Shoot the Chef!

On October 17, 2013
By Connie
Michael Shafran of Brooklyn Boy Bagels

Seedy Business – our entry and a finalist in Shoot the Chef 2013


Michael Shafran is everything bagel.  Founder of Brooklyn Boy Bagels, Michael and I teamed up for this year’s Shoot the Chef competition for the Good Food Month festival.  Neither of us had entered this popular photo contest before.  I’d seen galleries of finalists over the years and I’ve always been impressed by the calibre of work being entered.  It was time to give it a go.

We tossed around several ideas before eventually settling on the final concept.  Often, when the contest guidelines are wide open for interpretation and creativity, deciding on just one idea to execute can be a real challenge.  The sky is literally the limit.  Which is what makes these projects so much fun.

However, our plan didn’t really go according to plan.  We enlisted the help of a make-up artist who seemed really keen to tackle the project, but on the day of the shoot she didn’t show up.  No call, no text, no email, nothing.  I was really surprised.  This was the first time I had ever been stood up by a team member on a photo shoot.  Not without a call and a really good reason, usually of the emergency variety.  I actually didn’t believe it at first.  I had faith that she was just stuck in traffic, with a dead phone.  And got lost.  At the other end of town.

But we were on our own.  With only two days to the deadline, we were getting this portrait done.  After a mad dash to pick up supplies and a 10 minute lesson on liquid latex, I entered my first foray into make-up artistry.

It was not an easy process.  Or a short one.  I gingerly began plying liquid latex and poppy seeds to Michael’s face as he patiently lay on the floor.  It took some playing around, but I eventually worked out a crude, though effective, technique of getting those little buggers to stay put.  Michael was an amazing sport always cracking jokes despite all the poppy seeds rolling into his eyes, ears, nose and mouth.  I did not envy his role, that’s for sure.

It was an exhausting 4 hours.  But we were proud (and amazed!) of our hard work.  Thankfully, the lights were already set up that morning.  It was only a matter of plopping Michael on the stool and we could start the shoot.  After we applied his cream cheese mustache, of course.  Again, I am not a make-up artist.  We did not think of how temporary the cream cheese would stay on Michael face.  It was a crazy cycle of getting that cream cheese on and then getting some shots before it awkwardly drooped off his upper lip, and then starting over again.  It was a giggley affair.  Definitely a shoot to remember.

And our hard work did indeed pay off.  I am very pleased to write that we are a finalist in this year’s Shoot the Chef in the People’s Choice category.  There was some hefty competition so to be counted among the top picks is always a wonderful feeling.  A print of our entry Seedy Business will be on exhibition from 1-29 November at the Rialto Towers in Melbourne as part of the Good Food Month festival.  Hope you can stop by and enjoy the show.

The Art of Writing Your Own Bio

On October 12, 2013
By Connie

It’s hard writing your own bio.  The first few drafts always make you sound like a wanker.  How do you make yourself sound awesome without sounding pompous, or worse, boring.

I flicked through a lot of photographer bios and I learned that most bios are boring and forgettable.  I started to wonder, do I even need one?  It’s one of those things where if you write one that is average, no one remembers it.  But if you write one that’s great, you become a bit more memorable.  I wanted a bio on my website that makes people think “Hey! I want to meet her!  Connie sounds like an awesome person to work with.”

I found that my favourite bios included some humour or heart, or something that showed little glimpses of that person’s personality.  I wanted to meet the photographer who ran that marathon over mountain tops – with his camera.  I wanted to meet the photographer who was sent to Afghanistan “on holiday”.

Then there’s the question of whether to include a photo of yourself.  Photographers are notorious for hating getting their photos taken – that’s why we grabbed a camera in the first place.  We know only too well that just one photo can say a whole heap about a person.  So what do I do?  Below are a few options:
Portrait_web                      Eclipse_Connie

The first is the photo on my LinkedIn profile.  The second photo is a snap while on location somewhere in Queensland shooting the total solar eclipse back in 2012.  (Check out my slick homemade solar filter on my lens. Duct tape and tissue box.  Just call me MacGyver!)  I also have a number of images that range between the two.  Am I the professional in the formal portrait or the goof functioning on 4 hours of sleep in the snap shot?  Clearly I’m both, but I can only choose one photo.  See my conundrum?

It took me a week of going back and forth before I settled on the final version of my bio, sans portrait.  I have a hard enough time choosing a Facebook profile photo.  If I waited for the right image, I’d have never launched my new website.

It’s funny to think that your life can be summed up in just a few lines.  I wanted to jam in lots of snippets about myself, but I didn’t want it to drag on either.  I didn’t want to sound too stuffy, but I needed to be professional.  Fun, but not immature.  How will people judge me?  What do I want them to think of me?  And then it turned into… is this how I judge myself?

I was, perhaps, over-thinking this a bit too much.  The problem was that I had too much to say.  That might be one of the reasons why I started this blog.

I’ve started a blog

On October 5, 2013
By Connie

Hello World.  I’ve started a blog.  Because I’m awesome and therefore people want to know what I’m up to.

At least, I hope so.

I’ve magically timed the beginning of this blog with the launch of my new website.  I invite you take a look around and view my latest work.  This new site has been several months in the making and I am pleased that all that hard work has finally paid off.  I’m really stoked about the fresh new look and the fancy arrow key functions for viewing my portfolio.  I’m a photographer, not a web developer, so all these new functions have got me pretty excited.  Simple minds, I know.  Look!  I’ve just learned how to upload photos to my blog posts:

Behind the scenes shot of me on a recent Macadamia Oil product shoot.


As I’m learning, there is an art to creating your own website, and I’m not talking about the art of web design.  I’m talking about the difficulty of choosing what to display and what to hold back.  I spent countless hours pouring over my photographs trying to decipher the puzzle of that perfect portfolio.  And I mean ‘perfect’ for me.  What are my strongest photos?  What images best represent my style?  What does this portfolio say about me as a photographer?  It can cause a bit of an existential crisis.

How does one answer these questions objectively?  There’s never a right answer, which is both liberating and infuriating at the same time.  There are many different methods of pulling together your portfolio.  You can take classes and workshops on the subject.  There are even consultants you can hire to guide you through the process.  And no matter what method you use, the process is never really over.  No portfolio is ever perfect, at least, not in the mind of its creator.  There is always that constant drive to capture a more breath-taking image.  The making of a portfolio, the hours of reflecting over your life’s work, is just a part of a journey with no clear destination.

I’ll keep you posted on my journey and we’ll see where I end up.



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).



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