Posts Tagged ‘portrait’

Black Swan 2014 Programme

Peter Rowsthorn

It’s been four years, a long term relationship in this biz, and we feel dead cosy working as part of WA’s crack black ops theatre promotion team. Geoff and Esther of Dessein go in hard on behalf of design cred, Nancy and Kate from Black Swan State Theatre Company provide the best support and occasional loud “hurrahs!”

Last Monday the ‘Swan launched their 2014 programme. Next year will see Ben Elton, old Bill Shakespeare, Checkov and Tennessee Williams rub shoulders with (comparatively) new talent Chris Isaacs and fresh work from Aidan Fennessy.

Programme photography never begins until casting is over, and as a consequence, the shoots take place back to back; in most cases we shoot two plays to a day. The leads in the plays are a mix of new talent and faces familiar to anyone who hasn’t had their head under a rock for the past thirty years. Peter Rowsthorn (Brett of Kath and Kim fame) was first cab off the rank this year, yanking his amzingingly mobile features into line as the complex Max Prince character in Neil Simon’s “Laughter on the 23rd Floor”.

Hot on Peter’s heels was Sigrid Thornton, switching rapidly between her chatty, cheery self and the intense, anxious Blanche Dubois of “Streetcar”.

Black Swan State Theatre Co

The bulk of the posters were concepted around the idea of magazine covers with bold colourful backgrounds. They were all shot on colours as close as possible to the finished poster to minimise mucking about in post with awkward chroma casts in hair and shadows. This approach also makes it much easier for all involved in the shoot to visualise the finished result. Don’t we all get sick of explaining that “it will look different when the retoucher is done with it, a lot different”? Ultimately shooting on the right colour speeds the whole gig up immensely. Authenticity baby, it’s what we’re about.

The two studio plays, “Flood” and “The House on the Lake”, presented the biggest challenges, one calling for a partially submerged actress and the other a man wreathed in smoke. Adriane Daff drew the short straw for mid winter submersible duties in our indoor pool facility. Stylist Rachel Ciccarelli, makeup artists Jo Buswell and Virginia Hawdon, put their all into the transformation of actors into characters and Kailis Pearls did the jewellery honours for Streetcar.


Darren Smith – A Thousand Facets

Some time ago I was approached by sound artist Leah Blankendaal to collaborate with her on an installation based around distortions and refractions. Our ad hoc coffee shop manifesto nailed down one absolute: both of us wanted the exhibition to be experienced in fantastic reality, rather than virtual reality.

This series carries a culmination of interests for me. I love pure aesthetics. I love science. This falls somewhere in the middle, and while produced using digital media the results are absurdly analogue. Here’s a taster to take the edge off  Monday. You’ll have to make your presence felt at Kurb Gallery to complete the set and to absorb the sound component.

Opening night is 6pm Saturday Sept. 21st 2013 at Kurb GalleryA Thousand Facets runs from September 21st to 27th.



Characters of the Kimberley

Five days in WA’s beautiful north west photographing four people for a character based tourism campaign – what could possibly go wrong?
Here’s a clue. Cyclone. Lua.

Day one went OK. If you don’t count the loss of a bag of light stands and a tripod. Claire the Client picked me up at the airport and drove us to Derby to photograph Donny Woolagoodja, a local elder and custodian of cave paintings. Leaden skies were of mild concern but all of the work with Donny was to be shot indoors at Mowanjum Arts. I suppose one should be grateful that Qantas managed to lose only the light stands and not the lights or camera, still, borrowing packaging tape to stick lights to pieces of furniture and a step ladder was an inauspicious start. The heavy rain that fell during the entire trip back to Broome was a welcome break for the people of the Kimberley and it was sure to abate soon. Never rains for long up there. We tried not to talk about it too much.

Donny Woolagoodja

Donny Woolagoodja

Day Two. Claire the Client arrived at the accommodation with her car, not the hired 4WD she’d planned to make the trip to Cygnet Bay in originally. We’re going to fly there instead, been a bit of rain, road could be impassable, weather OK at Cygnet Bay. No worries. Off we go in the Cessna. Flying very low. Leaden sky. It isn’t raining but the pilot wants to fly below the cloud so he can see where he’s going. The cloud base is 500 feet. That’s quite low.
When we got to Cygnet Bay we landed at an airstrip 20km from the destination, Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm. There’s another airstrip closer but it’s smaller and could easily get washed out. It didn’t rain until a few minutes after we landed and then only lightly.
Paula from Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm picked us up and said that the cloud will likely lift soon. I guess she’s right because it rained a little harder, it’s as if the clouds were trying to spit something out so they could finish up and move along. After we’ve driven down a muddy road for a while we wind up at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm where we meet our second character, James Brown. Everyone agrees that it will clear up within the hour, it never rains for long in this neck of the woods. James hands round some raincoats and everyone takes their shoes off.

Claire the Client starts asking me hard questions about the clouds and Kimberley landscapes and photographs. Kimberley landscapes are traditionally depicted under blue skies. Sometimes there are Disneyesque clouds lurking a long way off. I tell Claire that the seascape backgounds we’re planning to use for James’ portraits will look good under cloud, you know, they’ll have a pearlescent quality. We chat about various tourism agencies’ cloud policies. All we need is for the rain to stop. No worries there as we’ve got all day and it never rains for much more than an hour up here.

James took Claire and I for a tour of the bay in a novel craft called Sealegs. We’re going to see where we’ll shoot when the rains stops. It’s actually a bit hard to see very far through the rain but James describes some of the features we would see if it was a bit clearer. When the Sealegs is going fast the rain stings our faces.
Back on shore we stand around and watch people going about their pearl farm business in the rain and mud. After a while our pilot lets us know that Cyclone Lua is heading for the coast south of Broome and that if we don’t head back now we might have to stay for two or three days. We go back to Broome. Flying back we pass over the coast. So much land is washing into the ocean that great sections of turquoise ocean are being stained red. I return to Perth and the good citizens of Broome batten the hatches for the cyclone which is due to hit on St. Patrick’s Day. The good citizens of Cygnet Bay count more than a few Irish among their number. It’s incredible what they’ll brave for a pint of Guinness and a spot of fiddle playing. They made it to Broome, but sadly the fiddler (who, by a strange co-incidence is my sister) was stranded in Perth.

Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm owner James Brown with his sons Dean and Shea at Shell Island

James Brown with his son Dean at Shell Island

The images have been used at the core of a major web campaign and competition by Australia’s North West, the regional tourism organisation for the Kimberley and North Pilbara. Only half the story has been told but being ever mindful of your desperate need, dear reader, to get your nose back in touch with the grindstone we’ll draw the curtains on this episode. If you’d like the juice on the Kimberley sunny side up let me know in the comments. There are still stories to tell – what was in Hairy Dog’s esky? How delighted were we to sit around a campfire in 40° heat?

Larissa White , El Questro Station tour guide

Larissa White , El Questro Station tour guide

Greg "Hairy Dog" Harman fishing on the Ord River

Greg "Hairy Dog" Harman fishing on the Ord River

Farewell Adrian

It’s been two weeks since we said goodbye to Adrian and now that we’ve nearly recovered it’s about time that we shared a few details for those of you that couldn’t make it and to say thanks to those that dropped by. We threw Adrian an ol’ fashioned studio party with a great mix of people and even threw up a few lights on a stand, with a camera there to capture it all.

A dozen or so images to wish one last farewell to Adrian – here’s to you, limey.

Get the Scoop on 2020

…Had a cherry of a shoot a few weeks ago and really wanted to share it. Now that the Spring edition of Scoop is hot off the press, I’m able to lift the lid on what was a blindingly fun series of sessions with some of Western Australia’s finest thinkers and do-ers. 

These and a few other pics sit behind interviews about the hopes, dreams and vision of these fine folks for a betterer Western Australia by the year 2020.

When approached by the chaps and chapesses at Scoop, they had this great idea for a natural looking window lit photoshoot in a lovely old studio, unfortunately that’s not ours, not that ours ain’t a damn fine piece of space mind, but I really wanted it to still have a natural thing going on so I set my cogs winding.

I wanted the reader to see hints of studio equipment, to get a sense of sincerity that would contrast with some studio artifice. Art Gallery of WA Director Stefano Carboni looks nonplussed about his missing arm and architect Gemma Smith is waiting for her ride into the future at a bus-stop-in-the-studio. If you’re a good looking bloke with a face that can tell a story like CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA, Dennis Eggington, then that may be all that’s needed for a mighty pic.

2020 Vision portrait of Bradley Woods of Australia Hotels Association.
2020 Vision portrait of Dennis Egginton CEO of Aboriginal Legal Service. The most interesting part of the behind the scene’s process was the book that Professor Samina Yasmeen, Director of Centre for Muslim States and Societies, is holding. The arabic script is translated from the title of the Peter Allen song, “emoH ailartsuA llaC llitS I”. You got that, right?. 

Samina didn’t want the script to appear as a label for herself or people that have immigrated, but as the title of the book. I hoped it might hold some interest as it may well be the first time some people had seen how the word “Australia” appears in Arabic script. Thanks Langford Islamic College, in particular Sh. Muhammad Agherdien, for kindly translating and writing it out for me.

Good on yer Darren Smith, for your fine assisting, not to mention your idea to have eco-educator and hotelier Sharni Graham shovel soil across our studio. Even bigger good-on-yers for cleaning it up thirty-odd times! 

So if you want to see the Hon Brendon Grylls MLA shouting his head off at me, Tim Kenworthy, a 21yr old CEO standing on his hands, not to mention a few other interesting peeps, drop into your local caff, order yourself a decaf flat white with 1 big sugar if you are like me and have a nosey through Scoop issue 57 Spring 2011.

2020 Vision portrait of Gemma Smith, Architect at Hocking Heritage Studio.
Still reading? OK, let’s play a game. One of the sitters was upgraded to business class, so to speak, and doesn’t appear in this feature. Instead he has his own feature in the next edition of Scoop. I’ll give the first person to pick it a sweetie if they comment. 😉 2020 Vision portrait of Stefano Carboni, Director of the Art Gallery of Western Australia

Tim Winton in print

Rob’s portraits of Tim Winton ran in the West Weekend last Saturday. Tim’s first play, presented by Black Swan opens at the State Theatre Centre on June 25 – more hereTim Winton

What is environmental portraiture?

We’ll forgive you for imagining it might relate to portraits made exclusively in our dwindling, shrinking, evaporating natural environment. Who knows when the term Environmental Portraiture was coined? Not us! All that seems certain is that it is likely to have occurred prior to the rise of the environment in our collective green consciousness. The joy of semantics – the word environmental is pretty much owned by nature, nonetheless “environmental portrait” remains the way photographers describe images made of people outside the studio. Typically portraits made of people in their work environment, whether that be an office, whaling station or coal fired power plant.

In the corporate and editorial portraiture ecosystem that Acorn Photo inhabits environmental portraiture usually means photographing sitters in their workspaces. Mostly this means in offices and boardrooms. We always have our eyes out for other, more interpretive, location possibilities. And our minds out for more metaphoric treatments.

Celebrity portraits, unless they are part of a fashion story are almost always environmental portraits. Successful executive portraiture is generally restrained in tone. The rules of the court have been established over many centuries and roles of jester, courtier and nobleperson understood in our collective subconscious. Rules, of course, are meant to be broken. Brave clients with clear messages to communicate are encouraged. Cautious clients with reputations to uphold are respected.

Ian Chalmers, CEO of Alkane Resources

Ian Chalmers, Alkane Resources, developer of a rare earths mine and processing plant, photographed for Forbes Asia. photo Robert Frith

Architects Matt Davis and Sam Klopper photographed for InSite magazine photo: Adrian Lambert

Glenn Russel, architect at JCY photo: Robert Frith

Ross Bolleter

Ross Bolleter at Ecco CafŽé for the cover of his CafŽé Intime release. Photo Robert Frith

David Flannagan, CEO Atlas Mining photo: Robert Frith

Further Reading – Arnold Newman
Arnold Newman famously worked as a 49 cent studio photographer before his long and distinguished career as an environmental portraitist. His images stand in stark contrast to those of his contemporaries; photographers like Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and latterly David Bailey, all of whom preferred to drill to the core of their subjects psyches in the hard isolation of their studios.Portraits of visual and performing artists make up the bulk of his most memorable work. Newman revealed his sitters’ personalities and illustrated something of their work through the use of carefully selected contexts. A quick squizz at a handful of his most famous images makes it plain that his was not a formulaic approach.

Arnold Newman

Three images by the grandaddy of environmental portraiture, Arnold Newman. The strikingly graphic portrait of Igor Stravinsky dwarfed by the fluid form of a grand piano, the blunt photo collage of Andy Warhol, the savage lighting of Alfred Krupp; all quite different photographic treatments in the service of visual metaphor. Photos: Arnold Newman