Weekend Portrait Series: Epilogue

See that's the problem when you say something is over, and that the last thing is an epilogue rather than a finale: you end up waiting nearly three months to post. I nearly didn't post tonight. I got distracted, then I realised I wouldn't have had a chance to post until next year. And that wouldn't do.

A lot has happened since I finished the Weekend Portrait Series. I went to Japan. I quit my job. I got a new job. Christmas. But things are stabilising again, so it's time.

I had a long-winded retrospective post about how the project changed me written longhand in a Moleskine journal, but the problem, with longhand is that you eventually need to transcribe it. So I will say this. Portraits are scary. Portraits are awesome. And having completed as many as I did in such a short time, I only want to do more. I look at strangers and think how I would take their picture. How I would show the freckles across their nose, that particular look, a squint, a scar, a glance. People are amazing, and portraits are about people.

Shortly after I finished my Weekend Portrait Series, I was contacted by Linette Voller, who asked if she could still participate. I agreed, though I did point out the series was over. Undeterred, we met near a train station, and wandered to a park.

Linette Voller, October 4th.

Linette Voller is an improviser, tech wrangler, artist, geek, writer, and tarot-wielding follower of whim. She's travelled the globe and now calls Australia home (more specifically the bubbling lagoon of joy that is the inner west of Sydney).

I knew Linette, like so many other subjects in this series, through improv. I had also seen her show with Linda Calgaro and Anne Wilson, Ladyfingers. I once had the pleasure of improvising with Linette at Fresh, one of the showcases for novice improvisors (which I was and she most certainly was not). Instead of the waistcoats I had become used to seeing her wear on stage, she was dressed all in brown: trousers, shirt, shoes, even her necklace. "People are saying magazines have discovered colour blocking, isn't that amazing?"

As a child, instead of "level 2 song", Linette received a certificate for "most expressive face".

As she interacted with the various weather-beaten trees in the park, we discussed the various types of ants we could spot (a habit of mine, especially when visiting the Hunter Valley). Linette explained she had once had a job explaining software change management to the national parks service and so is able to quickly identify species of spider, snake or ants that bite. 

Throughout the shoot, Linette did something that surprised me: she asked about me. Usually I ask questions to get stuff for these blogs, and to put the subjects at ease, but she asked, and when I replied, asked more. I found myself talking about my thoughts on the project, photography as a who, and my thoughts on artists so often being asked to give their work for free.

We talked about perceived value, and I mentioned that it was tough to come up with a figure that paid for materials, your time, and a bit for you, without alienating your potential customer by exceeding expectations. She put the concept very simply, and I found myself nodding along.

"When I was doing tarot readings in a shop, the customers who balked at the priced were always the arsiest ones. They wouldn't believe, would argue back." 

And ain't that the truth.

And apropos of that (although I've had the idea for a long time before) I'm going to be putting all the featured photographs from the Weekend Portrait Series on my Society6 page. I've started already, but Society6 only lets you put up a few photos per day, and it's a long process. If you like what I do, maybe buy a print. Or, if you were a subject, maybe suggest your mum buy one. She seems like a nice lady.

Thank you to everyone that was involved. Yes, including you.

A sad post script: shortly before the end of this year, my favourite photo lab and camera showroom, Foto Riesel, went into liquidation. The act was sudden, with less than a day's notice. I for one am supremely grateful to John, Wayne, Kierra, Kel, Peter, Other John, and all the folks who developed my films, deciphers my job sheets, talked a load of old toot of a Monday morning and put up with my unreasonable expectations and weird film types. You'll be missed, guys.

Special thanks to Linette Voller for her time. Developing and scanning by Foto Riesel, Sydney.

Weekend Portrait Series: Day 11

You see, that's the problem with hiatuses: they always travel in packs.

Apologies once again, as between a week away, then more busy work stuff and waiting on responses, I've left this far too long. Luckily, unlike previous weeks, I took notes after each shoot, so I will remember what I talked about some three weeks ago.

So! Saturday morning. I had multiple shoots booked in again, but this time I had arranged them in a line, so I could easily transition from one to the next without hauling my gear all over Newtown, the city, and who knows where else.

I was even mildly late for my first subjects. THey had chosen a location near to my house, and I took a little too much time walking up Wells St to King St, and they were waiting on the footpath to begin.

Dan Binns and Jess Degasgirl, Saturday, 10:00am, Newtown

Dan is a writer and filmmaker who teaches folk about film and media. He tweets at @binnsy, and is a voice on The Culture Squad, a podcast for people who think deeply about shallow things.

Jess was an almost-lawyer, but is now an almost-art curator. Once she shuffles off the 'almost', she hopes to work in the art field as a registrar or collections manager. She tweets at @degasgirl1.

I had arranged the meeting at Parliament on King, a tiny local cafe known for its walls (made of books), its lunch bagels (which are cheap), and introducing Emma Stone to fairy bread (really). I related all of this information to Jess and Dan, who inquired as to why I did not actually live here. 

We ordered coffee, and Jess received her hot chocolate in a Will & Kate Royal Wedding cup. She quickly identified that the picture on the mug was from their engagement party, and rattled off several other facts. 

“Jess,” I inquired, “are you one of those Royal Lovers?” She denied the allegation, stating she only watched it for the dresses.

Dan, meanwhile, was eyeing my cameras, as he often does. I showed off my digital carry-everywhere, a Sony RX100 Mk ii, and my refurbished Impossible Project Polaroid. Dan nodded along to the facts I rattled off, though didn't seem impressed. The silence clearly meant something to Jess though, as she commented: "You're getting one, aren't you?". Dan nodded.

Some patrons sitting outside moved on, so I took advantage and shuffled my subjects out the door to sit on the tiny outdoor stools in the full sunlight. We knocked over a sugar bowl in our rush, spilling some onto the sidewalk. Is that bad luck? I don't think it is.

I bid Dan and Jess farewell, and trekked to my next location…a grand total of 10 meters up the street. I made myself comfortable near a giant pair of multicoloured Rolling Stones Lips and awaited my next subject.

Kate O'Keeffe, Saturday, 11:00am, Newtown

Kate O'Keeffe is an early years teacher with a keen interest in theatre and the arts. She can often be found making a fool of herself on stage in an improv show or in a vinyassa flow yoga class.

Kate had previously assisted with my Playtime photoshoot, and then I had cast her in the role of a shocked relative observing my friend Craig (who is now, ironically, a nurse) as he operated on an Operation board game near RPA Hospital. Yeah, it makes just as much sense in context. So when she volunteered for this shoot, I was happy to be portraying her as herself.

There was one hitch, however. “I never feel natural not smiling!” she protested. I acquiesced, taking as many natural, smiling shots as I did those in repose.

I had chosen the spot for the interesting street art on every wall, but I found myself hardly using it, except as a backdrop. As Kate stood by the wall, near the outdoor wares of a furniture store, the owner of the store came out to eyeball us. I presume it was meant as a warning to keep us off the wooden benches for sale.

Kate had to go, as she had to prepare and host a Grand Final dinner in Mosman. I confessed that, not being from here, I didn’t even know it was Grand Final day, nor which Grand Final it was (and now I forget which it had been). She bought a me a coffee before she went, making it three for the morning.

I continued along King Street towards Newtown Station, realising that I had some extra time before my next shoot. I loitered in a junk shop, buying a heart-shaped mirrored compact, which would come in handy later. When the time came, I waited outside the button shop for my next subject.

Cindy Tonkin, Saturday, 11:00, Newtown

Cindy Tonkin is an artist, consultant, and long-standing member of the Sydney improv community. As well as appearing in OTB Theatre shows, Cindy is a regular performer in Sketch: Art Improvised, as well as her own shows, including Likewise.

Cindy had originally suggested the button shop as a setting, but after a brief discussion, it was decided the shop was too dark and the weather was just a touch too glorious, so we went for a walk through Newtown.

Despite our not even entering the button store, Cindy had somehow procured me some camera shaped plastic buttons, which I, delighted, stashed in a pocket of my camera bag. Most subjects don't bring me gifts! As a wind picked up, we discussed the perils of curly hair, and how curly hair in adds is straightened, then re-curled, leaving the top straight.

Cindy asked after the camera I was using, and I bashfully admitted its name was Glory. I went through a few more names (Yuri Gagarin, Galatea, Tarot, Sasha), explaining that any black-and-silver SLRs were given women's names beginning with G, though Grace, a Konica Rangefinder from the early 60s, was classic enough to be included. Cindy and I differed on our favourite Grace Kelly movie, though. I prefer Rear Window, she preferred High Society (though neither of us cared for Dial M For Murder). 

For some reason, among my notes of the day, I have written "Russian summer houses in Nice” and I don’t know why. I suppose we’ll call that a mystery of the past, then.

Next stop was Hawleywood’s Barbershop for a haircut and a beard trim. I’d left the beard trip go for too long, though, and it was a veritable hedge to hack through. Trimmed and clipped, I turned down Erskineville Road towards Hive Bar. It was hot, and I was very glad there was beer on tap by the time I arrived. I had time to enjoy that beer as well, due to my next subject running late.

Andrew Wowk, Saturday, 1:30pm, Erskineville 

Andrew is just a guy who has a lot of interests. He has an Honours degree in Psychology and is making plans to return for postgraduate studies. He DJs and produces electronic music, hosts a radio show on Bondi Beach Radio and loves Reel Big Fish. He studies and performs improv comedy around Sydney, and his favourite animal is the penguin. He also loves video games, burgers, writing (he is a freelance music journalist and has a gaming blog) and any YouTube video by Jason Steele, the guy who wrote Charlie The Unicorn.

Andrew was running late due to marking students’ work and losing track of the time. He sat down as I was finishing my beer, regaling me with his (mostly stressful) experiences marking, and competing with his team in the Cranston Cup (the local TheatreSports Championship).

We got rather involved in the conversation, and it took a moment for me to remember that I was supposed to be shooting. Knowing Andrew's experience as a DJ, I directed him to Hive Bar's turntable and mixer.

AW3

I explained that Hive had bring-your-own vinyl nights on Wednesdays, and that it was a good time. He began to investigate the mixing board, being careful not to touch it, as he was unfamiliar with that model.

It was at that point the bar staff approached, wanting to “make sure you guys are okay”. We assured that we were, and that Andrew wasn’t touching anything. As it was, we packed up and wandered up the block to Revolve Record, and Andrew dug through the crates, finding a NAS & RZA white label 12” single.

He found other stuff too.

Unfortunately, all this good shooting left me late for my next appointment, all the way down in the Rocks. Andrew kindly offered to give me a lift, and we barrelled down Elizabeth Street towards the city. He let me out on Market Street, near Town Hall, but I had miscalculated. My destination was a 20-minute fast walk North, and I got moving, arriving 30 minutes late to the Museum of Sydney.

Craig Coventry, Saturday, 3:00pm, The Rocks

Craig Coventry used to be a guide, but is now a visitor interpretation officer and curriculum program deliverer for Sydney Living Museums. He is an actor, writer, guitar player, and enjoys manoeuvring elongated platforms made of polyurethane foam, covered with layers of fibreglass cloth and epoxy resin so that their momentum is equal to disturbances of variation within the ocean as they approach shore, and standing upon said platform. No-one knows why. 

I arrived at the museum and breathlessly asked if Craig was free. I had barely finished the sentence when the man himself came out of a backroom, said hello, and said I was just in time for his tea break, did I want to shoot now? Yes. Yes I did.

Craig lead the way out front, picking up a water can, advising he needed to water the wild herb garden out front. I followed, snapping as I went. He threw himself into a deck chair. "How’s this? Maybe I could pretend to be asleep! Or like I don’t care!” 

He poured water with affected disdain, as the sun lit his hair from behind, making him resemble no one more than Paul McGann as the Doctor.

We wrapped up. The entire shoot took less than ten minutes, and was one of the easiest of the entire project. Go figure!

I retraced my previous mad dash at a more leisurely pace, stopping outside the McDonalds on Pitt St to wait for a message from my next subject. It came, and I crossed the street, and took the lift to the 45th floor (or at least it seemed that high), emerging on the roof.

Kierra Thorn, Saturday, 3:30pm, Sydney

Kierra Thorn is a photographer, assistant and editor/retoucher, a nail artist, a blogger and a purveyor of the dark arts. She has spent the majority of her adult life as a photo lab rat huffing chemistry and thus can develop film at the speed of light, which may explain the erratic twitching. She also shoots live music and was recently a co-curator for a music photography exhibition "The Accredited" at 10x8 Gallery. Her going-ons can be found at @kierrathorn. She has an obscene amount of nail polish, and writes about it on her blog lookwhatthebatsdraggedin.com and on instagram @battylacquer

Kierra used to work at Foto Riesel, the photo lab I patronise. Funnily enough, my relationship with the place was sealed when, after only a few visits, she remembered my name and greeted me as I came in the door. As someone who frequented the same bakery every Sunday for 3 years and didn’t get so much as a glance of recognition, this made an impression.

We were shooting on the roof, with an unparalleled view of the city skyline. We also had a merciless amount of sun beating down upon us, so I resolved to work quickly. I made zero jokes about goths in the sun. I didn't have to, as Kierra made them for me.

We chatted, talking about Borderlands 2 (she was playing on PC, me on PS3), mutual friends, and wondered about the look on her former boss’ face as he developed my negatives and saw her looking back at him. We imagined it’d give him a bit of a turn.

KT4

Kierra, like nearly all the photographers with whom I have shot during this series, voiced some nervousness at being in front of the camera. I asked why she had volunteered, and she said that she had seen it pop up on Facebook and that "Lucas is laid back and always happy” so why not? I think I’ll have that on my next set of business cards. 

KT5

Kierra also became the first person in the entire series to BLINK during her pre-shoot Polaroid. Luckily I had seven shoots that day and eight shots in the pack, so she got a retake. 

I said goodbye, but did not go directly to my next subject. First, I had to stop at JB Hifi, as my earbuds had come to bits in my pocket. Secondly, I needed to get to a train station. My next subject lived a ways away. Far enough, in fact, that I had booked out a whole extra slot before his shoot for travel time.

Blake Howard, Saturday, 5:30pm, Berala

Blake Howard is a writer, a podcaster, the editor-in-chief & co-founder of Australian film blog Graffiti With Punctuation, but above all he's a son of Batman. Beginning as a padawan co-host of That Movie Show 2UE and now a member of the prestigious Online Film Critic Society; swaying the Tomato Meter with Rotten Tomatoes approved reviews; Blake loves nothing more than to watch and share the effects of movies. See his articulated words at Graffitiwithpunctuation.net, and hear his rants and girlish shrieks on Pod Save Our Screen. He tweets and instagrams as @blakeisbatman.

Blake Howard is a writer, a podcaster, the editor-in-chief & co-founder of Australian film blog Graffiti With Punctuation, but above all he's a son of Batman. Beginning as a padawan co-host of That Movie Show 2UE and now a member of the prestigious Online Film Critic Society; swaying the Tomato Meter with Rotten Tomatoes approved reviews; Blake loves nothing more than to watch and share the effects of movies. See his articulated words at Graffitiwithpunctuation.net, and hear his rants and girlish shrieks on Pod Save Our Screen. He tweets and instagrams as @blakeisbatman.

Blake's house was roughly 15 minutes from the train station. As I walked, I noticed the sun was setting, leaving long shadows across the road. I walked faster, racing the sun as it sank.

Blake welcomed me, introducing me to his flatmate (whom I had met before) and he dogs (whom I had not). I chatted for a moment, then unceremoniously dragged him from the house and out into the neighbourhood, chasing the light. “It’s magic hour.” I explained. “Cool,” he said “we’ll be in a Terrence Malick film."

I knew Blake had recently returned from overseas. What I hadn’t know was that a) the trip was his honeymoon, and b) exactly what it entailed. The trip spanned England, Scotland, Africa, France & Spain. And when I say Africa, I mean an exhaustive overland bus journey. Suddenly I didn’t feel so annoyed by my trip to the wilds of Berala.

So after two months away from Sydney, what was the first thing Blake did when he got back? “Hugged the dogs, of course.” Of course.

I took the train back to Newtown and put down my camera bag for the what seemed like the first time in a long time.

And so, officially, ended the Weekend Portrait series. I'll be posting an epilogue and a postscript soon, but my project is over. 7 weeks, 10 cameras, 23 Polaroid, 30 rolls of film, 40 shoots and 49 people. It's been a hell of a thing.

Polaroid gallery:

Gear:

  • Olympus OM-1 + Kodak Tri-X 400 black-and-white 35mm film
  • Minolta XG-1n + Ilford PAN F+ 50 black-and-white 35mm film
  • Nikon FG-20 + Kodak Portra CN 400 colour5mm film
  • Lubitel 166+ + Lomography Redscale CN 100 120mm film
  • Horizon Perfekt + Kodak Gold CN 800 (expired) 35mm film
  • Polaroid Close-up 660 + Impossible Project 600 black-and-white film, Black frame

Special thanks to Dan Binns, Jess Degasgirl, Kate O'Keeffe, Cindy Tonkin, Andrew Wowk, Craig Coventry, Kierra Thorn and Blake Howard for their time. Developing and scanning by Foto Riesel, Sydney.

Weekend Portrait Series: Days 9 & 10

Okay, I declare the hiatus over. It was a little longer than I thought, owing to busy times at work,waiting on a few replies, and a vacation up the north coast of New South Wales, where I pillaged second-hand shops for glassware and played Cards Against Humanity with my girlfriend's parents, which was a thing. Since I've returned, I've also been struck down by a throat infection (probably due to proximity to a happy, smiley, and rather boogery baby), so that's delayed things too. Also, due to the delay, my memory of the conversations had around the shoot is not as sharp as in previous entries. All gaps are on me. But enough excuses! Let's talk about the shoots.

I proceeded up King St on Saturday morning to meet with my first subject near LDF Tattoo, nearby where the shops and cafes of Newtown melted into the sports grounds, teaching theatres and libraries of Sydney University. As I walked, I noticed a green-haired head in the crowd in front of me. It was none other than previous WPS subject Anni Sugar, also bound for LDF Tattoo for a consult (for these amazing things). We walked together, and agreed to get coffee after the shoot. My first subject was waiting on the corner, near Gould's Book Arcade.

Teena Hanson, 10:00am, Newtown

Teena is a rambunctious introvert who avoids crowded places. She is a geek, and a feminist, and works in IT Infrastructure. She’s collecting tattoos, fridge magnets, and would wear Birkenstocks all year ‘round if she could. She also swing dances and plays board games on a weekly basis, attempts to sew and crochet, and secretly spends far too much time at IKEA. She has been known by the name Teena Von Grumpypants, and she goes by the name of Glompbot on both twitter and instagram.

Teena had an appointment with LDF as well, to fill in a lovely tattoo that had previously been inked. We walked and talked, quickly deciding on a grassy spot just before Darlington Road and the University Regiment Building. Sunbeams slanted through a spreading tree , lighting the green streaks in Tina's hair from above. It struck me, as I shot, that I had photographed many hair colours during this shoot: blue, purple, reds of varying shades, but more green than any other shade bar brown.

I was mindful both of the number of my later appointments and of the time as Teena's appointment drew near. I also remained remarkably calm as I realised I couldn't take a Polaroid of Teena (due to my grabbing the wrong cameras as I left the house), and when my Horizon Perfekt jammed, its clockwork gears not allowing advancement, nor allowing the shutter to fire. The time came, and Teena went off to her appointment.

I met up with Anni again, and we grabbed a table at a local cafe for breakfast, coffee, and my shameless stealing of their wifi (hey, it was the end of the data month, and my phone had to eat). When we finished, I went back into Newtown to meet my next, last-minute subject.

Chris Watt, 11:00am, Newtown

Because there are about eleventy-billion Chris' in the world, Chris Watt tends to go by @Teknetia and can be found under that name pretty much everywhere. Sometimes he writes things on www.teknetia.com but mostly he is a top notch procrastinator. Currently he is procrastinating from writing the content for letslearn.io, a site to learn all about computer networking (because it really isn't that hard and you shouldn't be scared of it!).

After missing each other while walking on the same street in opposite direction three times, Chris and I found one another. The sun was beating down to a ridiculous extent, so we went down a side street, near where at least three competeing chicken shops had tried and failed to dethrone Clem's chicken shop from its spot in Newtown's takeaway pantheon.

Chris was a last minute addition, only the previous evening where some mutual friends spotted me at the Union Hotel, and Chris was at their table. Despite my to-me-obnoxious self promotion, Chris had not heard about this project, but was very interested. 

We talked about the lack of an official app for the recently-released Opal Card (he recommended the unofficial-but-useful OpalMate), and the free light meter app I was using (he recommended a Kickstarted peripheral light meter for the iPhone which sounded nifty). 

I got a message saying my next appointment was going to be about 15 minutes late, so I dashed home and dropped off the incorrect Polaroid I had grabbed that morning and my malfunctioning Horizon Perfekt, then headed to Enmore, not far from the new post office and Doppelganger Hair. I arrived at 12:15, but then received more messages about further lateness. I fretted a little (I had a 1:00 appointment after all), but did a little rearranging of my afternoon so my 1:00 could meet me in Enmore, and my next subject arrived, with 15 minutes to spare.

Linda Gehard, 12:45pm, Enmore

Linda is a Newtown local, designer, photographer, crafter, handyperson, contrarian, skeptic, cook, cinnamon obsessive, homebrew experimenter and general mad food scientist. She asks questions. She's intensely curious and can often be found learning a new skill or figuring out how to make a new design idea. By day she designs usable websites, software and products. She posts on instagram as @pixel8ted.

Linda arrived, walking gingerly as it had been leg day. I scanned the area, and spotted a driveway across the road with partial shade, and more of that slanting light I like so much. Linda was actually one of my first "put out the call to the internet, see who replies and wants photos" people, on a rainy day in the distant past. Some of those photos are still used on this site.

We wrapped up quickly, time being of the essence, and I quickly went to take a Polaroid, my first of the day. I snapped it, Linda posed, and as the picture left the camera, I promptly dropped it, causing it to be seared in the harsh light of day, leaving a white, overexposed frame. Ah well. I walked across the street directly into my next subject (not literally).

Clare Hawley, 1:00, Enmore and Newtown

Clare is a photographer working primarily within the performing arts and music industries. She has been exhibited as part of Head On with TAFE NSW, and this year headed up a 12-person show of Music Photography for Head On as an Associated Exhibition. She likes Doctor Who, green kitchen utensils, tea, old film cameras, Japan and anything with LEDs in them. She can be found online at www.asparay.com, tweets @asparayphotos and instagrams on @asparay.

Clare and I had never met before, but I'd been a long time follower of hers on Twitter and Instagram, and had looked on with envy as she did concert shoots with Muse, Amanda Palmer, Snoop Dogg/Lion/Zilla, and many others. "I've been a little bored lately." she claimed. "Right," I replied, "shooting with Queen is SUCH a drag."

"I'm not usually on this side of the camera." she pointed out. She was not the first photographer to say this to me during this series, and I can relate. Those of us who tend to point the cameras tend to not be in the party photo because we're taking it. 

Or we're in the photo holding a camera, of course.

There was a whole ton of gear talk too, but you guys don't want to hear that, right? Right.

Anyhow my next appointment was in a cemetery, so I'll talk more about that.

Maria Lewis and Samuel Spettigue, Camperdown 

Maria Lewis is an authority on film and pop culture. A Showbusiness Reporter at The Daily Mail, her work has also appeared in The Daily Telegraph, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and New York Post. She's one half of the Pod Save Our Screen podcast for the Graffiti With Punctuation film collective and has a weekly radio show on 2SER 107.3 FM - Gaggle Of Geeks - where she discusses everything in the comic book, film and fantasy world. Her debut novel Who's Afraid? is soon to be published and she is represented by the Alex Adsett Literary Agency. Check out her website at marialewis.com.au or on Twitter @MovieMazz.

Sam Spettigue is the resident nerd and Tech Department Lead for the Daily Mail Australia (@MailOnline), SysAdmin, DevOp, writer, video & board game aficionado, comic book guru, chocolate milkshake connoisseur and go-to guy for all things pop culture and geeky. His (mostly) nonsensical work can be found at DiceNChits.com and GraffitiWithPunctuation.net. He tweets at @ninjaspag and posts on Instagram at @samuelspettigue.

I met Maria and Sam near Camperdown's St Stephen's Church, home to Camperdown Cemetery. The cemetery was founded in 1848, and was Sydney's major cemetery for  20 years. The enormous Camperdown Rest Park on the other side of the wall (home to friendly dogs and burrito picnics) was once part of the cemetery's sprawling bounds. With its eroding gravestones, wrought-iron fences and verdant foliage (yes, I said foliage), it was the perfect setting for what was quickly dubbed an "old school goth kid shoot".

At one point Maria joked about laying on a coffin with her hair spread out, and then was slightly scandalised that I took her entirely seriously.

Sam settled for leaning against one of the above-ground stones, a pose he dubbed "GraveButt".

But seriously (I resisted saying "butt seriously", you're welcome), I could have taken pictures of these two all day. I mean seriously! Look!

But where things really went off the rails were the shots of them together. Seriously, I'm not even going to talk them up. I'll just put them here and you guys can see.

I call this the Scooby Doo shot.

The final shoot of the weekend (and of this very long post) was with an old photo friend. You might recognise her from such photos as the first one you see upon visiting this website.

Olivia McDonough, Surry Hills

Olivia McDowell always wanted to be a redhead. She bakes cookies, does yoga, and obsesses over ice hockey. She fixes typos for a living, but respects the line between assistance and snark. You can find her recipes at thedarlingbaker.com, her orthographic ramblings at missom.wordpress.com, and her collection of pretty things at vagueandnebulous.tumblr.com. She posts prodigiously as @miss_om on Instagram and Twitter, and less prodigiously writes for eatability.com. She also spent two years watching every Star Trek episode and movie ever made, and doesn’t regret a second of it. It’s no surprise she believes in logic and beauty above all else. Olivia used to be able to fit a $2 coin between her front teeth but times and jaws have changed. Now it’s only a 5-cent gap.

Olivia had wanted to be a part of this project from the start, but various scheduling conflicts had restricted her free time. When I arrived at her flat, she was in a bathrobe, ironing something to pack in a suitcase. The suitcase was for her next flight, which left in roughly an hour. I was offered a cup of Chemex as she flew upstairs and came back down ready to shoot. 

For those of you who don't follow her various social media outlets, Olivia is constatly flitting about the globe, with only meticulous lists of shops visited, cats met, and ridiculously amazing breakfasts photographed. She had returned several weeks earlier, and was ready to go again. Well, once this pesky photo shoot was done with.

We ascended to the roof of her building, where Olivia carried a coffee cup, made by her mother, and snacked on peas harvested from a nearby plant. And when I say "harvested", I mean "Olivia disappeared and came back with snacks seemings drawn from the aethyr". It being Olivia, it didn't surprise me in the slightest.

The light on the roof had become harsh, so I snapped a few final shots in Olivia's flat, near a window that overlooked a dog park (of course). And that was where I got the first shot above, and this last one. You see, Olivia on that morning was a bit stressed, and it was early, and she had a plane to catch, but Olivia is above all things a positive person, and I wanted one that showed that.

Yep. There she is.

The Polaroid Gallery will be a little incomplete this time, but here it is:

 

And that was all for that weekend! Can you believe there's only one post left to go? I can.

Gear:

  • Olympus OM-1 + Kodak Portra CN 400 colour 35mm film
  • Nikon FG20 + Lomography Lady Grey 400 black-and-white 35mm film
  • Minolta XG-1n + Rollei Redbird Redscale 35mm film
  • LC-Wide + Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 35mm film
  • Lubitel 166+ + Fujichrome Profia 100F E6 120mm film, cross processed
  • Polaroid Close-up 660 + Impossible Project 600 black-and-white film, Black frame

Special thanks to Teena Hanson, Chris Watt, Linda Gehard, Clare Hawley, Maria Lewis, Samuel Spettigue, and Olivia McDonough for their time. Developing and scanning by Foto Riesel, Sydney.

Weekend Portrait Series: Day 8

More delays, but more posts! So we all win in the end. Another early start found me walking up Lord Street, past St Peters Station and across the road towards smokestacks extending from long-retired brick ovens. Children chased each other across the playground, and dogs chased tennis balls and each other across the rolling holls of Sydney Park. The latter were part of the reason I was here, and I quickly found my first subject of the day.

Alyce & Chico, Sunday, 10:00am, St Peters

Alyce Marshwiggle is an inner-west Sydney grrrl who works in digital, likes stalking kittens and drowning in tea. She owns a cute old house that is being rebuilt to be even cuter as we speak. You can find her on Instagram @marshwiggle_

Alyce and I had previously missed and rescheduled our appointment a few times, and there was a particular reason for that. His name is Chico, and he is a miniature schnauzer (the official reason for the reschedule was that he had "got into some cheese he shouldn't have", which is a scenario I can not even visualise). 

Chico had also, I had been informed, somehow intuited that he was to have his photo taken, and had promptly rolled himself into a mud puddle. He was inordinately proud of this. Admittedly, 30 seconds earlier, he had been intertwined in a three-dog conga line/human, er, canine centipede formation, so perhaps decorum was not high on his list of priorities.

Alyce, uncaring of mud or wet dog, scooped Chico up. I can not even picture Alyce unkempt, muddied, or in any way out of sorts, so I presume she remained clean through sheer force of will. Chico adopted a casual "check me out, Mum" cockiness, and allowed himself to be carried.

I could have happily sat and taken photos of these two for the rest of the day, but I had my schedule to keep to, so I bid them farewell, and put my feet to the familiar path towards Sydney University, and my next subject.

Michael Wall, Sunday, 12pm, Sydney University

Michael Wall AKA the Rockabilly Rhino is a DJ, radio host, & appreciator of trashy cinema. He resides in a leopard print house surrounded by records, comic books and tiki mugs. His current show, The Devil's Jukebox, can be found here and he posts on Tumblr at kingofdisease.tumblr.com.

I waited for Mike outside the Sydney Alternative Rock 'n' Roll Markets. I knew better than to browse as I waited, for the last time I had gone inside, I had purchased a Mark Lanagan poster, a tiki mug, a plate of gumbo, and about 20 comics books (I am unsure of the actual number, as the proprietor of the stall saw how many I had in my arms and told me to "just grab some more").

Mike had previously assisted me on my Playtime photo project, and at the time his hair was a tiny ridge along his otherwise shaved head. Now it hung down the right side of his face in a lime-green curtain, and he had accented it with a ginger Van-Dyke-and-Fu-Manchu combination. However, whenever he smiled, the Fu Manchu tended to disappear. “It’s my huge dimples.” he explained. “It’s my curse.”

We chatted about comic books, movies, and records, specifically the Deep Purple “Fireball” picture disc he had his eye on inside the markets. Not to be outdone, I pointed out that the one picture disc I owned was a Paul McCartney-Rupert-the-Bear disc in the shape of Rupert’s head, though I don’t think this had the same street cred.

Mike went in to fetch his record, and I headed back towards Enmore to meet my next subject.

Milly Molly Mandy, Sunday, 2pm, Enmore

Melissa Giardini, AKA Milly Molly Mandy is the owner and senior creative of Newtown institution Doppelgänger Hair.

I was meeting MMM at "the shop”which had taken me a few messages to realise meant Doppelgänger, but the doors seems to be closed and locked. I killed time until 2 rolled around and got the all clear-message. The iron gate was unlocked, and I stepped into perhaps the quietest version of Doppelgänger hair I’d ever seen.

I had previously had my hair cut at Doppelgänger several times, the first when I was a mere two months off the plane from Canada, nearly twelve years ago. The most recent visit was a few months previous, where I had spent most of the appointment chatting about terrible movies and excellent music with Alex, the gent who trimmed my pompadour into something more manageable (but still stylin’). Afterwards, I, like so many others, had my photo taken in front of the green wall adorned with 3 ceramic ducks, which had belonged to MMM’s grandmother.

As we shot near the front window, MMM’s cat Ecco decided to get involved in the proceedings. True to his cat nature, though, he got involved in a completely non-helpful or photogenic way.

If you’re keen to see more, Doppelgänger and MMM were featured in Nic Bezzina’s Newtown Shopkeepers book, which I would be angry about (because I had the idea for a similar series literally 1 week before he released it) were it not so excellent.

Walking further down Enmore Road, past the newly-incredibly popular Cow and the Moon (home to reputedly the best gelato in the world, but then again, we Newtown folk already knew that), I turned down an alley and arrived at the Young Henry's brewery, and met my next subject.

Kaitlin Mitchell, Sunday, 3pm, Enmore

Kaitlin is an Ashfield film/television-watcher, occassional plush doll maker, & full time pop culture enthusiast. She has inappropriate crushes on Max Fischer, Dwight Schrute and Trent Lane. Her interests can be found at miserylovescupcakes.tumblr.com & she posts on instagram at @bears.beets.babes. P.S. She has lizards on her shirt.

I spotted Kaitlin as I arrived at Young Henry’s, and we got drinks to catch up. She did indeed have lizards on her shirt, which was made by ToySyndrome. I had mostly seen Kaitlin at various trivia nights at the dip, where we had never won, except in spirit.

We shot a few pictures in the brewery, and for all that it was vibrant with noise and colours and one extremely large black German Shepherd (or possible dire wolf), it seemed like too black and white of a location. Kaitlin is definitely a colour person, so we took to the alleys.

We both got a little over-excited, running from one bit of street art to the next. “What about this one?” ”This other one could work!” I think we circled the brewery 3 or 4 times.

Finally, we were about to head back when Kaitlin spotted something and dashed across the street, heedless of traffic. “It’s a dead girl on the wall!”, she said, then posed wildly. I waited until after I took the picture to point out there was a cursive “Lust”on the other side. We both agreed, though, that “Between Lust and the Dead Girl”would make an excellent band name or tumblr URL.

The reason for Kaitlin’s suggesting Young Henry’s was a Quentin Tarantino screen-printed t-shirt exhibition, in which her friend Amy was participating. I met Amy, and her friend Ray, and both agreed to help me finish out the rolls of film and be subjects.

Amy Bean and Ray McLaws, Sunday, 4:00pm, Enmore

Amy Bean is a Enmore graphic designer, illustrator, screen printer & all around rad lady. Her work can seen on her instagram @amybean_

Ray McLaws is a Newtown designer/waiter & aficionado of headbands, much like Luke Wilson. His work can be seen at Hands of Imagination, Dulwich Hill. 

I dragged Ray out into the alley for some candid snaps.

Upon returning to the brewery, Amy, Ray, Kaitlin and I discussed Wes Anderson films. The topic was such an evocative one that Amy and Ray decided that as soon as they were finished, they would go home and watch Rushmore (which I still have not seen).

I continued taking a polaroid at the beginning of each shoot and hiding it in my bag to develop until the very end. Yet again, it was immensely satisfying to review the results at the end of the day.

 

And that was the end of Day 8! It was a busy one, but the full on regimented crazy of Day 7 prepared me, so Day 8 seemed chilled out by comparison. There’s another weekend to post, and one final one to shoot, then the project will be finished.

Then what am I gonna do?!

Gear:

  • Olympus OM-1 + Kodak TriX 400 black-and-white 35mm film
  • Nikon FG20 + Kodak Portra CN 400 colour 35mm film
  • Horizon Perfekt + AGFA CN 400 colour 35mm film
  • LC-Wide + Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 35mm film
  • Lomography Sprocket Rocket + AGFA CN 200 colour 35mm film
  • Lubitel 166+ + Rollei RPX 200 black-and-white 120mm film
  • Holga 120N + Lomography CN 100 colour 120mm film
  • Polaroid Close-up 660 + Impossible Project 600 black-and-white film, Black frame

Special thanks to Alyce Marshwiggle, Michael Wall, Melissa Giardini, Kaitlin Mitchell, Amy Bean, and Ray McLaws for their time. Developing and scanning by Foto Riesel, Sydney.

Weekend Portrait Series: Day 7

Apologies for the lack of updates. This week has been stupidly busy on both work and home fronts. Which is rather fitting, I suppose, as this was the busiest weekend of the Weekend Portrait Series so far. I had 10 appointments, which later became 11, and photographed 14 people over 2 days. That's a fair few.

My first location was an easy walk from my house. I headed up King Street, turning down Mary Street when I passed Kelly's Irish Pub, and headed down to an unmarked door to meet my first subject of the day and the weekend.

Charlotte Auzou, Saturday, 10:30am, Newtown

Charlotte Auzou is a foodsmith and baking wizard from Dulwich Hill. She has worked in the kitchens of The Dip at Goodgod Small Club and Mary's Newtown and making food is just like, a really big part of her joie de vivre. If you enjoy pictures of cats and food, you can follow her on Instagram @fancydancymagicprancy.

I got a few funny looks as I walked into the closed restaurant and straight up to the kitchen, full of staff carrying trays, crushing ice, slicing vegetables and generally bustling about. I asked for Charlotte, who came out to greet me. "I even wore make-up today! I never wear make-up when I'm working."

The last time I'd seen Charlotte at work was the end of a long evening of trivia at The Dip, and her look had been more exhausted-thousand-yard-stare than photoshoot-keen-and-bright. 

Charlotte's job this morning was preparing the house-smoked-and-cured trashcan bacon that adorned the burgers that have made Mary's a Newtown hotspot. I've been there twice. To me, the burgers taste like your childhood memory of snack bar burgers (rather than the adult reality).

I mostly shot through the pickup window, though I was invited into the kitchen itself. The few times I did walk around the long bar, past the blender, taps and bottles of spirits, and into the kitchen, I felt like I was standing on the median strip of a Formula One race. I was terrified to stick out an elbow for fear of losing it, or worse, upsetting one of the extremely busy crew. They were good sports, though, and I thanked them all as I left.

I continued along King Street towards the University of Sydney. I had instructions to meet my next subjects on the Footbridge, and so I waited on the footpath bridge near Lake Northam. It only occurred to me at 11:27 that the pedestrian bridge and cafe further up Parramatta Road also laid claim to the name Footbridge, which led to a hurrying rush to the actual meeting location.

Jonathan, Lara, and Kaitlin Briden, Saturday, 11:30pm, the University of Sydney

Jonathan Briden is an actor, teacher, and writer, who occasionally sells his soul to the IT world.

Lara Briden is a Canadian hiker. In her spare time she treats patients as a Naturopathic Doctor.

Kaitlyn Briden is a student who loves animals especially horses.

I met Jonathan through various improv workshops and shows, and I had volunteered for run the lights and sound for his 6-week Impro Arena series at the Roxbury Hotel. I also attend his workshop that teaches the methods of former Second City Los Angeles artistic director, Dave Razowsky. 

Jonathan was one of the original volunteers for this series, but had held of naming a date or time due to "his daughter's schedule". It was only once he chose a date and time that I realised the scheduling snafu was due to his family attending the shoot as well. I was delighted at the opportunity, as I'd not done a group portrait as part of this project. Discussing locations, the Briden family agreed that the Quadrangle was best, as "it looks like Hogwarts". I couldn't agree more.

After a few casual poses, I began to experiment, suggesting ideas like a 19th century super-serious formal portrait, or everyone looking terrified. Lara protested, as "I wasn't told there would be acting!", but it was all in good fun. 

I had some extra time before my next shoot, so I wandered into the backstreets of Chippendale, and grabbed lunch and much-need caffeine refueling at The House. There was a Harlem Globetrotters pinball machine, and at the next table, a diner was boring the socks off his tablemate by explaining the different between the White Album demos and the finished product. Afterwards, I went back to towards Newtown, but turned in at the Seymore cetre to wait for my next subject, a blast from my past.

Anna Popoff, Saturday, 1:00pm, Ultimo

Anna Popoff is a Earlwood writer, cheese aficionado and long time Schrödinger's cat joke fan. She enjoys remedial ballet classes, making the most of her weirdness and when she grows up, she wants to be an adult. Her favourite writers are Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Pynchon and Donna Tartt*. Her blog can be found here and she posts on Instagram as @annapopoff. Or something. *subject to change

Anna had just come from her ballet class, and we chatted as we crossed the road to Victoria Park. We had quite a bit to talk about. You see, Anna had found out about this project from Joel, after he had posted one of my photos of him on Facebook (which you can all totally do, I love seeing them). Anna commented that she liked the photo, and Joel suggested she volunteer for the weekend. 

It was in the discussion of times and locations that Anna & I discovered we had both been employed by the same terrible contact centre nearly ten years before. It had been my first job in Australia, and we had bonded over shared misery. On Halloween, we and others had dressed up and cadged free shots at the Zanzibar (I was Shaun of the Dead, Anna was a flight attendant from the 60s). At Christmas, I had screen-printed her a bootleg Hot Hot Heat t-shirt, and she was the first person I knew who owned an iPod.

We discussed locations, and I suggested the Victoria Park playground. Her eyes lit up. Clearly a good choice. She quickly shed her jacket and climbed a spherical structure, with a web of ropes within. I set my cameras nearby, and climbed up after.

This structure was nearly the end of this project as, more than 2 metres off the ground, my foot slipped, and I found myself hanging on by suddenly rope-burned hands. "Are you alright?" she asked. "Just fine," I replied. "The shaking is a side effect of the fear."

I bid Anna goodbye, and headed south on King Street. I arrived at my destination early, and spent a few minutes cadging wifi from the Newtown Hotel. Photos, instagram'd, I cross the road, entered the Jack London shop, and met my subject.

Annabelle McMillan, Saturday, 2:00pm, Newtown

Annabelle Marieza McMillan is a Redfern-based theatre performer, dancer, producer, impresario, sambal addict and panda aficionado. She works across Indonesia and Australia as a multicultural artist, and self-produced, funded, devised and performed her debut solo show, Porphyria's Slumber, in 2012. In October she will be heading to Bundanon Trust to begin development on her next show, Garam/Abu (Salt/Ash). She posts art things here, posts vegan cooking things at littlepandakitchen.com, tweets at @pandabelle, and 'grams at @hellopandabelle.

Annabelle is one of my oldest Twitter-people, and is, in my opinion, the gateway tweeter of the Inner West. Through her, I have met many of my current friends and followers. She's also pretty awesome, in case you can't tell from her bio above, travelling the world to expand her knowledge and always with a project in the works.

Annabelle and I chose an alley not far from her shop, just up the road from Kuleto's Cocktail Bar. The shoot itself was remarkably easy. Previously, shooting with Annabelle as part of my Passions Project, I had been nervous, and unsure. This was a breeze, though half or more was due to Annabelle's ease at taking direction (I once made her pose like a lemur with a plushie panda for a photo. Don't ask).

The whole shoot was done in 15 minutes. We walked back to Jack London, where I exercised extreme willpower and did not buy another jacket (she has previously sold me two, both awesome).

My next location took me back into the south end of Newtown, where Marrickville, Enmore, St Peters and Newtown converge, to a house with a open red door, that was barred below the waist by a baby gate. Two small dogs came running, one brindle, one white with brown patches. One was barking, and the other was barking at the first not to bark so much. My next subject corralled them, and helped me over the gate.

BJ Hurry, Saturday, 3:00pm, Marrickville.

When I asked BJ for a bio, this, in fits and starts, is what she wrote:
"BJ Hurry lives in Enmore with her dude, Matt, flatmate Gabby and two fur children Myf and Cindy. She currently works as a library assistant but in a past life she was a vet nurse, and in the distant past she rode race horses and took people on trail rides. She aspires to one day breed beef cattle, although will probably name them therefore have to keep them as pets. All of them. Also enjoys roller skating, cycling and long walks along the beach. Candle lit dinners for two. Soft jazz. Monkey butlers. Oh oh! Can you please add something about me liking gravel and trumpets. And my goal in life is to visit the Icelandic Phallological Museum. My favourite food is dumplings, burritos, lasagne and ginger snaps. I don't like cane toads. My first car was a Datsun 200B station wagon affectionately known as The Mothership. I'm not very artistic, but I am good at finding good used furniture. And I can make dogs do stuff using only my eyes and big toe. I once rode my horse through a Maccas drive through. The first time I was on TV I was lost in the bush, running along crying. The dudes hiding in the bushes with a movie camera thought it was a great shot so they made me run past them and do it again. When it was on telly the background music was Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. I like rogaining. I used to sleep walk. I'm enjoying this, sorry. I collect cow creamers. My small dog is an extension of my soul. I have the awesome ability of being able to vomit, walk and hold a conversation at the same time. I'll stop now."

I met Belinda Jane Hurry by the happy accident of having the seat next to her at a Neil Gaiman & Fourplay String Quartet show. I sat down, glanced to my left and was confronted by two intensely interested eyes behind a pair of glasses. "Hello! I'm BJ." I returned the greeting, and we conversed at various points throughout the show, commenting in amazement that a cello could replicate Tom Morello guitar solos so perfectly. I saw over her shoulder that she was on Twitter and followed her, throwing in a quick "Hello! I am sitting next to you.". 

Since then, BJ met her dude Matt, moved into the city, and gained Cindy the dog, as company for Myf, who has pride of place, etched into the skin of BJ's arm. She was even interviewed for the news at an expo about her Myf tattoo. Both she and I agreed that one or both dogs needed to be involved in the shots.

BJ and Matt both suggested a phenomenon known as a "dog sandwich" which I did not get to experience, as the dogs were having none of it. Instead, we went into the backyard, and set up a chair in the sun next to some potted herbs ("If you ever needs basil, or, well, anything, we've got loads."). No sooner than was the chair in the sun, but were there dogs upon said chair. BJ had to move them aside, and then sit down herself, at which point they covered her like a furry blanket.

Once we were finished, Matt gifted me with an UpperCup ("It's basically just a travel mug."), and I was on my way to the last shoot of the day, back in Camperdown Rest Park, site of many shoots, burrito picnics, and dogs.

Jen Dougherty, Saturday, 4:00pm, Camperdown

Jen Dougherty is an editor, proofreader, podcaster & general dynamo. Find her on twitter at @fury_jen. Jen has never punched a horse, but a horse did bite her once and she is afraid the horsey girls will come after her. Also don't google "horsey girl".

Jen was a late addition to this series, and she specifically asked (in all caps no less) if she can do the photo shoot "as TayTay". Unsure what she meant, I asked her to elaborate. Turns out, "TayTay" means Taylor Swift. Who knew? She also sent me some reference photos, which were helpful, so I had an idea of what we could do.

Jen arrived, offered me a Junior Mint (no, really), and downed two Panadol with a swig of Diet Coke. "I realised on the way over that this headache is actually a migraine." she advised. I asked how she knew. "I realised I'd had it for 6 hours." Oh. Okay. I did my best to step quietly, and avoid any loud noises or flashes of light.

I order to achieve that Taylor Swift oversaturation, I overexposed the colour photos by at least two f-stops per frame. Jen did her best to approximate some of the poses, but we both drew the line at the weird-elbow-hands-on-hips pose Taylor does, on account of it looking awkward and being uncomfortable. Jen was proud to declare that Tay-Swift had the same "manky elbow" she did, in that it extended past 180 degrees. So there's that.

After we finished the shoot, we retired to the Courthouse and drank beer and discussed the structural complexity of rap lyrics. Really.

And thus ended busy Saturday. Again, apologies for the late update, but I shall be posting Sunday's photos as soon as I get my ducks in a row. Thank you to everyone for sharing this and telling your friends.

Also I changed things up a little and took a Polaroid at the beginning of every shoot, then hid it away in my pocket or in my bag, only checking it at the end. These turned out to be some of my favourite shots of the series, and it was immensely satisfying looking them over at the end of the day.

(click to scroll)


Gear:

  • Olympus OM-1 + Kodak TriX 400 black-and-white 35mm film
  • Nikon FG20 + Kodak Portra CN 400 colour 35mm film
  • Horizon Perfekt + AGFA CN 400 colour 35mm film
  • LC-Wide + Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 35mm film
  • Lomography Sprocket Rocket + AGFA CN 200 colour 35mm film
  • Lubitel 166+ + Rollei RPX 200 black-and-white 120mm film
  • Holga 120N + Lomography CN 100 colour 120mm film
  • Polaroid Close-up 660 + Impossible Project 600 black-and-white film, Black frame

Special thanks to Charlotte Auzou, Jonathan Briden, Lara Briden, Kaitlin Briden, Anna Popoff, Annabella Marieza McMillan, BJ Hurry, Jen Dougherty and the crew from Mary's for their time. Developing and scanning by Foto Riesel, Sydney.