Leonie & Steve's Blue Mountain Wedding

I don't often shoot weddings. As a result of my previously unpredictable travel patterns, it was always difficult to accept a job if I wasn't certain I would be in the required country. However, since recently establishing Sydney as a home base, my schedule magically opened up for bookings in advance! This wedding, however, was very last minute. The booking reflected the casual nature of the entirely untraditional wedding, and I loved it.

Located at Megalong Valley, deep in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, the wedding was held in the bushland outside the Town Hall. The bride, Leonie, wore an amazingly colourful dress, complete with reversible cape and tiara of native shrubbery. The days events commenced with a mini colouring festival, where guests had the chance to attack Steve with coloured powder, to bring his level of decoration in line with Leonie.

The bride and groom MC'd their own day, loosely directing the days events from start to finish. There was a piñata, handball, and my personal favourite, a scavenger hunt through the bush for the wedding rings. The ceremony was simply Leonie and Steve making their own vows (There was no celebrant. They wanted the wedding to be for their family and friend's recognition, and they went to the registry a couple of days later to make it "official"). The wedding's final touch, for me, was forgoing a single wedding cake, and replacing it with a tray of cakes and slices baked by their parents and grandparents. They were delicious.

There was only one element of the day I wished to be different, and it was born of entirely selfish reasons. Leonie & Steve didn't want preparation photos, and didn't factor in, or prioritise any time for bridal portraits. They were both happy with their decisions, preferring to party with their friends. I just wanted to take more beautiful photos!

While admittedly not even close to the traditional definition of a wedding, the day was undeniably full of love, family and friends. Everyone had fun, and from all accounts the casual, mildly disorganised, frequently hilarious, and honest wedding was a perfect representation of the couple.

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Return to the Trails

It's time for a confession. Throughout my teen years, and all the way through university, I was in love with Mountain Biking. Spent all my money on it, had little time for other sports. I almost lived on 2 wheels, to the point where, living on campus, I would carry a bike down a flight of stairs, just to ride it 200m to a mates room. When I bought my first camera, during university, I had grand visions of photographing mountain biking and other extreme sports. I went up the hill a few times, but the desire to ride often overcame the desire to stop and take photos of my mates riding. I started shooting concerts, which I'm certainly not complaining about.

Fast forward a few years, and I've shot concerts, portraits, events, travel, documentary, editorial, even some landscape. But I never shot mountain biking after the first year, which occasionally puzzled me.

Now that I've moved to Sydney, I also finally reconnected with some old friends that I rode with back in Wollongong (it's 90 minutes south). One of whom hand-builds his own custom frames, under his Ed Racing brand. His mention of an untested prototype, and the offer for me to borrow it, led to my grand reunion with downhill mountain biking one recent Sunday.

While I'm stoked that somehow I rode fast, hit big jumps, and didn't crash... I'm more stoked at catching up with 3 old mates, catching up on each of their big life events of the last few years, and actually stopping to take photos, like these.

Culture on Cockatoo Island

I finally made it to Cockatoo Island. What was meant to be an afternoon of art appreciation (for Sydney's Biennale), became more of a photographic wander around the half empty buildings. I'm not sure what is happening in the art world, but it seems like multimedia and video are faaaaar outnumbering any other artistic mediums these days.

So, that's why we ended up wandering and taking photos. And, I'll just say, I want to come back.

Lunchtime Wanders in Chinese Gardens

  I've fallen far too easily into following a routine, now that I've settled down in a location, and have weekly commitments. After spending 3.5 years making plans from day to day, I moved to Sydney and started studying again. It's interesting to wake up one morning, 9 months after moving here, and realise that I've become very complacent in my curiosity and exploration. I'm becoming a creature of habit again. Things like class 3 days a week, lunch breaks at the same tables, on the same days, with similar food. Yoga two evenings a week (free at the community centre). A regular, and normal job. You know, habits. Sure, I had habits on the road, and in the other places I lived for the times I lived there, but it feels different here. Too comfortable.

But last week, things got mixed up a little. Not crazy mixed up, just the tiniest little amount, but enough to break the equilibrium. With an unusually long lunch break, and a partner in crime equally eager to do something different, I went for a wander. Instead of the usual metal bench, my comrade, Reni, and I, ended up at the Chinese Garden of Friendship. While I usually carry a certain disdain toward paying entrance fees, the recent granting of a student ID, and subsequent student discounts have made me slightly more compliant. That, and Reni shouted my ticket.

There's not much for me to say about the gardens. They're pretty, and look like Chinese gardens. Very relaxing, and their juxtaposition against the hotels and skyscrapers behind is entertaining. They were also very quiet, but that may have been because it was Tuesday.

But all this is just an introduction for photos. Yes, I took photos.

One Light, Three Portraits

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I've been spending a lot of time in the studio lately. I'm still uncertain how I feel about it... I know I absolutely prefer shooting on location (wherever the location may be), but at least the studio affords a certain level of harmless photographic experimentation. This excessive studio time is a direct result of the Diploma I moved to Sydney for. Now, you would be forgiven for thinking that studying photography would be expected to foster this creative curiosity. But, speaking for myself, it's more often stifling than inspiring. That's not to say the isn't productive, or expanding my knowledge, or beneficial to my technique. It just often fails to provide inspiration.

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Some days give me stoke. When granted free time in the studio, even just two hours, with an idea in the head and no assignment to shoot. These are the times when I'm inspired, having free reign over the insultingly large range of Broncolor studio equipment, and likeminded compatriots to stand in front of my lens while I juggle a ring flash, ND filter and f/1.8 aperture. 

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That's it for now.

 

Jamming on George.

Friday night, George Street, Sydney. German 6 packs and Coopers longnecks on the ground. Josh, Chris and I are leant against a wooden construction door, waiting. The dolled-up party crowds are starting to thicken on the footpaths around us, ready for their new chance to 'paint the town red'. The drummer, Tom, arrives, welcoming us through the wooden door into the unfamiliar darkness beyond. We stop in the expectedly hip office on the first floor, searching for, then creating, a makeshift pick. Once armed, we start the ascent. The remaining 8 floors are empty, abandoned. Office space unutilised, unpowered, unoccupied. The building, apparently, is nearing its expiry. Waiting to be gutted, and built over the top of. Wrapped in fairy lights, an extension cord runs up the centre of the stairwell. The only power supply available at the roof, wrapped in the only light source for the rest of the building.

On the rooftop, a room awaits, a single worklight looped over the empty light fixture. 2 guitars and a drum kit, surrounded by a sea of leads, splintered drumsticks, woodchips and empty beer bottles. Beers opened, the room is enveloped by sound.