life

travel photography, photography, life

Big Island

For the first time since moving to Australia in 2013, I went home for Christmas these holidays just past. And by home, I mean somewhere I’ve never actually lived, to Vancouver where my sister and her family live.

On the way back to Melbourne, my partner Jason and I met up with my parents had a quick sojourn in Hawaii, in the Kailua-Kona area on the ‘Big Island.’ My parents love to avoid Canadian winter now that they’re both retired and have been to Hawaii several times, so they’re excellent tour guides and very knowledgeable about the tourist traps vs. the authentic Hawaiian experience. We only had 4 short days there, but I snapped heaps of photos and would like to share a few.

Directly across the road from where we were staying was a small rocky beach with excellent snorkelling. That was one thing that surprised me about the island of Hawaii - how rocky and desolate it is! When most people think of Hawaii, they think of Honolulu and Waikiki on the island of Oahu and the famous white sand beaches. Volcanoes, sure, but mostly beaches and palm trees and resorts. Driving around on the island of Hawaii you see fields and fields of crumbling, tumbling black and brown lava rock, and very little else.

On our second day, my parents took us for a drive down the coast to South Point, the southern most point of Hawaii and therefore the United States. We saw epic rocky coastlines, fishing operations, oddly placed pastures amongst the lava rock with grazing cattle, and a picturesque wind farm jutting out into the sea. There was also a strange field with satellite dishes and large white domes, reminiscent of the X-Files…

On the third day, on a local hot tip, we ventured to a snorkelling place known as Two Step because of the shelf of rocks that makes it relatively easy to get into the often rough waters. We snorkelled pretty much every day, but I don’t have a waterproof casing for my camera so unfortunately I can’t share the natural bounty we glimpsed underwater! Better to save some memories in the old brain anyhow…

After snorkelling at Two Step, we headed to the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park, a sacred (kapu) site of ancient absolution rituals and a temple housing the bones of 23 chiefs (ali’i).

After that we headed to the famous St. Benedict Catholic Church, or ‘Painted Church’ as it’s more widely known. It’s a tiny little Gothic chapel on a hillside surrounded by an early 20th century cemetery, and the interior of the chapel is covered entirely in murals.

The next day my parents wanted to take us to see a lava tube, a naturally formed tunnel just chillin’ on the side of the highway. When molten lava flows, the top layer hardens and forms a crust, while the molten lava under its surface keeps flowing. In the case of this one, the lava flow had long since ceased (obviously) leaving a long hollow cave. In a few places the ceiling of the cave had collapsed, leaving ominous holes on the rock’s surface with a view into the tube below. It was VERY cool.

The rest of our time in Hawaii was spent lounging, strolling, eating, drinking, sampling Kona coffees and relaxing. It was so nice to spend some time with my parents and chill out before returning to the bustle of Australian summer with its weddings to photograph, its concerts and festivals and socialising.

Here are a few more random snaps from the trip. Thanks for reading!

local business, photography, portrait photography, life

FoWo Fam

There is a little bar in Collingwood called Forgotten Worlds. Well, there WAS.

My friends Graeme and May opened the place in an old pawn shop three years ago after designing and building it from scratch and filling it with arcade machines. My partner Jason and I helped to build the exterior of the log cabin toilets in the courtyard right before I disappeared into central Queensland for 2 months.

It didn't take long for Forgotten Worlds to amass a loyal group of regulars and create a buzzing social hub for gamers, music nerds, artists and bar flies, who affectionately nicknamed the place "FoWo." After deciding that they'd done what they set out to do, May and Graeme sold the business in December. It is a major understatement to say that Forgotten Worlds has been a big part of my life for the past three years, and it was an honour to be able to occupy the walls for their very last art exhibition with a portrait series I'd been working on, entitled "FoWo Fam." 

Forgotten Worlds has also been a big part of the lives of each and every person I included in this series. Apart from Graeme and May, these people were strangers to me three years ago, and now I consider all of them to be my friends. 

To make this portrait series, I insisted on spending time with and photographing my subjects somewhere other than Forgotten Worlds. I knew these people from Forgotten Worlds, I saw these people almost solely at Forgotten Worlds, and I wanted to get to know all of them outside of Forgotten Worlds. Where else do they spend their time? What else do they do in their lives? 

This has all been such an experience. I found myself in places I didn’t expect, with people I knew on such a base level, learning things and growing friendships. I’m grateful to everyone who allowed me to photograph them and invade their lives, but most of all I’m grateful to Graeme and May for being the glue that holds all of us together. This portrait series really is a tribute to you two.

Click the images to enlarge.

photography, portrait photography, life

"Working" as a Photographer

It's been about 16 months since leaving my comfortable roots and successful freelance practice back in Canada, and I’ve switched from "Oh I'm just doing a year abroad, I'm going to work at any old job and take photographs whenever I can" to the decision that I would like to stay in Melbourne. As such, I've been working really hard this year towards working full time again as a photographer. I’m trying to stay positive, chalk every disappointment up to a learning experience, and look on the bright side. A few months ago I applied for a photography internship with a media company here in Melbourne. 

After a preliminary interview, I was asked to return the following morning to receive a brief. Myself and 8 other photographers were told that we were competing for 4 freelance contracts with the company, and we were tasked with a week-long project that we were to complete and present the following Friday. With the overarching theme of “luxury,” we were given 4 categories to work within and instructed to capture 5 different photographs for each category. The categories were: fashion & beauty, design, lifestyle, and buildings & landscapes. The final aspect of the project involved choosing our own category and creating another 5 images; I chose to explore texture, because the word “luxury” to me evokes all kinds of lovely things to touch, feel, and taste.

The next week was a whirlwind of brainstorming, lighting experiments, calling in favours, borrowing things, cold calls, location scouting and exhaustion. While the bulk of my experience as a photographer is in portraiture and interiors, I dabbled in product, food and macro photography over the course of the week. I planned and executed 20 separate shoots in 7 days, and I can’t thank my friends enough for coming through and giving their time, support, ideas, faces and bodies, and the occasional lift.

I was astounded to find out later that in addition to the group of 9 that I was in, the company had also requested a similar project from 10 other groups of 10 or more people to fill 4 positions! There was a lot of miscommunication; I was led on for over a month, promised call-backs and emails that never came, and in the end I can’t help but feel like some information about the interview process and the company’s intentions was withheld. I’m not entirely sure how many other photographers I was up against, but not surprisingly I didn’t get the job. The whole process left a bad taste in my mouth, but the end result was sweet - I haven’t felt so driven, so fired up creatively, nor produced such volume and variety of work in such a short amount of time since University! I’m really proud of how much I accomplished in the 7 days, plus I got some killer shots to add to my portfolio. And that’s what I’m going to take away from this experience. 

Here are a few of my favourite photographs produced during the internship from hell.

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life, photography, travel photography

Hobart, Baby

Last weekend I took a trip down to Hobart, Tasmania. It was part work, part pleasure - my boyfriend works as a hip hop DJ, and after having a look at his tour schedule, I realized his last show on this run was May 31st in Hobart. Having always wanted to visit Tasmania this was the perfect excuse.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon and spent most of the day at the venue, doing sound check and hanging out. Before the show we went for a really nice dinner with the crew at a restaurant called Smolt in the historic Salamanca Square, sampled local oysters, octopus and salmon (eating as much seafood as possible was definitely part of my Hobart to-do list). The show that night was great. I befriended one of the other artists' girlfriends backstage, who told me that she was also planning on staying in Hobart for a couple of extra days, so we made plans to hook up later in the week.

On Sunday morning we went for a stroll to find the farmers market and sample some of the famous Tasmanian produce. We got fresh juices and fruit, local cheese and oysters (of course). The raspberries and apples were just wonderful, and check out the size of those carrots!  

On a local tip, we got in the queue for Masaaki's sushi, which is rumoured to be the best sushi in Australia. We waited in line for a good 30 minutes, but the wait was well worth it. We watched as our tuna and salmon maki were constructed right in front of our eyes, with wonderful ingredients like snow peas and little strips of egg, not to mention the beautiful fresh fish!

We spent the rest of the day walking around central Hobart admiring the architecture and scenery. We revisited Salamanca Square, then wandered over to the Elizabeth St. Pier to take pictures and gaze out over the water. We had made plans with our friends to meet up Monday morning and go to MONA on the ferry, so we stopped by the ferry office and grabbed tickets.

That night we opted for a quiet night in with a movie in the hotel, a cheese and fruit platter procured at the market earlier in the day, and definitely the BEST bottle of Pinot noir I've ever tasted, a Tasmanian specialty.

We spent the whole next day at MONA which was absolutely mind blowing. I'm a big fan of art museums; I've been to some old world museums in Paris and Vienna, and MONA was definitely one of the craziest museums I've ever been to. It was pretty gloomy and rainy so I didn't bring my camera with me, plus I didn't know what the museum's policy on photography was.

We were set to fly home Tuesday night so Tuesday morning we rented a car and drove down the Tasman Peninsula. First we went to Port Arthur to see the prison ruins, but realized a little too late that it was more of an all-day thing so we checked out the lookout point instead of paying admission into the ruins. We then headed further down the Peninsula to see Maingon Bay, Remarkable Cave, Devil's Kitchen and the Tasman Arch. It was stunningly beautiful down there despite the rain and the fog - in fact the rain and fog enhanced the experience for me. It was all so magical.

It's really hard to appreciate the scale of some of these features. The last image is of the Tasman Arch, taken about 20 stories up from the waves crashing into the coastline.

Overall the trip was awesome, and (of course) not long enough. I'm looking forward to heading back to Tasmania to see more of the picturesque island state, eat more of the amazing produce and seafood, and drink many more bottles of wine.

life, photography

Regroup, Refocus, Rework

It's been a little while since I've written a post. I spent most of March redesigning my website and updating portfolios, and then spent the rest of March & April working for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Now it's time to regroup, refocus and plan for the next stage.

I've been watching a lot of retouching and colour grading tutorials in the last week to hone my skills, and recently I revisited a creative portrait session I did with my friend Leenie awhile back. I was going for a moody look, using a long shutter speed, continuous light from a flashlight, and a burst of light from a homemade softbox I fashioned out of a cardboard box (which looks incredibly makeshift but happens to create some beautiful, soft light). Feedback from the images was positive overall, but a few people mentioned the images were too dark, so I decided to rework the post-production side.

I'm pleased with the result, so much so that I've added the image to my portfolio. I feel like the lighter areas of the image have a dreaminess to them without losing too much of the moody feeling I was after, and improved the brightness in her eyes and face. It's a pretty subtle change, but I think it changes the overall quality of the photograph. Here is the before & after: