CASE STUDY: Denise Litchfield, Clairvoyant.

BRAND PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY

Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.

As a brand photographer, my job is to impart your unique brand message through portrait and lifestyle photographs.

I always start with a short questionnaire, so we are on the same page. It makes for photos that are you. And represent your vision and brand. It informs me of my approach to your headshot and lifestyle photos.

Everything about your brand photography session is crafted with these words in mind: the location, the props, the lighting, and the mood to capture during the session.

Denise Litchfield, a clairvoyant, asked me to create images for her newly revamped website, and to use across her social media.

Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.
Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.
Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.

Brand Portrait Questionnaire

I asked Denise some questions, to get a feel of what she was after, and if there was anything specific she required.

What industry do you work in and how would you describe your brand?

I’m a psychic and medium bringing a fresh take on the all things intuitive. My brand is fun, coastal, with lashings of cake. I want convey that psychics are human too and probably hang out at the same places you do. 

Do you already have something in mind for what your headshot needs to look like?

I need images to work hard, spreading from large landscape styles with lots of room for text as hero images in sales pages, down to more fun snaps that capture the beachy relaxed feel of my brand for instagram.

I knew I didn’t want to look like every other psychic, so crystals and trappings were banned from the shoot, but I do have the favourite deck used in readings.

Where will you be using these photos? Website or Social Media?

Alllllll the places!

Landscape or portrait orientation?

Why not have both?

Do you need space around your images for text and call-to-actions?

Yes.

Do you have brand colours that we need to work with? Do you have a location already in mind?

I’ve attached my brand board with the hex colours I use in my site for reference, but I’ll also bring along key props to use with my brand colours.

Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.

On Location

With all that information, we can go ahead with the shoot, knowing that Denise is going to get the images the way she wants. With the colours she uses, showing her unique self. (with plenty of cake!)

We took these on a the lovely quiet beach of Culburra on the South Coast of New South Wales.

Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.

This is the look on her website. Branded portraits that fit perfectly in with her colours and present her as she is: bringing a fresh take (and plenty of cake!) to all things intuitive.

Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.
Sydney Branded Portrait and Headshot Photography.

If you are interested in how I can help you become the face of your brand, reach out!

Capturing the unique you with portraits that stop the scroll. 

PHOTOGRAPHING CARLA

I had the pleasure working with the amazing up and coming model Carla Calabia recently.

She wanted to update her portfolio with some fresh images. She contacted me and we created some lovely photos together.

Her bubbly personality (and her comfort in front of the camera) can’t help but shine through in every shot.

I really love photographing people and making them shine. There is no better reward. Okay the money, that’s good too! 🙂

Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia
Sydney branded portrait, headshot and lifestyle photographer.
Don Urban portrait photography, Sydney. Model: Carla Calabia

I love photographing all people, so if you are in Sydney, look me up and let’s shoot!

Best wishes until next time,

Don

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men

Self portraits are hard. They are a real challenge. Staying relaxed while looking at the lighting, thinking about the pose, while looking at the results while holding the reflector while worrying about how good the backdrop looks.

Too many things!

Today I threw on my favourite pieces of clothing (The suit is my own creation- a multi-layered piece hand-stitched from two suits. It comes with a full-length skirt.) and hit the studio.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

So here are my nine tips for better self portraits!

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

1.Use the Autofocus Feature

Yes, use the most basic feature on the camera. I messed up a stack of shots because I pre-focused, but moved out of position, leading to out of focus shots and wasted time.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

2.Don’t Use the Same Angles and Expressions

Shake things up. Laugh, sneer, pull faces. For a start it will loosen you up for the better shots. Sometimes though, they end up being the best shots

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

3.Forget Perfection

What is perfection anyway? Your skin may not look perfect, you don’t have twenty lights or the ‘perfect’ backdrop. Work with what you have got. With these photos, I just used a black fabric backdrop. Keep it simple.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

4.Forget Judgment

There are always going to be haters on social media. There are also going to be fans. If we all worried about being judged, nobody would do anything. Most of the time, people are just looking at themselves anyway. They are too worried about how they look to worry about you. Forget haters.

Love yourself. Be bold. Be brave. Be yourself.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

5.Ask for Help

My partner will laugh at this one! I battle and struggle with self portraits, and then she says. “Need a hand?” And I can relax about holding the remote shutter or trying to balance the reflector. I also get feedback like: “Sit up straight, one shoulder is lower than the other, you look like you are constipated. As that the look you are going for?”

Self portraits don’t have to be done alone.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

6.Don’t Shoot For Hours

Set aside an hour or two. Set a timer if you have too. The striving for the perfect shot will have you running in circles and in front of the camera for way too long- longer than is comfortable, and it will show on your face.

When you are tired you will look it. Don’t burn yourself out.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

7.Use a Tripod

There is no way you can hold a camera, or a phone, for a hundred shots or so. Also, you are going to have a big head, big nose and out of proportion face from having the camera at arm’s length. Selfies never look good. Self-portraits are the way to go.

After a camera and a lens, the tripod should be your first purchase. Get a good one, not one from Kmart or wherever. Get one as an investment in your photography.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

8.Use Artificial Light

You can’t control many things in this world, but setting up proper lighting is one thing you can do. Set up like a serious shoot. If you are outside, the sun will move, the sun will go behind clouds, exposure will change. Minimise pain and suffering by shooting indoors.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

9.Don’t Pose All the Time

Be free. Don’t stand there looking at the camera all day. Some of my favourite shots were when I moved. I like movement in my shots so these were my favourites.

Laughing or those off-guard moments generally end up being the best shots.

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

10.BONUS TIP

Shoot tethered if you can. If you can plug your camera into your computer running Adobe Lightroom, you can see all the photos with having to get up and look at the photos in the camera. This will make it easy to get instant feedback about your position, your pose and lighting.

Conclusion

I hope these tips will be of help next time you are planning a self portrait session. If you have any tips to add to the list, I would love to hear them!

If this all seems to hard, and you are in Sydney. Contact me for some cool portraits. I shoot models, actors and entrepreneurs.

Best wishes until next time,

Don

9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.
9 Tips For Better Self Portraits for Men with Don Urban Photography.

First Roll On Instax Mini 70 Instant Film Camera

Recently shot my first roll of film on my new instax Mini 70 instant film camera by FujiFilm. It’s been a long time since I was excited by a new camera, but this one is so much fun.

My dad had a Polaroid camera back in the 70’s, and I always loved playing with it (film must have been cheaper back then!) Watching the image appear slowly was/is magical.

The camera gives a unique softness, which is highly flattering. It was also great to be able to give my model a few shot on the day, which is really cool.

It also creates an original piece of art- never to be created again-just like a real film camera. These scans are not the greatest, the images are a little crisper in real life.

Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.
Hannah Mitsovski shot an INSTAX Mini 70.

I won’t go into to much technical details, but it has several modes including Landscape, Macro, High Key and Selfie Mode and Timer Mode. Built in flash (which in this model you cannot turn off, but will not fire in bright light) which can be srt to Fill In Light.

Film is not super-expensive- around $1.00 per shot, a little more for monochrome. It does not give super-sharp images, but they are really nice, business card sized photos.

There is nothing to really dislike about it. Yes, there are some better models with multiple shots (double exposure and an option to turn off the flash- the INSTAX Mini 90. But I bought this cheap off eBay, just to see if I liked using it.

It takes me back to the 70’s, and for that, I love this little yellow camera.

Do you have one? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Best wishes until next time,

Don

Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session

Last week I had the pleasure of working with the wonderful model Hannah Mitsovski. The really exciting thing was the shoot was done completely in artificial light. I love natural light, and my studio and house if filled with great light. In this session I used a combination of continuous lights with big softboxes and flash. So very different to how I usually shoot.

It actually was less of a challenge than I expected. Using quarter power on my on-camera Godox flash provided ample light, enough that I could get Hannah to move as much as possible to create blur. I’m a total sucker for movement and blur in my images, and feel I’m moving away from a very ‘static’ look to my portraits.

Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session

Slowly, I am collecting vintage and vintage-inspired clothing and hats, that Hannah just looked so wonderful in.

Hannah is such a charm to work with and understood the feeling I was aiming for. It is always wonderful to work with model that understands you and your work.

Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session

I’m finding digital images a little too crisp for the images I want to create, so slowing the shutter or getting the model to move, gives me the look I really love. I’m a big fan of Ellen von Unwerth and Herb Ritts, who use/used movement to convey an aura of sensuality and excitement in their images.

Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session

I’m also now adding a small amount of grain in processing to create a timeless, old-world feel. Using Abobe Camera Raw, I have created a couple of pre-sets, refined over many images, to instantly get the feeling I want to convey-a sexy, old-fashioned and moody portrait.

Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session
Hannah Mitsovski Portrait Session

I also took shots with my Instax Mini instant camera, and will post those soon. Hope you enjoy!

Best wishes,

Don Urban

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

Portrait Photography Techniques

The Challenge of an uncomfortable portrait sitter

Last week, as a bit of a challenge from a friend, I photographed a self-confessed hater of sitting for portraits, my ex-girlfriend Sharyn. Although she is very striking, she is not that comfortable in front of the camera. So, challenge accepted, she came over to have her portrait taken.

We parted ways over 30 years ago, but have been friends since reconnecting around 10 years ago. I wanted her to look stunning. I wanted her to want to hang one of these images in her family home. To post them on social media. To be really happy with them.

Generally speaking, people want to look good in their portrait. Not many people want to be portrayed in a bad light, or for the image to be unflattering. I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, but for the life of me I can’t recall any reason why.

She HATES having her photo taken. Her son, Jude, graces my front page. He loves having his photo taken. So when she joked about me photographing her, I said I would make her look great, and more importantly, feel comfortable doing so.

I started off using a flash with a softbox, in a Beauty Portrait style setup- with flash above and directly in front of the sitter, with a reflector under their chin to fill the shadows. But I was not getting what I wanted so I switched to 100% natural light.

Luckily I am blessed with gorgeous light in most of my house. All these images were taken in different rooms of my house and studio. Work with what you have got. Look for where the light is good in your home.

MAking Someone feel good in front of the camera

So, here are some thing I learnt about shooting someone who hates the camera:

  1. Drink champagne. (Okay, this was her trick!) I am not endorsing the consumption of alcohol, but a little drink while chatting beforehand and half way through the shoot can work wonders for a nervous sitter. If you know them, okay. I would never suggest this with someone I don’t know. (A little bit creepy)
  2. Talk to them through the whole process. I show my sitters how I want them to stand, or what to do with their hand. “Sit with your legs up like this, and your hand resting here.” Explain the lighting, the poses, how you want them to sit, what to think about. Yes, how to think. “Think about being confident, brave.”
  3. Give constant feedback. “You are looking great.” “You look gorgeous.” “These photos are going to look so nice.” You have to mean it, otherwise you are lying. “I like that pose, yes, that looks great.” They can’t see what you are seeing, so you have to tell them.
  4. Show them. Pause every now and then and show them the preview screen. I generally shoot hand-held, so it’s easy to show them how they are looking. Pick the good one to show them…not the one where you caught them off guard and they are pulling a face. They will generally (and hopefully) say “Wow, that looks good!” Which is the signal to keep going.
  5. Ask them. Ask how they are doing, are they okay. “You are looking more comfortable now, are you feeling it?
  6. Laugh. I always try and keep every shoot light and fun. In between these photos were were laughing and joking around. (There were some of those too, I just didn’t include them here)
Nikon D750 w/ Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens. 1/60 sec @ f/4 ISO 320 Natural light, no reflector.
Nikon D750 w/ Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens. 1/60 sec @ f/4 ISO 320 Natural light, no reflector.
Nikon D750 w/ Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens. 1/8 sec @ f/5 ISO 320 Natural light, reflector under chin.
Nikon D750 w/ Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens. 1/8 sec @ f/5 ISO 320 Natural light, reflector under chin.
Nikon D750 w/ Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens. 1/8 sec @ f/5 ISO 320 Natural window light.
Nikon D750 w/ Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens. 1/8 sec @ f/5 ISO 320 Natural window light.
Nikon D750 w/ Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens. 1/125 sec @ f/4 ISO 500 Natural window light, no reflector.
Nikon D750 w/ Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens. 1/125 sec @ f/4 ISO 500 Natural window light, no reflector.

I hope that has been useful in shooting portraits where the sitter isn’t so comfortable in front of the camera.

Until next time, best wishes,

Don

Lonely Town: Twilight Suburbia Photography

More images on the themes of loneliness and fear. I had an uneasy childhood, growing up in darkest suburbia. Stalkers around toilet blocks, domestic violence, roaming gangs, street violence. An ongoing project is trying to capture this unease.

I grew up in a place called Gosford, most Sydneysiders know how drug-riddled, dangerous and just-damn-scary this place is. Inside my childhood home wasn’t that much better.

These were taken in the small town of Culburra, 3 hours south of Sydney. At times, I scared the hell out of myself walking around empty streets and dark car parks. Some shots were taken from my car, straight through the windscreen.

Hope you enjoy, or not.

Best wishes until next time.

Don

How I became a Photographer

Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris 1984. Canon T70.
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris 1984. Canon T70.

I have been a photographer for 30 years. My first camera was a Canon T70. A film camera of course. I thought that thing was the bees-knees. It was actually a very advanced SLR for the time with styling not too dissimilar to today’s DSLRs. That was 1984. I shot my girlfriend when I was living in London. I was eighteen and I was going to be a photographer!

Dhana, London 1984.
Dhana, London 1984. Canon T70
Kate and Dhana, London 1984
Kate and Dhana, London 1984 Canon T70

By the time I moved back to Sydney my priorities had changed, I was also broke and had to sell that camera. That was almost the end of my photographic career. Not too sure where from, anther camera came into my life and I was back shooting- mainly girlfriends.

Creating painting and sculpture became my bag soon after that, and every painting of piece of art I made had to be documented for my folio. From then on I always had a camera- even if it wasn’t very good.

Lara, Sydney 1985 Canon T70. Kodachrome.
Lara, Sydney 1985 Canon T70. Kodachrome.

But the camera was just a tool. Just a practical tool.

The last roll of film I took before digital came along was shooting on the streets of New York. The photography bug was back! That was the year 2000.

Later that year, or maybe the year after, I purchased my first digital camera – a Panasonic Lumix DMC-F7. With a whole 2 megapixels, I was the coolest dude on the block. Welcome to the space age- digital cameras! But, again, I was mainly using a camera to document other artwork and not using it much as a form of expression.

Berlin, 2009 Panasonic Lumix DMC-F7
Berlin, 2009 Panasonic Lumix DMC-F7

I had a fashion label (Urbandon Menswear) then, so again my camera was used to document the clothes I was making. I would style, model and often photograph myself as well. A one man band. I bought a Fujifilm X10. Lovely digital rangefinder.

Me in Urbandon Menswear, Sydney 2014
Me in Urbandon Menswear, Sydney 2014

I was shooting in Paris and Berlin (and Sydney) on Fujifilm cameras: first the X10 and then the X-E1) and got hooked on photography again. Around September 2017, while on holiday, I was struggling with a way to express myself visually, in a more powerful and immediate way, (I was making electronic music and doing collage on paper) when I decided to commit all my creative time and energy into photography.

Culburra Beach, NSW Australia
Culburra Beach, NSW Australia 2018

I was was seeking an immediate form of creating without being bogged down in sewing machines, mountains of paper or boxes full of rusty metal junk. Something fast, clean and efficient to keep me stimulated.

Vegetables
Vegetables on Instagram. NikonD750
Market Finds, Sydney 2018. Nikon D750
Market Finds, Sydney 2018. Nikon D750 1/2 at f/ 11

Since then, I have been seriously pursuing photography as an art form and developing my skill as a photographer. I shoot almost every day with my Nikon D750 or on the Samsung S7 (amazing camera).

Woollahra, Sydney. 2018 Samsung S7.
Woollahra, Sydney. 2018 Samsung S7.

I really look at the light now, set assignments for myself, set up still life arrangements, shoot on the street, read everything I can get my hands on and try and learn as much as I can.

Jude Paddon-Row. Model and actor, Sydney 2019. Nikon D750
Jude Paddon-Row. Model and actor, Sydney 2019. Nikon D750

Photography is ‘it’ for me now. I now know that this is my true means of creative expression. So perhaps I have been a photographer for 1 year, or maybe for thirty- it is hard to say.

Best wishes until next time,

Don