All posts by whittyp

Prime Ministers Youth Awards Presentation

Somewhere along the line I have become the unofficial photographer at work so in this capacity I was asked to shoot a function at parliament where Prime Minister John Key was handling out the 2011 Pacific Prime Ministers Awards.

The function was in the main banquet chamber at the beehive which is a challenging venue as the stage is always set on the outside of the building which means it has large windows behind it.

The idea was simple. The name of the winner would be read out, they would come onto the stage the PM would greet them, we would take a photo, then the winner would move to the lectern and speak.

I got there early and we did some lighting tests and worked out where the best place for the PM photo. We even placed a big x on the floor.

Problem was somehow the instructions never got the PM, and so he was all over the place and so quick with the handshakes.

It was like a wedding, where you know that you only have one shot and can’t ask them to do it again.

David Fan Glamour Workshop

I am always keen to learn from the best so when the opportunity came to travel up north and attend a weekend workshop on glamour photography I jumped at the chance. The course was run by David Fan and Edward Hor. David specialised in glamour images mainly shooting for the performance car magazines.

What really attracted me to the course was that it was going to be a mixture of shooting and post production techniques.

They managed to borrow some fairly expensive Profoto lighting gear. The workshop was limited to 8 participants.

On the first day we broke into two groups and took turns

On the Sunday afternoon we got to organise our own 30 minute shoot with the other photographers acting as our assistants. I had spotted a location early on and knew exactly what I wanted. 15 minutes in Edward was stirring because I hadn’t taken a shot but I nailed exactly what I wanted with 5 minutes to spare.

The funny thing was that shooting last I had essentially brought our group back to the cars, whereas the other group had been moving progressively away from them. That worked out well when just as we finished the shoot the heavens opened again.

Weltec – Hair

This was another shoot organised by Iris but this time for the hairdressing school. As part of the finals they had a competition for long hair. At time you definitely didn’t want to go into the salon with a naked flame given the amount of hair spray going round.

Like the makeup one we were expected to take head, upper body and full body shots. But unlike the makeup session, all of the students started at the same time and then we were given a 75 minute timeslot to take the photos before the judging was done.

We set up three stations with me using my studio setup while the other two photographers used a mixture of flash and natural light. Most students wanted to use the studio which meant I had to work quick.

Basically this is production line photography. The lights were set for a full body marked with an X on the floor. The model was put into position and the shots taken.


Another category in the 2011 Wellington Interclub was “cosmopolitan”. The word can have several meaning and I took the drink as my inspiration. I wanted a close up shot of a cocktail and rich lips.

Grace agreed to help me with this one and we managed to nail it fairly quickly, although she was a little disappointed when she discovered that I was getting her to drink straight cranberry juice with no alcohol.

While Grace’s lips and makeup were perfect it was not until I got the final print that I realised that her nails did not have any polish on them. By that stage it was too late to fix. The judge picked that fact up but rather than downgrading the image, thought it was a deliberate statement.

The image did very well coming second in its category.


Another category in the 2011 Wellington Interclub was “shadows”. I have always like images that have shown light coming through a window with venetian blinds. This instantly came to mind when I say the topic, and wanted to create effect of shadows on a body.

Now my wife actually hates venetians blinds so there are none in our house to use so I had to create a set in the studio. Using a bamboo curtain from the recyclers clamped onto two supports I then set a studio light on the other side.

Cath volunteered to be my model and we ended up getting a series of shots that I believed were stunning and exactly what I was after.

Unfortunately the selection committee was very conservative and the image never made it to the competition.

The Mirror Shoot

I really enjoy entering competitions on themes, because it lets me bring out the creative side in me. The 2011 Wellington Interclub had a topic called “Reflect”. I imagined that most people would take this as meaning a reflection and we would see the usual mountain reflected in a lake. I wanted to be a little different so decided to interpret the total as a reflection on the soul.

I wanted to create a shoot where a mirror showed what the true self was like rather than the show we put on. What better way to do than the difference between an angel and devil. I already has access to a set of white wings and bought some black ones.

Janelle agreed to be my model and came with several sets of white, black and red lingerie. We photographed the white sets first, then moved onto the other sets. She was a great subject and nailed all of the expressions that I was looking for.

Then in post I selected the best and composited them in photoshop.

I make a few mistakes with the setup which made the post production a lot harder than it should have been. If anyone is interested I have an article written about it.

The final image was well received by everyone who saw it but in the end it was not selected for the competition.

The True Nature

Weltec Makeup

This shoot was set up through a friend Iris. We were shooting an end of term competition for the makeup students (MUA) at Weltec. They had been given the theme of “the seven deadly sins”. We were required to take headshots, upper body and full body. The MUA’s were given staggered start times so that each had the same total time from the start to the end of their shoot. After the shoot we sent the finished images to Weltec and the students used them as part of a mood board.

In addition to doing the make up the student was expected to style the models wardrobe and direct the shoot. There was two photography stations set up. I was shooting against a white backdrop and Mike was shooting against black. In theory the models were to be shot against both. In practise it didn’t happen because a large number of the models were dressed in black and so I shot everyone Mike got breaks.

The day was long and challenging. Some of the student s had a very clear idea of what they wanted while others had no idea. Some of the models had experience and enthusiasm while others didn’t have either a clue or a care.

We started shooting at 11.00am and shot until 5.00pm. I was buggered but most of the images were worth the effort.

Wellington Studio Light Workshop

Following a session with the Wellington Photographic Meetup Group I foolishly agreed to organise a day in the studio where people could learn how to shoot under lights. I teed up a friend who had been doing studio photography and she organised model and make-up artists (MUA’s). We set a budget based on 10 people but set so that expenses were covered at 8. As it turned out 10 people did commit and so we modified the programme and included one model being body painted by the team from BodyFX.

It turned into a very full one day with 10 photographers, 4 MUA, 6 models ranging in age from 12 to 50. Fortunately we could set up two stations in the studio as well as using natural light at the front of the studio and in the stairwell.

Several people also disappeared with models across the road to the area behind the opera house.

I had envisaged that the bodypainted model would only want to be shot in the studio as all she was wearing was paint and a g-string. I didn’t count on her wanting shots outside. We ended up shooting in Te Aro park in front of the toilets and up a tree, much to the amusement of passing pedestrians.