Auckland Assisting For The Day…
A few weeks ago one of the photographers who I do some assisting for flew me up to Auckland for the day to do a studio shoot… Bev Short is pretty cool to work with and when we are shooting for her personal “AllWoman”book project (which is epic!) and not a commercial client she lets me shoot around the set after all the lights etc have been set up and things are in full swing so I thought I would do a bit of a documentary of how the day was… Enjoy.
Sunday 13th of February 2011 6am: Woken up by 20 month old Samantha who also doubles as an alarm for this time of the morning pretty much every day. Get up and retrieve said small person from their cot and wander into the kitchen to make coffee and rice bubbles for Sam (to clarify the rice bubbles are for Sam, the coffee is for me). Go wake up Amanda to take over breakfast duty and head to the shower still mostly asleep and without coffee which is still waiting to boil. Get out of shower and retrieve coffee which has been made for me by my lovely wife (she made me say that or she would hurt me… just kidding…) Assess the weather outside and decide to opt for jeans (boy that was a big mistake). Manage to have 1 piece of toast (mistake no.2) before grabbing prepacked bag and head out the door at about 7am, (wow that hour went really fast) with lots of goodbyes from wife and kids.
Bev and her husband are waiting and we head to the airport… So basically we are heading to Auckland to photograph Julia Deans, ex front person for the band Fur Patrol and now pursuing a solo carer for Bev’s book project on New Zealand Women.
We get to the airport without any problems and check in (I’m traveling with only my camera backpack since I’m coming back the same day) and head off to get some more coffee before the flight. At this time magically my Rolleiflex appears in my hands and I start taking some images
Again without any problems we proceed through security (I sometimes have problems with piercings setting off metal detectors) and board our nice swanky new Airbus A320 which has been totally painted black in preparation for the Rugby World Cup later in the year (according to the in-flight magazine this is the first time this has ever been done to a commercial plane). We settle back and discuss how we are going to light Julia for today’s shoot etc…
Air hostess brings coffee and weird chips that aren’t really chips but still taste good. Its only about an hour flight (New Zealand is pretty small) so after that we are pretty much there.
Again without any problems we get off the plane, go collect Bev’s bag and get on a shuttle with instructions to take us to Kingsize Studios where the shoot is going to take place.
At this point I should mention that it’s about 28 degrees C with about a million humidity and I’m regretting the choice to wear jeans and its only 10 am.
The shuttle drops us off in the middle of suburbia where the studio is and we head inside. We get directed to the upstairs studio where all the equipment is waiting for us in its pelican cases. At this point I’m a bit concerned because the studio is a bit smaller than I was expecting and the Broncolor Grafit A4 lights are a pack light rather than the Mono lights I am used to… Time to take a deep breath and deal… We had at least an hour before any of the models were due to turn up so it was a case of setting things up and going from there. As it turned out the pack lights were really good to use even if sometimes they wouldn’t let me turn on the modeling light.
I crank up the two industrial strength air conditioning units and we get to setting up.
We set up about 3 different set ups before we got the one we thought would work the best, (we had gotten a 5 to 7 foot softbox because we thought we would have had the space to use it but it ended up being used for a background light because we didn’t have enough standard reflectors) Bev must have a million shots of me doing my stand in thing that all assistants love .
The two male models turn up around 12 and are amused by the boxer shorts that they will be wearing for the shoot, Julia texts to let us know she is running late and will be there about 1pm. It’s also about now that Bev and I realize that we had breakfast around 6am and aside from 2-3 cups of coffee haven’t had anything since and have no idea where to get something close by as we are in the afore mentioned suburbia. Bev finds she has a couple of muesli bars so we figure we should be OK.
Julia turns up about 1pm with a stylist (weren’t expecting that) and after a round of introductions (I’m really bad at remembering names and usually write them down but didn’t have a pad at the time hence no names are used in this post) we start to get organised.
After wardrobe changes (both the guys had no problem with wearing only boxer shorts) we put everyone in place and did a bit of tweaking of the lights to get rid of shadows and reflections and it was all go.
I have to say that the stylist cracked me up, he had some great ways of getting Julia to laugh or describe how to look at the camera… The only one I can remember was “Straight down the barrel fuck me eyes” I really needed to write the rest of them down cause they were pure gold!
Julia is coming to terms with the surreal nature of the shoot and the main hold back was that the two guys who are having problems holding the pose and needed constant rests and readjustments (modeling is hard work, just ask them).
Unfortunately the lighting was pretty dark so focusing with the Rolleiflex was a bit hit and miss but you get the general idea from these images.
At this point my immediate work was done so I managed to take these shots in between the occasional light readjusts and leaking air conditioner repairs.
At about 3pm the two male models go home and we spend some time with just Julia doing stuff she could use for promo stuff til around 4pm. Really hungry by now having since eaten muesli bar a couple of hours ago. Start packing the studio stuff away into its respective pelican cases and try to close up only to be confronted by one large tabby cat who struts into the studio as if he (I’m assuming He, for the record I didn’t check) owns it and has to be carried downstairs so we don’t lock him in by accident (He kinda didn’t really like that too much either).
Luckily someone is in one of the downstairs studios so we ask which way we have to go to get somewhere that has food and head off to the mentioned Pub to finally get something to eat, the time is now around 4:30pm and the temperature is still in the high 20′s with the humidity now somewhere around a billion percent (really really regretting that 6:30am Decision now).
We both sit down and get a shared tapas platter and beer and talk about how the shoot went…
Bev calls the shuttle company we came in on to come and pick me up for my 6:30 flight back to Wellington only to find out that they can’t get me to the airport on time (Taxi from Auckland to the Airport is super expensive) Shit! After asking the bar staff what would be the best way to proceed I end up having to catch a taxi into the center of the city and then catch an Airport bus out to the airport (going to be cutting it really fine). We say goodbye since Bev is staying in Auckland for the week to do another couple of shoots for the book and I jump into a cab and head into town.
It was a pretty uneventful ride in and the driver didn’t try to rip me off which was nice since I really had no idea where we were or where we were going… He drops me on the main shopping street of Auckland, Queen Street and told me that all the buses go up and down this street so I should be able to get one. Okay so now I’m on Queen Street not really knowing which way the bus I should catch would be going so have to do a bit of searching before I find a stop where the bus will be heading to the airport. The nice LED sign says that the next bus will be in 5 minutes… Sweet! Rolleiflex comes out for a quick shot or two. Ten minutes later and still no bus (now listed as overdue) then the counter goes back to due to arrive in 5 minutes. WTF!
By now its about 5:30 and I am supposed to be at the Airport 30 minutes before the flight leaves which is only leaving about 30 minutes to get there, again I’m not really sure how long the bus takes to get there. The bus finally arrives and the driver has a chat about my Rolleiflex as I get on and off we go.
The bus takes about 30 minutes to get there but my flight had been delayed til 7 so I got there with plenty of time to spare.
This extra time gave me a chance to call home and say goodnight to my kids since they would go to bed while I was still on the plane and of course take some more images of sleeping people etc…
The flight finally calls and I go through security (I think Auckland has their metal detectors turned Waaaay up) and end up getting the biggest pat down by a security guard that takes like 5 minutes (I thought we were in a relationship by the end of it) but finally get to board the plane which is held up for another 10 minutes!
I finally get to sit down and wait for the odd chips that aren’t chips that I have been strangely craving since the first ones earlier in the day, plug in my iPod and chill…And take a couple of shots with the Rollei. Luckily my friend who has agreed to pick me up at the airport hasn’t left in disgust due to my late arrival and I get home around 9pm… Sleep now… Long day but a good day.
All Images Rolleiflex 2.8 E, Ilford HP5+ 400 ISO Film, CanoScan 9000F Scanner.