August 2016 was a great month

For different but related reasons August 2016 was a great month for me.

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In Good Company

Firstly I had a comprehensive portfolio of my photographs published in the online magazine f11::for PHOTOGRAPHERS AND AFICIONADOS.

Secondly I gained my Master of Photography (M.Photog) status with the (AIPP)

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In Equally Good Company.

The first achievement was the result of over nine months of submission and collaboration with the f11 Publisher and Creative Director, Tim Steele.

With some gentle (and often times not so subtle) prodding, Tim was able to move me away from a grab-bag of retrospective images culled from a lifetime of photography into displaying a targeted and curated array of complimentary shots.  For this I will be eternally grateful.  Whilst I have a fair record in curating photographic shows for other people this was proof positive that the artist should rely on the input of a dispassionate party in such an exercise.

As a long time exponent of the black and white process and genre, it was an eyeopener to me that not a single monochrome image was included.

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Istanbul Dolls; © Ian Poole, 2015

The wonder of colour was never more evident than in this portfolio.

Issue 57 commencing at page 98 gave a comprehensive survey of my more contemporary photographs.  The supporting essay alluded to a voyeuristic photographic eye – a statement that I don’t shy away from, albeit not in the wide angle, camera in the face documentary style that is employed by some practitioners of so-called street photography.  I am no Vivian Maier!

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Observations; © Ian Poole, 2015.

What this project did do for me was to isolate a not strongly held view that I was attracted to people and place.  Having been fortunate to travel a few times over the past few years it was obvious that I would document those moments.  But it was the urban landscape (with its attendant population) that attracted my lens more than “the landscape”.  It took an analysis of various submissions for Tim to make this point so strongly – a fact with which I am pleased.

The second part of the bookending of the month of August was my gaining my M.Photog.  The road to this achievement has been paved with many challenges (I Earned a 73 ……. and a few other scores) and (Failure) and (The 2015 APPAs).  In this 40th year of the APPAs (Australian Professional Photography Award), it was a nice co-incidence for me.

I had attended the “test run” of the APPAs 41 years ago at the HYPO Convention at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast, and entered the second APPA and earned a Silver Merit.  Having decided early in my membership of the AIPP that I was a better Judge than an Entrant I chose for a long period to restrict my involvement to the judging table – UNTIL!   Some six years ago a few of my Institute “Friends” took me aside at an Awards Dinner and monstered me.  “Put Up or Shut Up” was the demand.  Thank you Mike Langford APP.L GM.Photog FAIPP,  Jackie Ranken, Peter Eastway APP.L GM.Photog FAIPP FNZIPP Hon. FAIPP Hon. FNZIPP, Ian van der Wolde APP.L M.Photog III Hon. FAIPP, Andrew Campbell APP.L GM.Photog and David Oliver AAP.L GM.Photog.  So, with the exception of the disastrous 2014 Year of the Bronzes, I steadily worked my way through gaining my Associateship and then Masters.

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Birmingham Gallery Cafe; © Ian Poole, 2016.

This year’s Award images also contributed to my gaining a Master of Photography within the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography Iris Award system.

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Tallin, Estonia; © Ian Poole, 2016.

Huge thanks need to go to Living Image Print and Andrew Merefield (and Darren Jew who was away swimming with whales) for the care and professionalism given to putting these pixels onto paper.  A skilled job for a pair of skilled professionals.

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Opposite The Ritz; © Ian Poole, 2016.

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Edinburgh; © Ian Poole, 2016.

……and a final comment must be made to my talented mentor Adam Finch M.Photog.  Adam has continually challenged, critiqued and encouraged my photographic output.  No good photographer can exist without a mentor (or an Editor).  Thanks.


 

 

 

 

THolden Got Married

One of the joys of close friends is when they make significant commitments and invite you to participate and observe.  Tony Holden married Suzanne Mccorkell yesterday at Boonah and we were part of that celebration.

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A Finch and L Jameson visit Campos; © Ian Poole, Brisbane, 2015

It therefore follows that a significant event should start on a happy and positive note.  Coffee at our personal and local Campos location was the order of the day.

A talented chauffeur was engaged to handle the difficult journey in front of us, along with his limousine of understated style and comfort.

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Chauffeur to the Stars; © Ian Poole, 2015

The road was long, lonely and undulating, and the weather was dark and ominous.  The driver was concentrating, the passengers were tense, we were traveling into unknown country with only a European GPS to guide us!  Courage under such circumstances was called for.

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The Long and Lonely Road; © Ian Poole, 2015

It is during such moments of stress that careful note should be  made of one’s surroundings in case of unforeseen disaster.  This requires constant visual vigilance regarding direction and environment and context within the landscape.

The skilled landscape photographer working hand in glove with the ever alert professional driver by recording landscape interpretations in case these scraps of information are required to facilitate the return journey.  A little like photographic breadcrumbs sprinkled as though a modern day Hansel and Gretel.

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Searching for Visual Breadcrumbs; © Ian Poole, 2015.

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Fence Posts Flash Past; © Ian Poole, 2015

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Warning Signs are Everywhere; © Ian Poole, 2015

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The Mystery of the Red Shed was Not Solved; © Ian Poole, 2015

Then suddenly the Handsome Son was escorting The Bride into the middle of friends and family, another transformation is taking place – the Chauffeur is becoming a Photographer.  Such is the magic and the mystery of this day.

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Son Escorts Bride, Chauffeur Becomes Photographer; © Ian Poole, 2015

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Words Were Spoken; © Ian Poole, 2015

By this time there were transformations happening is all directions –

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Guests were Becoming Photographers; © Ian Poole, 2015

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Photographers were Becoming Vocalists; © Ian Poole, 2015

This Event had just got out of control!   .…and then commonsense prevailed.

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Real Photographers Took Photographs; © Ian Poole, 2015

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Senior Statesmen Confer; © Ian Poole, 2015

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Discussion, Wine, Reign Supreme; © Ian Poole, 2015

And as day becomes night, high resolution crumbles into grain and mushy resolution, we realise that friendship is complex, crazy and creative.  What a privilege to be part and parcel of such moments and be given an opportunity to observe and document.

Cheers Suzanne and THolden!

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Andy Observes, and Mark Engages; © Ian Poole, 2015

Adam Finch

11116015_10205688159459223_2051332181_nIt was announced at the prestigious 2015 Schwarzkopf Professional Hair Expo Awards held in Sydney last night that Jules Tognini had won the Mens Hairdresser of the Year 2015.

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Adam Finch; © Simona Janek, 2014.

Of greater importance to the photographic world is that the competition is judged via photographs, and the winning portfolio was created by Brisbane based Adam Finch.  Finch, who has an extensive background as a wedding photographer, has now extended his skills into hair, fashion and commercial photography. Working with real clients as opposed to models, Finch’s portfolio featured edgy, structured and aggressive monochrome images that relied strongly on lighting and posing to illustrate Tognini’s cut and styling.  Working mostly with Ledgo LED continuous lighting supplied by PROtog, Finch was able to sculpt and shape his lighting to maximise the creative work of Tognini.  Close collaboration with PROtog’s Brisbane distributor, Tony Holden, enabled Finch to quickly adapt his lighting skills from more traditional electronic flash illustration. This black and white portfolio also took out the prize for the highest scoring Photographic Collection of the Year – a first ever, for a men’s category collection of photographs.

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© Adam Finch, Brisbane, 2015.

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© Adam Finch, Brisbane, 2015

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© Adam Finch, Brisbane, 2015

A BIG congratulations to Adam Finch, and Jules and his creative supporting team.

Adam Finch – Adam_Finch@bigpond.com

Available Enlightenment

I am now, and long have been, though not exclusively, an available light photographer

So this is an apt and accurate description of my current style of portrait photography.  A descriptor that I value and respect, as it embraces a lifetime of study and experimentation with the nuances of lighting portrait subjects.

But wait a moment, didn’t I spend a large period of that time working with the best and most powerful of studio electronic flash units that money could buy?  Well yes, I did, but as I did so, I worked very hard to replicate the light that I saw around me.  Daylight that is.

To claim to be a skilled photographic practitioner in available light requires either years of experience or a high degree of visual education – rather than reflecting either the lack of a studio or the requisite equipment!

My concern about the misuse of the term, ‘available light photographer’ is based on the proliferation of photographers claiming such miraculous abilities.

A more forensic research effort into their advertising shows that they live on a mobile telephone and communicate via an obscure website or a free email address service.

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Shepherd; © Tony Carter, New Zealand.

I accept the fact that the day of the photographic studio carefully placed in the high street of every major city is now all but over.  This misuse of the available light term often indicates a lack of facility and equipment.  More importantly to me, it indicates a lack of photographic knowledge.

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Bride; © Rob Heyman, Brisbane.

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Model and Containers; © Adam Finch, Brisbane, 2013

When I review the photographic output of master photographers like Kiwi Tony Carter and Australians Rob Heyman and Adam Finch, I observe the skills that a photographer with a deep and intimate knowledge of light brings to the topic of portrait photography.  It has nothing to do with the presence of either a studio or a raft of equipment.  It is more a way of life, and a desire to make their images look real and lifelike.  Carter in recent correspondence said ‘give me a window and sheet of polystyrene any day’.  This is neither affectation nor laziness – it represents the skill-set of a practitioner who is supremely comfortable with his ability to replicate a natural environment in order to record a sublime portrait.

I haven’t always been such a devotee of natural light – my first commercial photographic assignments were photographing weddings and functions with portable flash units.  The Mecablitz 502 and the Braun equivalents were chunky because of the wet cell battery, and very heavy to carry.  There were even photographers who strapped a motor cycle battery to their units to give an extended performance.  Until I learnt the refinement of bounce flash, this style of unnatural lighting was about as subtle as a virtual shotgun round full into the face.  Available light, of the canned variety.  Always on hand, seldom subtle.

Whilst I no longer possess large floor packs of electronic flash, nor own a 400 square meter studio, I am proud of my skill in working with, and seeing, light.

Yes, today I do work from a mobile phone and an email address, but I like to think that I do so with a degree of prowess that has taken a lifetime to finesse and an age to express.

f11 MagazineThis essay first appeared in f11 :: for PHOTOGRAPHERS and AFICIONADOS, p144, issue 40, February 2015.

Great Wedding, Great Party – Super Great Photographs

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It Did Rain; © Adam Finch Brisbane 2014

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Introducing The Groom, The Camera, Adam Finch and Mike Langford; © Jackie Ranken Brisbane 2014

Whilst there were far greater and more important decisions to be made regarding the impending nuptials between Louise and myself, it did occur to me that a photographer should be commissioned to document the event.

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Photographic Dilemma; © Jackie Ranken, Brisbane 2014

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The Photographer Who Said No; © Adam Finch 2014

Even a burnt out advertising photographer like me knows that such occasions should be recorded properly, correctly and by a professional ~ I have shot a few weddings in my time and recognised that there is a skill involved.  First talk to the Daughter.

NO WAY!  Not even the “inducement” that this would further her career would wash with her; also she wished to enjoy the party and not be concerned about the minutiae of the day.

As I cast my eye over the guest list I realised that there were almost as many photographers as there were civilian guests.  Many of them leaders in their fields both here in Australia and overseas.  We have a problem!

Being given the job of photographically tap dancing in front of a group of your peers is not necessarily the easiest task in the world – couple that up with the Groom having firm opinions about what constitutes a good photograph and a Bride who would prefer to do her thing behind the scenes; we now have a difficult commission.

Knowing that I have a very good friend who just happens to be one of the young breed of highly skilled creative wedding photographers now working in Australia, I broach the subject with Adam Finch.

Tie Adjustment + Photographer; © Jackie Ranken 2014

Tie Adjustment by Photographer + Photographer; © Jackie Ranken 2014

We have a deal; and coupled with the fact that equally good friends are staying with me prior to the event and have offered to document the event in a less formal and in an under no pressure manner.

Thank you Jackie Ranken and Mike Langford from Queenstown NZ.

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The Secret Car Park Location; © Adam Finch 2014

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The Bride and Her Daughters; © Adam Finch 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Signing; © Jackie Ranken 2014

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Well He Used to….; © Jackie Ranken 2014

A photography blog should be mostly about photography, so here are a selection from the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All Weddings should have a Photo Bomber; © Adam Finch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Creative Botanical Photographer –   Gary Cranitch; © Adam Finch 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Some Old Mates Catch Up; © Jackie Ranken 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hide Matsuhisa Made it from Tokyo; © Jackie Ranken 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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……..and the final photographic word should go to –

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Creative Wedding Interpretation; © Gary Mitchell, 2014

 

I Earned a 73 (……and a few other scores)

As a long time member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography, I have been involved with its annual peer review (2013 Canon AIPP Professional Photographer of the Year) of Members’ imagery from the second year since its inception thirty-seven years ago.   My skill is probably more in the area of assessment as a Judge, but for the past few years I have shown support for the system and entered my own photographs.   This year was a reward for solid consistent work.

Congratulations to Tony Hewitt for his win in the Landscape Category and becoming the 2013 Australian Professional Photographer of the Year.

With a limit of four images, I choose to enter both the Landscape and Illustrative Categories.  These are my results:

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The Road to Skippers Canyon; © Ian Poole, 2013.

The Road to Skippers Canyon was my most successful with a score of 83 (Silver Award).  I had two Judges scoring in the Silver Distinction range, but their arguments fell on deaf ears. 🙂

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White Island; © Ian Poole, 2013

White Island was my second Landscape entry (and my second New Zealand image) – it also scored a Silver Award.  Many thanks to the lovely photographers at Tauranga who arranged such a  wonderful trip for me earlier this year.

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Tokyo Opera House; © Ian Poole, 2012.

In the Illustrative Category I chose two Japanese images.  Firstly the enigmatic foyer of the Tokyo Opera House scored a Silver Award.  This visual interplay with the striking abstract sculpture dominating two pedestrians, is a bit of favourite of mine.

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Under the Tracks, Shimbashi; © Ian Poole, 2011.

………and then we come to the 73.  A classic case of “I wuz robbed“!  Photographers are notorious at being unable to assess/judge/choose their own images; but in this case I was certain that it was a winner.  Even my very good friend Adam Finch agreed.  Adam is more than a good friend, he is a talented Judge within the APPA system and both a talented photographer and has a great skill in getting pixels onto paper via ink.  Under the Tracks, Shimbashi was one of those typical Tokyo locations where salarymen go for a welcome drink after work.

APPA is done and dusted, and as I retire to lick my wounds, I am gladdened by the thought that several entrants were given high scores as a result of my assessment and judging.  Congratulations to all entrants and see you next year.