Year in Photography: Australia recap
Updated: May 12, 2020
Year ago today, on the 10-th of May I entered Australia for a second time. Last time I entered here (about 2015) I just wanted to experience backpacker life - work, travel and make new friends. Experience life pretty much day-by-day. And when I left (about 2016) I got many experiences, new friends, a Candian English accent and an idea of what I would like to achieve in my life.
In 2019 I knew when I graduate I would like to go to Australia again. Middle of the school year I made my visa with a certain plan in my mind. My plan was to go to discover the world and get experience, connections and extend my portfolio in my field of work. I think that Estonia is too "comfortable" for me for fast growth and portfolio extension. I genuinely believe that to advance fast and rapidly I should put myself into discomfort zone - a new country, far from home, no connections in that field of work, different language. All that pushes me to grind and move if I really wanted it. Here are few takeaways from a year in down under.
1. FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY AS A PATH
One thing that really caught my eye was fashion photography. I don't consider myself as a fashionable person. Sure, I like to wear a suit and tie from time to time but mostly my clothing choices are based on ecological and practical purposes.
Still, I LOVE fashion - all the designed wearables, rule-breaking poses, unconventional light schemes, fabulous models, teamwork, creating different moods onset and the energy that goes into it is attractive and interesting to me. It has pushed me to create own content and ideas for the longterm. There is plenty of food for thought to keep my mind into it. And fashion changes fast. With car or boudoir photography (which are my two other favorites) there are not many changes in a year's time span.
It's always good to see when a designer or a brand owner's energy and effort reflects back from photos in a flattering way.
2. BIGGEST SHOOTS IN THAT TIME
A year here has also brought some big valuable shoots on my list. "I can't believe I'm going to do this" - little nervous, palms are sweaty but no mom spaghetti - least I know if I'm nervous beforehand I really care about the shoot and its outcome. Once on the set, I know exactly what to do and how to do it. Because I don't want to be guy who brings nervous energy on set...of course the attitude and commitment comes with time and how much you have done it. Less than a year after graduation and I'm doing this, here, another side of the planet.
1. Essence of Australia
I remember when Huzzard Studio owner Chris Huzzard called me and offered a job. He is always polite and modest with words. He said it is one international wedding dress company and he has worked for them in the States. Now, this shoot gonna be here in Australia. He needed videographer who just films wedding dresses while models wearing them - nothing else, no editing, no establishing shots, no storytelling. Simple, just nail the exposure, focus and keep a steady camera.
What he didn't mention that the Essence of Australia is the world's biggest wedding dresses designer. It was my 2019 best shoot. I met with few models with whom I still work from time to time and recommend them to my clients.
2. Ozzy Man Reviews live event
Ozzy man is a well known Australian comedian. He was the one who used his fame to help people after the devastating Australia bushfire disaster. I mean really helping - creating a live event that generated money and went to people and koalas. And he was sold out for two days in a row. I attended there as a photographer. Got this gig through my friend Isabelle. Press photography experience came really handy to cover this event.
Genuinely nice and friendly guy - even that nice he blew up my webpage visiting stats after sharing my blog post about his event. What a legend! You can read about this event over here.
3. Homeless Connect
Our studio is involved for years (12 years to be exact) in a charity event called Homeless Connect.
"The event attracted an estimated 600 homeless and otherwise disadvantaged guests that were able to connect with a wide range of service providers in a “one-stop-shop” environment offering assistance with housing, medical and dental issues, legal issues, mental health and addiction issues, employment, recreation opportunities, identification issues, electoral enrolment and other services.
Personal care services were also offered including showers, haircuts, massage, clothes, craft activities, physical training, book giveaway, entertainment and catering (meals and refreshments were provided through the day). Sixty eight service providers from the government, not-for-profit sector, business and individuals set up the successful “one-stop-shop” of services with the support of 150 volunteers on the day." - Homeless Connect Perth
A truly humbling experience and eye-opening event. So what can a photographer provide to a homeless person? We set-it up a photo corner where people could take photos with their friends, buddies or families and print them out on the spot. Some people needed photos for their documents. Some people wanted to take portraits to send to their loved ones. Once you start talking to them you realize that not all of them are homeless because of drug or alcohol abuse. It just happened - one paycheck too late, a family member falls ill, car broke down, missed a loan payment. And most of them are so polite and friendly.
My favorite part - meeting like-minded people and hang-out with them. Related to photography I met most amazing people here - one is a band and live music event photographer Isabelle Haubrich and the other is a fashion and corporate event photographer Dave Ross.
Isabelle is a Brazilian girl who really likes live music and proper rock. She is smart, she joined two passion - photography and live music events. And I can tell (and her Instagram feed also) that she has been around the world and taken amazing shots of some of the biggest rockstars. Here in Perth, she provides photos for a few music magazines, does band photos and helps managers to get content for online presence. She was the one who included me to paid gigs here. Go check her out on her webpage and Instagram.
Dave Ross, on the other hand, is a fashion and corporate event photographer. When we started doing some work together on fashion I was assisting and did behind the scene shots and videos. Doing a few gigs together grew into friendship. I learned so much about posing in fashion from him and this unconventional way actually was everything against that I had learned in school. Go check his work on Instagram and on his webpage.
One person whos work I absolutely admire and enjoy working with is Huzzard Studio owner Chris Huzzard. He has been in the photography business for a long time and how he sees and molds light is amazing. I have learned and still have so much to learn from him. Seeing his work I believe that he is the best fashion photographer in Perth. Go check out his webpage over here.
And of course all the awesome and educated models - males and females. Genuinely nice personas - like Luke Whyman. An absolute legend in front of the camera and a good person to interact with behind the camera.
Or Rachel Lincoln who is educated and the chap at conversations. I made a blog post about her over here. Marie Claire shows her professionalism in front of the camera from minute one. Jess who is young but can bring an attitude on set. I just wanna let you know that if your photo is on my Instagram feed, I loved work with you and probably will work in the future.
WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER
Hard work is one of the things that has been taught to me by grandmother. She was a single mom, build her own house and took care of her farm. I'm more than sure she knew what hard work is. Nowadays hard work is admirable but you gotta choose the right time and place for it. If a client offers you a job with a low budget - you got a few considerations to do
decline politely and give reference to other photographers
do quick and kinda OK work for quick bucks
if the area is your kind of "cup-of-tea" when dedicate and build your own portfolio and experience level if needed
does the client has the potential to give you long-term work
My problem use to be to give 100% for every job I got. Yeah sounds nice and maybe admirable but you gonna burn through pretty quick if "energy" exchange is out of balance. Now I consider my options and value my time. EXPOSURE has NO value! When I started my professional photography journey I did some jobs for exposure - even for big companies involved I only got few followers on Instagram. Remember, your time is valuable if the client doesn't want to put money to get the results when the client gets the results he deserves. If they don't value their service or product neither should you. Your time is valuable!
GROWTH AS A PERSON AND AS A PHOTOGRAPHER
Growth here has been amazing. We have a joke in "Estonians in Australia" Facebook group that "1-year of development here is like 5 years of development back home." It's funny and kinda true at the same time - in here you are out of your comfort zone and way too far from parents home to go hide. So if you feel giving up you just gotta push through and find a way to make it work. Met quite a few people here who slept in the car or tent when they started out here but today they have obtained a degree in school, opened their own business and living pretty comfortably.
I can look back on my Instagram feed and see that my photos have gone more consistent, colors have better balance, model interaction with the camera is on point. Most importantly I widen my knowledge and craft. It has been a valuable year.
Plans? I only talk about plans to person with whom are involved in them. I truly believe it's better to show your results than talk about plans. I read once that road to success is always under construction