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Sabah Wildlife

On March 22, 2015
By Connie
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This year has already been so full of amazing experiences and personal changes for myself.  To sum it up, last month I went and got myself married!  The lead up to the wedding was a haze of endless emails, to-do lists, big eating, and so much love.  I feel truly lucky to have so many wonderful, generous and loving people in my life.

Of course, one of the best perks of getting married is the indulgent honeymoon that follows.

Sabah, the Malaysian province on the northeast side of Borneo, was the perfect choice for us.  We had a perfect holiday of lazy luxury (required after many weeks months of hectic wedding planning) mixed with a little adventure.  The highlights were a visit to Selingan Island, a turtle sanctuary where we had the unforgettable experience of releasing baby turtles to the sea, and the boat trips up and down the Kinabatangan River watching for endemic wildlife.

Before we left Sydney, I treated myself to a brand new point and shoot camera since I didn’t want to be lugging around my heavy camera gear on what was supposed to be a relaxing, romantic honeymoon.  There are times when it’s more important to not be focusing on getting that perfect shot.  This trip was one of them.  I wanted an easy-to-use, light-weight, little point and shoot camera to grab my happy snaps without any fuss.  After lots of internet reading, I had decided on a Canon Gx7.  It had the wonderful flexibility to choose fully automatic settings or to use any combination of manual settings.  Having not bothered with point and shoot cameras for several years, I was happily surprised with the beautiful results of this camera.  Camera technology sure has come a long way in recent years!  Below are a few photos from Malaysia, all taken with the Canon Gx7.

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Josh Goot Lookbook Video

On February 11, 2015
By Connie
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This was one of those projects where working with incredible talent can make any job feel so easy.  First of all, Josh Goot creates beautiful apparel – the clothing speaks for itself.  We created a minimal set with minimal styling in order to let his gorgeous designs stand on their own.  We knew that excessive styling would just clutter the imagery and would work against Josh Goot’s clean and elegant designs.

We had a limited amount of time to shoot each outfit so I designed a set and lighting scheme that would offer several interesting angles to shoot from.  I didn’t want to fuss with making dramatic changes to our set once we started shooting because I was concerned it would disrupt our workflow.  I am really happy with the results of this set up as I think I was able to create enough variety in the shots to avoid repetition without allowing the backgrounds themselves to pull focus from the clothing.

Our model, Natalie, was a pleasure to work with.  She truly did make my job easy.  After a quick chat about the Josh Goot brand and the look and feel I wanted for this video, it was obvious that Natalie and I were on the same page.  Aside for some minor directions here and there, I was able to just sit back and let Natalie interpret each outfit as we went along.  Since I knew that I would be laying music over the video, I had the luxury of being able to call out how I was framing my shots while I moved the camera around her.  In this way, we were always on the same page about what I was focusing on at any given time.  I had the fortune of having lots of great shots to choose from during the editing process.

So here it is, our finished lookbook.  I’m pleased to say that the folks over at Josh Goot were as excited with our video as us!

New Zealand Getaway

On January 4, 2015
By Connie
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Happy New Years!  I spent a very relaxing few weeks unwinding in New Zealand with family and friends.  After several days of the usual holiday feasting, we took off for a beautiful little spot in Whagaruru, a bit east of the Bay of Islands.  We camped on a friend’s patch of hilltop in the middle of nowhere and enjoyed a little tranquility (and a little rain) for a couple days.  Here are a few photos from our getaway.

 

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Be That Somebody Else (Official Video)

On December 12, 2014
By Connie
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Finally!  The long awaited, greatly anticipated, release of Be That Somebody Else by the talented Danielle Bellas.

Last month I had a fantastic time filming this summery, fun music video for Coney Productions, and I am thrilled with the final results!  Enjoy :)

My First Video Ad!

On November 30, 2014
By Connie
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I did it – my first commercial!  It was only a spot for the internet, but I did it nonetheless.  It was the first video I storyboarded, organised, directed, filmed and edited.  Jeez, when I write it all out it sure sounds like a lot of different jobs!  But that’s what I did.  With the help of an incredible team and our talented model, Renee Slansky, of course.

The brief for the ad was to create a brand story for Ozsale; we needed to illustrate what is Ozsale? in a nutshell while showing our viewers how fun and convenient it is to shop the site.  Basically, we had to jam pack a crap ton of information into an extremely short 15 seconds.  How do you say fun/convenient/easy/great variety/amazing prices/home delivery/fashion/homewares/awesome all in 15 seconds?  A clever story board and ruthless editing were definitely key.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to post the finished video to this site at the moment, but at least I can share some behind the scenes photos.  Yet again!  It seems to be my unofficial theme of the last month’s posts.  But I love a good BTS so here are some more.

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Photos by Montana Wilson

Catriona Rowntree BTS

On November 23, 2014
By Connie
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I love living in Sydney.  One of the greatest perks of working in this city is the many times I’ve found myself shooting on location at a gorgeous beach.

I was the stills photographer on our Catriona Rowntree shoot for a few travel spots we were filming.  As the star of the popular travel show Getaway, Catriona Rowntree was a true professional on camera and a pleasure to watch.  I was really impressed by her ability to nail her lines on just about every single take.  Talk about a seasoned pro!

I also managed to learn a great deal from the team filming the spot.  They were really receptive to my newbie videographer status and they were happy to answer my questions and explain their workflow to me.  The skies were overcast for most of the shoot so our lighting situation was pretty ideal considering we had to shoot in the later morning due to schedule constraints.  Lighting I get.  What I was interested in learning was capturing quality audio.  As a still photographer, by entire career up until this year has been purely visual and completely silent.  As I understand it, poor quality audio can really ruin any video because bad audio is too hard to ignore while a slightly out of focus subject or somewhat poorly exposed image can be forgivable.  It was a windy morning and wind plus microphones can equal not fun.  I learned a lot from watching the crew problem solve the noisy wind by choosing our shooting angles very carefully to mic placement relative to Catriona.  Again, talk about seasoned pros!

In the end, we nailed those shots with the help of an amazing team and some very cooperative clouds.  The whole day ran so smoothly that we actually managed to wrap up ahead of schedule – such a rarity!

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Photos by Montana Wilson

Danielle Bellas Music Video Shoot

On November 5, 2014
By Connie
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A good friend of mine asked me to help shoot an indie music video at the beautiful Shelley Beach in Manly – so of course I said hell ya!  You want me to work with some really talented people, who happen to be my friends, on a stunning beach at sunset followed by more filming at said beach at an unofficial DJed dance party complete with fire twirling performances?  This was one of those I love my job moments.

Ed Coney, founder of Coney Productions, asked me to shoot the B-roll for the music video he was filming for the very talented R&B songstress Danielle Bellas.  It was my job to run around and grab all the extra footage and atmospheric shots while Ed filmed the main footage of Danielle singing to camera.

We were blessed with amazing weather that Sunday.  We headed out to Shelley Beach in the late afternoon after Danni had most of her hair and make-up done at another location.  The sun was starting to the get low in the sky and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen.  With the warm glow of the setting sun and the calm waters washing up on the beach, there was so much to film.  It really was a pleasure to be playing around on the beach practicing the new skills I’ve been learning at the studio and at the recent workshop I did with PDV Digital Cinema Workshops.  It was a particularly great opportunity to practice assessing a scene for filming footage while the event was unfolding.  I’m used to working in very controlled studio environments so this was a wonderful change of pace.  Knowing that Ed was focusing on getting footage of Danni singing to camera, I ran around making sure I got wide shots to establish the scene, medium shots from angles different to Ed’s, and close ups of details such as the DJ’s hands on his gear and the detailing on Danni’s outfits.

Everyone worked so well together and it was easy to see that we were all having a blast.  I can’t wait to see the final music video.  Until then, check out these behind the scenes shots from our awesome day.

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Behind the Scenes Stop Motion

On October 26, 2014
By Connie
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Check out my behind the scenes stop motion of our homewares photo shoot last week.  I set up a camera on a tripod next to my shoot camera and set it to interval shoot mode so it would automatically take a shot every 5 seconds.  There were a few times I paused the camera for longer chats about the shoot, but I still ended up with over 1000 frames!

I actually had to edit out a lot in order to get the pace of the video to feel just right.  It turns out that making lots of incremental adjustments to cushions isn’t all that interesting to watch repeatedly – even in fast forward.  The final video has about 350 frames.  Even though I cut out about two thirds of the original footage, it still shows a pretty good overview of our styling process.  The shoot itself took about 2 hours with a big chunk of that time devoted to making styling adjustments.  Big props to our stylist guru Bri Lurhmann – fantastic work as usual!

Tony Bianco Sunglasses

On October 19, 2014
By Connie
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Hello summer!  Nothing else better signals the start of sunnier days ahead than the changing of clocks for daylight savings.  That jump of just one hour really makes a difference.  I’ve been loving the cycle home from the studio with the warm sun at my back instead of those chilly, dark evenings in winter.   The approaching summer also means that sunglasses are now our favourite must-have accessory.  So, I was more than happy to create this fun editorial of Tony Bianco sunglasses.  We were lucky enough to also have some colourful bedsheets in the studio for a different shoot when I walked by and thought these would make a great background, and so voila!  Instant awesomeness!

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Philip Stein Editorial

On October 7, 2014
By Connie
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I had a great time shooting these Philip Stein watches the other day.  I’ve been shooting a lot of fashion and video lately so it was really nice to shoot a still life editorial again.

I almost forgot how much I enjoy a quiet day in the studio focusing on precise product lighting.  I sort of tune out the busy world around me and zero in on my set bubble.  It can be quite peaceful to zone out on a creative project of this nature, where it feels like it’s just me and my inanimate object of a subject.  Time slows down, or maybe it only feels like that because I’m staring at clock faces stuck at the exact same second for hours on end!

In any case, I’m very happy with the final series, and I’m grateful I got to enjoy a day of quiet tinkering.  Studio life for the win.

 

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About Connie

I was that geeky camera chick who spent her high school lunch breaks in the darkroom.  I still miss the smell of those stinky developer chemicals.  Sort of.

Born in Canada, I graduated with top honours in Applied Photography at Sheridan College before spending several years assisting and producing for  some of the best commercial shooters in Toronto.  After gathering a wealth of valuable skills and getting my first DSLR, I bought a plane ticket to Asia.

It was my first backpacking adventure, but I managed to survive nine months from Seoul to Singapore with only some shoddy mandarin and a lot of luck.  I had the time of my life. So I did it again.  Seven months of zig-zagging around India and Nepal taught me ingenuity with limited resources, clarity when surrounded in chaos, and how to eat with just my right hand.

Sydney became my new home in 2008, and I’ve been enjoying the sunny weather and great coffee ever since.

Today, I’m a fashion and product photographer extraordinaire.  Based at Studio 8 in the northern beaches of Sydney, I relish the challenge and precision of studio lighting.  My clients are drawn to my clean, stripped back approach to every project.  My simplistic yet direct style is refreshing and elegant in a market full of heavily Photoshopped images.

When I’m not in the studio you can find me hand folding dumplings or scaling walls at the rock climbing gym.  I’m also really good at winning board games (or my friends are just really good at losing).

 

Accolades

Finalist – Shoot The Chef 2013
Top 5 – Australia’s Emerging Travel Photographers of 2010 – Capture Magazine
Winner – Best Marketing Imagery Award 2010 – New Mardi Gras
Semi-finalist – Shutterbug Awards 2010 – Shutterbug
Short-listed – Travel Photographer of the Year 2009 – TPOTY
Finalist – Cultural Explorers 2009 – STA Travel
Winner – World in Focus 2007 – Photo District News
Top Emerging Photographers of 2007 – Photo Life Magazine

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