That Annoying Event Photographer

Recently, I was given the opportunity to photograph the Geekfest Top End 2019 event held by City of Palmerston on 13 July 2019 to kick off the Palmerston Youth Festival. It was such a fantastic event which obviously took many hours of planning and execution to ensure its success. People of all ages came down to enjoy the myriad of activities on offer and so many meticulously pieced together costumes were paraded around Goyder Square to transform the venue into a burst of colour!

While running around dual-wielding my cameras and photographing as many people as I could, I was always grateful to the majority of people who would wait for me to take a photo, jump out of the way so that they were not intruding into my lens or intentionally walk behind me to allow me to capture the photo I had planned.

There are also wonderful people who would occasionally step up to me to ask if I could take a photo for them which I always love to! Sometimes I get handed and extra mobile phone to capture photos on the mobile device as well and I almost always oblige unless I am in a hurry. To all the patient, understanding and wonderful people out there, thank you for allowing this annoying photographer to do his thing. I know it can be especially annoying if I am standing in your way just to capture a photo.

My job as a photographer, especially one who has been hired by the event coordinators, is to capture photos that not only reflect the mood at the festival but also to create memories for those attending. By supplying my employers with good media, they are able to use such photographs to promote and plan any future programs on a larger scale which in turn usually benefits the general public, i.e. you.

During the cosplay awards at Geekfest, I had to take up a central position to photograph the awards so as to capture both the awardee and the recipient of the awards. In a small room that had the awards presented on an elevated stage, this meant that I had to stand in the aisle right in the middle of the seats. I had to stand back a fair distance so that I was not shooting upwards into the people on stage. During the ceremony, a gentleman came up to me and remarked, “Can you move aside? You have just been standing there all along! I want to take a photo on my phone”. He had good reason to be annoyed as I had indeed been standing at one spot which was blocking the view of at least 3 or 4 of the audience. Initially baffled, I then smiled and stepped aside for him to take his shot and then continued shooting. A few moments later, I overhead him telling someone beside, “Yeah I have already told him off”. At this point I must admit that my face lost a bit of love. I turned to him and politely mentioned that I have been hired to photograph the event, something I assumed my bright yellow media vest might have communicated on my behalf. The gentleman was not having any of it though and I continued photographing without saying anything else.

To everyone out there who gets irritated with the annoying photographer who is blocking your view, please understand that we have been brought into the event for a purpose. My credibility as a photographer is dependent on my ability to deliver the required photos. Especially with award ceremonies, it is counter-intuitive for me to constantly change my position. Firstly, photographers tend to look for a central location to capture everyone on stage. Secondly, if we were to constantly move about, it would turn into “Where’s Wally” where the awardee and recipient will have to hold the award together and look for the photographer amongst the crowd. This is why we usually stay rooted at one spot during award ceremonies.

So if you ever encounter and annoying event photographer like me, I implore you to attempt these strategies instead:

  • 1) Try to move yourself instead so you get a clearer view

  • 2) Try ask me nicely if I could step aside for a second so that you can get your shot

Sometimes all it takes is to say the exact same words with a smile and a ‘please’ and it changes everything. No one has to get angry and everyone gets to go home happy isn’t it?

And now that you have made it to the end of this blog post, I hope you forgive me if I have ever been in your way.



My First Greek Engagement!

 

Last week, I was given the opportunity to photograph my first ever Greek engagement party. I have photographed a few Greek weddings so I am familiar with how intense things can get. Actually, being Indian means that I am VERY familiar with such weddings!

Anyway, this post is actually about the gorgeous couple, Maria and Spiro. I was pleasantly surprised when Maria contacted me a few weeks back to photograph her engagement ceremony. She was kind enough to ask me if I had ever photographed a Greek engagement to which I denied. Maria was amazing as she went through the timeline of events with me and even shared photos from a previous engagement ceremony to give me a better understanding of the event. She also shared some photos of her room to give me an idea of the scene. Honestly Maria, you couldn’t have made it easier for me!

So 22 June came and I rocked up as planned to a beautiful Darwin home that was wonderfully decorated. There stood Maria, gorgeously dolled up in a stunning gold gown nervously anticipating the groom-to-be’s arrival. Soon enough the man of the moment, Spiro, rocks up in an equally outstanding suit that got me all envious as far as suit jealousy goes. Before long, the ceremony was well underway and I took to the task of photographing this wonderfully planned and executed celebration of joy between Maria and Spiro. So enough talk and here are some photos from the special day.

So what did I say about Spiro’s suit? Yeah Spiro, you have some serious class mate! I might have to come to you for a styling session. Maria, before you get too jealous, you were gorgeous too in your splendid dress. You probably already know that anyway! But yeah such a stunning couple these two.

Now for the readers, I thought I’d share some information on the unique Greek tradition of bed-making called ‘Krevati’ (literally meaning bed).

This is where the bride-to-be and/or her single friends come together and decorate the couple’s future marriage bed with fresh bedding and decorations, and throw gifts, money and rice on it. Based on my extensive (I lie…) research, if the groom is present, he would have to approve the bed which sometimes means many rounds of bed making. Spiro was nice about it and did not demand a flawlessly made bed. In fairness the ‘bed makers’ did a fantastic job too. I even learnt a trick or two on how to make my own bed (Hint: I should get my wife to do it!) Moving on… small children are placed on the bed followed by gifts and money to promote prosperity and fertility for the couple.

So there’s a bit of general knowledge for those of you who weren’t aware. Now, more photos!

So there you have it… Maria and Spiro, happily engaged! Congratulations to you too once again and thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to photograph your engagement. Happy loving you too!

 

Darwin Star Ball 2019

 

This year’s Darwin Star Ball was held on 18 May at the Darwin Convention Centre. What a special night it was to celebrate the dedicated efforts of volunteers who devote their time and energy in bringing a smile to the faces of young lives who are seriously ill.

The generosity of the local Darwin community was also plain to see with many donated gifts that were put up for a silent auction as well as major sponsors donating substantial products and services for the live auction.

Photographing the event was an absolute privilege as I got to learn about the efforts of the Starlight Foundation in Darwin as well as the how local businesses and organisations and individuals are making a difference to young lives.

My utmost respect goes to the volunteers who spend their free time along side young children to bring smiles to their faces, being their one constant friend or familiar face in tough changing situations. I was able to appreciate these heroes more upon learning about how some children have to leave community to seek treatment in hospitals and how volunteers assuming the role of Captain Starlight visit these kids to bring smiles and positive energy during their treatment.

The Darwin Star Ball was so well planned and carried out and I was happy to be able to volunteer my services as a photographer for such a worthy cause. Unfortunately, the early dry season chill disappeared a few days prior leaving men in suits waiting to escape the humid outdoor conditions by retreating into Darwin Convention Centre for the cool relief of air-conditioning.

I must say that it was fashion galore with women and men alike, turning up in their best dress lighting up the Waterfront area and drawing the attention of keen passersby who are very rarely treated to such an array of astounding apparel.

Photographing the Darwin Star Ball was a challenging affair with a concoction of lights dazzling the ballroom. My mettle was put to the test when the ever awesome Justice Crew appeared on stage pulling off their usual action-packed performances filled with acrobatic somersaults and well choreographed hip-hop steps that sent the bevy of well-dressed ladies into a frenzy.

To top things off, the Havana Nights theme was reinforced by the amazing performances of the Salsa Kingz who let rip familiar tunes such as La Bamba and Livin La Vida Loca.

Finally, a great job by Alice Burton and Karl Secondis for their roles as Master of Ceremonies and Auctioneer respectively. I don’t think I have ever heard someone speak this fast Karl!

Hope you like the photos from the amazing evening.

 

Which Camera Should I Buy?

 

This is one question that I get asked a lot. Previously, my first approach to tackling this question would be to ask the following questions:

A photo of my two guinea pigs, taken with my Google Pixel 3 XL. Its one heck of a camera on a phone!

A photo of my two guinea pigs, taken with my Google Pixel 3 XL. Its one heck of a camera on a phone!

  • What are you planning to photograph?

  • When do you plan to use it?

  • How much are you willing to fork out?

These days, I feel compelled to approach the question in a very different manner. In an age where phones are doing a great job taking all types of photos ranging from portraits to landscapes AND giving you the ability to upload them instantaneously to a variety of social media channels, it has become more important to analyse how we use cameras. More importantly, with a plethora of mobile editing apps such as Adobe Photoshop Express, Pixlr and Snapseed that give your the ability to edit and even create composite images from the palm of your hand it becomes more apparent on understanding the ever important question which was not asked before:

  • What is your purpose in getting a new camera?

If your answer is to take better travel snaps to share with friends and family and upload to social media, the answer is to learn to take better images with your phone as a start. I don’t mean to discourage you from buying a gleaming new camera. But of all the people (more than 20) who have asked me about buying new cameras and comparing modes, ISO capabilities, lens choices and a whole lot of hullabaloo, I can only think of 2 people whose cameras have not been buried deep inside a dust cabinet never to see the light of day again. Quite unfortunate considering they were built for the purpose of seeing light after all!

One reason why this happens is that cameras can get overwhelming very quickly. Want to take a great landscape? Get a tripod. Want some buttery bokeh? Get a fast lens? Going on a long trip? Don’t forget extra batteries, a charger and spare memory cards. Need to protect all this gear? Get a good backpack. Living in a humid region (hello Darwin)? Get a dry cabinet. All this said and done, most people start to realised what a mammoth task it is to actually pack camera equipment for a holiday and soon after, cameras get left behind much like Macaulay Culkin. To be fair to him, it was an accident… in a movie… The same can’t be said about forgotten cameras.

Mark photographing Darwin’s famous Nightcliff Foreshore. Again taken on a Google Pixel 3 XL. Notice how the background blur is intermittent between the tripod legs - one of the downsides of software optimisation.

Mark photographing Darwin’s famous Nightcliff Foreshore. Again taken on a Google Pixel 3 XL. Notice how the background blur is intermittent between the tripod legs - one of the downsides of software optimisation.

Another reason, and this is a big one, is that most people fail to understand the process of getting a photo from your camera to social media (if that’s your objective) . First you need to transfer the photos from your memory card to your laptop/PC/Mac. Then you need to use an editing software like Lightroom or Photoshop or CaptureOne or iPhoto to edit the images. Then you need to think about storage (hello 6tb hard disk) and file management for the 2000+ files you captured during your trip. Oh and you need to review each and every one of the 2000+ files you took to pick out the good ones. Its pretty much at this stage where most people wave the white flag. These files sit in the digital graveyard, rotting for years hoping for a hard disk failure to put their digital souls to rest.

It all sounds very dire. But rather than spend anywhere upwards of a 1000 dollars to get a new camera, it is important to first understand the process involving image capture. Cameras have yet to integrate software adaptions similar to phones. I can only think of a few cameras that have an Instagram or Facebook app in camera. So if you are planning to get a new camera, take time to go through the thought process of gear management and file management.

Once you understand this, by all means go ahead and get that new camera staring at you from the shiny glass shelf with its cycloptic puppy eye.

Do you have a camera that you regret purchasing? Did you buy a camera that made you fall in love with photography so much? I would like to hear your thoughts either ways.




A male Flame Robin - an example when a phone camera will not be enough to get the job done

A male Flame Robin - an example when a phone camera will not be enough to get the job done




 

Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (AIPP) - Accredited Photographer

 

Hey everyone! Hope 2019 as gotten off to a good start for all of you. I spent most of December back home in Singapore indulging in local cuisines and catching up with friends and family. It was no surprise that I returned to Darwin with added bodily baggage which I’m now working hard (OK maybe not that hard) to get rid off.

January is always a quiet time in Darwin so its been good for me to sit back and reflect on how Shooting Spree Photography has grown in the past year. It has been wonderful working with my clients and creating memorable images for them. Earlier this week, I received the fantastic news that I had been accepted into the AIPP as an accredited photographer. Being an accredited photographer in the AIPP is not as easy as paying a membership fee and obtaining the title.

I had to prove that I have been running a photography business for at least 2 years. I also had to submit a portfolio of 20 images spanning a variety of clients. These photos were then to be judged by a panel of 3 judges. I also had to submit references from past clients to the AIPP (no, Facebook and Google reviews don’t count). As you can see, the accreditation process is not a simple one to complete so I was elated to find out that I had successfully completed the accreditation.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would now like to… drum roll please… pronounce you Man and Wi… oh sorry that was out of familiarity. I would now like to present to you, yours truly, an AIPP Accredited Professional Photographer!

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So enough about me. What does this actually mean for you?

(Please note that the following paragraphs have been extracted from the AIPP website)

In this day and age, there are many people who call themselves a "professional". But how can you be sure?

It is an unfortunate fact that in Australia, the imaging industry is not held accountable to the same legal status and regulatory requirements as other Government and state-regulated professions.

In the area of creative services, this can often be seen as a good thing, allowing fresh new people to work in this area without the restrictions and barriers to entry often required by other professions.

But it can also be a problem, allowing anyone to call themselves a professional, without any recourse, any accountability and any attempt to adhere to agreed and appropriate standards.

The AIPP Accreditation Process

The AIPP have addressed this dilemma by encouraging photographers and video producers, to enter the profession by providing a membership pathway ultimately leading to becoming an ACCREDITED PROFESSIONAL.    

Using an Accredited Professional means that:

  • You are working with a professional whose status has been formally validated and recognised.

  • You are working with a professional who you can trust.

  • You are working with a professional whose creativity is constantly pushed and developed.

  • You are working with a professional who is a member of the only recognised professional imaging membership body in Australia.

  • You are working with a professional who adheres to OUR required level of service and quality, a standard we set, regardless of the standards the professional sets for themselves.

  • You are working with a professional who has been through our accreditation process.

  • You are working with a professional who is bound by our Code of Professional Practice.

For more information, you can visit www.aipp.com.au

And because you have been such good readers, here are some photos of NT landscapes for your viewing pleasure

 

Gateway Shopping Centre - Santa's Arrival

 

With Christmas around the corner, I was given the pleasure of photographing Santa’s arrival at Gateway Shopping Centre. With a grand entrance thanks to ‘Darwin Horse and Carriage’, Santa arrived in his usual red and white fashion to a rapturous applause of the eagerly waiting audience. Complete with elf helpers and a goodie bags filled with candy cane, Santa and his X’mas entourage dished out sweets to happy children and greeted the various performing children. To top it all off, there were stations for face painting, balloon making, temporary tattoos as well as the very important Photobooth for photos with Santa.

Enjoy the photos and a Merry Christmas to all!

 

Wedding Photography Tips Part 1 - Getting Ready

 
Leon&Lucy1808 - 1.jpg

LOCATIONS

Depending on how you have planned your wedding, I usually start the day by photographing the Groom. In Darwin, it is common for the Bride and Groom to get ready at two different venues considering how close most places are. There are also couples who book two or more rooms at a hotel or resort so that everyone can get ready at the same location and head off together.

When getting ready at two separate locations, it is always advisable to have a checklist of things that need to be done or brought. With so many items (like rings, flowers, boutonnieres, wedding attires etc) involved, it is quite easy to forget or misplace some of these items.

Darwin Weddings - Yianna and Troy

ENVIRONMENT

Weddings are filled with chaos. That is absolutely normal and it is important to learn how to embrace the chaos in some senses. It is common sight for me to enter a room that has a dozen things strewn all over the place. 8 (and sometimes more) people trying to get ready in a room meant for two is quite the norm although less than ideal (especially for the bride). But sometimes its this chaos that makes your wedding day even more special, bridesmaids laughing out joyously, people running around in panic, makeup, flowers, bags, shoes and sometimes even undergarments strewn all over the bed and chairs. Yes, its normal…

Where possible, it would be advisable to try as much as possible to reduce clutter. I usually help to tidy somethings up to create neater environments for capturing cleaner images. But hey! If you prefer me to capture everything as is, documentary style, please let me know and I will make it happen.

Darwin Weddings - Lucy and Leon, Skycity Darwin

MAKE-UP

Make-up and hair styling usually take up a considerable amount of time. If there is only one make-up artist for you and your bridesmaids, I strongly suggest that you, the bride, avoid being made-up last. Some brides prefer to get ready right at the end, allowing their bridesmaids to get made-up first. This would mean 2 things:

  • If we are behind time, the make-up artist would have to rush through the bride’s makeup

  • I will not have sufficient time to take bridal portraits of you in full grandeur.

It would be recommended that you get made-up before you bridesmaids. This way, while your bridesmaids are getting made-up, you can slip into your bridal gown for some photos. Once everyone is made-up, you can ask your make-up artist to do a quick touch-up if required.

Again, this is only required if you and your bridal party are all getting made-up by the same artist.

Darwin Weddings - Lucy and Leon, Skycity Darwin

ACCESSORIES

Prepare any accessories that are important to you by putting them aside. These are usually the first things I photograph when I enter a room. This allows your and everyone in the room to carry on what you are doing as well as get used to me being in the room. Here’s a list of some accessories that come to my mind:

Bride

  • Bouquet

  • Shoes

  • Gown

  • Headbands or Hairpieces

  • Earrings

  • Necklaces

  • Rings

  • Perfume

  • Veil

  • Bridal Gown

  • Bracelet

  • Charm

  • Garter

Groom

  • Tie or Bowtie (Make sure you the groom or a groomsman is familiar with tying these)

  • Tiepin

  • Watch

  • Shoes

  • Cufflinks

  • Belt

  • Hat

  • Perfume

  • Rings

  • Braces/Suspenders

Darwin Weddings - Lucy and Leon

ROOM LIGHTING

It is always best to get a room with lots of natural light coming in as this helps to create more engaging photos. I usually turn off some of the room lights depending on how it is lit and if there is sufficient natural lighting entering from windows.

  • Consider all types of accommodations when getting ready. Hotel rooms are nice but can only accommodate a small number of people. If you are going with a hotel room, try to limit the number of people to each room especially for the Bride.

  • Pay attention to the colour of a room. If a room has a bold colour, it tends to bounce the colour back onto you. So a room painted red will cast a red tint on your skin which is definitely not something we want. Even if a room is white, large objects like a mattress that has strong coloured sheets can contribute to a colour cast. A neutral coloured room with warm interior lighting and a lot of natural lighting seeping in, is usually the most suitable.

 

Men's Movember Photoshoot Giveway! - Dudes of Darwin!

So we are midway through November and I believe many dudes out there have been busy pruning their facial hair.

As part of spreading the awareness of Movember, I am giving away a free photography session to one lucky dude out there who has been taking the time to grow, love, massage, oil, trim, comb and accidentally consume his facial hair.

Check out the post on my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/shootingspree/

Our Lucky Winner will get:
- A free 2 hour outdoor photo session in Darwin or Palmerston
- All photos from the shoot via an online downloadable link.
- One photo of your choice, retouched professionally.

Contest ends: Friday, 30 November 2018 at 5:00pm Darwin Time!

Winners will be drawn live on 30 November 2018 at 7.00pm

Photography session will take place after 1 January 2019

Oh and if you would like to learn more about the Movember Foundation or join me in donating to a worthy cause, do visit https://au.movember.com/

Darwin Professional Photographer - Portrait of Chris