Studio Update

Here’s a quick video with an update on my studio and the location for our latest video releases.

Hope you enjoy the video.

Fireman Pole Home

We have photographed a wide variety of subjects, from glamorous tattooed models all the way through to coffins for a catalogue. It keeps our job interesting and our skills finely tuned.

This week we were asked to photograph a home which is almost ready to hand over to the new owners. Just a couple of minor things that need to be finished off, like the installation of a fireman’s pole into the centre of the home. How cool is that!

We managed to capture some clean images for the builders entry into the MasterBuilders Awards for 2016 but we will go back once the new owners have had a chance to settle in and style their new home. We will definitely capture some angles with the central fire pole, and maybe even a few fun images with the owners testing it out.

Early Morning Bike Ride

The owner of Tomoro, a design company, asked me to capture some photographs of his new cycling kit.

Simeon got together some of his cycling mates to show off the new design he created.

It was a very foggy morning which made for some interesting shots. The challenge was making sure the fog didn’t completely wash out the image, producing a low contrast shot. I quickly spot metered on a face to ensure I had the correct exposure for the subject.

For a camera set to auto mode, it would try and compensate by lowering the over-all exposure to give an even 18% grey value (standard exposure from a cameras perspective), however this would result in my subject being to dark (under exposed). It’s like when you try to get a sunset shot with people in the foreground. If the sunset looks nice, the people are black. This is referred to as a silhouette. I wanted the reverse, the subject exposed correctly and the background over-exposed. This style is referred to as a high key image.

We then moved onto some other sections of the ride where the camera required very different settings. By this stage, the fog had lifted, but the subjects were moving much faster. I changed to centre weighted metering (my standard preference), continuous auto-focus, high speed shooting mode and also a much higher shutter speed to freeze the motion. I also made a choice to widen my depth of field (going from f/2.8 up to f5.6-9) to improve my chances of getting the subject in focus. These settings will typically provide you with a much greater range of usable shots when you get back to office.

Once we were back at the coffee shop for some candid and staged photos, my settings changed once more. I went back to a shallow depth of field to blur out the background, bringing greater attention to the subject. I also set the camera back to single shot auto-focus, ensuring the crispest images possible for the client.

The entire shoot was captured with a 70mm-200mm lens. This allowed for some dramatic close-ups, but also the ability to pull back and get some group shots and wider scenery shots.

To summarise, the assignment had multiple challenging environments. It just took some thinking to overcome the environment variables, pair that with the cameras technical capability, I was able to produce some exciting images for the client.

Motorbike Shoot

We were recently contacted to photograph a motorbike so it could be printed onto acrylic and proudly displayed in a man cave. Richard’s pride and joy (apart from his wife… obviously) is his Kawasaki Ninja 650i.

We wanted to get plenty of variety for the client because they weren’t really sure what image they wanted to hang in the house. We went to the drawing board and decided that some straight forward sunset shots would be a given. We then started to get a little more creative. The location we had in mind has an undulating road so it gives a great sense of distance and separation. A shot where it looks like Richard was riding the bike at speed would be another one to add to the shot list.

Shots of Richard on the bike are fine, but I also wanted to make a connection between Richard and the bike, without the helmet to hide him. So another shot with him chilling beside the bike was also on our list of shots to get.

It was great working with Justine and Richard. They trusted me with the creativity and ideas for their new artwork.

Surf and Ink Convention 2015

We were invited back for the second year in a row to photograph the Surf and Ink Convention on the Gold Coast in January 2015. The event showcases the best in Tattooing techniques, products and culture in the South-East Queensland area.


The convention is full of colourful and very interesting people. It’s full on for the three days the convention covers.


We setup a portable studio in a room which overlooks the convention centre. I run with a three light setup, one massive parabolic reflector (camera left) as the main light, and two umbrellas lighting up the backdrop and also splashing back on the models to work as a nice rim/fill light.


We went for a similar look to last year with the clean background which suites the magazine layouts and covers. This year, I also brought along some fabric backdrops to change the look and feel, giving the editors of Custom Tattooz Magazine some different options.


There were plenty of lessons learnt again from this year. We will look at purchasing some standup banners to promote and raise the professionalism of our services. This should draw more people in and know they are getting a quality product. Having a few magazines on hand showing our previous work for Custom Tattoos Magazine was a great idea and worked well with models coming in for a look.


Having an assistant is an absolute must at these types of events. Someone to run around and perform all the odd jobs saves me time and energy. Luckily there are no shortages of people willing to help out when it comes to photographing half naked models.


To summarise, another worth while trip to the Gold Coast for the Surf and Ink Convention. The exposure in an international magazine and ongoing marketing we produce from this event helps to promote our brand, style and quality. Looking forward to teaming up with the guys again in 2016. Hopefully bigger and better than ever.

Toowoomba Raw – Update 2

It’s winter here in Toowoomba and it hasn’t been good for photographing models. Some of the girls have still been keen but 2 degrees at sunrise is going to test even the best of models. It didn’t turn away Bronnie. She is a super star! We meet at our predetermined location with steam coming out of our mouths on every exhale. I packed my dressing gown and Ugg boots to try and alleviate the freezing conditions. It worked a treat and made the shoot possible.


The purpose of this project is to capture models in areas that are changing around the town. There has been a lot of change with the extension to Grand Central shopping centre and planned markets area in Annand Street, so these areas were hot on my list to capture.

Toowoomba Raw - Grand Central Shopping Centre

Toowoomba Raw – Grand Central Shopping Centre

Toowoomba Raw - Market and Shop Proposal Area

Toowoomba Raw – Market and Shop Proposal Area

Unfortunately it’s been to cold to process the majority of the film so many of the images I’ve posted here are from the digital camera which I’ve taken along to the shoots. It gives the models instant feedback of how the images look, much like the use of Polaroid in the days of purely film. It also gives me a chance to double check the light meter readings and dial in the settings on the medium format camera.

Toowoomba Raw - Chalk Drive Bridge

Toowoomba Raw – Chalk Drive Bridge

Toowoomba Raw - Mort St Mill

Toowoomba Raw – Mort St Mill

Toowoomba Raw - Quest Hotel

Toowoomba Raw – Quest Hotel

The project has been great to work on, and the models have been an absolute pleasure to work with. Only hope that it starts warming up and we get some more daylight hours soon to continue with the project.

Please head over to the contacts page if you are interested in working with me on this project. We would love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Matt Hickey

Keelie’s Superhero Formal

It was our pleasure to be a part of this beautiful girls formal day. Keelie’s mum arranged for us to photograph her sons formal two years ago. Megan got in contact with me around about a year ago to start planning her baby girls formal day. Keelie is bit of a superhero fan and her favourite character is Captain America. We managed to track down a Captain America shield from a local gaming supply store, Brutal Deluxe for a life size version. It was exactly what I was hoping for to complement a movie poster idea I had. Keelie added the Superman earrings as a very cool subtle touch.

I did a bit of scouting around for locations but I knew time would always be a factor in what we could and couldn’t do. I found around five possible locations. All suited a fine day but I also selected a couple of sites that could be used if the day turned bad.

Dress Fitting

We started with some nice family photos to get everyone warmed up and relaxed. I can tell Keelie doesn’t like getting her photo taken, but with a bit of time and fun, she became very relaxed and started striking some amazing poses and killer looks.

With the family portraits done, I took Keelie and her partner, Aaron aside and stepped it up a notch. We went to a location under a new bridge. The brick work looked like it’s cartoonish, which suited my idea for a movie poster. The dark colour also worked perfectly for making Keelie and Aaron stand out.

Keelie Formal

I needed to run light and portable on my lighting setup so I ran with only one Enstein 640ws strobe. I had Haden (Keelie’s brother) helping out on lighting when he wasn’t in the photos. I used the natural light as a rim light, separating the subjects from the background, and the Enstein through a large octobox on a boom extension as my main light. To keep colours balanced, I added a 1/4 CTO (Colour Temperature Orange) to the main light, giving a slightly warmer light from the main.

Keelie Formal Dress Fitting

The rest was up to Keelie and Aaron. I got them to pick a dominant leg to stand on and setup the base of the pose. I then placed them so they look together, and most importantly, comfortable looking. Ironically, looking comfortable in the image does not translate to looking comfortable when the image is captured. That’s where you can have some fun… playing Twister should be my clients warmup session.

Keelie Formal

Keelie Formal

The captured image was perfect to work with. Plenty of dynamic range meant that I could bring it into Photoshop and really push it how I had imagined the final result. I did the usual corrections to levels, sharpening, dodge and burn and removing distractions. Superhero posters will typically have a de-saturated look so I pulled some of the colour out of the channels I felt were giving to much. I added a few layers of dust/grit to give some more atmosphere which really boosted the image. A slight vignette also helped to centre your eyes on the subject.

Keelie Formal

Keelie Formal

Summing up the day. It was fantastic working with Keelie and her family. Megan (mum) did an amazing job planning and testing ideas with me and removed any questions on the day. Preparation is key to producing an amazing artwork for your client. People get stressed because they hope they will get a good shot but when you know exactly what you want and how to get it, it removes a lot of the worrying. Things will always go wrong but when you know your equipment and limits, then you should be able to achieve what you need. Also, it’s amazing what you can do if you just ask. The location was an issue to get access to and is also off limits to the public but a few words with some workers allowed us to get the shots we wanted. The shield was also another item that wouldn’t have happened unless we asked around. The $4,000 shield was key to producing the look we wanted… and also why we were very very careful not to damage it in any way.

Keelie Formal Movie Poster

Keelie Formal Movie Poster

Mum had a tear in her eye when she saw the final images of her baby girl. That’s why I love photography.

Project Underway – Toowoomba RAW

I’m pleased to announce that my project Toowoomba RAW has begun.


The concept came about after viewing some work from a french photographer capturing images of Paris around the turn of the 20th century, Jean-Eugène-Auguste Atget. I was captivated by a series of images he captured of Paris in the early hours of the morning. Due to the long exposure times, people could walk through the scene however their presence would not be captured on the glass plates. It gave a deserted and eery feel to a city we only ever see busy and crowded.


I am shooting this project on a Mamiya RB67 Pro Medium Format film camera. The processing of all black and white film will be done by me in my home darkroom. I have chosen to start with Kodak Tri-X 400 film due to its characteristics and excellent pushing and pulling ability.

The early starts have been fun and the models have really enjoyed the experience. With only two rolls developed so far, I’m constantly looking forward to the next shoot and seeing what images will appear from the developing tank next.

Stay tuned for more images and updated from the Toowoomba Raw project over the next few weeks.

A Rainy Engagement Shoot

I met Bec a few months back after she heard about me through a previous client. Bec wasn’t to sure if she should go with us for her special day so we met for a coffee to discuss what she requires. I always meet with my clients because I feel it’s important to meet and form a relationship with them.

Engagement Shoot

After a few minutes chatting with Bec, I soon realised that Bec and Ricky were planning a wedding just like ours. A low key wedding that included their closest friends and family, with a casual laid back attitude.

Engagement Shoot

A part of my wedding packages includes an engagement shoot with gives my clients a chance to see me in action. It also gives me a chance to see how my clients act in front of my camera. Working with professional models makes things easy, but in reality, the majority of my clients are not models and don’t know how to “perform” in front of the lens.

Engagement Shoot

Bec gave me plenty of warning about the fact that she doesn’t feel comfortable in front of the camera and she was afraid Ricky didn’t want much to do with the photography side of things. I had the pleasure of meeting Ricky on the weekend, and I must say, what a fun and easy going couple. Ricky is the real life Derek Zoolander. He can pull off a true Blue Steel!

Engagement Shoot

We had cancelled the photo shoot the weekend before due to bad weather and this weekend wasn’t looking any better. We decided to go for it anyway and it worked out beautifully. We had plenty of umbrellas and towels to keep the camera dry, but we achieved what we came to do. Amazing photos of the beautiful couple and the assurance that they have selected the right photographer for their wedding day.

Engagement Shoot

Until next time.

Matt Hickey

Project Colour

I’ve had a vision of producing a colour series which explores interesting ways to use colour in my photography work. I finally had a chance to get this project underway.

Project Colour

For these images, I utilised a sheet of corrugated iron which allowed me to shoot lights in opposite directions to give the ripple of colour effect on the background.

Project Colour

I stood the model far enough off the background so that she wouldn’t have coloured light falling on her. I lit the model with a gridded beauty dish. I put the grid on because I didn’t want the foreground light washing out the colours of the background light.

Project Colour

Hoping to find some more models for this series and continue experimenting with various colour effects. One thing that this project has taught me, controlling light is important, but controlling colours takes it to another level. Making sure you keep the gel colour intensity and not washing it out with other lights/gels is very important. If you don’t, you end up with a mess of colour and it’s not pretty.

Until next time.

Matt Hickey

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