Refugee Rug by Liliana Stafford

I often assume I’m missing the ‘art gene’. I want to understand art. I try hard but am mostly left devoid of feeling or understanding. So the impact of this piece caught me off guard and knocked me sideways.

Artist, Liliana Stafford, asked me to come and have a look at some new pieces of her work so we could discuss how to photograph them. She pointed to this piece and told me it’s name: The Refugee Rug. The beauty of the small rug—knitted in golden thread with a soft red band in the middle and the grey edging bands, so reminiscent of warm, comfortable rugs—was the first thing I noticed. Then the barbed wire hangar tightened my chest and the beautiful, yet weight-laden stones pulling down on the rug brought a lump to my throat and my eyes welled up in tears. I looked at this thing, this piece of art that communicated to me so clearly the desperate need people have, yet the barbs we stick out to them to keep them at bay.

Even now, having spent time with this piece in my studio, photographing it, getting to know it, trying to tame it, the tears still well up. The salvation for me is knowing I don’t have a missing gene—I just needed the right artist, the right piece of art to speak to me. As for the refugees for whom this piece speaks…god help you, because our governments will not!

Liliana Stafford Refugee Blanket

Posted in Product photography

Lendlease—Celebrating 60 years

Photographing an in-house convention for Lendlease last month made me kinda want to change jobs (only kind-a. Changing skills at my time of life is….challenging). I found myself transported to another place where they spoke of cities of the future and of their task as one transcending their own personal journey—one where creating a space that would last well into the next century was a more noble legacy. Wow. I felt quite quite humbled. I hope they keep doing what they do. Anyhow, it didn’t take much to capture the day as the full gamut of passion, cogitation, laughter and thought provocation was in abundance. 

Lendlease Perth convention Lendlease Perth convention Lendlease Perth convention Lendlease Perth convention Lendlease Perth convention Lendlease Perth convention Lendlease Perth convention

Posted in Commercial photography

Bow Hair and Makeup

As a photographer it is always a joy to work with professional hair and makeup artists on a shoot. So no finer place could I find myself in than Bow Hair and Makeup. Natalie Miller brings incredible professionalism and attention to detail, delivered through a guise of casual comfort.  

Salon station Final touches of hair cut Hair artist at work Hair style


Posted in Commercial photography

My Feet First Podiatry

There is always a lot to learn about any business I work with. In this case I’m chuffed to discover that orthotics come in gorgeous rainbow colours! As an orthotic frequent flyer (walker??), I want some! I know, I know, nobody but me will likely see them. But that little splash of colour at 5:30am as I pull on my runners, exciting the dog, will be worth it.

Children's treatment room

PodiatristReceptionist Portrait Podiatrist Reception

Posted in Commercial photography

Kimberley Pearl

I have never had a bucket list. But I just started writing one after taking some photos of the newly refurbished Kimberley Pearl. She is heading up to Broome for her maiden commercial voyage visiting some of the beautiful Kimberley coast.

Shucking on the Kimberley Pearl

Lunch preparation on the Kimberley Pearl

Drinks on the Kimberley Pearl

Afternoon tea on the Kimberley Pearl

Learning to navigate on the Kimberley Pearl

Posted in Commercial photography, Lifestyle photography

Nature Based Play

WC Fields said ‘never work with animals or children’. I cannot vouch for the animals, but in the case of children he should have added ‘except when Nature Based Play have built their playground’. Is it any wonder that the reactions of delight, laughter and doing what kids do best with huge logs and massive rope swings is easy to capture because it comes….naturally. 

Posted in Commercial photography, Lifestyle photography

HR Wallingford – Captains of the virtual seas

These are the extraordinary wrap around simulators operating in the virtual high seas of down-town Fremantle.  One minute you can stand on the bridge with the Captain of a huge cargo tanker as he navigates into Port Hedland. Then you can pop next door to watch from the perspective of the assisting tug boat Captain. And just a few meters away you can nip onto the bridge of another tug boat chugging up the Thames!!

Posted in Commercial photography, Industrial photography

The Dance Collective

The Dance Collective, busting it out for the little people at their open day last weekend. By the looks of things the big people had just as much fun!

Posted in Commercial photography, Lifestyle photography

Mix 94.5

Photographing the Mix 94.5 summer breakfast crew recently was a bit of a dream come true. As a radio-lover from way back, I’ve always wondered what life inside the booth is really like. Is there really an ‘On Air’ sign? (Yes!) Do the presenters wear their pajamas? (No!) Is there a 10 second delay for quick re-edits in case they fluff their lines? (NO! They just get it right!!!)

I felt like a kid in a lolly shop 🙂

Mix94_5 Radio shoot
Mix94_5 Radio shoot

Mix94_5 Radio shoot Mix94_5 Radio shoot
Mix94_5 Radio shoot Mix94_5 Radio shoot

Posted in Personal projects

Sleeklens presets ‘Strike a pose’

Editing photos is such a personal thing. My workflow has been shaped by the editing tools and environments I’ve had experience with. I know about exposure, dodging and burning from bumbling around many years ago in my home-made darkroom. Photoshop taught me… everything, but photography and graphic design were all mixed in together. Lightroom—the giant digital darkroom—has taught me the lexicon of photography and what effects can be achieved by altering things like highlights and shadows. Moving predominantly to Lightroom was a huge relief from the amazing, but arduous Photoshop. However part of me worried that my editing options were being reduced and, maybe, homogenised. But the sacrifice was worth it for the smoother workflow 😉

I’ve never been tempted to make my own presets in Lightroom as I love the process of editing manually. I also harbour a fear of churning out images that all look like they’ve been tarred with the same preset. Previous experience of 3rd party presets have shown me that applying global changes (e.g., +70 on the clarity slider) to images with different exposures, ISO and other variables, leads to very different results—not all of them desirable. I’m not dead against presets, the ‘clarity’ button, for example, is technically a preset, and a godsend!

This is a long preamble! But, when Sleeklens asked me to review their ‘Strike a Pose’ possie of presets and adjustment brushes my first impression was to not bother. But I wanted to challenge my sense that Lightroom has taken cookie-cutter editing possibilities to a necessary and safe place, but for me, it should go no further. The result may be that I’ll stop learning about hue and saturation, and instead start applying filters that are easy to use but, with names like ‘Catch Me If You Can’, remove me from the underlying photographic variables that are being altered.

Sleeklens offered me a portrait-specific bundle of presets. This comprises:

  • a set of ‘All in One’ presets that change the overall look of your image.
  • a range of ‘stackable’ presets that can be used together to build up an overall look.
  • a set of adjustment brush presets so you can make selective adjustments to parts of the image.

The ‘All in One’s’

The ‘All in One’s (or ‘onesies’ as my mind keeps calling them) create a new look at the click of a button. Below is an example.

out of the camera

Out of the camera

Crip Dawn

Crisp Dawn



manual edit

my manual edit

 At the top is my image of Clare straight out of camera. Then I’ve applied the ‘Crisp Dawn’ and ‘Duo’—the two onesies that appeal most to me. Finally a version with my own edits manually applied. While the Onesies aren’t bad at all, they are not the final effect I’d choose to create. The ‘Crisp Dawn’ is a bit too yellow, the Duo is nice, but a tad overblown for me. But, the idea is that the onesies give you a first base of editing, then you can tweak it manually from there.

The question is, is my editing improved with Sleeklens? If I was in the early stages of my photography editing journey these presets would offer me a range of visual possibilities to emulate. They could inform me that looks like ‘Beach Glow’ and ‘Crisp Dawn’ were possible. I’d probably want to look at all the sliders to see what they had done to achieve each look.

But for where I am now I don’t think I’ll be reaching for the ‘All in One’ offerings to often. But then again, I did reach for them yesterday as I quickly needed to improve a snapshot of my daughter with her violin teacher. I chose ‘Duo’ as it quickly made a passable black and white rendition. But that was a snapshot that desperately needed fast improving, not a professionally crafted photo.

If I were a graphic designer offering different looks to clients, I might be more tempted to use the ‘All in One’s to deliver a set of similar-looking images. But it’s not what I do as a photographer.


The Stackables are well organised into a nice workflow structure: Base, Exposure, Color Correct, Tone/Tint, Polish, Vignette.

I can start with my base image, add Stackables as needed, then alter them using the right-hand editing panel as I go along.

Maybe it’s just my experience with the sliders in Lightroom–which are easy and show changes on a continuum as you move the slider–but clicking a Sleeklens preset, then having to go to the sliders on the right-hand panel to micro adjust, seems like an awful long-way around. I find myself just wanting to go straight for the sliders so I can see the effect on a sliding scale in one quick movement.

Adjustment brush presets

Ok, here’s where Sleeklens starts to hum for me. The list of brushes not only shows me what a re-toucher may wish to do when editing a portrait shot, but they are all listed descriptively so I know instantly what they will do. E.g., I can ‘add shine to hair’, ‘enhance green eyes’, ‘whiten teeth’, etcetera. This is nice as reaching for a standard eyelash enhancing brush is a true time saver for me! For my tastes the brushes are just a tad too strong. It isn’t a huge problem as all the brushes are adjustable. But I’d probably get to the point where having to adjust all the brushes manually gets a bit irksome so I’d make my own, if I were so inclined.


If you are new to photo editing in Lightroom and want a set of tools AND an overview of portrait editing options, the Sleeklens ‘Stike a Pose’ set of presets will certainly give you that. Although the Onesies are not my cup of tea the adjustment brushes especially will show you the basic retouching options and give you quick go-to brush settings.

Posted in Commercial photography, Head shots, Portraits