Delighting in the unexpected…

One of the wonderful things about being an Architectural Photographer is the freshness and newness (sounds like I’m advertising fabric softener) of the environments that we have the privilege of experiencing each and every day.  Architectural projects are not too dissimilar to people, some that we experience in person as amazing can be challenging to shoot, and some that seem ordinary can result in fabulous visual results.   There is nothing more exciting or rewarding as a photographer when these opportunities reveal themselves to you, particularly when they take you by surprise.

Last week we had the opportunity to shoot a project under construction for RED Design Group and the beauty in the deconstruction and construction excited me.   Here are some pictures from a range of projects that unexpectedly delighted me.  However you judge the subject matter, there is some magic in these environments, be it the agedness of them, their immaculate symmetry or the way light dances across them.

Living the dream….

This post is about celebrating all those near and dear, living the dream!  It’s often a lonely road, self doubt and the reality of the economics of life often prohibit many people from pursing their personal goals.  

This post serves 3 purposes:

– to celebrate those who continue pursing their dreams in the face of adversity and criticism
– to celebrate the people who support, mentor, encourage and inspire them
– to encourage and inspire everyone

I start with the fabulous news that my gorgeous cousin Sara Carrigan has made the Australian Olympic road race  team for Bejing.  We all watched with absolute pride when Sarah won Gold at Athens and we wish her all the best of luck in Bejing.  If you want to find out more about Sara you can view her website at

Next we celebrate my beautiful younger sister who is living in Amsterdam and pursuing all things creative. Jennette studied Graphic Design at Swinburne University in Prahan.  Despite all rational and pragmatic advice from her older, overbearing sisters she has continued to search for (and from what I can gather) find her creative place in Amsterdam.  She has hooked up with a fantastic, eclectic group of creative minds to be part of  Galerie Schaap – see 

As I will always think of her…

who she really is…

Next we celebrate my wonderful friend and Copyrighter from the ole RMIT University days….the lovely Miss Viv Gibson..

Viv has spent the last 3 years in New York and much to my glee has just returned to the BRRRRRR!!! winter of Melbourne.  I am so happy to have her back, and so happy she has returned with so many amazing experiences, professional and personal.  You can see Viv’s work at 

Lastly we celebrate Jake … Yr 10 work experience student… just because he was refreshing, inspiring and he showed enthusiasm despite the fact he had to wear florescent attire..

RIP……The 500GB Brick

This week we say goodbye to our old friend that has housed each and every one of our images at some point in the past 2 years.  Our brick has been a faithful and well performing temporary storage facility, until Tuesday when it just refused to mount.  After much swearing, followed by frantic ‘Googling’ we found a program called ‘Data Rescue’ that was able to mount the drive and enable us to transfer the data. The joy was short lived, you see I thought this meant the drive had been bought back to life. Unfortunately after transferring the data and unmounting the drive, twas never to mount again.  The drive will not be discarded for no other reason than we love the design of it.  As sad as it seems, one does become attached to these inanimate bits of technology that have tirelessly served us.  I have kept every MAC I have ever owned, they have been good to me.










This drive was only used for temporary storage of our last 3 months work so that we could easily access our images to distribute to clients and magazines.  Do not fear, we have not lost any of our archive – YET!.

The issue of digital media is an enormous one for all photographers.  With the advent of digital we are now faced with the challenges of maintaining our archives.  It is a scary prospect when there is nothing like a physical negative to return to.  Media is constantly evolving, and all the storage mediums available are susceptible to failure.

I have a headache from all the discussions I had this week with IT people about the best avenue for maintaining our archive.  Every opinion conflicted and 5 minutes into each of the conversations I started playing elevator music in my head.   The long and short of it is, no matter which option you choose, optical or tape, they all need to be migrated periodically (depending upon how daring you are) and all are prone to failure.

As photographers, we are no longer just photographers, we are post production houses.  We now must have a much more sophisticated set up to process, proof, backup, archive and retrieve our work.   At our studio we began archiving our images in 2001 on CD.  We are now undertaking the arduous process of transferring all this data onto DVD.  Our archiving software must then be updated to reflect the new location of the data.   We are applying the ‘Migrate & refresh’ principle.

We are about to step it up a notch and get an entire RAID drive system to maintain our archive for the future, as well as continuing to record all data on DVD.  The thought of transferring historic data from our DVD’s to yet another media is not one I am ready to deal with today… but am sure in the not too distant future it will be one I will have to face.  This new sophisticated set up means more physical equipment, more software and plain and simply more crap to deal with.


A day in the life….

All names and places have been changed to protect the innocent, except myself, John, Marion & Ruby, am hoping they will find their mention a novelty.

4.30am – 5.20am – Awake!! My partner tells me that it takes me exactly 1 hour to get ready, on early starts like this, I’ve got it down to 40 minutes (including coffee).  As I get ready my thoughts are mainly occupied by the reality that  when I actually arrive on the job 5 hours from now, I must look presentable to the client, this stresses me more than the job itself.

5.20am – 5.45am – Transit to the studio to collect camera gear. Upon arrival at the studio, run into Marion who has just returned from taking Ruby for a walk (Ruby is a beautiful Labrador). Marion is also preparing for work on a film set.  Marion is a costume designer who looks beautiful no matter what time of the day it is.  The greetings aren’t as jovial as those we exchange on a Friday afternoon.  Yes, it’s that kind of building, we all run into each other at the most ungodly of hours.  You can call it a creative mecca or just god damn uncivilised.  Check camera gear… re-check camera gear, the re-check is very important, I once left the camera behind when assisting John – big, bad mistake,  I did not get assistant of the year for this error (no it wasn’t an interstate job). Make sure am carrying no sharp tools – have had to post back my leatherman tool twice on account of having it in carry-on luggage.  Labor over whether I really should be taking more gear. Will I need the architectural camera?  It’s another bloody kit to carry – decide to leave it behind (mostly as a result of advice by John).  Take laptop as job has to be submitted tomorrow morning – awards deadline, bloody awards, wonder how we survived before the advent of digital?

5.45am – 6.45am – Airport Transit & check-in

6.45am – 7.10am – Airport breakfast. As awful as these are, I have come to rely heavily on them for sustenance.  Have not  however mastered eating with plastic cutlery any more successfully, toast flies off plate in attempt to cut.

7.10am – 8.00am – Flight was supposed to leave at 7.25am – Flight delayed. Bugger!!

8.00am – 9.10am – Transit to interstate destination.  O.K. since we’re changing names and places… transit to Bahamas.  Read trash – I know this is something not to be admitted too, I would love to say I was reading Kafka, but tis not true.  Reading trash relaxes my brain, or lack thereof.

9.15am – 9.30am – Collect tripod and transit to job.  Weather is crap – now the relaxation of the trash wears off and the neuroses sets in.  When I was an assistant I never understood this neurosis and why we couldn’t shop in bad weather.

9.30am – Arrive to building.  EEEK!!  All landscaping is surrounded by poles and red tape to keep people off the freshly laid turf. Builders, tools, a bobcat, a generator and a lot of florescent stuff is sprawled all over the forecourt, great for a ‘Wham’ film clip, not so great for an architectural shoot.   This is more distressing to my assistant, who will inevitably have to remove them all (while singing ‘Wake me up before you go go’ just for my entertainment). Enter building to be welcomed by an unexpected conference of 80 delegates. Main cafe has not yet been fitted out and workmen have made the rear of the building their home.  O.K. It’s going to be a long day.

9.30am – 10.30 am – Call my site contact.  Fortunately he is a lovely man who shows some sympathy for our position and offers to assist with the removal of the tape and poles.  He gives us master keys to enable us to access offices to turn on lights.  This is the joy of ‘Green’ buildings, you see the lights are on movement sensors – no movement, no light.  Very clever, thank you to the environmentally friendly architects, sorry to sound ungrateful.  

My assistant starts to assemble the furniture in the Cafe in an attempt to make it appear functioning rather than desolate.   I start making friends with the conference organisers so that they are aligned with our objectives.  They were absolutely lovely and accommodating.  The success of our job relies heavily on the cooperation and understanding of nearly everyone – not always easy to get – we lucked in on this job.

10.30am – 11.30 am – I shoot the interiors and make about 30 mobile phone calls to my assistant while he runs around trying to keep all the lights on…quite funny actually – not to him though – great for Telstra.

11.30am – 1.00pm – Go back outside in the hope that weather has miraculously cleared, only to find it has started to rain.  We’ve now been awake for 7 hours, so I give in to my assistant and agree to a coffee. Whilst having a coffee, my assistant is enjoying the break while I sit there edgily checking the weather. We’ve had about a third of our coffee when I see what looks like a glimmer of sun… that’s it we’re off, it’s like we’re in the Amazing Race (yes I’m the overbearing bossy one, insisting we hurry, devoid of all logic and mesmerised by the possibility of sun).  We franticly race back to the building and try to start shooting the the exteriors. Actually not quite true, we race back and start disassembling the temporary home the builders have made for themselves.   Not winning any popularity contests at this point, you see the landscaper’s have a 2.00pm hand over and I have asked them to stop work as their wheelbarrow’s and their shadow’s are impeding the shot.  I am normally very aware of the support that the builder and tradespeople provide to us in executing our job, but this is 10 minutes of sun that I’ll never get back.  After about 20 minutes of shooting my assistant gives me a blow by blow account of the comments and facial expressions of the landscapers I have clearly upset.  Like a true professional I am unperturbed by this, my rule now is that unless you are physically violated or threatened, just keep shooting.  I know this is terrible, but I fear the wrath of a bad outcome.  The sky closes and that’s it for the sun.  I apologise to the landscaper and explain that I am here for one day under trying circumstances.  He does nothing to change my admiration for all builders and tradesmen who have saved me and helped me on many photo shoots and replies, “we’ve all got a job to do, I understand love”.

1.15pm – 1.40pm – The conference organisers have kindly let us slip in to shoot the conference space in full swing.  Anticipating that this will be something that the architects want, we take full advantage of this opportunity.  We set up, we’ve tried to work out where people will sit and where we don’t want them to sit.  We’re on a very wide angle lens at the back of a small ramp so we can’t have people too close to the lens.  Fantastic,  no one sits in the closest 2 seats, we’re set.  Just as the speakers come in and everybody settles the man in the second row from the back decides to relocate to the back seat – it is a law conference, so I fear saying anything and accept that I will have to do a montage of images in post (this is the crazy ‘PC’ world we live in, or maybe it’s just the guilty inbred fear of a Catholic education). 

If I haven’t bored you or whinged enough, do read on……

1.40pm – 3.00pm – We continue on with interior shots of various spaces under much more comfortable circumstances, we are now dealing with discrete spaces so it is much easier (mental note: change business to specialise in interior photography of small spaces with no people).

3.00pm – 3.15pm – The conference afternoon tea has finished and I notice a large tray of untouched biscuits, haven’t had lunch (trying to make the next move sound less desperate), ask caterer’s if we could have a coffee and a left over biscuit – my assistants eyes light up, probably because I didn’t ask him to ask.

3.15pm – 3.30pm – Head back outside to check ambient light conditions – still overcast with slight rain. See more tradespeople fitting exterior forecourt lights and make a joke that it’s knock off time – get a laugh.  Go to sit down for 15 minutes and relax. Return, see same trades people, make same joke – get another laugh (surprisingly!).  The penny drops, realise it might be wise to enquire as to whether the lights actually work – oh important – yes lights – this is important. Enquire as to whether the lights will be working tonight – reply ‘Yes’.  Now this is where I demonstrate my true savvy and professionalism (or years of experience with disappointment), I notice that there are two different types of lights – small ones and big ones (yes I was educated with the Hexagon with the various different shapes that fitted into different slots) and I ask “Will both types of lights be on?”.  The tradesman replies, “No, just these small ones, the others haven’t been sealed…..” and something about water, danger and something… see if it gets too technical you just lose me.  Now I promise that I am being honest, I just nodded, thanked him and started to walk away and then he said “Do you need them on?”,  “That would be great” I reply.  “I can leave them on for you tonight if you like” the tradesman says…. the warmth in my heart for all the builders and tradespeople of the world grows even stronger (if that’s possible). 

3.30pm – 4.45pm – Scout around and work out dusk shots – no time to waste when dusk decends.  Go back and do more interior shots.

4.45pm – 5.45pm – Dusk neurosis, followed by dusk shooting  – This is the critical window where all the magic of architecture happens, actually the window is about 15 minutes, the neurosis precedes this by about 30 minutes.  This was hell for my poor assistant who had to run throughout the building for 45 minutes to keep every light in the building on.  I know if John is ever reading this he will ask why on earth I had someone run around for 45 minutes when dusk is really only a 15 minute window?  This is because even though I have been shooting for 8 years, I still fear I might miss it.  I was a girl guide and their motto is “Be Prepared” – I can’t believe I have just admitted this.

5.45pm – 8.30pm – Head to airport.  Supposed to be on an 8.00pm flight – flight delayed again.  By this point we are not for public consumption, or rather the public is not for our consumption so we head to the Virgin Lounge where we can start processing all the days shots.  Noone is in the lounge… LOVELY – wash down some wine and cheese – have a bit of a whine and keep processing.

8.30pm – 10.30pm – Air transit, car transit – HOME!!!!

10.30pm – 1.00am – Keep processing files so that contact sheets will be with client by 9.00am.  Am nervous about density of files, have processed most on a laptop monitor with 2 glasses of wine under my belt but don’t want to start again now at home with proper monitor – images are not finals – just for selection – hope client understands.

9.00am – Client sends email  thanking us and most importantly they are happy – this makes us happy…

No… this is not the end of the job… we must optimise all of the shots for press on a proper monitor without tiredness and wine……..


The glamour of it all….

I have finally tackled the world of “Blogging” – we have arrived (hip hooray!) with our first journal.  Thank you Rueben for sticking with us and helping us get our website re-designed … even though you have moved to Tokyo. 

2008 has been a fabulous year and we have had the pleasure of shooting many great projects from Australia’s talented architects and designers.   We have labored through the host of design awards and congratulate all the architects and designers that were celebrated.

So what has June held for us …mmmm!!  We are very excited to have features of Melbourne Grammar School, QLD State Library, Gloss Creative and the Australian War Memorial in this months issue of Artichoke Magazine.  Our work is featured on the cover with a detail of Amanda Henderson’s BlueScope Marquee from the 2007 Spring Racing Carnival.  To see more of Amanda’s work check out her new website at

A big congrats to AIGP and Buro whose work features in the latest edition of Houses magazine.  We thoroughly enjoyed shooting both projects.  

Thanks to Designinc and Joe Lewit for the opportunity to shoot the new Royal Women’s Hospital and also for allowing Bella our work experience student to come along.  I’m always nervous taking on high school work experience students for fear of scaring them off their dream of photography.  Our work can be tough and hectic with a lot of lugging of gear, early mornings and late evenings. Often there are preconceived ideas of glamour which don’t really feature heavily in the life of an architectural photographer.  The picture below is testimony to this.

We’ve really been enjoying the variance of some focused landscape work and we were happy to get the cover of the latest Landscape Architecture Magazine with McGregor Westlake’s and Deuce Design’s Sam Fiszman Memorial Park at Bondi in Sydney.

I managed to make it up to Sydney for Designex – was great to see more work from Chris Bosse who designed the POL Oxygen Stand.

In signing off, I should mention that we are loving winter, 7.00 am dawn shoots and 5.40pm dusk shoots, it’s such a civilized  time of year.  It certainly beats summers 5.30am dawns and 9.00pm Dusks.  So get in now for all your dusk shooting…PLEASE … have mercy!!