Archive for April, 2011
Over the weekend, I was reminded of my former career and my birth as a photographer. I was photographing two truly epic weddings and at each, like at many weddings, I get asked “What did you do before becoming a photographer?”. As many already know I was a banker. It is interesting how banking prepared me for my photography life and even my short stint certainly helped with my success. As a young employee experiencing mergers, take overs and uncertainty in my career, taught me that change is inevitable. That is certainly the case in the photography industry, where change is constant and the playing field is forever new. It is exciting times in our industry and for me it has also proven to be a great time to reflect back on my photographic career, finding comfort in knowing that uncertainty has always been there. It is simply a matter of how you view it - as a challenge or something to fear.
During my career I have found that sometimes it is the simplest of events that can set your direction. In my early twenties, when my business was part time and probably more of a hobby than a job, an encounter with a mystery Irish man helped set me on my path as a professional photographer. This story is in the book “Masters of Wedding Photography” (so apologies to anyone who’s read it) but I’ve reproduced a shorter version here.
This image recalls for me a day that changed the way I viewed myself as a photographer.
In 1998 I embarked on my first photography journey, a trip that was four years in the planning and would take me through Europe for six months. Constantly on my mind during this trip was the question of whether I had what it takes to be a professional photographer.
Six weeks into the trip my wife, Penny and I were exploring the bottom east tip of Ireland, near Ballinskellings, just off the ring of Kerry. We drove for miles up a dirt road and came across an artist village on the point of this peninsular. It was very remote and deserted – a beautiful, peaceful place. As we were driving away we passed an isolated, little farm house. There was nothing else around for miles. A man jumped out and waved us down. We pulled over and he started talking. He had such a strong Gaelic accent that we could barely understand him.
Finally we worked out that he was trying to give us his dog to look after. It seems he could no longer afford to look after it and was desperately looking for a new owner. It was such a sad story.
Being travellers we could not agree to taking his dog and after a difficult conversation we left with heavy hearts and headed down the road. A little further down the read it dawned on me that I should have asked to photograph him. Being so touched by the emotion of his story, and a little confused by what he was saying, I had completely forgotten my camera. Here he was, an older man who didn’t appear to have much and he simply wanted a better home for his trusted friend, his dog.
I stopped the car, grabbed my camera and ran back to ask his permission to photograph him. He was reluctant at first, but as we kept talking I started to fire a few shots off and he began to relax, slowly forgetting about the camera and just being himself. I noticed tears swelling up in his eyes and I took this shot – “Irishman”. Thinking I had taken things too far, I apologised and he told me it wasn’t the camera, but the fact that few people ever stop to even listen to him.
It was another six weeks before I was able to get the film processed (yes film, it was 1998 - showing my age) and a contact sheet made. It was at this point the image just jumped out at me and I got a shiver down my spine. Never before had an image given me this feeling. I supposed I realized then that I could really give my dream to be a professional photographer a shot. I guess this image helped me to start to believe in myself. I still look at it for inspiration in my career.
Reflecting back on the day, – I had met a man who was in the twilight of his life, trying to take care of his best friend, his dog. At the time I was just a young man, at the beginning of my journey as a photographer, with my best friend; my wife. It is probably my most memorable and favourite photograph, still to this day. Hope you like it too.
The extented story about the “Irishman” and my transition into photography is also included in my book published a few years ago by Amherst Media in New York: “Master’s guide to Wedding photography: Capturing unforgettable moments and lasting impressions”. Available through Amazon and on Kindle.
I’m not a big football follower. Actually I don’t follow much sport at all anymore – except under 6 soccer. It isn’t because I don’t like my sport. I do. I love a day at the cricket with my mates or heading to a great rugby match. I have a favourite team across all codes of footy, and I used to be a legend amongst my mates on weekends because we once lived in walking distance to Ballymore. But, the last couple of years I have to admit I’ve lost touch. Well, that was pretty obvious at Brigid and Dale’s wedding recently.
Brigid and Dale had their beautiful, happy wedding at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort. Love it. Been there many times myself and love it. Brigid and Dale got ready though at the Grand Mercure Apartments on the Sunshine Coast. While I was taking photos of Dale and his groomsmen I noticed that the Best Man was having trouble with his belt. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem, but the guys had gone to a lot of trouble with a really stylish outfit suited for a beach wedding. They were all wearing suspenders and no jackets and their belts were all on show. The Best Man’s belt was somehow broken and just didn’t work with suspenders, so I offered him mine. What I didn’t realise at the time was that the Best Man, now wearing my belt, was Rocky Elsom, the captain of the Australian Wallabies team. I thought it was a bit odd when a couple of the kids at Twin Waters came up and asked to have their photos taken with him. He was the Best Man, not the Groom after all. Turns out Dale and Rocky have been best mates since high school.
Despite all this, neither Dale nor Rocky stole the show. The person that really stole everyone’s attention was Brigid. She was beautiful. She lit up the whole venue and made everyone smile.
Now Brigid has her own story. You see she is a bit of a connosieur and was quite particular about the cake. It had to be Julie Whitehead Design, because she loves Julie’s cakes (can you blame her?) and I had to photograph it. Now I always photograph the cake, but on this occassion I think I would have been sent to the scrum opposite Rocky if I hadn’t taken photos of the cake. Not only did Brigid request it, but I got a phone call from Julie and a text reminder from my wife about it also! It was a magnificent cake, that perfectly suited them and their wedding day, and I’m told it tasted even better than it looked. The beautiful big flowers you see on each layer, well they are hand made, edible, chocolate flowers! Pure art.
Brigid and Dale, thank you for making your wedding so much fun – a true reflection of the wonderful people you are. I enjoyed every moment with you.
And Rocky, thanks for sending my belt back mate, but I would have understood if you wanted to keep it as a souvenier!
One of the many things I love about weddings is the characters you meet. Weddings really bring out the best in people. You see people at their happiest and often, at their funniest. Ainsley & Matthew had a classically stylish wedding, traditional in its ceremony, yet FULL of character. Or was that characters.
It all started at Ainsley’s parent’s house where the whole family were clearly having a great time already. I think I became the butt of the jokes as they all took to pulling funny faces during photos. Then I got to the church and the altar boys gave me the same treatment. How can I get annoyed though when everyone was just having a great time. The whole family seemed to just enjoy each other’s company & the good vibe was just infectious. Thankfully, as you will see below, I did get some images without the funny faces. I’ve reserved those for Ainsley & Matthew’s album (now who’s laughing hey?)
I met some great characters at this wedding & had an absolute blast. It was touching & emotional, but most of all this wedding was happy. Thank you Ainsley & Matthew for sharing your day and your fun family & friends with me.
Now for all the details – their ceremony was at the majestic Albert St Uniting Church, followed by Reception at The Strand at Rugby Quay and that simply gorgeous cake was a Julie Whitehead creation.
Best of luck Ainsley & Matthew!
Wedding guests are welcome to click on the link to view Ainsley & Matthew’s sneak peek slideshow.
Wedding guests are welcome to view all images on the online gallery.
(Slideshow & Gallery are password protected. Please contact Ainsley & Matthew for access.)
Last week the 34th Edition of the Canon Australian Professional Photography Awards book arrived on my desk. In this book are the award winning images from the last AIPP awards, in 2010. These prints represent some of the best photography in Australia for that year.
I couldn’t help but be proud to see every photographer in our Studio represented in this book. What many people don’t realise is that in addition to Adam & I there is a small team of people that work behind the scenes to help us deliver the highest quality photography and service to our clients. Most of these people are also fantastic photographers in their own right, They are working for us to learn more, and looking at these images, I think I could learn a lot from them.
Here are my images from last year.
Adam’s page in the book.
Nicola is the studio’s portrait photographer who has proven here that she can do way more than babies!
Aurélie is our fabulous french re-toucher and second shooter.
Karen joined us just before winning this award. She works with Penny in client service but is also an amazing photographer.
Great stuff guys!!
A lot of people say I’m a big softy, but even if I was the hardest nut to crack, this wedding would have moved me to tears. For if I’m a big softy, then you haven’t met Poe. He is responsible for one of the gentlest moments I’ve ever experienced at a wedding.
Poe married Skye at the Couran Cove Resort on South Stradbroke Island. Straddie is renowned for its beautiful beaches, great surf and is one of my favourite places for a weekend away. Couran Cove is now making it one of the best places for a wedding too. Look at this stunning venue. Perfect for this wedding with all its little touches of island life, reflecting their Samoan heritage.
Skye is beautiful. She is just as nice as she is beautiful. Poe is a lucky man. And they so obviously love each other. I can almost imagine them 50 years from now, still looking at each other the same way they do in these photos.
I enjoyed every minute of my day with Skye & Poe and their lovely family – many of whom flew from New Zealand on their first overseas trip ever, just for their big day. It was a day filled with tenderness and love. There was one moment though, that will stick with me forever.
As Poe’s Mum gave her speech, this tiny, softly spoken lady, a little nervous and clearly very proud of her son, I watched Poe stand, leave his new bride and cross the room to stand beside his mum. This towering man then so very gently rested his hand on her shoulder. It was a simple, powerful gesture of love and gratitude.
Poe and Skye, thank you for sharing your day and touching my heart.
(The slideshow is password protected. Please contact Skye & Poe for access.)
On the shelves at Angus & Robertson this week you will find a new book by Susanna De Vries – Trailblazers. As Susanna best describes in her intro, ”This book profiles 15 Australian women who blazed a trail for the younger generation.” These women have really made a difference. One of those women is the current Governor General, Quentin Bryce. When Ms Bryce was Governor of Queensland, Studio Impressions, (Adam & I) were commissioned to take her official portrait for Government House. When I received my copy of Trailblazers this week, I was really excited to see, there on the cover, one of our portraits of the Governor General. Today I feel very honored to have played a small part in recording a little of Australian history, and I feel just a little proud that my portrait has been chosen to represent this amazing woman in print.
Susanna De Vries is an art historian and full time writer. She is a fabulous lady who writes fabulous books. My wife Penny, has already started reading this one. I put it on my desk at work & she picked it straight up. Any book on women in leadership will always get her attention, but an historical book on women in leadership through the ages – I’m not sure she will lift her head out of it the whole weekend.
Adam and I have been very lucky in our careers to meet many amazing people. The Governor General is certainly one of those. Seeing this book has inspired me to bring out some of my other portraits of people that have inspired me, people that are successful because they are passionate and because they care about making a difference. I’ll be posting some of these over the next few weeks. Then I think I’ll start photographing some more – just to celebrate the difference that dedication, passion and compassion in an individual, can make to the world.