31 May 2012

Rheumatoid arthritis attacks a 20 year old

At 20 years of age Katherine Vickery-Howe received a diagnosis which dramatically changed her life. She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

“I was in my second year at university when it started, so my studies were deferred.  At the time I was in a serious relationship and that fell apart.  Previously, I had been physically well - I jogged, rode my bike, did aerobics, sailed - all of that stopped. I had been working 2 jobs to pay my way through Uni - that stopped too.  My whole life just fell apart,” she said.
With no previous family history, and a current healthy lifestyle, the condition hit her out of the blue. Her arthritis was so aggressive, her hands and feet started to deform immediately, so clothes and shoes were the first things that needed to be adjusted - nothing with buttons or shoe laces. As the disease started attacking further joints, her inability to do day-to-day tasks rapidly increased.

As a young woman in her twenties Katherine moved back home with her parents. No longer could she enjoy her youth by going out with university friends. She was often bed ridden and her agonising and severely deformed hands meant her parents now helped her with the simplest of tasks such as cutting up her food.
Katherine has undergone a multitude of treatments in last twenty years, from prescribed drugs to trials, and with the drug pain relief has also come the side effects.  

However, ten years ago a miracle happened when Katherine took part as a volunteer in a drug trial for Mab Thera. She felt so well that she continued to hassle her Rheumatologist for the treatment until it became a PBS drug within the last couple of years. Currently Katherine has two infusions every six months of Mab Thera, which gives her excellent results.

Now in her early forties Katherine finds comfort volunteering and socialising at Arthritis & Osteoporosis WA.

29 May 2012

BACKGROUND - make or break!

Choosing a  great background for a  portrait can often make the image work. A few photographers concentrate on the subject and on their equipment and forget the background. As a result, a really top image can be compromised.
In the preparation phase, walk the streets or ride your bike searching out backgrounds that are going to suit particular subjects. An ornate door, a cavernous warehouse, an old wooden facade or just plain clean air!
In this shot I knew what the girls would be wearing and chose a blue wall in South Fremantle. IA red or yellow scooter would have been the icing on the cake,
So give your background a fair amount of thought before you set up.

Enter the Fremantle Portrait Prize at www.fremantleportraitprize.org.au 

27 May 2012

The Colour of Red

Here's a simple tip on the use of colour in picture design. Red is a  powerful and emotive  colour. Red is used to warn people of danger, to attract people's attention and its the colour of blood! Nature uses red - birds use it to adorn plumage, spiders use it to warn of danger and the Proboscis monkey in Borneo uses it to attract a mate.
 But use it sparingly! Too much red or too many powerful colours in an image and the dramatic pull of red may be lost. Also, try to avoid something unimportant (the bucket in the corner of the family portrait) being red as the viewer's eye will go to that.
My artist neighbour John Manson once gave me this advice 'Keep it plain, almost bland with a small dollop of red ...  and you'll never be far wrong!'

24 May 2012

Image Empathy

If Image Empathy is a new term, remember that you first heard it here.

Portrait photographers know that the most important element for success is "making a connection".

This connection is between subject and photographer but a third person is invariably involved - the one who views the image.

When the photograph is of a person with a painful rheumatic condition, the negative impact of the condition can be lessened considerably when the photographer puts a uniquely human face to suffering.

The powerful portrayal of empathy (which we decided to call “Image Empathy”) goes a long way towards lessening the stigmatization that many chronic pain sufferers experience in our society.

Mr Ric Forlano, CEO of Arthritis & Osteoporosis WA, has been a key person in the development of this portrait competition. He well knows that "arthritis" has a negative connotation for many in the community but through his day to day contact with sufferers, and listening to their inspirational stories of hope, he knows that the very opposite can be the case.

Ben Horgan’s story has been a source of inspiration to so many families of children with Juvenile Chronic Arthritis. It has been told many times over the years, but few people know of the pain he has endured and the many operations that have just about made him into Australia's version of the "bionic man". We wish him great success in his latest job as Arthritis and Community Engagement Project Officer with Perth NorthMetro Medicare Local.

22 May 2012

Make Me Feel Special

Here's the first of a series of  Portrait Tips for the Fremantle Portrait Prize.

Imagine a sign on your subject's forehead that reads, 'Make Me Feel Special'.

Unlike landscape photography, with portraits we are dealing with real, live human beings; their hearts pumping; their blood flowing; their feelings sensitized. Yes, your subject actually has feelings!

Whether its your dear old granny who still bakes Anzacs, your 'stroppy' four-year old or the busker who should consider twice giving up his day job you need to make them feel special. Chances are they are far more interested in how YOU make them feel than what f stop or lens you are using. Fiddling with your camera's controls is guaranteed to turn them off.
Plan to look after your subject well, smile, be generous, make them feel special and shoot them like you really mean it!

Every day is a fresh start
Every person is unique
Every portrait is precious


21 May 2012

Traffic Stopper

My very first photography teacher, Brian Barrow gave me this advice when buying a tripod. 'Make sure you can stand on your tripod'.  A corollary could be 'Make sure its big enough to stop the traffic'.  We did stop the traffic!

Here is the organizing committee for the Fremantle Portrait Prize:
L-R Dale Neill, Ivor Metlitzky, Sandy Chaney, George Woodward, Lawrie Beilin, Abigail Harman, John Quintner, Peter Ramshaw.

Photography: Krissie Grech and Dafna Lambert

15 May 2012

Portrait Tip - 90 degree lighting

The conventional approach to lighting is to have the light source at 45 degrees to the subject and 45 degrees above. This works fine, however, if you want to increase the modeling effect, three dimensionality and texture of a subject try lighting the subject at eye level and at an angle of 90 degrees to the subject. This increases the drama of the image and gives the image more of a 'Fine Art Look'

Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. But above all know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.  
George Eastman (founder of Kodak)

Douglas Kirkland

Portrait Photographers - don't miss the ABC Radio National Interview with Douglas Kirkland.



14 May 2012

Dame Edna and Slim

How's this for a car park entry? As you drive into the underground car park at the National portrait Gallery in Canberra you're greeted by the smiling visages of two Australian icons - Dame Edna and Slim Dusty.

The exhibition finishes in Canberra on 20 May and starts a 10 month tour of Australia.

There were 46 finalists chosen from 1600 entries. I think there was a pattern to the finalist's entries:

  • Most finalists subjects were individuals
  • There was an absence of obvious Photoshopping
  • Technical quality was extremely high
  • The subject's eyes were sharp and told a story
  • There was about a 50/50 split between portrait studies and environmental portraits  
What's next?
Entries to the Fremantle Portrait Prize close on 1 August 2012

09 May 2012

Juvenile Idiopathic Osteoporosis

For 4 years, 15 year old Alysha Loffler has not been able to hug her mum, due to the shear pain inflicted on her body. She lives in constant pain day in and day out, and is borne by a fear that she could break a bone from the simplest task. She has lost count of the number of bones she has broken. Fracturing a bone from a hand shake. Snapping two bones from a cartwheel. And countless of breaks to her fingers and toes. Full body scans revealed she had broken her T6 (a thoracic spinal nerve), and yet she is miraculously still walking. This incredibly inspiring girl suffers from a rare condition known as Juvenile Idiopathic Osteoporosis, a bone density disease which puts her at risk of breaking bones all of the time.
In the past 10 months Alysha’s 12 year old brother, Jared, has suffered two an unexplained fractures, one to his leg while running and one recently to his foot. The family fear that he may also suffer from the same condition.
As Arthritis & Osteoporosis WA’s ambassador, Alysha has been actively advocating the importance to change the public’s perception that arthritis & osteoporosis are diseases of the elderly. She aims to inspire people to support a cause where ignorance and judgement often lies, with people believing all cases of these diseases are self-inflicted, due to poor diet or lack of exercise.
Alysha is striving to become a medical research scientist to seek cures for the many rare conditions that slip through the cracks due to a lack of funding.

I was surprised to find out that this condition not only affects elderly people but also young children so your entry fee of $15 per image will go straight to Arthritis & Osteoporosis which raises money for research and also supports the families with this disabling condition.

08 May 2012

Portraits - one person or more than one?

The question was raised 'Can more than one person be included in my portrait entry?' The answer is yes!
The Fremantle Portrait Prize's philosophy is to be as open to as many photographers from around the world as possible.
Where the photographer can create a strong narrative and linkage between the people in the photograph the image is likely to be more powerful. The impact value of a portrait is another factor in portrait design - so the more people, the smaller the size of the people and there is a chance the impact value will be reduced.
    Photo: Aphrodisia, Turkey 2011, Dale Neill

04 May 2012

UWA Extension new sponsor

The Fremantle Portrait Prize is delighted to have The University of Western Australia (UWA) Extension as a new sponsor. For many years UWA Extension has been a strong supporter of the arts and photography in particular. The Claremont Campus is steeped in tradition and offers a photographic location the envy of many others.

02 May 2012

First entries received!

The first entries for the Fremantle Portrait Prize arrived today after yesterday's launch. This award is open to all photographers, world-wide, young and old, amateur and professional.
We seek the finest, the zaniest, the kindest, the most confrontational, families, snapshots, classiest, sexiest, lovable, colourful.
This is your chance to win $5000 cash and, at the same time, aid a hard-working charity, the Arthritis and Osteoporosis Foundation of Western Australia.