I'm all about creative stuff

  • Blinded by the Light
  • Lorraine - inspired by Cecil Beaton
  • Anger
  • Film Noir shoot
  • The Multi-tasking Mother
  • Shadow experiment 1


Ophelia’s Madness

The next one in my tragic lover’s series is Ophelia’s Madness. Shakespeare’s Ophelia loved Hamlet, but it wasn’t reciprocated. Not being able to get over him, she went mad and eventually drowned – maybe she committed suicide, maybe not. I’ve tried to show her state of mind in this madness – swirling wind, with her dress and hair flying – with a nod to elements in the play (flowers and water). I found a great location to shoot this in (it’s actually the same spot as Heathcliff’s Obsession, just facing the opposite way), behind the local soccer field.



Many thanks to my niece Anwen for allowing herself to be experimented on!


Heathcliff’s Obsession

So I thought it was about time I got back to my blog posting after a 10 month hiatus – you know how it is when life gets in the way! This year I completed my Diploma of Photo Imaging (hence the lack of posts!) and I started a series of tragic lovers in literature/history. The first one is titled Heathcliff’s Obsession and is based on the Emily Bronte novel, Wuthering Heights. In case you don’t know the story (then you should read it), it’s set in the 1700s English countryside and Heathcliff is a homeless gypsy adopted by a wealthy family. The wealthy family’s daughter, Catherine, and Heathcliff fall in love but Catherine is influenced by upper class lifestyle and decides she can’t be with Heathcliff. Anyway, the story goes on with more tragedy, and I don’t want to spoil the ending! So I wanted to depict Heathcliff’s obsession with Catherine and the turmoil this has caused.


Thank you to my friends Ray and Clarissa for modelling for me. We had a great time doing this shoot although the weather was a bit changeable – first it was cloudy which made for nice even lighting, then the sun decided to come out – so bright! Anyway, we managed to make it work and with some help from Photoshop, this is the end result.


My Bruce Springsteen Project – Blinded by the Light

So I was out walking the other morning and I was listening to the Improve Photography podcast (which is a great podcast, by the way). They were talking about New Years’ resolutions to do with photography and what things we can resolve to do for the New Year to improve ourselves, instead of spending huge amounts on equipment. One of the things they said was that some people resolved to take a photo every day, but they were a bit lazy and couldn’t do that – I’m probably the same – so one thing that they said they did was resolve to do a shoot once a week. And I thought, yep I can do that.

So I was trying to get some ideas, actually I’ve been thinking for a while what I could do for a new project, and when I got home (once I finished listening to the podcast) I was listening to music on my IPod, and Bruce Springsteen came on – “Blinded by the Light”. Now, I love Bruce Springsteen. He’s coming to Australia, I just bought tickets, it all just seemed to be a sign, the stars and planets aligned, whatever. So I’ve decided I’m going to do a shoot – I’m not sure how often I can do it, but I’ll aim for every month – inspired by a Bruce Springsteen song and the first song I’m going to choose is “Blinded by the Light”. For those of you not familiar with Bruce Springsteen’s work (the young ‘uns) I suggest you go and raid your parents’ record collection or CDs and have a listen. He is a poet, he’s just incredible. My husband first introduced me to him, when we started going out years and years ago, and I’m absolutely in love with him, I’ve been to see him each time he’s been to Australia and he’s just amazing. You may have heard the Manfred Mann version of “Blinded by the Light” (totally different from Bruce’s original) which had more chart success, but this is my preferred one.

Anyway, what is this song about? What the hell is this song about? Have you heard the lyrics? Even Bruce said he didn’t know what he was thinking when he wrote this song! I suppose you could say it’s generally about his youth – there are characters and references from his past, and it’s all pretty crazy, so instead of doing a literal translation, I’ve gone for a general theme of youth with an edgy vibe. Thanks to my son and his friends (who will probably pop up in future photos).

Blinded by the Light

Blinded by the Light

Cecil Beaton – My Inspiration

These are photos I took using Cecil Beaton as my inspiration. I used mature models, trying to get a romantic look, using flowers in some cases (as Cecil loved flowers!) and edited to black and white. I preferred not to do too much retouching however, which I know Cecil loved to do, as I prefer a more realistic look.

Lorraine - inspired by Cecil Beaton



Wendy - inspired by Cecil Beaton


Suzanne - inspired by Cecil Beaton


Sara - inspired by Cecil Beaton


Pamela - inspired by Cecil Beaton


Tracey - inspired by Cecil Beaton






Cecil Beaton – Man About Town

Cecil Beaton was known as many things during his lifetime and his numerous talents were varied, but always creative. He had great charm and style, a razor-sharp wit and bitchiness in spades. He turned his hand to photography, costume design, illustrating and writing, remaining a huge influence on the world of photography and fashion.

Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton was introduced to photography as a young boy. At three years old he was smitten with a postcard of a beautiful actress of the time, Miss Lily Elsie and began collecting cards of his heroine. He received his first camera at the age of 11 – his nurse taught him to use it and helped him with the processing of negatives and prints. He admired the portraits of actresses and women in society he saw in magazines and used these as his starting point, dressing up and posing his sisters in order to shoot their portraits.

Beaton was born into middle class (his father was a timber merchant) but was ashamed of his background and aspired to a higher class. He entered London society through his sister, who had made her debut, and consequently used these connections to enter the world of fashion. You know the old adage – it’s not what you know but who you know! Beaton was known as a pansy and used this to his advantage by focusing on the women in society, rather than their husbands who were probably uncomfortable with his makeup and effeminate ways.

During the 1920s, Beaton was a member of a socialite group dubbed “The Bright Young Things” by the British press, who held elaborate fancy-dress balls, experimented with drugs and partook in excessive partying and drinking – the early version of Paris Hilton and her hangers-on! The 1920s was a strange time to grow up in – World War I had ended and the era promised good times ahead, raising expectations among the young but without delivering. Art movements such as surrealism and futurism thrived and were seen as a backlash against the war. The radical philosophies of Nihilism – which essentially expounds that life is meaningless – and Dadaism, also increased in popularity. These movements rejected a pro-war society and were a way for artists to express the pain and suffering caused by the war.

Around this time, Beaton started working for Vogue magazine, initially as an illustrator, contributing witty sketches of society figures. He then wrote articles to accompany his sketches on topics such as “The London Season” and “The Fun of Dressing-Up”. Photographing the same society figures lead to his photographic work appearing in Vogue, which continued off and on for over 50 years. He was seen by some as being “the man who could have run Vogue single-handed” as he was a great photographer, writer and sketch artist, as well as having all the right contacts.

In Beaton’s early work, he developed a theatrical style of portraiture using unusual backgrounds of foil or papier-mache. These ideas were influenced by the surrealist artists of the time, including Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau. While working for Vogue, he occasionally received a reprimand about these poses: “At the instigation of Mrs Chase I am writing to suggest that you refrain from posing any more models in the act of ecstatically sniffing flowers or holding blossoms a la Blessed Damozel. We are all weary of these postures and hope you can find some other means of expressing grace or charm or what you will. Leave the flowers as passive elements in the décor. Thank you.” However, he knew what he wanted and that he was right, so he just ignored them and kept going. I’ve often said, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than ask permission, which I think is what Cecil did as well.

Beaton Girl

Beaton’s sister

He learnt early on that portraiture was all about flattery, so to achieve this he worked relentlessly on retouching.  Beaton thought nothing of slicing inches from the subject’s waistline and lifting drooping eyelids and sagging necks, if it contributed to pleasing the subject and paying the bills. He was often heard to say “slice the hips, that sag must go!” around the Vogue offices, so that his subjects would say “The most divine picture – I want twelve more prints”. His portraiture style was also about romanticism, sophistication and elegance – flowers were a favourite prop – which lead to his work with the royal family over many years. It is this aspect of Beaton’s work that I will explore in my own work. I will be using “mature” female models in romantic poses, using flowers and going for a “relaxed-glamour” look, more reminiscent of his later portraits. However, I prefer not to do too much retouching as I rather a more realistic look. David Bailey, one of Beaton’s followers and who later made the documentary Beaton by Bailey said “he had this ability to make people look right in their space. He made them look like they’d sat in that chair forever.” This is what I would like to achieve with my models.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

I was initially drawn to Cecil Beaton through his costume designs for My Fair Lady and I have been fascinated by them for many years. I also feel that we have a lot in common – we are both photographers, designers and artists. I also must admit I have made my fair share of bitchy comments! Audrey Hepburn is also an idol of mine and I love the elegant photos Beaton made of her in particular.

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

Beaton’s long career spanned many decades and world events, which also lead to his changing style as he attempted to keep up with the times: from reflecting the surrealist artists of the early 20th century; to becoming a wartime photographer during World War II; then softening his flamboyant style after the war. He reinvented himself once again during the Swinging Sixties, energised by working with leading popular figures such as Mick Jagger.


Australian Art Review, 2005. Cecil Beaton. [Online]
Available at: http://artreview.com.au/contents/464978713-cecil-beaton
[Accessed 3 November 2012].

Davies, L., 2010. How Cecil Beaton captured the world. [Online]
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/8128794/How-Cecil-Beaton-captured-the-world.html
[Accessed 25 October 2012].

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2012. Sir Cecil Beaton. [Online]
Available at: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/57523/Sir-Cecil-Beaton
[Accessed 3 November 2012].

Ross, J., 2012. Beaton in Vogue. 1st Paperback ed. London: Thames & Hudson.

The Selvedge Yard, 2009. Cecil Beaton the Randy Dandy of Photography & Fashioin. [Online]
Available at: http://theselvedgeyard.wordpress.com/2009/04/18/cecil-beaton-the-randy-dandy-of-photography-fashion/
[Accessed 25 October 2012].

The Human Condition part 2

In trying to replicate human emotions in these photos, I decided to have my subject go back to childhood. Children seem to be so open about expressing their emotions so it seemed natural to have her acting like a child!

1. Anger


2. Sadness


3. Fear


4. Joy


5. Love


The Human Condition part 1

This is an exploration of the emotions portrayed in photographs, or the human condition.

1. Anger
Refugiada – Margaret Bourke-White
Barcelona 1939

This photo was taken at the time of the Spanish Civil War. With General Franco’s Nationalist forces advancing on the Republicans, many people became refugees to escape the violence. The anger is mainly shown on the girl’s face through her scowling eyes, downward tilt of her head and clenched jaw. Her left hand is clenched and her right hand clutches a piece of bread to her chest, indicating that she won’t give it up without a fight.

refugiada Margaret Bourke-White

2. Sadness
Jacqueline Kennedy Arlington – Elliott Erwitt

Jacqueline Kennedy is at the funeral of her husband, the assassinated US president, John F. Kennedy. The distress and sadness clearly shows on her face – the furrowed brow, trembling lips and distracted expression are all outer signs of her inner emotional turmoil.

Jacqueline Kennedy Arlington Elliott Erwitt

3. Fear
Madrid – Henri-Cartier Bresson

This photo of a father and his child in fear is taken during the early times of the Spanish Civil War. The father’s guarded expression and determined gaze, as well as the body language of tightly grasping his child, show an anxious uncertainty.

Madrid, Spain Henri Carter-Bresson

4. Joy
Skipping without a rope – Robert Doisneau
Paris 1953

World War II ended in 1945 with France devastated. By 1953, rebuilding had begun. Unabated joy clearly shows in this image of a young girl skipping and jumping.  Her face is animated and she is laughing hysterically, with her mouth in a wide smile with teeth showing. She probably thinks it’s crazy to be skipping without a rope!

Skipping without a rope robert doisneau

5. Love
Visite du Cardinal Pacelli, Montmarte (Later Pope Pius XII) – Henri Cartier-Bresson

This image portrays religious love – the passion and fervour of devoted religious followers. The man and woman at the front of the crowd lock eyes with the future Pope in an attempt to fill their soul with his love. The era was just before World War II, with the persecution of Jews occurring throughout Europe. The Vatican was working on a document condemning Hitler’s racist policies however Pope Pius XI died before it was implemented. Cardinal Pacelli became Pope Pius XII in 1939, but failed to act on the document.

Visite du Cardinal Pacelli Henri Cartier-Bresson

Film Noir

This was our experiment in doing a Film Noir shoot. We projected a photo of a staircase onto the screen and used the projector light to create a shadow of the shooter at the bottom of the stairs. The shooter at the top was shot separately and Photoshopped in.

Film Noir shoot

The Multi-tasking Mother

This was our modern interpretation of the well-known 1948 Jean Cocteau image. Our idea was the multi-tasking mother who cooks, goes to the gym, watches TV, reads, eats on the run. These are the particular things that I do – notice that cleaning products are absent!

The Multi-tasking Mother

Experiments with Shadows

These are my photos of working with shadows, where I used a kitchen whisk and a colander. In the first photo, I used a fluorescent desk lamp with the whisk but I wasn’t happy with the shadows produced – I thought they weren’t contrasty and interesting enough.

Shadow experiment 1

For the second photo, I switched to a small torch and I was able to have more control over the direction of the light.

Shadow experiment 2

For the final shot, I added a colander above the whisk and shone the torch through it. This added an extra textured effect to the shadows.

Shadow experiment 3

For all of these photos, I set up my camera on a tripod as I needed to use a very slow shutter speed. I also set the self-timer to enable me to hold the torch and colander.