the summer barbie

When you no longer open the front door to that rush of cold; when you no longer feel it necessary to take a scarf wherever you go; when the trees on your street start to blossom, releasing their divine sickly-sweet odour into the air at dusk: these are some of the signs that summer is on its way. Sure, summer in Melbourne can be brutal, with the dry grass and scorching days and those few trains and trams that are still not air-conditioned. But summer also brings many incredible things. Long, hot nights that don't require a cardigan, the party-filled Christmas/New Year break, outdoor cinemagoing, the promise of a seaside escape. And the magnificent backyard summer barbie.

We're pretty blessed to have a gorgeous backyard at our place. It's quite picturesque, and perfect for entertaining. We are also pretty blessed that on the day we had planned our belated housewarming BBQ, the gods decided to give us a sneak preview of the summer with a perfect sunny thirty degrees.

Aw, again with the floral double-exposure portraits! This is a pretty special photo, and it nicely sums up the romantic whimsy of the garden, the weather and the lovely relaxed afternoon we had.

Another special portrait! Portia just looks so serene and happy here. The sunshine gives her, and the wonderfully green plantlife in the background, an irresistible glow. Like the previous portrait, this captures something of the essential feeling of a summer afternoon, and this event in particular.

Our resident chef! Because you can't have a BBQ without a BBQ. For the record, our catering and cooking skills equal, if not surpass, the wonder of our backyard. If I don't say so myself.

Yes, there was delicious food and perfect weather and lethal punch and a great setting. But what does that matter without people to enjoy it? It's very satisfying to open your home to people that you care about. My family has always been very fond of barbies, and I'm really pleased that my adopted Melbourne family feel the same way.

Like every good food-and-drink filled arvo, it went into the night. Eating, drinking and being merry outdoors with a whole lot of good company: definitely one of my favourite things about every summer.


monochrome faces: old, new, near, far

And what a face! I think Kate was imitating an alien on this Halloween eve. An alien who had stolen an astronaut's suit. Of course! In any case, she looks amazing, particularly in black and white, where the grotesque colours of the face paint disappear and we are just left with these incredibly strange textures, and we are forced to imagine what kind of wild colours adorn her skin. Her wonderful expression (and incredible hair) make this a pretty successful spontaneous portrait.

Another great Halloween shot, which sees J's killer plumber (or dead plumber? Not sure...) gleefully ready to attack and Shasta's Nicki Minaj pouting in the background. Halloween really is a wonderful time to take photos, not only because people love to dress up in outrageous costumes, but also because in doing so they tend to shift in other ways too. Becoming more confident, for example, or revealing an aspect of their personality that may lie dormant when there is no identity cloak involved. It's very liberating. I'm not sure that these two images necessarily capture that, but as a general concept I think it's one of the reasons that shooting people in costume is so appealing.

Too soon? Quite possibly. But the towering beauty that is Romy did a marvellous job of turning herself into the late Ms Winehouse. The thing I love most about this photo is that it doesn't come close to capturing Romy's actual magnificence - in the same way that most photos of Winehouse don't do her justice at all. Granted, that was usually due to her own self-abusive ways while Romy is a picture of health, but perhaps that just means that Romy hit the nail on its drug-addled head.

From one form of performance to another - the very strange tradition of karaoke. As Janelle and Jay belted out Shania Twain's 'Man! I Feel Like a Woman!', what should have been an exercise in communal cringing was actually one of the most touching things I've seen in a long time. Number one, Janelle can really sing! Her contagious enthusiasm truly put Shania to shame. Number two, seeing a couple singing together in front of all their friends and family (and on Janelle's 30th birthday) was actually really special, because we got to see this very personal and rare kind of interaction between them. It was so lovely. The party took place in a country hall, and I love the down-to-earth vibe that Jay's classic VB can and the exposed brick wall lend to the shot.

Still in the country, but this time for a monumental milestone of another kind. A high school reunion is a pretty frightening prospect in some ways. Who do you want to see? Who don't you want to see? How many awkward conversations can you bear in one night? How long before you start making up outrageous stories about your life just to spice things up? Not to mention the self-reflection that goes on when you are forced to ask yourself, Am I where I wanted to be ten years after leaving the proverbial nest?

Contrary to that spiel, the above subject is not a member of my graduating class. He did go to my school, though he was two years above me. As far as I can tell he's established himself as a successful DJ in his home town. But this photo isn't about him and his life; I took it because while a DJ behind the decks isn't particularly interesting, one with a giant, sexist Jim Beam flag behind him is a lot more appealing. Evidently this alcohol brand had a big promotion going on in the local pub, because this wasn't the only delightful bit of propaganda plastered to the walls. I'm sure this kind of thing isn't specific to the country, but I found it attractive because the places I tend to frequent don't really do this kind of heavy promotion, so it's somewhat novel to me.

Nicole and Leo - this time, they are members of my graduating class - have been great friends for over a decade now. But they are most certainly not lovers. Which is fascinating, because when I look at this photo, I see a very personal moment between two lovers. The intensity in Leo's eyes is pretty penetrating, and Nicole's expression epitomises sultry. So what's going on? Seeing as interpretation in this case depends heavily on the viewer's level of knowledge about the subjects, I suppose it is all in the eye of the beholder.

When people are aware you're taking their picture in a social setting, to a certain extent it's down to them to transform it from a boring snapshot into an interesting image. Laird and Clinton do a pretty good job of that here. What's particularly interesting - and again, this depends on knowledge of the subjects - is that while these two look like old mates, with their jovial expressions and relaxed demeanour, they weren't actually friends in high school. Which makes for a curious case of what ten years can do to people; you either move on, grow and change, becoming open to new people (or new friendships with not-so-new people), or you don't. I like the idea of the former, and I'm glad I got to capture such a thing on film.


the happiest place on earth

Admittedly, I've never been to Disneyland. But I understand why the folks with the mouse ears claim to have built the most wonderful, joyous place that the young and young at heart could ever dream of. I have always loved Disney cartoons, and as a child the idea of a journey to that World really was the ultimate dream; watching lucky strangers win trips to the holy grail week after week on Saturday Disney was about as torturous as it got in my life as a seven-year-old.

The thing is, though, while I don't deny the magic that Disneyland creates for children who are lucky enough to get there, for the rest of us it is simply a reminder that we can't go to the Happiest Place on Earth: we're too unlucky, too far away, too poor. Which means that Disneyland, and to a lesser extent, local theme parks like Movie World, are for most of us a slap in the face, taunting us with what we will never have. That we somehow aren't good enough to experience real happiness.

While I'm sure that kids visiting Disneyland do experience a large dose of happiness, they do so at the hands of a global corporation that uses its theme parks to push endless multimedia properties and sell millions of utterly disposable souvenirs, and they also do so at great expense to their parents.

I know at this point I sound extremely cynical, and I could also quite justifiably be accused of killing large amounts of joy. However, I do so only as an introduction to something that I am significantly less hostile towards.

The wonderful place that is Darwin has a little park located just a short drive from its city centre. It has three super-dooper water slides, a large man-made lagoon, a water playground complete with a giant bucket that periodically dumps its refreshing contents onto whomever happens to be standing below it, and plenty of communal BBQs for those all-important meals. While this park, the Leanyer Recreation Park, probably doesn't bring as much happiness™ as the land of the Mouse, I guarantee that it brings a whole lot less unhappiness to children that are aware of its presence. The simple reason is this: the park is free. Open to all. Unlimited, free rides on the water slides. You can slide all day if it takes your fancy. (And in Darwin weather, it just might.) Unlimited opportunities to stand under a giant bucket full of water, waiting nervously for the drop while surrounding kids giddily tell you that you're not allowed to look at the bucket for fear of ruining the gleeful shock of the water dump.

Its well-worn playthings, with their bright, non-corporate colours, are as wonderful now as I imagine they were for the first children that used them, simply because they are free and available to use. Like the toddler who gets more joy out of the cardboard box than the overpriced toy within, kids at this park don't need fancy cartoon characters or overblown gimmicks, they just need a place that facilitates their energy and their imaginations, a place where they can play together without worrying about where they come from or how much money their family doesn't have.

I went to this park earlier this year with my family - me, my older sister, my mum and my dad. Four adults. We all went on each of the three slides at least once, and stood under the bucket together, letting out hilarious cries of suprise when we got drenched (much to the delight of the more experienced nine-year-olds watching on). It was one of the few totally free activities we took part in on that trip, and it was truly one of the happiest. No trademark necessary.


saskwatch through a plastic lens (or two)

Why do people in big bands keep asking me to take photos of them?

Well, to clarify, there are only two bands. And actually, I love shooting Eagle and the Worm. I also loved shooting the marvellous group of cool cats that make up this most excellent band, Saskwatch. Apart from the fact that it was a lovely group of people to be around for a few hours on a cold Saturday afternoon, I think I enjoyed doing this largely because Liam really did all the work; I simply loaded, pointed, focused and clicked.

Liam had scouted all the locations (which were very usefully within walking distance of one another), and he basically directed the whole thing. With so much excellent input on his part, I imagine he could have asked anyone who is handy with a camera to take the shots and he still would have ended up with some pretty bangin' images of the band. But Liam had previously expressed a preference for authentic film photography, so I suppose that's why he asked me. And if I don't say so myself, the above image is something that most other photographers would never have produced due to the specific combination of film, camera and developing process.

This is the stand-out image of the day for me. I've never seen this film produce these colours. It's totally wild. The actual subjects are very typically composed for a band shot, and I think that familiarity makes the psychedelia of the colours more effective.

Most of the film I shot on that awfully windy and icy afternoon was actually 35mm in my SLRs. But knowing Liam dug the ultra-film look, I went out of my way to shoot with my plastic cameras too. The results, as you can see, are pretty interesting if nothing else. While the lack of clarity may not be ideal for many publicity purposes (which I have written about before), they add something to the images that is really special.

This photo is a case in point. While the colours aren't as outrageous as the previous shot (though their ordinariness is wonderful in and of itself), the fabulous square frames on the bridge effectively reveal just how much these plastic lenses distort the images around the edges. I mean, can you believe these bridge frames are actually square? The symmetry in the distortion is close to perfect here, almost to the point that it looks like some kind of amazing avant-garde structural design.

I used some standard colour film for the first set-up too, which compared to the slide film looks pretty ordinary. But I love this photo. Not just because the washed-out colours have a particularly lovely vintage feel, but because it captures a great scene that, by chance, no other camera did. The little dog came from nowhere and excitedly raced past, disrupting the perfect formation that everyone was making every effort to hold. It's a really nice, unguarded moment.

Probably one of the best set-ups, Liam came across an abandoned armchair in this section of landscaping under the freeway overpass and thought it was too good not to use. I completely agree, though I'm not sure Nkechi did - I have to give her kudos for sitting through at least one spider attack. The concrete wall at the back, though subtle, adds this great atmosphere to the shot - very grimy, industrial, and also quite fascinating in that you wonder where the hell they are that has an armchair, lanscaping and a giant ugly concrete wall.

Similar to the bridge distortion on display earlier, this image has another prominent plastic-camera side effect: the light leak. This particular feature of plastic camera photography is alternately a blessing and a curse. There is a very fine line between a leak that adds character and a leak that completely ruins a photo. Happily, the light leak in this instance performs the former function.

While the light leak is great, for me it doesn't compare to the brilliance of the incredibly gothic colour tones in this photo. The atmosphere evoked by the location, the colours, the serious expressions on each face - and even the fact that Rob looks like he's disappearing into the shadows - is really beautiful. Unfortunately, the film is slightly underexposed so this image represents a rare occasion where I have had to do some relatively significant digital setting alterations in order to get a workable result. I don't usually do that, but in this case it is one hundred per cent worth it, and I'm sure the adjustments could be made in a darkroom too, if I'm getting really pedantic about the authenticity of my photos.

There were some great results from the 35mm shots too, but it's wonderful to be reminded that these often unreliable plastic cameras are capable of producing results beyond abstract shapes and colours. That there are so many variations in the plastic camera photos from the day make this project even more rewarding, because while I will never gain complete control over these notoriously temperamental pieces of equipment, it's nice to have a vague idea of the excellent images that they are occasionally capable of.


being social, documenting it

I've posted black and white social photography several times before, and it's something that I'm still very much interested in. It seems that this time each year, the social calendar starts to fill rapidly, which continues at an accelerated pace until the end of January - or even the end of summer in some cases. Having attended several of these calendar-crowding events already, I have quite a bit of visual documentation of people in the night of Melbourne.

Andrew is the brother of one of my divine housemates, and he was staying with us while visiting from Adelaide. I took this photo at our friend's house party late on Saturday night, when Andrew was evidently intoxicated enough to pose with little inhibition. Thank goodness! What a photo!

Speaking of housemates, here they both are with Andrew's lovely friend Craig (also known as Creg). It's a wonderfully animated moment - the kind that were rarely captured before camera phones became ubiquitous. Those moments that you look at in days following the event and wonder, What was going on here? Why is Shasta doing that to Craig? Why does Craig have that expression? What does Megan think at this point? While the digital photo revolution means that we see more of these moments captured, it is something else to see them captured on beautiful film, with a good camera and with composition that doesn't recall the work of a three-year-old.

The family photo is a time-honoured tradition whereby members of the same clan pose with their loveliest faces on display so that their image, as a family, will be on record for future generations to treasure. If you take into account alcohol and a group of siblings that are awkward (Imogen), spacey (Liam) and excessively modest (Portia), then you don't really get a conventional family portrait. The thing is, those personality traits I just attributed to each subject, and which kind of ruin the photo, are also some of the most wonderful, endearing things about this irresistible group of siblings. I love you guys! And I love this photo. It's got character by the truckload, and isn't that the point of portraiture?

We took another photo that was much better, but it was so much worse. It was boring.

Like the dancefloor image above, this is another pretty standard scene - people talking, people drinking - but there's a lovely symmetry here and again, it's full of character. This particular film has been giving me a lot of trouble lately, hence the smudging and scratching (particularly that lethal-looking tear on Laird's neck), but let's just say it adds to the authenticity of the image and accept it for what it is. And smugly revel in the fact that an iPhone app would never do this.


gardens past and present

Every house I ever lived in before moving out of home at the age of eighteen had a glorious garden. Not because my parents chose to live in houses with particularly great landscaping, but because my mum is an avid gardener, and she could always turn any space of dirt, no matter how barren, into a little piece of natural magic.

Mum and Dad moved recently, and they now live in a house that I have never lived in. But the garden is unmistakably that of my childhood. I suppose like anything creative, each gardener has a distinct style. I don't know enough about gardening to be able to describe the specifics of my mum's gardens. I just know they look like home.

Mum's gardens are graceful, elegant, classic and gloriously cluttered all at once. They are completely unpretentious and designed with a perfect balance of beauty and functionality in mind. Like every home Mum and Dad have ever created, the gardens always offer old-fashioned warmth and hospitality, welcoming family and friends in to admire, to engage, to play, to enjoy.

They are always filled with a plethora of colours both magnificent and shy, but I think the timelessness of their design, as well as my own nostalgia, make black and white a suitable choice here. Specifically, the wonderfully antiquated plastic camera/black-and-white combination.

Plantlife isn't the only thing in the Parry gardens, though. Birds play a key role as both reproductive aids for the flowers and, in the case of the photographed birds here, food.

This is probably the most appealing of these photos. Something about old-fashioned film with an old-fashioned camera shooting chooks through the chicken wire.

I don't really like chooks - they poo everywhere, they escape from the coop and you have to chase them around the garden like a lunatic, and I'm not very good at feeding things regularly. Similarly, I've never been enthusiastic about creating a garden of my own - or maintaining one, for that matter. Despite this marked lack of interest in gardening or bird-rearing, however, chooks in a chookpen and beautiful gardens will always give me comfort and joy, if for no other reason than they make me feel like I'm home.


garden family

I realised after going through my Darwin photos that I really, really love taking portraits and then exposing some kind of flora over the top. This is probably my favourite of those I took up North, partly because it looks so unusual. I also love it because you can very clearly see Mum in the foreground, but Maydia and Dad are just as visible in the background. Apart from the road, that's about all you can see - those three figures among this really strange palm-like greenery.

This one is perhaps less successful, but I still think it's great - particularly the position of Dad in relation to Maydia.

Oh I love this one! There's something about Maydia and outdoor, sunny double exposures (remember?); perhaps bright skies and colourful flowers suit her disposition. So pretty.

The gorgeous pink flowers overwhelming this photo evoke romantic, wistful hot summer or early autumn days. All things good. That Mum and Maydia are immersed in the goodness just enhances it.

Despite my repetition with this technique (flora portraits!), I don't find the results boring (yet) and I certainly think my interest in it will continue - especially now that spring has arrived in Victoria and there are so many heartwarming blooms around the town.


bark hut inn

Just out of Darwin, on a highway that threatens to bypass it completely, stands the Bark Hut Inn - a fair dinkum outback pub. With emus and snakes in the backyard, a buffalo head mounted behind the bar, a menu that includes fresh barra and fridges filled with XXXX, it's pure Northern Territory roadhouse. Everything about it cries out to be photographed, but I can't decide whether the grainy black and white does it justice. Perhaps it does. Monochromatic images aside, there is always the fabulous colour in the photo of that amazing gate, that seems at once completely out of place and perfectly apt.

I can't quite describe how truly, authentically Australian this place is. I mean, it's so close to Mick Dundee it threatens to spill into the realm of cliche. But somehow, it doesn't. It's all part of the country, the state, the top end. If you're ever up that way, I highly recommend that you call in for fresh piece of barra, a fourex with the locals and a whole lot of Territory colour.


more darwin goodness

I was in Darwin for over a week, and I was rarely without a camera or two, so I have a lot of images from the trip. Many of them don't fit into any particular event or theme; they are simply individual photos that capture an isolated part of the holiday, or the place, or something altogether more arbitrary.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't be that interested in capturing a lone flower in such a straightforward way, but the way these vines were randomly blossoming on these otherwise barren branches was really special. And when the afternoon sun hit them just right, I couldn't not take a photo. The muted tones of this image contrasted with the illuminated orange of the flower are quite gorgeous, and the depth of field really enhances the ethereality of the light.

I was completely taken by the boardwalk at Cullen Bay - something about the colour of the water against the grey wood and chains. This particular shot grabs my attention because my mum isn't facing the camera, which is unusual and lovely, and while the rule of thumb for portraits like this is to decentre the subject to make it more dynamic, breaking that rule makes it much more interesting to me in this instance - probably because there is no face to turn it into a standard 'boring' portrait.

I know this seems like a rather silly photo, but I find it irresistible - the hermit crabs are so tiny and cute! This little guy was scurrying away, and I had to shoot quickly before he left the frame completely. There is a lot of blank sand here, and I can't decide whether that makes it horribly ordinary or excellent in its simplicity.

The colours. The colours! Beautiful, artificial pool-blue, bold spandex aqua-green, sun-kissed tan. Relaxing, relaxing, relaxing...

...did I mention relaxing? The water, the sunset, the stubbies. So Australian. And very much Darwin. What a wonderful place.


the case for beautiful bodies

A little while ago I posted a self-portrait and wrote about body image. In that post, I acknowledged that I wasn't ready to show too much skin, or to really look at my own body in a semi-public forum. This reluctance was rooted in self-consciousness and a fear of what others might think of me, my body, and the fact that I'm taking these kinds of photos of myself. Lately, though, there has been a shift in my perspective on this matter, whereby any insecurities are dwarfed by a much larger issue related to the female body.

I was invited to take part in a group exhibition, which is happening later this year. I jumped at the chance to prepare a series of images to present to the public in this kind of forum. There was just one problem: the theme of the exhibition is one that I have never been particularly interested in - the female form. You see, when it comes to bodies and human form, I am much more interested in the beauty of the male body than that of the female body. To begin with, I was having trouble coming up with worthwhile or original ways to explore this very broad topic. After much thought, though, I have decided to use photography to investigate the vast difference between my own version of attractive female bodies and that presented in heterosexual pornography.

There are very obvious differences between women in pornography and classic images of female beauty, so in this sense the idea may seem a little trite. We all know about it: fake boobs, bleached hair, bald vulvas, bleached anuses, surgically enhanced labias, and so on - pornographic images of women have long been creating unrealistic standards that make many women feel physically inadequate. But there's something more sinister at work in hardcore heterosexual pornography that seems to be encroaching on the real world more often and in more worrying ways.

This new problem has come to my attention through global reports on the changing sexual habits of adolescents, various personal accounts of sexual exploits that appear in the media, and the personal experiences of people within my social circles. In the first instance, over and again we are hearing about the high incidence of oral sex among very young adolescents, and the extreme sexualisation of teens at a relatively young age. And then there is the ever-increasing presence of anal sex in heterosexual bedrooms around the world (you can read some articles about that here, here and here). Now, I am not judgemental in any way about what people choose to do in the bedroom. As long as it's consensual, it's OK by me. And I have no doubt that many women who choose to partake in anal sex quite enjoy it. My concern is that the ubiquity of hardcore porn online - and the ease with which anyone with an internet connection can access it - is skewing people's expectations of sex: men (and boys) are expecting women (and girls) to act like porn stars, and women believe that partaking in specifically pornographic acts is normal, even if they don't feel comfortable with it. In the first case, this is not surprising: if a boy is exposed to potentially thousands of hardcore images of vaginal, anal and oral sex before he even sees a real-life pair of breasts, is it any wonder he uses pornography as a point of reference for real sex? And if boys all expect their sexual partners to partake in extreme pornographic acts, is it such a stretch to imagine an impressionable teenage girl going along with it? And this is not just teens - plenty of men in their twenties and beyond see a lot more porn than real sex. (An interesting related article appears here.)

Obviously these are some pretty broad generalisations, and I'm not saying that every man and adolescent boy in the world equates sex with porn - or even watches porn. However, I think it's a really valid problem that is occurring more and more in a lot of sexual situations.

In the course of my research for this project, I have been looking at a lot of printed pornographic images of women. As far as I can tell, heterosexual pornography essentially reduces women to the sum of tits, ass, legs and three holes. In this world, the female body is a warm, welcoming receptacle for the penis (often more than one) and copious amounts of ejaculate. I am aware that you could also argue that the male body in pornography is presented as nothing more than a hard penis, but there is no doubt that most heterosexual pornography is largely based on the submission of women and the power of men. While I am not against pornography in theory - power play is certainly valid and there is nothing wrong with presenting this version of women and sex for occasional arousal - I feel it becomes problematic when it is viewed repeatedly and excessively. When you consider that heterosexual pornography is surely the most accessible (and accessed) pornography among heterosexual men, it is not outrageous to suggest that this pornographic image of women would in some way and to some extent influence the way pornography-loving men view real women.

This is something that needs to be rectified, or at least challenged in some way. The female body is one of the most adored forms in the history of art, and it is so much more than a lump of flesh to grab onto and a dumping ground for sperm.

When I go back to these images, which previously made me so self conscious, I now feel pride and defiance in light of this newfound concern about the female body. The curves, the lines, the sensuality, the beauty. My body is not perfect by any standards - but is anyone's? Besides any pointless concerns about perfection, I am certain that these images of my body are so much more beautiful than the images of the female body in most pornography.

With my imminent work, I will be attempting to present some kind of challenge to the ugly image of the female body that is presented in so much pornography. I'm not sure I will succeed, but I am determined to try. But even if it doesn't succeed, this process has taken me one step closer to that elusive body acceptance that so many women struggle to achieve.


the kinds of photos you can't use for promotional purposes, part two

So we were in this fabulously dodgy motel room, and unfortunately the natural light wasn't strong enough for the film I was using. I had two choices: use a flash, which would wash everyone and everything out and look basically pretty dodgy, or use a tripod and get everyone to stay really still for a longer exposure.

Most of these guys managed to stay wonderfully still. Most.

I guess they got restless.

I love both of these photos so much. The first because you'd never tell it was a long exposure except for Michael's massive blurriness; the fact that everone else is so clear makes it quite bizarre. And the second because while Michael, Emily, Jarrad and Rich are in some kind of motion and Liam, Ross and Joe are not looking at the camera, Jim has this incredible expression - complete with Bible in hand and glasses in mouth - directed right into the lens. So great.

I also think the disgustingly ordinary cream brick wall and the wood-covered fluorescent light, with its eerily warm glow, are pretty great.

These photos were taken with the aim of getting some very specific publicity shots. We did quite a few different set-ups around the motel, most of which turned out pretty well. As ususal, though, there were some shots that were never going to make the publicity cut. These first two, for obvious reasons, are examples.

I told Jarrad that the flash would make everything look dodge-a-rama, but he was all for it. So the flash came out blazing, blinding all the eagles and worms in the room. These have such a different look and feel to the warmer, non-flash images, but I still like them in all their disgusting glory. The flat tones and non-existent depth suit the crappiness of the room.

During this part of the shoot, Rich had just incorporated some very unsavoury improvisation in his reading from the Bible. While it kept everyone entertained during what can be a pretty tedious process, it also meant that the laughter sometimes got too much. And so we have a photo where only one of eight faces is actually completely visible.

This wonderful wall provided a much-needed barrier between the driveway and the (empty and dirty) pool. The sun was beating down creating harsh shadows and squinty eyes, but the shots turned out better than I thought they would. Indra provided some of the laughs when I needed some animation, which generally worked really well. Then he started throwing someone's shrivelled-up half-eaten sausage at them and things got a little weird. This shot is great because their reactions are pretty priceless, but it's not really what you'd call press-friendly.

The colour scheme of the motel's exterior is so classically bad, in the best possible way. The dated materials combined with the life-could-be-a-dream teal and cream reminds me so much of cheap '80s American movies set in California or Miami. And as a certified connoisseur of '80s bikini movies (a term that I, ahem, actually coined myself), this excited me greatly. The set-up of this shot isn't very dynamic, and I don't think anyone was really feeling it at the time. I don't regret insisting on the shots, though, because I adore the colours and the wonderful repetition in the door/window combo. And that fabulous railing.

The pool shots were undoubtedly the winners of the day. The sunshine, the light and dark teal, the empty grotty pool, the al-cheapo potted palm. It was a lot of fun. (At least, it was for me. I can't speak for these poor over-photographed suckers!)

Last time I wrote about press shots that didn't go as planned, I pointed out that the technically 'unusable' images are often the most interesting. I think that's true of a lot of the photos above, but I think it's especially true of this one. I was using my tripod and getting all the guys (and gal) to stay super still. It was all going well, except that after a couple of shots I realised that I was totally out of focus. But by accidentally focusing on the foreground, I have this wonderful image of everyone where everything is blurry - except for the soles of three pairs of shoes, right in the centre of the image. How fantastic! Well, I think so. An unexpected gem from an otherwise pretty straightforward set-up.

This expedition was a bit challenging, because they were being taken for publicity purposes, and I/we had to work with some interesting confines. While I don't adore the photos in terms of my personal photography, I'm really pleased with the results, relative to the project. And Jarrad was also really pleased with them. And in this case, that's definitely the main thing.