Today is the last day of my 365 project. It has been a challenging and at times frustrating experience but overall I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience that I know make me a better photographer than I was a year ago. Finding inspiration on a daily basis proved the hardest part, particularly towards the end where the quality varies wildly as I throw myself into major shoots, then scramble to catch up on in-between days. There’s some shots I love and many I hate but I took a shot every day (with a couple of slips where I caught up the next day) and as an overall body of work I am happy with it as a record of my year. So thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout the year and those who have worked with me. You are all an intrinsic part of this project and I would not have completed it without you. So here’s my top 20 from the year (and look out for a 52 project in the coming year…maybe!).
I often feel really uncomfortable posting pictures of myself online, particularly those that are more stories than portraits or family photos per se. I worry that friends will think I’m vain and everyone will realise just how much I’ve warped, cloned and flat out repainted the images. Often the image is not meant to be a literal interpretation of me so much as a character that I’m creating. I don’t even see it as myself when I’m editing, just a face, a figure, a dress.
There are pros and cons to creating self-portraits, as I’ve discovered along the way. Feeling like an idiot (even when shooting at home) is the paramount con for me and increasingly the wrong body shape and saggy face. Corsets are fast becoming my best friends! Difficulty with focus, camera position, overshooting, shot timing, all these things make shooting selfies frustrating at times. And there’s always that embarrassing moment when you get sprung prancing around in a public place in not much more than your underwear and a curtain!
However the good news is you always have a model available at a moment’s notice, you know her dress size and she’s not going to cancel at the last minute (unless you want to!). She’ll pose just the way you want without having to tell her and she’ll follow you into swamps, lakes and creeks. She’ll climb trees, rummage through abandoned buildings and generally go anywhere you are game enough to go.
I get very self-conscious when directing models and often miss a shot because I’m too shy to ask them to do something. However it’s always a joy to work with a beautiful face and the benefits of being behind the camera are well worth the time taken to plan and set up the shoot. Many of the models I’ve worked with so far have been really open to ideas and are happy to get a little uncomfortable for the sake of a good shot. I’ll usually put a lot more thought into a shoot with a model and arrange a makeup artist, hairdresser and assistants if I can. Things I would never indulge in if I was shooting myself, but can make a big difference to the overall success of the shoot.
So the next time you are out and find a great location but think “this would look great with someone standing just there” consider shooting yourself (um, with a camera, selfies really aren’t that bad!). Or jump onto Model Mayhem and hook up with a local model, MUA and stylist. Either way, just keep making stories.
There’s a spot just near Nudgee Beach that I’ve been driving past for years and each time I saw it I thought to myself “I must go and check that out”. Well I finally did and I’m so glad I did. It’s definitely a gumboots trip across some marshy grassland to the swamp itself but it’s not far from the road (which is an advantage when you are lugging equipment on your own!).
I went back a week later with a lace top and an old lace curtain. I was lucky and the light was just how I wanted it and on the day I was shooting the water was reasonably clear (if you didn’t stir it up too much). Unlike when I went back a few days later and it looked like this:
Without an assistant (or a model!) I missed out on doing a few things that I had planned but overall I’m happy with the result.
Here’s the original series of shots that I used:
I gave myself a Photoshop makeover and cloned the fabric from the top to cover the legs and gumboots and to match the skirt to the top. Then some gap filling, colour toning, a new sky overlay, a couple of texture overlays and voila!
There’s much I learned from this shoot and a few things I’d do differently or would like to try with more available hands so keep an eye out for an upcoming shoot at the same location.
A couple of weeks ago I was surprised to find an invitation to upload images to the Getty Collection. I’ve toyed with the idea of joining a stock library before but wasn’t really sure where to start and was a bit intimidated by the approval process. In the end I decided not to put any of the portraits they had chosen up, not only because it meant getting new model releases (in some cases they were photos of me so that would have been easy), but because Getty asks for exclusive licenses for the images and I’m hoping to sell some of them myself somewhere down the track. So for now here’s some of the images you will find in the Getty Collection: