Sunday, January 25, 2015

Calendar Girls: Miss March

Amazing lashes care of Vicki Clay
I was always excited about the idea for Miss March, but I had no idea it would turn out to be one of my favourite shoots ever, and make me fall in love with action shots.
Feminine yet strong

 Photographing Trudy from Kooralbyn Family Gym was just a beautiful experience, in so many ways.  Our inspiration was a romantic, breezy, shadowy image of a ballerina at the bar, so we knew we'd be doing a night shoot and playing with lighting.  With our ballerina also having a gym, we wanted to add some womanly strength to the mix as well.
Trudy was most happy to oblige our out-of-the-box creativity and played along from the moment we started getting ready.  I think this is part of the reason we had so much fun, and got so many good shots.  It's always fantastic when someone just goes along for the journey with us!
Beautiful hair by Vicki Clay
Vicki gave her a beautifully flowy, wavy, romantic hairstyle and then... we both gave each other that look.... The look that could only mean one thing....
We both remembered the lashes Vicki had stashed in her makeup case, with feathers on them!!!!  They were just the perfect, girly, flowery, romantic touch to the look.  Trudy was completely happy to go with it and oh my goodness she looked amazing with them!
The ahhh-mazing lashes!!!
RARGH!!!!  Bring on the calendar!
The look completed, we made our way into the dance studio, lights in arms.  The lovely shadowy light worked perfectly and we took some shots making use of the contrast of elegant loveliness that is the ballerina, with the strength of the gym weight.

That cheeky sideways look and grin!!

Thinking man, eat your heart out!!!
The shadow on the wall was perfect...
Soft and beautiful, yet strong
Then we went for some dance poses with the weights still in hand...

Such poise!
But then.... I said those magic words, "Just dance", and the glorious, amazingness that is Miss March was unleashed!  I couldn't stop clicking and, especially when we went into some great leaps, I had to go for sports mode and multiple shots!  Oh the action, the lights, the movement, my arty little heart was jumping for joy right along with our beautiful ballerina!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Calendar Girls: Miss February

Miss February
Vicki working her magic on Leigh's curls
Miss February was our first shoot, and my first test of skill.  There were a few of the calendar shoots which were going to test my mettle photographically, mostly because of lighting.  This one was probably the most challenging.

Leigh is one of those women I can relate to.  She has her fingers in pies, and is juggling those balls up in the air of all different shapes and sizes, yet somehow manages to keep it all together.  A very admirable trait!!  While she is just about to launch her eagerly awaited marketing business upon the world, she is also a consultant with Scentsy - a company which sells wax warmers & melts as well as other delicious smelling products.  Leigh was also amazing in volunteering her time to help organise myself, Vicki, all of our lovely models, and all of the advertisers for the calendar.  She did such a terriffic job, that I am keen to work with her on another project I have my hot little hands on ;)
Vicki's magic brushes!

To convey the subtle, sensory beauty of Leigh's Scensty business, we decided that her image would capture her looking soft and romantic, nestled amongst her products and lit only by candlelight.  People who have kept up with the Scarlet Harlotte blog would know just quite how accident prone I am.  So challenge number one was not to burn Leigh's house down!!!!

Putting on the final touches
Vicki worked her beautiful magic.  Firstly, the curls which I thought were pretty to start with, until Vicki got her hands on them after the makeup was done, and transformed them into the most gorgeous soft curls I have ever seen.  Ohhhh they were luscious!!!  Then the brooding smoky eyes, which were done to perfectly compliment the candlelight they were being shot in.  Soft lips, for that luxury pouty look.

Then it was on to the finale!  I really wasn't sure how I was going to go with the light levels.  As it turned out, just fine thank you very much!!  The candlelight was exactly the look I wanted, making it soft, beautiful and maybe even (don't kill me Leigh!) a little seductive.  I had to break out the trusty tripod  (30 bucks on ebay - I am far from a brand queen!) to keep things nice and steady with the long exposure required.  Leigh was the perfect model, making sure she didn't move until I said she could, and then being very subtle in her movement as I constantly asked her to put her chin down more, and more, and just a bit more.  It was a great shoot to get our hands dirty with, and two very lovely ladies to work with.  I even managed to get some cute shots of Leigh with her kids which just ended things on a great note!

Candlelit loveliness

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Calendar Girls: Miss January

Miss January
Rock n Roll Miss January!
 There was no better introduction for the calendar, than Miss January.  When people opened the calendar, we really wanted to just say, "Hi Kooralbyn, here we are!!"  What better setting than the large Kooralbyn Valley sign we have at the turnoff from the highway, and what better woman to tend its garden, than our very own Paula from Tu'ua Yard Services.

Paula is always out and about in the community.  Whether it's organising, helping out or having her stall at the markets, tending or planting the many garden areas around the town, or her plethora of other activities, she always brings a smile and a hardy spirit to the task.  It was this spirit we really wanted to capture, and I think she really shined through.

Vicki's magic barber's chair.  Isn't it magnificent?!?!

The January shoot was only our second for the calendar.  We were still gaining our bearings, but Paula's easy attitude and willingness to give it a go helped tremendously.  This was our first pinup look, embracing the 1950s fantasy primped and preened housewife within the country feel of the valley.  It was also my first look at Vicki's amazing barber's chair where much of the magic was to take place!

The early morning light was just beautiful, and perfect for capturing Paula's transformation into our rock n roll country gardening gal.  The light playing with the colours and curls as Vicki worked her wonders on Paula's hair saw me clicking away, capturing all the glinted loveliness I could.

Vicki weaving her hair magic!
I loved the way the morning light played on those curls!

Transformation in progress
It was then that I witnessed an amazing transformation.  Paula became a bombshell!!!  Little was I to know, this would happen several times throughout, but nevertheless this was my first experience of it.  Just to add a little international flavour to the mix, I brought with me a bandanna to wear that I was given from my dear friend, Angel, in Kentucky.  Just a touch of that Southern Miss, which I think added a little sparkle to that magic wand of Vicki's.

Once she was revealed in all her glory, Paula and I headed out to the highway to stir up a January image, and stir up some stories, wolf whistles and lots of tooting horns in the process!!!  Though the sun was a bit harsh (especially with my burns), and we were beginning to melt fairly quickly, Paula brought her A-game and posed with poise.  She took all the attention from the road with grace, and strutted her stuff confidently. 

And so it was, that Paula came to us as the fun, cute, country and rock n roll (two of my favourite things!) inspired Miss January.

Paula at the Kooralbyn Valley sign - at the turnoff from the Mt Lindsay Highway.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Calendar Girls: Cover Girl Magic!

Vicki Clay for Hair & Makeup - Cover of the Kooralbyn Kollective 2015 Calendar
 I am quite convinced that Vicki Clay is magic.  Our calendar cover girl worked absolute wonders on all 14 shoots and had me constantly in awe of her extraordinary talent and skill.  Her cover image says it all really.  She is our fairy godmother, our magical transformation wizard, the chick with the wand and she's not afraid to use it!!

This is the only image I'm going to show from the actual calendar.  If you want to see the rest, you'll just have to buy one here.  Obviously, this is two images and a whole lot of merging and creative computer art, so there is really only this image to give an idea of how it all turned out.  For everyone else, there's plenty of shots to go around so the final image is being kept under wraps, for those who are supporting us in our mission to boost positivity and openness in our little community.

Beyonce, eat your heart out!!!

Vicki's shoot was one of the last we did.  It was shot in her salon which (you wouldn't know from the image) is still under construction.  This cool idea was her own vision, and I'm really quite chuffed I was able to bring it to fruition.  She was great to photograph because she's happy to play up for the camera which sometimes gets the best shots!  It's amazing what you think is over the top, is sometimes just right for a photo.  She's also now queen of the "shelf technique".  Anyone who has done a shoot with me will know what that means ;)

All in all, a magical experience :)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Calendar Girls

When I left that last flight, almost a year ago now, and finally made it back to my little country hideaway on this side of the world, I never in my wildest dreams would have expected this year to end with love in my heart, a fire in my soul, and applause (APPLAUSE?!?!?!?!) upon entering a room...

Those who have been following my blog for a while might recall that I've been much more open to leaving things to fate in recent times.  If you missed it, have a read here. It's amazing, awesome, fantastic, and incredible what can happen in a short space of time.  Eight months can teach me I actually do have patience, I just don't like using it, and a month.... In a month two women with a vision can create something magical and bring a whole community together.

The Kollective

Months ago I was introduced to a group of local business women through the local cafe (the only one we have - it's a small town, but the cafe is aweseome!) and it was great to catch up regularly with women who were in the same position as me.  At that very first meeting, once people knew what I did, the idea of a calendar was mentioned.  I think it was after the second meeting, or maybe a little later that I discussed the idea further with Vicki who is a hair & makeup artist, also living here in Kooralbyn.  We got together and started talking about the idea of presenting our fellow business women in images which spoke to what they do, in a playful and somewhat cheeky manner.  We came up with a bunch of ideas for quite a few of the business women, and decided to take it to the group as a project we'd like to do.

Miss January

Unfortunately, the next meeting I went to only had a few people there.  We talked about the idea and it was received well, but without others to consult with we weren't really sure how to move on it.  I got busy with my design and product photography work, and the next few meetings were called off due to school holidays.  After that, I didn't really know when they were on so I kind of skipped a few and concentrated on my work.

Then, fate firmly kicked me up the butt.

 Miss February

I lost the design work I had been doing every 3 weeks, almost like clockwork for the past seven years, and with it 40 percent of my income.  It was a shock to the system, but not a surprise.  I had seen the signs, and steeled myself against the blow.  I just wasn't entirely sure how I was going to move forward.  All I knew was I had to push, fast and hard, into the abyss of starving artistry.  It was time to hold on tight, and go for a ride.

The October Lads

Three days later, that kick finally landed.  I had felt pretty blue for a few days.  It was the end of an era, afterall and a pretty scary idea to no longer have a regular income.  I really wasn't feeling like being around people, or talking about business when I felt I had none.  Meetings for the group had moved to Thursday afternoons at the pub across the road, and I decided that I needed to drag my butt outside, smack that happy face on, and be around people.

Miss March

To my joyful surprise, I arrived to see Jo sitting with Vicki.  Jo hadn't been to any of the meetings that I'd been at, but I knew her through taking some photos for her corporate website and doing some designs for her earlier in the year.  It was just the three of us this meeting, but oh my did fate have something in store for us.  Jo laid out some new ideas for the group.  Firstly, the name Kooralbyn Kollective, and the focus: Local business women unite to develop and grow services and events in our community.  We talked about a whole host of things, including better communication and roles within the group so things were more organised and better able to move forward.  As soon as I mentioned what had happened with my work, Vicki's response was to ask if we could now do the calendar.  Better yet, can we get it done before Christmas.  Keep in mind, this was late October (maybe even early November).  I said yes, but we would have to get right on it and make it happen.   That's exactly what we did.

Miss November

The very next meeting, there was a whole bunch of people.  Thanks to our new drive, organisation and communication.  I came with pricing and an idea of how the logistics could work.  I also had pictures as examples of what we wanted to do.  I expected people to be hesitant, and negative about having their pictures taken.  No such thing happened.  Everyone was amazingly positive, and enough people put their hands up that we had the majority of slots filled there and then.  The calendar was a happening thing, and we had exactly a month to get it all organised, shot, edited and designed.  My time was officially filled!!

Miss July

With the help of Leigh doing the calling and organising, selling ad space and generally project managing so that Vicki and I could concentrate on the creative work we pulled it together.  14 photoshoots, lots of early mornings, several venues, hair, makeup, costumes, lighting, smiles, tears, cheers, 3 all-nighters and major exhaustion and it all came together.  The wait to have them back from print was nerve wracking.  I'd never used this printer before.  To my delight, they arrived three days early and looked fantastic!!!

Me!  Back Cover Girl

Monday 22nd December saw us having the Kooralbyn Kollective 2015 Calendar Launch Party.  Cheryl from Australian Mortgage Brokers sponsored the drinks, and Valley kitchen the nibbles.  There was a local lad playing an acoustic set for some great background music and we even had Santa join us and get some photos with the kids.  The place was full, lively, loud and, best of all positive!!!  The feedback from the calendar has been just amazing.  It's brought a real positive streak to this hideaway country town, and I just can't wait to see what fate has in store to come.  Yes.... I do say that with fingers crossed, eyes closed chanting "a trip to...".  There's two endings to that sentence, and two people who know them both...


Calendar Girls & Guys & Santa at the Launch Party

PS - There's more to come.  I'll be posting profiles and pics for each month as I edit images so watch this space!

PPS - You can also buy the calendar!!  It's only $6 plus postage.  Just visit and click on the Kooralbyn Kollective 2015 Calendar link.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

About Time

It's been a while since my last post. When I saw that it was back in October, my first thought was geez I've been slack. There are some very good reasons though. It's currently well past 2am, on what I guess now is Christmas eve so I won't elaborate too much. I will though, dear reader, let you in on a peek at what has been my life for the past 2 and a bit months.  

As you may or may not be aware, I am just about the most accident prone person in existence. If there's an accident waiting to happen, I'm the one it's happening with. Four days after my last blog post, I went above and beyond, and managed to outdo anything I've done before. I was cooking a stir-fry (oh.... yeah if you're squeamish at all, you might want to skip a few paragraphs) in my rather massive wok, and had the oil all nice and smoking hot, as you do when cooking a stir-fry. Especially when it's on an electric stove (groan). Admittedly, I did put more oil in than I would normally have done. Not a huge lot, but I generally use very little in a stir-fry. As I put the meat in from its packet, it kind of came out in an unexpected lump, and fell at the side of the wok, instead of closer to the middle. By now, you probably know what's coming next. The wok tipped with the weight of the meat on the side, and the hot oil was flung from wok, to me. As luck (or lack thereof) would have it, I had just gotten out of a bath, and popped on my favourite little satin chemise for the night (I've mentioned my lingerie obsession, right?). The satin and smoking hot oil combination really isn't a good one. I won't go into the really gory details. All I will say is I'm very glad my bathroom is right next to my kitchen so I could run for the shower. A month's worth of hospital visits later, including the burns ward at Royal Brisbane, and I was able to leave the super special silver-laced dressings behind. It's been a bit over a month since that point now, and the healing is going well. I did manage a spot of full-thickness (never one to do something half-way) and the rest was 2nd degree, in splotches from just past my elbow to just above my navel and all bits n pieces in between on my right-hand side. I've been pretty darned lucky to be honest. Nothing of significance on my face or really anywhere I can't cover with a t-shirt. It's now just time to heal, while my "crispy bits", as I have donned them, fade into insignificance. It will be a few months away yet, but all in good time.

 Yes, I am learning patience the hard way.

I kept working through it all, of course. But once the dressings were off, I could dive in again at full function (my shoulder copped the brunt, so editing was a bit tricky and uncomfortable). Sadly, the catalogues I have been designing every 3 weeks for a client have been sent to print-heaven and so that work was no more. As fate would have it though, the local business women's group I am involved in kicked into high gear in that very same week. I'll save the details for my next post, but I have spent the last 5 weeks shooting, designing, editing, promoting and celebrating a calendar for the group.

 I've been a very busy gal!!

 I also finally got around to making a living, breathing, thing today. You should definitely check it out, and share far and wide.

Until next time, here's a bit of an arty image I shot when I was all patched up with dressings. It's a bit of a multiple-meaning storytelling arty thing. Just like me I guess!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day... off?

I'm really not entirely sure what to write today.  So take my hand and let's see where this thing goes, shall we?

Please don't expect all that much.  I had designated Mondays as my advertising/marketing/blogging days a couple of months ago, and I stuck to it pretty well, but the last few weeks have had other plans for me.  I went to bed last night with the realisation in my mind that I had achieved really well over the past week.  There were other things playing on my mind all week.  Things I couldn't change yet left me feeling like my kickass heels were buried in the back of the closet, and nothing I could do in my profesional life could quite manage to dig them out again.  There may have been an anxiety attack, and a pretty big case of the sads involved even.  Once I stoped and thought about what I had gotten done during the week, and reminded myself that actually I am pretty awesome, and not too many can kick it like I can, the clouds cleared.  I found my heels and those babies are firmly attached once more.

So, waking up today and realising that I really had no obligations was rather nice.  I wasn't on deadline and while I usually do all my social networking, advertising, marketing and just generally creative thinking on a Monday (when a gazillion images and product codes aren't dancing in front of my eyes from the "day job") I allowed myself to choose whether I even did anything at all.  If I wanted the day off, I would take it and if not, I'd get to it when I was good and ready and not a moment before.

Well, obviously I eventually got to it.  Not before plenty of down time and a good laugh with some friends.  Sometimes, it's not until you stop that you realise just how burned out you are.  I'm thankful I took the time to breathe, and laugh, and to restore some faith in those I love.

My birthday seems so long ago now, with all that's gone on in the last few weeks.  I did manage to take some images though with my newly acquired contact lenses in, which speak to what I do.  I was surprised that I don't look as weird as I first found myself without my glasses on too.

Here's to a productive week to come, with time to breathe, laugh and love.  With fingers crossed for a little luck too...

(um... you can let go of my hand now... ok?)