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.