Tattoos are incredibly common, especially if you live in Melbourne's inner north. Some may argue that they are so common as to be boring or unworthy of attention. Indeed, in certain areas or social scenes (Melbourne's music scene, for example) it is undoubtedly less common to come across someone with no tattoos than someone whose skin has been permanently marked. Yet I don't think that makes tattoos less interesting. Regardless of their current prevalence, they still provide endless fascination for me, no doubt in part because I don't have any myself. But think about it - someone with a tattoo has chosen to mark their body with certain words and/or images for life. What is it about those words, or that image, that renders them so special to a person? And what made them choose that part of their body? And how do they then display them to the public, if at all? (In fact, some of the more interesting choices relate to those tattoos that cannot normally be seen.)

I felt like a total creep taking the above shot, because I was obviously aiming the lens at Ester's legs and not at her face. But I quite love the image, which I suppose proves that being a creep in the name of art is worthwhile. The fact that two very crucial elements - Ester's face and the dog on the end of the leash - are missing from the frame make it much more interesting to me, because what is in the frame does plenty of explaining: the leash is pulled tight so we assume there is something strong and alive on the end, and the white hair on Ester's sleeve confirms the suspicion; while we can't see Ester's face, her sheer black stockings, chipped nailpolish and evocative tattoo tell us a lot about what she might be like. Whether the conclusions we draw are accurate or not doesn't matter; the photograph is an exercise in imagination, and ties into the idea that a lone tattoo can reveal something about its owner.

Imogen designed her remarkable tattoo, which sits proudly and colourfully on her right shoulder. I know it took a lot of planning and bravery on her part to go through with it, but I think it's worth it as it's a gorgeous aspect of her body. I hope she thinks so too. This photo is not necessarily bad, but probably doesn't stand on its own very well. When photographing subject matter as potentially cliched as tattoos, it's easy for the results to be unremarkable. However, I think something like this would work beautifully in a series.

Again, this is probably better when viewed with other images as part of a common theme, but it does have its strong points - not least of which is the fact that you can't help but wonder what's on the top of that fine looking leg. I don't know the story behind Ben's tattoo, but I do know that it suits him perfectly. He's had it (and one other) for as long as I've known him and I just can't imagine him without it. Which again contributes to the idea that body art can become so much a part of a person that it comes to partly define who they are and how they are seen.

There's great potential for a series of images on modern tattoos, particularly within one community. What do they say about the group of people? About the individuals? How strongly does body art define these people, at this time, in this place? My guess is, more stongly than you think.


'no, no, I'm not very photogenic'

'But you have a beautiful face for photography!'
'No, I really look bad in photos.'

So went the conversation I had with Rosalind when I asked her if I could take her picture. In the end I insisted that she oblige me, and with a little help from Laird and alcohol, managed to get her relatively relaxed in front of the camera.

So often my attempt to photograph people elicits similar responses. Besides telling people they look great, there really is no way to convince them to trust me. Reassuring them that the photographic vision in my head is truly wonderful just doesn't work a lot of the time; insecurities are usually too deep to be silenced by the words of someone shoving a camera in their face. I know this because I am guilty of it myself.

This image is my absolute favourite of the 36 from my latest roll. I was certain at the time that the composition was perfect for the moment, and I stand by that conviction; the position of Rosalind at the top left corner allows her gaze to direct the viewer's, first to Laird and then to the others in the background. I think it's very effective. The actual moment - Rosalind reacting to Laird's inevitable tomfoolery, and simultaneously to the fact that at any moment she will be captured on film - is a wonderfully honest one between two good friends, despite the awareness of the camera. And while Laird definitely looks good in the shot, he is merely a bit-part player in the scene, instigating Rosalind's action and in essence facilitating her. Because without doubt, this photo is all about Rosalind.

What an amazing smile, what vibrant eyes, what irresistible freckles. Her happiness shines through so strongly here, but more than anything Rosalind just looks so incredibly alive. I look at this photo and think, Wow, I'd love to have an image like that of myself.

And so I implore my readers and potential subjects out there to take this as a lesson: if I tell you that I think I'm going to get a great shot of you, or that you're going to look wonderful on my film, please trust me. Even if it turns out to be less than wonderful, I will blame only myself and promise to be discreet with the results, for I know how icky it can be to have a bad image of yourself on record. But maybe, between us we will create an incredible photo and capture a moment that we can both treasure. And isn't that worth the risk?


faces in the sky

Anything that involves the flashing lights, bright colours and hand-painted imperfection of the time-warp Americana carny aesthetic is sure to make me swoon. (You might know this by now.) Carnivals, fairs, fetes, shows, parades, festivals - they all render me weak at the knees. So when September rolled around and the Weekly Times released its annual bumber Royal Melbourne Show guide, it was a no-brainer that I would fork out the hefty entrance fee for the chance to catch all the carnival splendour in its natural habitat.

I took a couple of photos as I navigated my way through the pram parade, but something was amiss. Everywhere I looked - and especially through the claustrophobic maze of eccentric spruikers, dangerous rides and exploitative games - I saw incredible scenes, but still, somehow, felt completely uninspired. At the time I anticipated every photographic mishap I have ever had, and as a result imagined that any photos I took would be failures. And so, after exploring most of the layout on foot, after taking about seven photos between two cameras, after under two hours, I left.

My photography woes continued days and weeks after the Show. As I had only taken three shots on my Holga, I knew I needed to use up the film. Unfortunately I had left the flash switched on for several days and the batteries were dead, meaning I would have to take the remaining nine shots without a flash - a daunting task considering even outdoor shots usually need a fill-in flash. This did not help my lack of enthusiasm. But as I set off to the second of two Grand Finals, a whole two weeks after the Show expedition, I forced myself to take the camera and make the most of the blue sky and sunshine. And so, on the way to and from the dismal game, I finished the film. The following week, I picked up the prints with hopelessly low expectations.

How I wished I took more at the Show. The one at the top of this post is gloriously over-the-top in its colours and layers, and the food stand exhibits all the things I love about the carny look - the typeface, the building shape, the colour combinations. But what really makes this photo worthwhile for me is, of course, that mischievously happy face in the sky.

I do quite like the striking shape and composition of the overwhelmingly imposing church, but it's the intense blue sky that made my heart sing when I saw this photo.

Aah, the mighty MCG. With a lot of post-firework smoke in this instance. I find this shot really interesting with the colours and the smoke - but let's face it, any shot of the 'G is going to be appealing to a Melburnian, if only for sentimental reasons. (And, for the record, much more worthy of worship than the church.)

It's a little overexposed, but the way the flora perfectly parallels the Birrarung Marr Federation Bells is nothing short of lovely.

The fruits of my lomo labour thankfully proved encouraging enough to pull me out of my photographic funk. Which is often the case, with art and otherwise - precisely when you start to lose faith, it pulls itself together and proves itself worthy of your attention. Just in the nick of time.


it's a celebration!

So I guess I should also say hello!, this is my first blog post on my first blog. I don't really know what I'm doing but I'll keep doing it for at least a little while longer (until my enthusiasm wanes). At this point, though, I am very much looking forward to regularly sharing my images, some old and some new, with a potentially unknown cyber audience. Hooray! 

And so I introduced myself to the world of blogging - to friends, to strangers, or perhaps to nobody - exactly one year ago today. I am thrilled to say that my enthusiasm hasn't waned in the slightest since I began; if anything, the thrill of putting my work out in a public forum has made me more excited about this blog, and about photography in general. It's an interesting psychological occurrence: even though in reality very few people probably read it, the knowledge that anyone, anywhere, could read it has the same effect as if thousands of eyes were scanning it every day.

The above is from my most recent roll of film, and is characteristic of many images I have shared in the past - a double exposure with a strange combination of colours, shapes and patterns.  I think it's very beautiful. Photos like this still excite me because they are simultaneously representative of and completely removed from reality.

I love to take photos. I love the rush of adrenaline I get right before opening that cardboard envelope and seeing what I have produced. And I love sharing the results with everybody, anybody and nobody on this blog.

(thank you)



One of the things I was itching to do when I purchased my F4 was to test out the multiple exposure function and see how layered images might look when produced on a camera that isn't made out of plastic. As part of my very first test roll, I took to the Fitzroy Gardens on a sunny Autumn day to get some standard flora shots (which I did, and which served the purpose of getting to know my camera, but are far too boring to post here). The sun was really performing and I used the opportunity to get a silhouette of one of the garden's magnificent palm trees, with the intention of shooting some colourful flowers as the second exposure, which would theoretically show through the black area of the tree. But I guess the flowers were all pretty much dead because everywhere I looked was just green and brown.

Frustrated with the lack of opportunity and about to shoot a patch of grass just so I could move on to the next frame, I noticed a small splash of colour on an ancient towering tree trunk. Upon closer inspection I realised that someone had stuck letters onto the trunk, the kooky formation spelling the work L-O-V-E. Well, even if it was a bit boring, at least it wasn't grass. And so I got out the massive flash for the first time, pressed a few buttons in the hope that it would fire some light, positioned the letters in the frame where I recalled the palm leaves had been, and took the shot.

When I saw this image about a week later, it took me a second to recall exactly what it was. Because it doesn't look like anything, really - it doesn't even look like a real photo. It almost reminds me of a badly put-together Photoshop job. That it is, in fact, a real photo, for me turns it from an aesthetically ugly image to a remarkable example of what this camera can potentially produce. And despite the photo being a bit unsightly and borderline corny, I think the composition is really cute - LOVE in a natural explosion of excitement! Just like being in love! OMG!

And let's face it, despite everything else, we all need some love now and then. Even if it isn't so pretty.