You’ll probably want to save some money or maybe crack open your piggy bank. Or you could gather a photo-fund together with your bros and sisters if you’re lucky enough to have siblings. For the month of April & May and only for seven sessions, I have something special for those who want to treat their mother for a session at our studio. Valued at $1,595, the Mother & Daughter Celebrate Relationships package includes:

  • Makeover for two (mother & daughter)
  • Styling
  • Photo shoot
  • A pair of Stirling silver rings from Grace & Scaper
  • 10 archival mounted photographs in a gorgeous Photo Box**
  • Images in a CD

As I mentioned, we have this package available for seven sessions only and it cannot be combined with other offers such as discount/gift vouchers.

Some might say, I’m not a daughter … I say just book your mom in.
Others might say, I would like to book it in for myself, so I say just book a session for yourself.
And some could say, I am not a mother but I would like a session – then I suggest just booking a session but I cannot give you this package because this is only for mothers! So I’ll offer you something else from our price list.

** We have three white and four turquoise blue photo boxes available. Each box contains 10 of 6×8′ mat mounted photographs.

Interested? Contact us!

It doesn’t look like me. But it is you, beautiful.

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Scared/terrified – these are sometimes the words my clients use to describe their feeling before coming to the studio after they confirm the booking.

We sometimes have very reluctant clients who would only come because they were strongly encouraged by their partners to have their photos done with us.

Some clients are ‘slow burners’ who are, at first, in denial about how beautiful they look with a repeating comment like ‘It does not look like me’ while looking at their photos at the back of my camera during the shoot. My repeating response then is ‘But it is you standing in front of me’. They then would realise the plain fact – They are beautiful in their own way.

The beauty we saw today was incredible. I hope she could now see what we saw.

[update]

After I posted this message with the photo in my Facebook page , the client wrote a very long and heart ranching comment. Here I placed it in verbatim.

Songy, let me tell you my story.

As a teenager I was bullied by the boys at school. They called me “Mack Truck” for most of the time I was in high school. I was quite sporty, had a basketball scholarship, played netball and tried my hand at many other sports. I had quite a bad ankle injury at the end of year nine, and this was my out – I had an excuse to quit my basketball scholarship and not have to spend so much time around these boys.

I’m also from a single parent family. Raised by my mum, but always searching for my dad’s approval. He would introduce me as his “smart daughter” and my sister as his “beautiful daughter”. Now while I now recognise that this was his way of complimenting us, I always saw it as he calling me ugly and my sister dumb.

There is no doubt I was an awkward teenager, but these words from those hateful boys and my lovely dad have stayed with me 20+ years after they had been said. This is why I have never seen myself as beautiful.

I am now trying to teach my boys to be respectful and instil some of those old style personality traits that aren’t seen so much these days – to be chivalrous, romantic, and to hold their tongue if they don’t have anything nice to say. My sick little man’s face lit up when I arrived home yesterday, he kept looking at me and smiling, telling me how beautiful I was. This to me is all that matters now. Thanks for yesterday, I’m looking forward to seeing the other photos.

When I got this message, I was just parking my car near where I was supposed to meet someone. Of course, I couldn’t get out of the car as tears were streaming down my face. It was very hot outside and I had the car engine turned off so I had messy tearful face with sweat rolling down my back. I only wished she was able to share the story with us during the shoot so that we could give her a hug. It is me being rather selfish. I guess that sharing her story this way more people get to read and get touched by it.

Very few people ‘waltz into the studio’ for a photo shoot with us even when she wanted to do it in the first place. It is incredibly overwhelming having to face a camera. Claire did it and she shared her very personal story with all of us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I cannot wait to show you the rest of the images from the session.

 

A bunch of Before & Afters

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In all seriousness, the idea was not to post a bunch of before & afters unceremoniously. The actual plan was to do a post for each and share the behind the scenes images along with stories from each lady.

It turned out though I cannot physically manage that as I got more bookings hence shooting and having to process more images. A bunch is better than nothing at all, I figured.

I harp on about how much I love shooting women and I also talk a lot about taking photos of regular women. What do I mean by regular women? The definition for me is simple – she is not a professional model. I’m having to explain this a lot because a) I get contacted by (wannabe) models asking for shoots quite often b) my business tagline says fashion/beauty and people assume, therefore, I shoot fashion models (why? not sure) c) I call myself a glamour photographer. Somehow that makes people to link to fashion models.

I was asked again today in a different way. Who is your target market? Or better way would be Who is your ideal client? My answer goes – mothers who have always been putting everyone else before them. And really if I were to go more broadly it would be women who could really do with feeling great about themselves for a change. That means a lot of us. So I’m telling all of you that you deserve to be photographed by my team. There, I said it.

Here, please enjoy this bunch of before and after images. We have mothers (with at least three children) with career, a young manager at heavy machinery hire company, professional women who wanted some different corporate photos and ended up with more than just photos.

Until next time. xoxo

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Happy Together

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This photo was taken 10 years ago from my apartment in Paris on a winter’s day. To this day, I cannot describe how heart-achingly lonely I was.

In 2004, I decided to base myself in Paris to pursue my career, leaving my guy behind in Abu Dhabi. Being separated after spending nine years together was the hardest thing I had to do. He still had a year left on his contract with an employer in the UAE, and I had to spend a year in Paris working. Being separated for one year doesn’t sound like much now but somehow it was too painful to bear most days at the time.

I did enjoy the life in Paris, don’t get me wrong. I would do that again in a heartbeat if I was given the opportunity but perhaps with one difference – I’d go with my partner.

I missed him so dearly. How happy I was when we were together whenever he came to Paris for a visit! This is probably the only picture of us together taken when we finally saw each other after nearly six months apart.

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We both look quite a bit younger in this pic. Looking at the image, I still have tears springing to my eyes and feel the pain and joy I had 10 years ago.

Where are we right now? I’m writing this post in my studio and he is out to see his dentist. Just getting on with our daily lives as a couple. Oh boy, how grateful I am though…Here we are together. We spend a lot of time together now more than ever before. Someone asked us recently if we were newly-weds. Not quite. Just been together for about 20 years and married for 18.

I am glad I have this one image to remind myself how much I cherish my relationship with the man I love. This is especially handy when he does things that annoy me a little. I’d rather have this occasionally naughty guy around me than being alone….so Happy Together.

 

2014 What a great year

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It has not been an easy year. Deciding to go after what made me happy seemed like the most selfish thing to do. Giving up a fat monthly pay cheque was the biggest decision I had to make in years. What ensued as a result of that decision wasn’t something one could easily predict. Read More

Bad photos from a good camera

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Some uninformed would say to photographers “Your camera takes great pictures!”

Well, not so – most of pros think. Because it’s well known that we (professional photographers), more often than not, do take bad photos.

Having a family portrait session for a family of nine, I don’t often use speedlights for large groups. The result – hmmm holy f**&. It’s awful with shadows in the background. I didn’t have time to fiddle with the lighting as much as I would have liked. That is specially not a good idea when a little baby is involved. 

I just proceeded with the minimal light changes knowing that those shadow casts can be fixed in post-production (as painful as it would be).

When I make mistakes like this I painstakingly fix them file by file just to remind myself not to make the same mistake.

Some of you might ask how I did it. Of course, there are so many different ways to fix this problem just to name a few:

  1. Deep etching in Photoshop (various masking techniques)
  2. Smart masking in OnOne Photo (just one stroke it removes the background so they claim)
  3. Spot fix without removing the entire background

I decided to go with the third option which was the fastest it turned out. I grabbed the Stamp Tool with big feather and stamped around the shadow gently. Shadows are gone but grey background not very attractive. Added a couple of layers with texture. How to show the textured layer through the grey background?

Duplicate the photo layer and set the original layer as ‘exclusion’ for the layer blending mode and mask away the grey in the second photo layer to show the patterns from layers underneath. Voila the final result – the client would be none the wiser how crappy the original shot was. Well, that’s only if they didn’t read this post. :)

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Yes, it’s not the camera that makes good pictures. It doesn’t really know what I want or need. It’s the person holding it makes / breaks it all. The actual magic in this case happened outside of my ancient Nikon D700.

Fremantle Fashion Collective 2014 at PSAS

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A long, long time ago, in a far, far away, place called in Perth, I decided that I loved shooting fashion shows. Only God (whatever your favourite kind is) knows why.

Fast forward six years, I was trying not to illegally park my car right next to Pakenham Street Art Space (PSAS – this is where Yuuki, formerly known as NiStore, and I did our editorial/creative shoot early this year) because I didn’t want to drag my case along bumpy pedestrian paths in Fremantle. It was a usually hot evening and PSAS wasn’t the best place to be on a night like this. It was not equipped with any kind of cooling system. Some sea breezes from the doors stood ajar would have been nice. Even those breezes were no where to be found. Usually, they are always there to blow my hat off but not on this night.

I was there kicking nonexistent dust off the floor with fellow photogs waiting for things to happen. I’ve been doing this so busily for the past six years until I found my love for this glamour portrait business.

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Crowd began pouring into the space and the show began. There is the usual crappy lighting -heavily back lit and where it was lit was actually fine. It’s just that models’ didn’t know where to stand so their half of body was too bright and the other half too dark – and swearing my ass off to fix focusing as my ancient D700 struggle to nail the focus on each shot due to back light. It’s just the usual struggle on the media pit.

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I suppose I’m just reminiscing how fresh I was when I first attended Fremantle High Street Collective – Transformation in 2008. I was hungry (for fashion runways) and very eager (so not to miss any shots). Now, I’m not as hungry (been covering far too many runway shows). I am easily the oldest person on the pit as each year the media pit in such shows sees the younger generation of photo enthusiasts taking up space while pros just go after more lucrative shoots. There, I still remain rubbing shoulders with young folks for the love of fashion runways, the music and the heat (probably more of body heat generated by some young dudes half my age right next me). Perhaps, that is why, thanks to this long running ‘romance’, I’m more often than not referred as a fashion industry person (although some real fashion people may not even heard of my name!).

So here I am remembering the woman in her mid 30’s on a hot summer’s day six years ago trying to madly photograph a fashion show in Fremantle. More specifically, I’m trying to remember the hunger and the eagerness she had. That woman is now 40 years old. Definitely, older but perhaps not wiser with a ton of runway photos. Now she wants to do the same with posing and taking photos of women – any women – with the same hunger and eagerness.

Email from Kim

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Amongst all of the thank-you notes and emails I receive after each photo shoot, the following from my client Kim touched me the most. She sums up reasons why I do portrait photography for a living. Kim’s email reads (copied verbatim with her permission): Read More