awkward portraits

portrait photography, event photography, photography, local business

Confetti Fair

Time flies when you're having fun. I've been really preoccupied with a side project of mine that's become nearly full time, hence the lack of blog posts in the past three months. I last wrote about my Awkward Portraits project almost a year ago, and it's been on a slow burn ever since.

The first half of 2014 saw a few little events here and there, including a quick sojourn up to Sydney for a 30th birthday party, and 2 epic parties at Forgotten Worlds in Collingwood for Valentines Day and Christmas in July. Later, in August and September, I took part in 2 instalments of the boutique party fair known as Confetti Fair, and brought on board my amazing partner Jason to help with the heavy lifting. (Turns out he's also a real charmer, and looks damn good in a vintage 3 piece suit.)

Confetti Fair Melbourne took place at the Arts House Meat Market, an incredible old heritage building in North Melbourne that's been repurposed as an arts & event venue. What a cool space! It was an all day thing, with setup starting at 10am and teardown at 10pm, but Jason and I had a blast dressing people up, posing them and making prints for our happy customers on the spot.

After the success of Melbourne, Claire and the Confetti Fairies asked us if we'd venture up to Sydney for the next instalment there. I didn't think venues got much cooler than the Meat Market, but I was wrong! We arrived at Fairground Follies after flying in that morning, to discover that it's a fully functional circus and carnival museum, full of carousels, vintage rides and music machines. There was even a popup wedding happening at the Fair that day, and the entire wedding party came over and had some fun with us!

Confetti Fair was such a great experience for our little business. It prompted me to branch out from my personal brand and create business cards, a website, Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter accounts just for Awkward Portraits. The lovely ladies at Confetti Fair were even nice enough to put up a little interview with us on their blog, which you can read here

What's next for Awkward Portraits? We're SO excited to announce that we will be a part of the One Day Shopping Festival at Melbourne Central on 26 November, as well as select dates over the course of December. You can find us in Shot Tower Square from 10am to 10pm on November 26, and on Level 2 for the following dates and times:

Thurs 4th December: 3pm – 9pm
Fri 5th December: 3pm – 9pm
Sat 6th December: 11am – 5pm
Sun 7th December: 11am – 5pm
Thurs 11th December: 3pm – 9pm
Fri 12th December: 3pm – 9pm
Sat 13th December: 11am – 5pm
Sun 14th December: 11am – 5pm

Fri 19th December: 3pm – 9pm

Can't wait to see all your smiling faces and double chins at Melbourne Central! In the meantime, follow our awkward adventures on social media, and check out the Awkward Portraits website.

event photography, photography, portrait photography

Awkward Portraits

What started out as a bit of a joke has become a serious interest of mine. 

Three years ago back in Canada I threw an ugly sweater party at my house and decided it would be awesome to set up a back drop and take some photos of my friends in their hideous garb. The party was fun, and the photos were hilarious and got a great response.

Two years later I threw another party, this time with the sole intent of taking bad portraits. That night, I laughed so hard that my entire midsection hurt for 2 days. (P.S. My friends are awesome.)

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I didn't realise that the execution of intentionally bad portraiture was actually marketable until I was approached by the producer of Melbourne's Darebin Music Feast, Ciel Fuller, in August 2013. In keeping with the overall theme and aesthetic of the festival, she wanted a photo booth set up at the festival, and a photographer that could help festival-goers "channel Wes Anderson." I was a perfect candidate for the job. The resulting photographs from the event garnered tons of attention on Facebook, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

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In light of the success of this little project of mine I had to ask myself: Why does my generation, a generation that is generally very picky about photos of themselves (to the point of "untagging" pictures on Facebook, for example) enjoy having BAD portraits taken so much? I've worked as a portrait photographer for over 5 years and the most common thing I hear is "I HATE having my picture taken, but I need it for this or that." In a world of social media "image crafting," Facebook, Instagram, online dating and smart phone selfies, where people share selectively and project an inflated version of their existence, why does our generation revel in the exact opposite? When you take the ego out of a portrait, what is left? 

About a month after the Darebin Music Feast I was contacted by Frankie Magazine for an interview and photo spread in their January/February issue. Turns out, it's not just me who's fascinated by this phenomenon. They had seen the photos from the Feast and wanted to ask for my take on the willingness of people to "get their geek on" and have it immortalised in photographs. I was interviewed by a writer named Nicole Thomas, who enthusiastically agreed with a lot of my reasoning behind the portrait series.

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We all have those photographs from our past that haunt us. I'm pretty sure everyone in the western world has gone through an awkward phase... or just happened to be alive in the 80s and 90s. And though they make us cringe in the present day, they also bring back fond memories of a simpler time.

Let's face it. Life is full of disappointment, uncertainty, and constant pressure to "be something," to be really good at something. Our generation has been raised to believe that we are special, that we can achieve anything, and when things don't work out exactly the way we imagined, we feel frustration and disappointment. Not only that, but our successes and failures are constantly on display on social media platforms. Our generation is social media obsessed, and it's created a monster. 

Studies have shown that because of the image curating that happens, a lot of us are dissatisfied with our lives. I believe that deep down most of us dislike the fact that we're so addicted to such a fake existence. 

When we stop trying so hard, when we stop taking ourselves so seriously, we allow ourselves to just BE, and that can be very liberating. The extreme of meticulous image crafting and projection of "cool" is momentarily swapped for the other extreme of goofy awkwardness. Somewhere in the middle, the extremes meet and present themselves as a genuine portrait that, I believe, captures a personality. And that is what this portrait series has allowed me to do. I feel like for one moment, when a person is goofing off in front of my camera, they're shedding the pressures and constraints of upholding an image and they're allowing themselves to be real. 

And let's be honest. Sometimes we just need a good laugh.

To see more Awkward Portraits, check out my portfolio or visit the Darebin Music Feast gallery on Facebook.