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.