Feb 16

Darkness and the light 

I’m dipping back into the archives today… This is the teaser poster for trailblazing Aussie movie The Tunnel, shot back in 2010. Incidentally produced by the magnificent Enzo Tedeschi and Ahmed Salama.

We had a fun brief for this film. If you haven’t heard of the movie, essentially a pushy journalist and her crew bite off more than they could chew by exploring the tunnels underneath Sydney’s CBD. Also, we shot this before the film started principal photography, so in essence we established the de facto look of the film for the audience.

So this was a teaser poster, designed to generate buzz around the project. Shot in the studio, we had to make it feel like she was in the pitch black of a tunnel, whilst still being able to see her. She needed to be terrified and filthy….and sexy. We also had to make it iconic.


It’s one of those things that’s counterintuitive, but to make something look dark with photography, you actually need lots of light. Or more accurately, lots of lights. And we used rather a lot of lights. We needed to shape her but also make the darkness seem to cling. 

Tricky, but fun. And a good result in the end too.

Feb 16

The person behind the light.

Enzo Tedeschi

It’s a weird thing to say someone is a leading light. Quite a grandiose thing to say really – almost a declamation from on high. Still, in very specific cases, it’s true.

Enzo here is a leading light in the Australian film industry. Over the past 6-7 years, he has been one of the few producers really trying to make the business sustainable in the long run; by experimenting with different release strategies, financing models and most importantly, by producing good content. But that’s enough about what he’s doing.

Let’s talk about Enzo the person.

This business can eat you up. The nature of filmmaking is that it’s a grind. To come up with the ideas, to get the finance in place, to make the damn thing and then to get it out there. Everything is a grind. How do you it well and also have a family? How do you do it well and be a good father?
This is something we talked about today.

Enzo has 4 kids. Once, several years ago, a shoot that was very close to his house went 4 hours over. As a result, he missed his son’s 11th birthday celebration at home. He promised his son he would make it, and didn’t.

That changed something in Enzo. Never again could that happen. Yes, what he does is important; but his kids, his family? Far more important. Missing that birthday caused him to doubt himself, as a father and as a filmmaker; even though his family understood. Could he actually do this and make it sustainable? Not just financially, but personally?

People who don’t know Enzo see him as this leading light, someone who has it all worked out, knows how to make the industry work again. A monolithic character 100% certain of every day. Of course that’s not the case. To be in this lifestyle is to court self doubt and to work around it. And while he absolutely deserves leading light status, it’s good to know the person, not just the symbol.

Feb 16

Expectation vs reality and the wonderful human that is Patrick Canion.

Patrick Canion

So we all have expectations. When we meet people we’ve either heard a lot about, or do things we associate in certain ways, often it’s hard to separate our expectations from the reality of meeting that person.

Patrick here is a Financial Planner. I first met him a couple years ago, when I flew out to Perth to shoot a documentary for his company. Like what seems to be most people, I had friends and family whose experiences with so-called financial planners had been…horrendous. In some cases, so bad that it destroyed their savings and/or crippled their livelihood. Additionally, about a month before the video, the Commonwealth Bank had become embroiled in a scandal involving their in-house planners. Things got dodgy and it wasn’t pretty.

So with all this in mind, frankly, I was expecting to meet a self-interested tosspot who only cared about their commission and had the listening skills of a hyperactive squirrel on acid.

…expectation vs. reality.

Patrick was not what I expected. Anything but. A more genuine human being you won’t find, with a wide and eclectic range of interests, enabling him to find common ground with almost anyone. Someone more interested in talking about your life than theirs.

I mentioned before the expectation of bad experience. Financial Planning as a profession has some fairly major issues to work out. Patrick is one of the leading planners in Australia, a man whose integrity is beyond question. He’s trying to reform the business so that this commonplace bad expectation can dissolve. A big task, but something Patrick is eminently suited for.

When I first interviewed him for that documentary, Patrick mentioned how he wanted to be able to hold his head up high when walking through the streets of Perth. His reputation matters. How he treats people matters. And how he makes a difference to other people’s lives; this matters more than anything else.

Patrick, you were surprised when I asked to take a portrait of you. Well, here’s your answer – you matter. You’ve had impact on many, many people, including me.


Feb 16

I Don’t Matter (but actually you do)

I Don't Matter

This is an image I shot last year. I’ve put it up again because I feel it’s even more relevant now.

In the image, the girl is both pushing him away and pulling him close. He’s both dropping her and holding her up. There’s a lot of tension there. Is she trapped?

I was having coffee with an old friend of mine, Tara, who was a top model for well over a decade. We were speaking about models and fashion, and how it was such a meat grinder for women, when she made an interesting statement. The whole time she was modeling her predominant feeling was, to quote her, ‘I don’t matter’.

I don’t matter.

Tara felt that she was just a disposable object, judged only by her looks and not by who she was as a person.

That’s a horrendous sentiment and something I had to explore. And that exploration became this image, which expanded into something broader than just modeling.

There seems to be constant and now almost deafening news of blatant and violent misogyny, of rape, of domestic violence. This shouldn’t be happening, but it is. Men who feel they’ve lost their place in the world lashing out at the women they perceive as their rivals. I am a man and profoundly an equalist. I’ve never cared whether someone was male or female, just who they were. I cannot and will not sympathise with those men.

I don’t matter.

If you know that you don’t matter, do you need to be treated with respect?

The obvious answer is yes. And please don’t misconstrue any part of this as victim shaming. What I’m trying to explore is the mindset, originally through the lens of a model’s experiences.

In the end, both Tara and I wanted to create an image that would only lead to more questions, which is a good thing.

Please remember, you always matter.

Stylist: Monique Caldow
Make up artist: Kelly-Marie Waters
Assist: Veronica Wood
Retoucher: Suriya Black
Her: Mel Wasson
Him: Craig Foster

Feb 16

Jagermeister in Archive’s 200 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide 16/17

For my first proper post, I’m going to basically copy from my insta for today. Further posts will sometimes be just the instagram work. Others will be completely separate.


…Let’s see how this shindig grows…


Jagermeister print ad in Archive's 200 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide 16/17, shot by Rebecca Riegger


So, last year I found out my image for Jagermeister was accepted into Archive’s 200 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide 16/17 from over 8000+ entries. This is a big deal, a major mark on any advertising photographer’s record. Something I’m very proud of. The above image, shot by Bec our stylist, shows the image actually in the physical copy.

When you shoot advertising, you normally get what’s called a layout – a sketch or a comp or diagram that’s been signed off by the client, illustrating the main elements of the shoot. This layout was truly special – it jumped off my mobile screen and possibilities started swirling in my head. This is always a good place to start.

Then the art director, Brad, gave me a fascinating brief. Since the concept was ‘Strange But True’, he wanted me to convey a form of merged reality. The image had to show EITHER animals in the forest wearing suits, or guys in a nightclub wearing animal masks. At the same time. You couldn’t be sure which you were looking at.

My immediate reaction was to do this in camera. Physical light and its various interactions are almost always more powerful than the realms of Photoshop.

Which meant finding a truly amazing stylist. Enter Bec, who stepped up to the plate in a big, big way.

The background? That’s a stock image she blew up to over 4m tall to fit the perspective. The couch, the log, the greenery, even the frickin moss – everything had to be sourced and/or built. The masks were hand built by props maker Charli Dugdale.

The entire week before the shoot I was out of town. We did all our prepro remotely, and usually around my mad schedule. Our incredible producer Tamiko somehow keeping everything going smoothly.

I drove back down to Sydney on the morning of the shoot at 4am. The lighting set up was going to be BIG, even for me. It took over 6 hours with 19+ Elinchrom heads going off.

We got the shot. And we had a very happy client and agency.

Yep, it was one of those jobs…

Client: Jagermeister
Agency: GPY&R Sydney
ECD’s: David Joubert & Bart Pawlak
AD: Brad Stapleton
Copywriter: David Barton
Producer: Tamiko Chee
Stylist: Rebecca Riegger 
Assistants: Dan Knott, Nick Fraser & Gary Friedland

Feb 16

Bring it back bring it back baby.

After something like 3 years, I’m bringing back the blog.

Why? Because of instagram actually. I stopped it previously because I felt like there was nothing worthwhile to say. Since joining insta about 6 months ago, that sentiment has changed.

Hopefully this blog will be insightful. And sometimes quite silly. Both are needed at times.