I've done some new work with Brett from Bella Management, playing with ideas I've had for a while about shooting surfing portraits and some exercise/sports work. We lucked out by having one of the most beautiful sunrises at Maroubra Beach I'd ever seen.
I've been shooting some new work lately and have been doing some shoots with some of the talent from Bella Management here in Sydney. I had approached Bella Mgmt with some ideas and one of which was about a couple on a roadtrip, dirty and sweaty from days on the road in a crappy car and they're lost in the middle of nowhere. I don't really do very much work that falls into the fashion realm so I tend to want to mess up their hair and clothes and make it feel more real I guess. I was kind of surprised they went for it and ended up loving the shots. Can't wait to do more of these.
A few weeks ago I was thrilled to discover that there is a new talent agency in Sydney called Rough Cast Talent. It's a great idea- it focuses on featuring models that are unique, unusual or just happen to look like every day people and are great in front of the camera. This is a great new resource to have here in Sydney and I've been waiting for years for something like this to show up. When I lived and worked in Chicago I used to use "real talent" casting agencies and casting scouts all the time. I loved it because I felt like there were times when a project really needed to have models that gave the images a sense of authenticity or relate-ability to the viewer. Traditional modeling agencies never really worked for me because their talent were just too good looking and perfect or what the advertising industry would call "too aspirational." I'm really into the "flaws" that make a person who they are and those unusual details that can sometimes be character defining in an image.
When I saw that Rough Cast had opened up shop I immediately got in touch with the owner Chris Mayer-Plummer to see if I could shoot portraits of some of their talent. They needed portraits of their talent to send out for castings and I really wanted an opportunity to start shooting some of these fantastic faces that Chris has access to. It is FUN. I've met street performers, burlesque dancers, a Catholic energy worker/healer, a Satanist energy worker/healer (I didn't even know that existed), comedians, labourers and just normal people who want to be in pictures. I can't wait to do more.
I was interviewed the other day for the tv program Studio Ten by Sarah Harris and the legendary Ita Buttrose about my prize-winning of image "Family Loss". I shared the couch with Kirrilee's mom Jo Edwards and we spoke about the experience.
I was thrilled last night to learn that I had won the grand prize for the 2014 Head On Portrait Prize for this image:
The image came from a story that I shot for Good Weekend Magazine about the children's hospice organization Bear Cottage and some of the families who rely on their resources and care. This image in particular came as a result of a wonderful experience meeting the family of Kirrilee Edwards. I felt really welcomed to be with them, to feel their warmth, their sense of humor and love. The Edwards family is a big family and they faced a profound number of struggles because of Kirrilee's devastating illness, but what I saw was an incredible closeness. I felt the best way to give the sense of this family was to show how closely connected they were to Kirrilee and each other. A few months after I shot this image Kirrilee passed away.
I feel an immense sense of gratitude that the Edwards family would let me into their home, welcome me in the way that they did and allow me to be a part in telling their story. For that reason I'm giving half of the prize money that I've won to them. I'm including information below to make donations to Kirrilee's family and Bear Cottage.
Make a Donation to the Edwards family via direct deposit: Troy Edwards Commonwealth Bank of Australia BSB: 062 601 Account: 103 506 78 Memo: Kirrilee
You can read my original blog entry here about Kirrilee, the shoot and the other families: http://www.joewigdahl.com/sick-kids/.
UPDATE 21/05/2014: Several news outlets who have picked up this story have erroneously stated that Kirrilee was dying or on her deathbed when this image was taken and this is not true. She was at home and healthy at the time of the photoshoot. It is true that a few months after I shot this image Kirrilee passed away at Bear Cottage.
I recently had 2 huge jobs which both happened to bring me to New Zealand for shooting. We had a brief day with my fantastic assistant Maxy where he took us to an incredible black sand beach north of Auckland and we took a break from the crazy job and spent the evening surfing. I suppose it's a bit of cliche now to say that New Zealand is place full of lovely people and beautiful landscapes but it just is.
Good Weekend had an assignment for me a few weeks ago to cover a story about several families with children who are critically ill and have terminal illnesses. In two cases the children were born with a devastating disease that made it unable for them to develop mentally and physically as a normal child would.Read More