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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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Style Session: Stylemology

On September 27, 2014
By Connie
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We thought we’d switch things up from our usual flay lays and do something a bit more three dimensional for this week’s style session with Stylemology.  These product stills were created using clothes hangers, fishing line, and lots of patience.  The trick was waiting for some of the items to stop spinning back and forth on their fishing lines!  The extra time and effort was completely worth it though as we’re thrilled with the final results.

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Videography 101

On September 20, 2014
By Connie
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Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a PDV Digital Cinema workshop instructed by award winning cinematographer, Pieter de Vries.  It was an intensive two days covering all the basic technical aspects of videography such as controlling exposure, white balance, gear, lighting and sound, as well as exploring several methods a videographer employs to tell a story such as strong composition, depth of field, building suspense, detail shots, and pacing.

I’ve been creating short behind-the-scenes videos of fashion shoots at our studio, but I haven’t been formally trained in videography.  Other than a few quick run downs on how to approach video from my videographer boss, I’ve pretty much been fumbling around and learning on the job.  I’m honestly quite proud of the work that I’ve done to date considering my little previous experience.  But this course has given me a better peak into a world I know very little about.  I’m only starting to understand just how much I don’t know.

Firstly, it really is only natural for photographers to jump the gap to videography and vice versa.  There are many skills that are applicable to both mediums such as composition, lighting, and story telling through visual means.  A lot of technical aspects are similar too such as exposure, depth of field, and white balance.  But the approach with each medium is so very different.

Pieter really clarified the main difference between the two mediums; photography tells a story in one frame whereas video has the added dimension of time.  Yes, that may be over simplifying this considering that video also has the added advantages of sound and motion, but sometimes simplifying ideas produces clearer understanding.  This simple explanation of the two mediums was a real eye opener for me.    As a photographer, I’ve spent years honing a talent to deliver an entire story in one still, in one bang.  Video is a different sort of journey that allows for the building of suspense before getting to the punch line.

I started to see how my early footage was based on my experience as a photographer and how that approach doesn’t work for video.   Photographers identify a story or message we want to convey, find the image that speaks this message, and then we eliminate any extra components that don’t support that main story.  An example of this could be reframing an image to remove a telephone pole in the background.  We want to clean up the shot.  It’s classic destruction for creation; we must destroy the clutter to spotlight the heart of the story.

Video is not like that.  Video requires the addition of information.  It’s not just footage of a model; it’s footage of a model on a set with big lights, a wind machine, and crew in the shadows.  It’s about dirtying the shot.  Pieter spoke a great deal on finding angles that included more components of the scene in order to jam more layers of the story into each frame.  More layers mean more story, and more story means more real interest.  It’s an approach to my creative work that I’m not used to employing, but I’ve already seen an improvement in my footage.  It’s rather fun exploring the world of videography from a photographer’s point of view.  It really is seeing the story from a completely new perspective.

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Myself with fellow classmates and our instructor, Pieter de Vries

It’s Finally Spring!

On September 13, 2014
By Connie
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After weeks and weeks of endless rain, I’m so happy to finally enjoy some sunshine.  The weather is warming up, and the studio is full of bright pastels and casual short dresses.  Spring is here!  And about time too.  Here are some of this week’s photo shoots.

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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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