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

8 TIPS FOR TAKING BETTER PHOTOS WITH YOUR PHONE

8 Tips for Taking Better Photos on Your Phone. Don Urban Photography.

They say the best camera is the one you have on you. Most people have a phone on them, and therefore a great camera. ( I have a friend who has a flip-phone, but that’s another story!) As photographers, we are so lucky to be able to have these powerful cameras that just slip into our pockets or bags. It’s a modern miracle!

Phone cameras are great, but you have to treat them like a camera, not a phone, to get the best out of them.

Redfern Sydney 2013. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Redfern Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

use the front camera

Your front camera is going to be way better than your back camera. For example, here are the tech details on my Samsung Galaxy S7:

Rear: Dual Pixel 12MP
Front: 5MP

More than double the megapixels. It is going to produce sharper and better images. Unless it is selfie-time, use your main camera to capture as much detail as possible.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

CLEAN THE LENS

Sound basic right? Fingerprints easily get on the lens, just by holding your phone. A quick wipe will guarantee you are not getting that David Hamilton look. I use and recommend a t-shirt. Haha.

Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

FIND THE GOOD LIGHT

Shooting in shadows or in full bright sunlight are going to do nothing for your images-especially if you are photographing yourself or others. Look for light shade, indoors with some soft light coming through curtains.

Harsh shadows, unless you are going for a high-contrast image, are not going to look great when shooting people or flowers for example.

Avoid using the flash. Generally the flash is just going to ‘blow-out’ your image and it will look terrible.

Shooting at sunset or sunrise is always going to produce better images too.

Newtown, Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Newtown, Sydney 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

reduce saturation PLEASE!

Nine time out of ten, you are going to want to reduce the saturation of your images slightly. Nothing screams inexperienced like oversaturated images. Hit that slider and calm the image down a little. You will always have a better looking shot by reducing saturation. Please. Nobody likes having their retinas burnt out by oversaturated images.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

KEEP YOUR PHONE ROCK STEADY

Nobody likes unintentionally blurred images. If you are going for a longer exposures, use a mini tripod or rest your phone on a park bench, post or against a tree. I love my mini tripod- it just goes in my pocket.

Australian Technology Park. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Australian Technology Park. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

don’t zoom

You will destroy your image quality. Simple as that. Zoom with your feet. That said, zooming a tiny amount will reduce distortion, I have found, when shooting portraits.

Newtown, Sydney 2013. Shot on iPhone 5.
Newtown, Sydney 2013. Shot on iPhone 5.

USE AN APP OR PRO MODE

Unless your phone has ‘PRO’ mode, (or even if it does) The Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor is amazing for shooting with complete control over shooting and for editing. It is available free for Android and IOS.

If your camera has a “PRO’ mode, use it to really take control of your photos. A whole world opens up to new possibilities when you don’t rely on Auto.

Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.
Greendale, Sydney 2019. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7.

think like a pro

By this I mean, look for different angles, (high, low) shoot through other objects like door frames (frames within frames), leading lines (like a garden path, or a row of trees). Use dynamic angles (tilt your phone). Get creative.

Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7
Flowers in vase. 2018. Shot on Samsung Galaxy S7

CONCLUSION

If you think like you are using a ‘real’ camera, you will get more from your photos. If you have the attitude: ‘this is just a photo on my phone’ then that is all you will achieve. Clean your ‘camera’, get creative, play with apps and editing, keep your camera steady and watch those saturation levels.

Best wishes until next time,

Don

8 Tips for Taking Better Photos on Your Phone. Don Urban Photography.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.

I took this photo of Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris thirty-five years.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Canon T-70 (what a camera!)

I took this photo of Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris thirty-five years ago. A lifetime ago!

The Smiths’ ‘Cemetry Gates’ had not been released then, but I had the maudlin vibe down pat. I was living in London at the time, eighteen, in love, no grey hair or anything!

The wonderful thing about photography is those moments are kept forever. My memory is okay, despite the substance abuse, but nothing compares to a photograph that takes you back to the very time and place of your youth.

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

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