David Bailey:Chasing Rainbows

“I was surrounded by strong women so it had never even occurred to me that women were anything other than equal to men.”

“Anybody can be a great photographer if they zoom in enough on what they love.” 
— David Bailey

David Bailey rocked the fashion world and took photography and Vogue magazine to new heights. Some of his work may seem antiquated by today’s standards, but I think that misses the point: He pushed photography forward, especially fashion photography, from a stiff and formal look to what we see today: a more relaxed and creative endeavour. He expanded the horizons for others to follow.

His images are racy, sexy, experimental and fun. He took fashion photography from formal into new realms.

In this post, I explore the old but wonderful book David Bailey: Chasing Rainbows. (2001)

As a Cockney, like yours truly, he pushes beyond the boundaries of ‘acceptable’ to create a new vision. Again, I think we need to view his work in context. The stiff upper lip attitudes of post-war Britain were washed away by photographers like David Bailey and Norman Parkinson.

Clearly, like Parkinson, Bailey focused on ‘beauty’. Glamour, fashion and celebrity are bread and butter here. Certainly the world is harsh, brutal and at times, ugly, but to leave it at that dismisses the sexy, fun and creative world we live in. His images are decanant and embrace the times of change from fuddy-duddy to sensual.

Admittedly, he was a scoundrel, even a misogynistic wanker, but where do you draw the line between the artist and the art? We could throw Woody Allen, Roman Polanski and Pablo Picasso onto the pyre. Possibly. I am not defending nor admiring him. I just like his photos.

Best wishes until next time,

Don

Jaya and Mary: Double trouble, double model beauty portrait photography

I had the pleasure of photographing two models together last week. This was the first time I had worked with them, and a first to have a makeup artist on hand. Generally my models have had to do their own makeup.

Jaya Jivan (with nose piercing) and Mary Saldevar. Makeup by Annelise Dominello. Hope you enjoy!

Sydney portrait photography. Beauty photography by Don Urban, Newtown, Sydney
Jaya Jivan and Mary Saldevar. Photography: Don Urban. Makeup Annelise Dominello. Sydney, May 2019.
Sydney portrait photography. Beauty photography by Don Urban, Newtown, Sydney
Jaya Jivan and Mary Saldevar. Photography: Don Urban. Makeup Annelise Dominello. Sydney, May 2019.
Sydney portrait photography. Beauty photography by Don Urban, Newtown, Sydney
Jaya Jivan and Mary Saldevar. Photography: Don Urban. Makeup Annelise Dominello. Sydney, May 2019.
Sydney portrait photography. Beauty photography by Don Urban, Newtown, Sydney
Jaya Jivan and Mary Saldevar. Photography: Don Urban. Makeup Annelise Dominello. Sydney, May 2019.
Sydney portrait photography. Beauty photography by Don Urban, Newtown, Sydney
Jaya Jivan and Mary Saldevar. Photography: Don Urban. Makeup Annelise Dominello. Sydney, May 2019.
Sydney portrait photography. Beauty photography by Don Urban, Newtown, Sydney
Jaya Jivan and Mary Saldevar. Photography: Don Urban. Makeup Annelise Dominello. Sydney, May 2019.
Sydney portrait photography. Beauty photography by Don Urban, Newtown, Sydney
Jaya Jivan and Mary Saldevar. Photography: Don Urban. Makeup Annelise Dominello. Sydney, May 2019.

Best wishes until next time, Don

What is a Headshot?

With so many people needing headshots, especially actors, I thought it would be a great idea to explain what exactly they are, and are not.

When you think of headshots, you generally think of actors. Fair enough. All actors need headshots. But they are not just for actors. They could be used for your business profile too if you are writer. Think Linkedin for example, your about page.

One of the most important tools for an actor is going to be their headshot. A headshot should be a clear representation of who you are. Tough and rugged or cute and girl-next-door: your headshot should be you. You are not playing a role in the headshot. The headshot should say. “This is me.”

Jessica, actor.

In the past, in the dark ages before digital, all headshots were shot on film, black and white and in portrait (vertical) orientation. How times have changed! Now, you are likely to see the opposite: Landscape (horizontal) orientation and in colour. And it makes sense: televisions are becoming wider, less of a ‘box’. Headshots have become more cinematic. Casting directors can see how they look on screen in a horizontal orientation. I have heard some people talk of a resistance to this trend too. Some like the ‘traditional’ look.

Jessica, actor.

So which is better? Well, that comes down to personal preference. I know, that is not the answer you were looking for. Landscape seems certainly seems be very popular. Personally, at least for now, I prefer portrait orientation.

So what is a headshot? Pretty much what the name suggests- a shot of a person’s head. Tightly cropped. Eyes front and centre. Head on! Smiling or not. Bold and in your face.

A three-quarter shot is just not going to cut it. They are more for corporate and real estate shots. But that is just my opinion. Older headshots were more three-quarter, but not so now.

Jude, actor and model.

Studio or outdoor, on location? Again a matter of taste. Sometimes a simple location can add to the shot. But it cannot dominate. It really should be out of focus, otherwise it will be distracting.

Simple white or grey backgrounds work best. At least that is what I feel. Keep it simple is a good mantra. Looking for something more advanced, flashier, creative- that’s a portrait.

If you are looking to get a headshot, and are in Sydney, I may be your person. Get in touch.

Camera Porn: Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Medium Format Camera

A few years ago, I wanted desperately to get into medium-format film photography. A very expensive proposition, until I came across the Zeiss Ikon Nettar. (Production: 1951 to 1953, Stuttgart, Germany)

Just the look of the camera brought me to my knees. It folds up, it has bellows, made by Zeiss, it’s vintage and heavy. (All the good stuff!)

I ran a few rolls of film through it. This is from the first roll.

You have to pause and think about each shot. “Is it worth $3.00+?” I would ask myself. No firing off a dozen shots here. The price 120/220 film and developing and scanning will make 35mm film look cheap. (220 film is just twice the length of 120) I used Ilford HP5 400 for these shots. The tones that come from this film are so lush and the camera captures some beautiful, soft dream-like images.

One of the lovely things shooting medium format is slowing down, setting the aperture and manually focusing. Composition becomes more important as you don’t generally want to fire off a dozen shots- for a start you will have to load more film again. And the price. Ouch!

I ended up selling if to pay for another camera. Kinda kick myself now. Still, I did notice some great deals on eBay today!

Manual found here.

Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Medium Format Camera
Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Medium Format Camera
Old car in schoolyard, Stanmore, Sydney. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Old car in schoolyard, Stanmore, Sydney. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Old car in schoolyard, Stanmore, Sydney. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Federation house and magnolia tree, Stanmore, Sydney. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Federation house and magnolia tree, Stanmore, Sydney. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Close to Sydney airport, Marrickville, Sydney. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Close to Sydney airport, Marrickville, Sydney. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Converted warehouse to apartments, Newtown, Sydney. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Converted warehouse to apartments, Newtown, Sydney. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Marrickville Water Reservoir.  Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Marrickville Water Reservoir. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Tree, Stanmore, Sydney. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film
Tree, Stanmore, Sydney. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/2 Ilford 120 400 Black and White film

Until next time, best wishes.

Don