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

100 Images, 1 Subject: A Creative Photographic Exercise

Recently I shot one hundred images of the same subject: a lily. Why? I wanted to explore the lily as much as I could, to examine it closely.

I rotated the flower, changed backgrounds and lighting. Changed my exposure setting and aperture. The repetition of shooting the same thing over and over is a great exercise in truly seeing a subject.

I explain it more on this video. Enjoy.

Thanks for visiting, and best wishes until next time.

Don

Still life photography with plants around the home

Create The Space

I see decorating like a big Ikebana. Size, shape texture and colour to be balanced. Arrangements tell are story or are harmonious.

Found objects and vase of poppies
Found objects and vase of poppies
Succulents in pots and old timber board
Succulents in pots and old timber board

I’m going to show you how I decorate and photograph flowers and plants.

Poppies in vintage bottles with linen and birds nest
Poppies in vintage bottles with linen and birds nest
Succulent collection
Succulent collection

Since I started taking more more photos of flowers, I have discovered the true value of having them around the house. Not only bringing beauty inside, but colour and scent too. 

Pot plants, succulents in jars, bonsais, a few flowers picked, from the garden or a bunch from the markets. Everything comes in.

Our house is very neutral-toned, so it’s a perfect canvas for the explosion of colour a vase of pink lilies or poppies bring. Even just foliage brings warmth and charm to the house. 

Succulents wrapped in Japanese news paper on old stool
Succulents wrapped in Japanese news paper on old stool
Simple arrangement
Simple arrangement

It’s so nice to bring nature indoors, especially in winter, when you don’t get to sit in the garden. I’ll just drag plants indoors for a week and rotate them around the house. Instead of planting, I’m moving towards more potted plants just for the convenience of bringing them inside.

As an added bonus is, when plants are in pots, my dog can’t dig them up. Bruce!

I love collecting old bottles and props (although I have to move something out of the house if something comes in– it’s our minimalist rule!) so I put everything in old pots and bottles now. If something is just in a plastic pot, I stick the whole pot in a old paper bag, or wrap Japanese newspaper around the pot and tie it with some string. Super simple and effective.

Lilies in a simple glass vase
Lilies in a simple glass vase

Photographing Plants Indoors

  1. All photos here were taken in natural light. Find the best part of the day to shoot in each room of your house. For me, it is morning in the lounge room, lunchtime in the kitchen and late afternoon for the bathroom.
  2. Take your time to arrange all your items, pots and vases
  3. By deciding on the time of day, you can then know if you are going to shoot dark and moody or bright and fresh.
  4. Use a slower shutter speed or just ramp up the ISO. Most cameras will not introduce noticeable noise until you get to ISO 8000.
  5. Use a cable release and a longer shutter speed. It is also handy when you are arranging items and don’t have to move behind the camera for every shot.
  6. Think like an home/ lifestyle magazine photographer or a set decorator.

I hope you have enjoyed having a look at our cute home and given you some ideas for decorating and photographing flowers and plants. 

Get those plants inside!

Thanks for joining me and best wishes until next time.

Don