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.