Wednesday, 30 December 2015

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Babe, Slay

I made a goal halfway through this year to post at least once per month - but it seems that November has gotten away from me, and today, I realised that I shouldn't let December get away from me too.

What photography means to me has swayed a lot this year, and certainly since I first started. I've been doing a lot of event photography still, but it's portraiture that still really excites me. The challenge, now that I've given it some thought - is to continue blogging about it, and thinking about the photography that I produce and enjoy. I admit that I'm doing a lot less photography than I was doing at the beginning of the year. But I feel that it's not necessarily a bad thing. Hobbies and passions, like careers goals and academic drive, fluctuate. Perhaps in the beginning of the year, when I was searching for opportunities, and looking for any chance to get ahead, photography was a skill that I worked hard to develop and display. Now, at the end of 2015, where I have a really great internship opportunity lined up, feel more certain about where I want to go in terms of university extracurriculars, and where I feel more at home at my university and my degree - photography is no longer something I feel an aggressive need to pursue and use in order to get me to places.

Of course, I would like to be at MBFWA 2016 - but we'll see how it goes.

But that's something for next year. Today, when I met up with Alice at Circular Quay, and I saw all the barriers and amenities prepped for New Year's Eve - it just suddenly hit me that the new year was suddenly upon us. Everybody says this every year - where did the year go? The year has gone by so fast! But it's just so true. I attribute this phenomenon to being busy. The more you have to do, the less time you feel you have, and then the year just rushes by. I would like to control time more in this way, next year. Controlling time - as in - being busy when I can be, but also slowing down and relaxing when I need to. One of the biggest lessons I've learnt this year is how to manage my time. You're only productive when you're ready to be, and when you're worn down and exhausted, that potential for productivity isn't there. Motivation comes from inside. Any 'motivation' from anywhere else is just pressure.

I like that every year, we pretend that it's a fresh start. I also like that every year, these last few nights of December, we all look back and think about everything that's happened this past year. Right now, I know that I have a lot to be grateful for, especially my relationships. For one, this megababe Alice has been an absolute blessing. I've really appreciated how we see eye to eye in a lot of ways, and yet we're also quite different in a whole set of other ways. Alice challenges me and inspires me, and it's not very often you come across somebody like that.

The same goes for a whole host of my nearest and dearest (who I am eager to see on my birthday). My dearest girlfriends have held tight this whole year, and I had so much fun when we went to Nelson's Bay together earlier this month. I admit, it's been tough trying to find time for all of us to meet up every month or so this year. Schedules clash, everybody is busy with something or other. But I'm so grateful that we still met up, and we still talked constantly throughout the year. I'm also grateful that one of these girls is personally responsible for getting me drunk for the first time ever.

Khonasti gets his own paragraph for sticking by me in spite of everything. According to standard formulas, we shouldn't really be close anymore. We go to different universities, study different degrees, have vastly different lifestyles, run majorly different social circles, and I happen to have an inability to sympathise with his consumerist impulses (especially with Adidas shoes) - but as it happens, friends who go through shit together, stay together.

My other sentimental shout-out goes to Leo, because anybody who has his patience and commitment to accompany me through another year deserves immense praise. I know we've had our rough patches, and we've only got more to come, what with these big changes happening with our lives. But I feel very certain, once again, that we can make it through the incoming 2016 together. Love is a choice, and I think at the end of the day, we've always, and will always, stick by that choice.

I think that's all for tonight. I hope everybody has a rad New Year's Eve to their own preference.
Happy New Year all! x

Thursday, 29 October 2015

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Bleu de Bondi



Excusing my terrible and most likely flawed French - borrowed from an incredible scent courtesy of Chanel (that my boyfriend and I adore to bits), every year, Sculptures by the Sea pops up at the beginning of Spring/Summer at the Bondi to Tamarama walk. Ever since going the first time for a visual arts excursion in high school, it seems wrong to miss it. This day took place in the midst of a really hectic time period for me, and this morning after, every part of my body aches. But this is one of those aches that are worthwhile, and the exhaustion I felt when I got home at 10:20PM was the kind that pushes you into an incredibly deep and necessary sleep. I did wake up in the middle of the night to take earphones out of my ears - I had fallen asleep mid-conversation with Leo.

Overall though, I think this day out at Bondi - then UTS - then awesome warehouse party at Saint Peters - was a good day. I'm still exhausted, I still have exam notes to prepare, lessons to prepare, students to teach, assessments to complete, society errands to run, and many emails to send, but sometimes it is the right decision to throw it all aside and have one day to yourself. I admit my lifestyle is on the ruthless side. I wake up at 7AM every morning (no exceptions), pound through a 30-40 minute HIIT or pilates (or both!) session, sleep on the train in time for a 10AM start, and slot in every activity imaginable before I try to make it home for dinner at 6-7PM. But I'm okay with this. It works for me. But it's not the kind of thing that would work without a break once in a while. This day was one of those breaks.


I've been doing a lot of event photography lately. #selective is doing well, and every part of me sincerely hopes that we'll be able to build a sustainable business out of it. It's also a wonderful thing to be paid for using a skill you've developed in your own time and grown to love.

But love. That's an interesting thing to consider. Manjekah and I both spoke about this recently - and she wrote an excellent post about it too - photography is something we love. But event photography (general birthdays, and rowdy university parties especially) is by far one of the most dull forms of photography we have had the misfortune to encounter. The reality is, is that there is very little element of skill, or art involved. Alcohol-sodden people at parties are not going to be good models. They don't have the time to discuss your artistic vision, or pose and tell you what their good angle is. There is no discussion of how clothing moves in the wind, or how they might stand or angle their face to make the most of the light. Photographing parties is more mechanical than that, and a part of me resents it.

This isn't to say that one day I might like to capture a wedding, or a more elegant affair. Event photography is beautiful, is artistic, and is important. To be a photographer and have the responsibility of capturing an important moment in somebody's life is a lovely thing, and is in itself art. A combination of experience, skill, knowledge, and impeccable timing. It's something that I want to be capable of.

It's just that the clients and events we've covered so far don't require that kind of photography, so this is the situation we are in. This isn't to say that I'm going to quit. Like all careers, there is often a compromise between passion and mandatory grind. Of course, this isn't the ideal, but if I want to be paid for my photography, this is what I have to do until I land something bigger. Event photography pays my rent, everything else is what I'm really about.

This is why yesterday was something I so badly needed. Alice has always been incredibly supportive of my photography since we met in the beginning of this year, and almost every time we've met up, we've hammered out some really incredible shots that I'm incredibly proud of. Alice gets better at being a model for me every time we shoot - I attribute this to familiarity, to comfort, to experience, to trust - to friendship. I'm getting better at expressing what I want in a shot, and she's getting better at deciphering the mess that comes out of my mouth. It's nice to know that despite a drought of creative photography, I've still got it.




I don't really know when or what my next photographic adventure will be. I don't know who I'll reach out to next, or where the next location will be. Truthfully, I just want there to be a next time, and a next project. Currently, I've been thinking a lot about where my photography and a career might intersect. Frankly, I don't know how my photography would hold up in a more commercial setting, or if I'll even choose to ever combine the two. There's a lot that's up in the air. Maybe I should be thinking less about it, and just pursue the two separately, with the hope tucked away that one day these two aspects of me might have the opportunity to cross paths. I'm not usually the kind of person who would leave their passions and their future to the whims of fate. It's nice to know that I can control what I can do, and I can control what might happen to me. But I also acknowledge that in this instance, there might be a balancing point where I have to accept that there are some things in my power, and some not.



In the end of the day, I guess a lot of things in life come down to making the most of a situation you find yourself in. Just like all the exciting shoot locations we stumbled across yesterday, and making the most of the most exquisite blue that is Bondi.

It's funny, because I appear to be one of the least likely contenders for a beach-lover. I can't swim in open water to save my life (I can float though, which could help), I don't live anywhere close to the beach, and I can count on my fingers the number of times I've been in water in a year (not much). Still, like every Australian girl, I own several swimsuits and bikinis, and in the summer, I can't resist the pull of a beach. For every person, it might be a bit different. For true blue Australian girls, it's all about the water and being in it and moving through it. For me, it's more about just being there (alongside the being in the water thing that is almost necessary for survival in the peak of Australian summer).

The beach is probably one of the reasons I will never leave Sydney (I admit I've never been to Melbourne's finest, but I doubt in my stubborn, Australian way that they could ever match up). And I swear, if Sydney's array of beaches keep looking beautiful, and do so with the constant aid of an incredibly blue sky, I will have to be chained here forever. My camera lens deserves no less.

The same goes for the incredible mint-blue rooftop carpark at Bondi Junction Westfield.

Basically, blue is the most incredible colour ever, and everybody looks good in blue.

M. x

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

SUPERSTAR


As it turns out, a lot of my life is lived out over Facebook Messenger, as friends check up on how you're doing ,send you Pusheen emojis (the best emojis), schedule birthday meet-ups (as always, come September), and share links to Christian blog posts about friendship. In this instance, religion is not the issue (but Alice and I did come across it as a topic over caramel milkshake as we brunched), but rather, it's friendship. I think it is accurate to say that these days, 'friends' is a more fluid and perhaps even more superficial concept, but I've been so incredibly lucky to have met some lovely people this year so far in my adventures at UTS.

I've been very lucky in my life to have found friends that I almost cannot fathom not being in my life. Alice is one of the sweetest people I have met. The funny story of how I first knew of Alice was through social media stalking - particularly her very fantastic Instagram - and it really did make me feel so incredibly lucky that we just happened to get along - especially with our impressive list of coincidences (but also possibly fate).

   


In the midst of all my proclamations of love though, I do want to say that friendship isn't always a rainbow, and isn't always a wall of emojis, or funny faces in snapchat. Friendship is uncomfortable sometimes, or stressful - because life isn't always your Instagram feed. I am most grateful for my friends, not just because they put laughter and fun and joy into my life, but because my friends are there when it really counts. Friends motivate me, and support me, and remind me that my perspective isn't always the right one. There's always another way of looking at this difficult situation, and most importantly, you are important, and you are loved.

In short, Alice is one of my friends, and she is a beautiful person, inside and out.

   


Have a good night all, and get some sleep.
Y'all crazy kids though, so I know you won't.
M.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Mistakes Made

Waiting for EndNote to download this evening is admittedly one of the most relaxing things I've done this week. The rest of the week that has passed, from Sunday to this Friday, is not quite so simple nor relaxing. In fact, everything that has happened since I shot Kelly and Dilani at the harbour have done a startlingly thorough job of keeping me away from blogging, or photographing anything at all for that matter. But we always come back to the things that really matter and are important to us. Which is why I'm here, waiting for EndNote to install and update, with ten tabs of legal research open.


   


Thinking back to this afternoon also reminded me that life is always about learning. Today, I am learning about Indigenous youth incarceration, earlier today, I was learning about advertising models. On this given evening where Kelly and Dilani happened, I realise now that I was learning about directing models, learning more about my camera, and learning more about light. And as with all instances of learning, we inevitably make mistakes.

But I also believe in the potential of goodness and even more learning when it comes to mistakes, so don't be scared to make some more. And of course, to consider the central premise of my Ethics, Law and Justice assessment - a key part of self-management is to make mistakes, and learn from them, so that this time, you might do better. Of course, this suggests that you will eventually reach a point of stasis, where all the mistakes you have made and all the lessons you have learned will mean you will have a semester where you don't pull all-nighters and everyone is great at group work.


I maintain that this isn't true, and at least I can say for myself - that I will continue to make mistakes until the end of my life. But at least I'll do my best to not be so afraid of them, and learn from them.
May you all hand in your first round of assessments on time, and maybe I won't make a fool of myself in my first round of mooting.

In the name of Junior Mooting,
Love, M. x

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Away From Here (Blue Mountains)



With one week of semester break left, Leo and I headed out in my trusty fat cat Peugeot. Looking back now, I can say that this trip exceeded expectations, and was the refresher both of us needed. Increasingly, I feel that I'm falling into a process of trying to fill up the daily grind - with university, with societies, with friends, with work - and even when I'm not trying, errands, obligations, pile up too. I also go square-eyed - mostly the Instagram variety. Hours spent in a car meant that I could turn off my phone, turn up music that I (we) liked, and when I was in the passenger seat, read Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimmage (which is an exceptional book by Murakami). I forgot that I was missing Porter Robinson, as well as my Masterchef anxieties (specifically Reynold), but most importantly, I was able to really, properly spend time with the person I'm in love with.

   


Being away from home also helped in the sense that it created a new, fresh space for me to reflect. I don't believe in life-changing transformations. Everything is a gradual process, like water lapping at limestone. It's experiences that we accumulate every day that add up, and eventually, without really noticing or realising, you might wake up one day and see that you've changed. Not overnight, but over months, years, even. It's easy to question - what has a week making fairy bread and standing atop (gorgeous) lookouts done for me?

Oh, you can't even begin to fathom what a dream this week has been.





But as is the case with all dreams, this one ends too. I know that we have a habit of trying to recount - we want to share - that on this day I did this, and at this time I did that. But beyond brief periods of eager snapchatting, I think it would be unjust to have tried to do this trip justice. Firstly, because it was personal. The time we spent together is incredibly close to me. And second, because trying to tell you in words about the caves, or the sweeping, Dorothea Mackeller Australian landscape is selling short my sunburnt country.

   




I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.


Welcome back. May the spring semester treat you well.
Love, M. x

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Precision Chocolate

I haven't done a food post in a long time, and it's probably because we haven't made anything as aesthetically pleasing as this for a while. Kelly was craving chocolate this morning, and it seemed like a good answer. We had to halve the recipe because we didn't have enough moulds, but it all worked out in the end. This was also a really lovely dessert, because it wasn't overwhelmingly rich (despite all the chocolate sauce). Bless almond meal.


Also, note to self - f1.4 has it's dangers. Try f2.0 next time you do a food post.
Eat well, everyone. Food is life.
M. x

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Thinking Space

I wanted to take some time off this morning to think. I have a pretty packed day ahead - not necessarily stressful, but just a series of places to be (and let's be honest, I still haven't gotten around to having breakfast yet). But I was editing and tweaking this new blog template, and at the same time, I was thinking to myself - why haven't I posted anything here lately?

When I started this blog, I made a commitment that I would only post if I had produced photography that was worth displaying and talking about. Of course, these guidelines are very vague. How do I justify that my images are good - somebody else might disagree. And how do I know that it's worth talking about? (I don't publicise my work very often, so I don't hear about it from others, certainly). But I also realised that the important thing isn't necessarily what I think these guidelines - of good and worthwhile photography - are, but rather that I set them for myself and I change them accordingly, so long as I am always growing.

I haven't really thought that deeply about me and photography - this relationship we have. I'm always working on photography, I like to think. I'm not necessarily making big leaps between subject matter (I still find landscapes a mystery and challenging), but I try to get better at this process of capturing people.
The thing is I can make these claims to myself, but I rarely look back and really recognise the progress that I've made. I literally don't do this thing where I go back to the beginning of my blog archive and compare. I literally don't do this, so I never fully get this sense that I've made progress. But I know I have and it feels good to recognise that.

The next stage of this thought process is the self-doubt. I struggle to take myself seriously as a photographer. I say I take photos, but I'm not a photographer. I am a photography intern. I am a student with a photography portfolio. I am not (yet) a photographer.
But the thing is, when will this 'yet' - this moment where I decide I am worthy of being a photographer happen? Do I need to be published in print? Do I need to exhibit? How dedicated to photography must I be - does it have to be my career and not something on the side?

Alice introduces me to people as a 'fashion photographer'. She is literally the only person who does this and yet she gives me a sense of validation - just one person telling me that I am a photographer makes me believe it - even if it's just for a moment. That's pretty powerful.


But I also know that it's problematic to look to external sources of validation and acceptance. Self-love and confidence and belief should come from within. I should think that I'm a photographer inside, before I believe it from other people. So that's the question I'm facing. Do I believe that I'm a photographer? Or am I just hesitant about what it looks like - that I might think of myself as a photographer, and really, I'm being silly. Honey, who do you think you are?

I'm whoever I goddamn want to be.

That should be the answer, but for whatever reason, I'm not there yet.

Have a good day, kids.
M. x

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Not a Bad Photo

I've only been to two Vivid's (counting this year), but the experience this year was pretty fantastic. I'm honestly so glad that we organised to go with all our photography friends this year. To be honest, I had a lot of uncertainties about photographing Vivid. I had never really done landscapes before, and I didn't know what I was doing. But I decided to try it out, and I guess there were a couple that I didn't mind too much.

Still, what I appreciated most were the fantastic golden hour portraits, which I have a huge selection to choose from. My new D610 is absolutely incredible when it comes to sharpness and shooting on my new f1.4 was also such an incredible thrill. It's actually so hard to take a bad photo during golden hour.

 








This month is shaping up to be a good one for photography.
I realised that it's easy to let yourself get stuck in a rut, or start to lose faith in yourself, or lose perspective. When I started out in photography, I didn't think I was very good. A couple of months ago, I'd think that my photos were better than they were, but I didn't feel like I had improved. To be frank, I felt as though I was operating a point and shoot, because that's what I literally did - I pointed a camera and shot.

But to say that was all I did would be doing myself a disservice, because there are a myriad of things I might not have even realised I was considering. I was improving, but I just wasn't really noticing it and giving myself the credit I deserved. Don't lose perspective. Every bit of experience and practice we get adds up.

Have a good week guys, and take some time to appreciate yourself!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Spontaneity

There is this mantra that I try to repeat to myself when it comes to photography, and I think I owe a lot to that friend who said it to me once.
It's the skills that matter, not the gear.
But it is nice to have some better gear, with a much better AF system, sharpness I've never experienced before, and a whole lot more bokeh. We broke in the shutter on a spontaneous Wednesday in less than an hour for two outfits, and I am simply thrilled with the results. It's just such good fun to shoot with people that know their stuff in front of the camera, and I like to think I'll be able to keep it up for a long while.




Here are a couple of favourites, and I hope you all have a great weekend.
Love, M.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Difficult Light

I haven't checked back for a while, and a visit from me is really overdue. I covered a birthday unofficially last week, and admittedly I had a difficult time with lighting. ISO went off the charts, and I didn't have a flash unit with me either, leaving me to fend with just a prime lens. Frankly, I have been thinking about switching up cameras for a while now - going full frame and probably getting a 50mm. But at the same time, I feel a lot of uncertainty. Because an investment is meant to mean something. It means that I'm taking photography seriously, and I want to do better and greater things with it. Gear doesn't define how good of a photographer you are, but speaking in realistic terms, there are some technical limitations that my trusty d5000 can't overcome.

 

I leave these grain-riddled and focus-troubled images here as a reminder and just a memory of the trials and tribulations of shooting in bad conditions, and making the most of it. What would photography be without a challenge?
May everybody's semester's end with HDs and great pub crawls.
Love, M.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

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Saturdays are Mermaid Days

Sometimes you do a shoot, and it goes perfect. It doesn't happen often - and maybe it happens more with more experience, and when you're working with a great team. But Saturday at Bondi was one of those times. Despite me fighting a throat infection of sorts, Alice and I made it through and these photos are absolutely amazing. I feel like it's been a while since I've been at a loss for criticism. I just love these photos so much, and I'm thrilled to share.



Saturdays are for spending time with lovely people. And rocking mermaid vibes.
Would love to do something like this again. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

#alwaystrending

A lot has happened lately in terms of photography ventures - such as shooting for bloggers and an outing with the Selective Photography people - and now fashion week. MBFWA was completely unprecedented for me. Prior to applying to this internship that has provided me with this opportunity - I had absolutely no idea that this was going to happen. Admittedly, fashion week is not glamorous unless you are actually attending the shows, or mingling between shows. As a street style photographer, you tend to spend a lot of time standing with a 2kg camera in one hand, and another shielding your eyes from the sun (because you can't really shoot while wearing sunglasses).




But it's been a great time so far, and as tired as I am right now, I'm sure I'll be sad to see fashion week go.
Work it, girl.
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