I shot Gareth Morgan for you

June 15th, 2016 § 3 comments - add yours

Plenty of folks would get in line to shoot Gareth Morgan I’m sure, but it’s not that easy – I can attest.

Gareth Morgan is a man of many interests, passions and opinions, whose strong desire to get good things done can certainly polarise - take his cat control views (which have gone global) for instance.

Gareth Morgan and 'Plan B' - face mask and snorkel. There is no Plan B with climate change. On melting ice, Antarctica. ©Rob Suisted, for NZ Geographic

Gareth Morgan and 'Plan B' - face mask and snorkel. There is no Plan B with climate change. On melting ice, Antarctica. ©Rob Suisted, for NZ Geographic

So I was certainly keen when NZ Geographic Magazine commissioned me shoot Gareth for a portrait profile piece.  Serendipity intervened again, as I discovered that we were to be on the same ship in Antarctica the following month.

Gareth Morgan is a strong climate change campaigner and author of a book on the subject, so a bit of creative dreaming arrived at a strong metaphorical image to capture the man’s character and one of his important messages.

This was my 17th trip to Antarctica. I drive boats and lecture, as a break from professional photography.  So, we took a boat on Xmas day, out into flat water behind Plenneau Island, borrowed a face mask and snorkel, and dropped Gareth off on the best piece of ice we could find to represent the melting ice of climate change.  The casual holding of the face mask and snorkel in normal business attire was designed to represent the foolish notion that many people carry, vis, that we have a ‘plan B’ somewhere for climate change. Plan B isn’t an option – just as a facemask isn’t here.

I’m proud of the result – strong metaphorical frame that captures Gareth Morgan in a striking way – no trickery, no post production work – simple.  BUT check out the pile of comments on Gareth Morgan’s facebook page.  It’s galling when some people, from the comfort of their home, suggest a great photo must be ‘photo-shopped’.  *Cough* – THAT photo is the combination of skills learnt over a long time as a professional photographer, planning, a good creative process, and qualifications and experience operating boats on over 20 polar expeditions! Everyone is a cynic, a critic, or blimin both…

Rob Suisted polar guiding and boat driving

Rob Suisted polar guiding and boat driving

Anyway, here’s the NZ Geographic Magazine article the image was used in: Out in the Cold.  And Gareth was a bloody good sort, keenly signing up to the idea, and willingly being marooned on a small ice floe while we (I and his family) drifted off without him, in the frozen middle of nowhere. Shot with a Pentax 645Z and DFA25mm lens.

Canon Media Award success! Best Portrait 2015

June 3rd, 2015 § 1 comment - add yours

Travelled to Auckland for a great evening with New Zealand’s finest news media folk, at the 2015 Canon Media Awards, held at Sky City.  I entered the best photographic portrait category,…and won.

Happy photographer! Best published portrait in media - 2015

Happy photographer! Best published portrait in media - 2015

Entry to awards is limited to published work in newspapers or magazines, and there was stiff competition amongst working professional photographers.  The image (below) that won was commissioned and published by New Zealand Geographic Magazine.  The back story to it’s creation has been written up.  Thanks to Canon New Zealand for sponsoring this huge event.

Bryce Johnson portrait, NZ Fish and Game Council CEO

Best Portrait winner - 2015 Canon Media Awards: Bryce Johnson portrait, NZ Fish and Game Council CEO. By Rob Suisted, for New Zealand Geographic Magazine

Shooting a Clean River Advocate. A Tough Assignment.

July 28th, 2014 § 0 comments, Add the 1st

New Zealand Geographic Magazine had me do another editorial portrait; Bryce Johnson was the subject of their regular feature ‘Profile’.

UPDATE: 23 May 2015: WE DID IT! Photo won it’s category in the 2015 Canon Media Awards! We’re very proud about that! Big thanks to NZ Geographic Magazine, and Canon New Zealand.

UPDATE: May 2015: This photo is 1 of 3 FINALISTs in the prestigous Canon Media Awards for 2015. Cross your fingers!

My job was to communicate Bryce’s varied roles in one image.  This was a formidable task as CEO of the NZ Fish and Game Council his is a complex and varied role.  Primarily, Fish and Game is a statutory organisation concerned with the rights of anglers and hunters, and advocating for improving habitat.

The portrait needed to capture that variety. I wanted to focus on his advocacy for anglers and freshwater quality for all of us, but also how his day can stretch from political halls of the The Beehive, to the bank of a river.  Here’s what I got:

Bryce Johnson portrait, NZ Fish and Game Council

The shot was fairly complex, it required a wide angle underwater photo to catch the habitat around Bryce and called for a balanced mix of underwater strobe, above water flash and ambient natural light.  I used a slave trigger that fired the topside flash whenever the underwater camera strobe fired – one underwater strobe lighting Bryce’s legs, one flash pointing upward towards the softbox flash, and natural light toned down to give a sombre background to delineate Bryce’s from.

Behind the scenes of Bryce Johnson portrait for NZ Geographic Magazine

The biggest problems we had were a suitable…

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An inspiring woman and inspiring photo job

December 20th, 2010 § 2 comments - add yours

Bianca Edwards doesn’t do things by halves.  But her back was broken in halves.  Her story is as remarkable as her attitude.  Several weeks ago I shot the New Zealand Geographic Magazine article on ‘Happiness’.  Bianca was part of this story.  I enjoyed meeting her, and thoroughly enjoyed working together on an image that captured her remarkable spirit.  On the drive back to the office, my assistant Aliscia Young spoke about the inspiration we’d both experienced.   Let me tell you about it.

Bianca was a top athlete, competing in multi-sport events, and while training, was hit from behind by a van at 100km/h.  Her back was shattered and she was lucky to survive.  What followed is a remarkable recovery led by determination, optimism and, I think above all, the unwillingness to be a victim to her situation.  The article by Dave Hansford focuses on how Bianca was able to readjust her expectations; from expecting to win events, to making simple steps, like wiggling a toe.  A trait that some research suggests is key to being happy.

So, knowing this, how do you approach a photo shoot that gives dignity to the subject, captures their spirit, and avoids creating another cliched photo of a disabled person toiling against obstacles? 

Discussing angles on the phone with Bianca was a joy – full of ideas and keen to give it her best, we threw around ideas about the things that were important to her – fitness, swimming, study, Ducatis…  Motorcycle riding was key, especially with her friends and fellow Ducati owners Carla and Fiona (friends like this that Bianca rates in her recovery) .  Hang on….from not being able to walk, to riding big motorcycles?!  The angle fast became clear.  But, how to shoot a portrait that captured this story? 

Carla, Rob, Bianca & Fiona. The Ducati women of the Wairarapa.

After the shoot. Carla, Rob, Bianca & Fiona. The Ducati women of the Wairarapa.

Bianca’s story in the happiness article for me is one of ‘freedom’ – freedom of movement, but also freedom of mind.  So, it was important that we had a very dynamic image to portray freedom. We tried to accomplish this with an open face helmet, but the freedom died.  With considerable care we took this without the helmet.  I think we caught Bianca’s spirit in the image below. What do you think?

Bianca Edwards and her Ducati, with Fiona and Carla

Bianca Edwards and her Ducati, with Fiona and Carla

TECHNICAL SPECS: We pottered very slowing along with a 1/8th sec shutter with ND filter, while using my aerial photography gyro stabiliser to maintain sharpness but achieve a blurred movement.  I super-clamped and magic armed 3 strobes to the back of the vehicle, and shot from the rear hatch.  Canon 1dsMk3, 16-35mm, ND filter, 3 canon flashes, Kenro gyro.

Capturing Happiness

December 8th, 2010 § 1 comment - add yours

Just had a week shooting an article on ‘Happiness‘ for the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of New Zealand Geographic Magazine

A bit outside my normal beat, but despite initial trials and tribulations, it became a most satisfying and challenging week.  Meeting, filming and spending time with such a varied group of people interested in happiness, really made me happy.  Not surprising really – from a buddhist monk to a philosopher, brain researcher and even an athlete who has learnt to walk again and now shes rides ducatis for fun, it was very inspiring.  I hope my images do them all justice.  Rob Suisted filming at monastery for happiness articleHere’s a hint of what’s coming. And here’s another teaser from NZ Geographic http://twitpic.com/3bf5ed.  Have a look out when the next issue arrives, and let me know what you think. I’ll be writing more on this subject. All the best, Rob

Antarctica. Your Fois Gras is OUT. What to do?

January 27th, 2010 § 5 comments - add yours

Now for something completely different….. Antarctica does funny things to people. Executive Chef Lothar Greiner is no exception.

Executive Chef Lothar Greiner on ice

I snapped this shot after a formal portrait session on the sea ice edge near Mawson’s Historic Hut in Antarctica.  An Adelie penguin was running between the both of us and it only took one glance to do the obvious.  With a twinkle in…  > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >

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