CELEBRITY PORTRAIT ::: JOHNNY YIP 葉振棠

Last Saturday concluded the first stop of Johnny Yip’s around the world concert tour. It’s the 45th anniversary of his career as a professional singer. His songs used to feature on many television shows in Hong Kong and I used to listen to them when I was little. Now, more than 20years had passed, his music brought back memories of the past, his song has become classic and his figure has definitely become an icon in Hong Kong’s musical and entertainment industry. 

It was an incredible horner to spending the two days with Johnny during his short stay in Auckland, more so having an exclusive opportunity to photograph him. He’s very relaxed and down-to-earth. Despite his age (he’s already 70 years old) and status, he approaches his music with integrity and diligence.

We worked out the best time to have the quick portrait session would be between final rehearsal and the live concert,. I wanted to use the audience seats as leading lines and form interesting out of focus patterns so we turned the auditorium into a mini studio set. I spent a lot of time setting up my lights and did light test thoroughly to make sure I could nail the shot at one go. Of course it wasn’t that simple and plans do change often. Due to the rehearsal delay and there’s make-up session in between, the audience were about to enter, we were running out of time. Time to regroup and shift my set. We found this huge black metallic finished door which could make a wonderful backdrop. There we set up the set and we rescheduled the portrait session till last. Thankfully, all went according to plan this time and I am so thrilled to have this portrait of Johnny.

Here’s some frames I captured during the live concert. It went really well indeed. Thanks to A Bird Production’s awesome stage lighting. It added a lot to the photographs.

Some behind the scene photos taken on Johnny’s arrival day. He was being interviewed in FM906 studio and the evening practice at Auckland Music Academy (AMA).


ANZAC PORTRAIT 2015

It’s almost become a tradition to drag myself out of bed at 4am in the morning in order to be part of the Anzac Day dawn service. This year was no exception. 

My goal of this year was to photograph an iconic Anzac Portrait. Dashed to the Auckland domain with a camera and a Profoto B1 bare head, we were trying to find our subject. There we saw this man who seemed to be an ideal character walking past me, in his uniform with badges, holding a cigarette in this hand. So we walked up to him and asked if he’d like to be photographed. Logically he would say yes because there were hundreds of people taking photographs at the Dawn Service, making us look just normal even though my assistant was holding this big weird flash head next to me. We fired three shots using B1’s TTL mode and the flash performed marvellously so I got 3 accurately exposed portraits and ended up selecting these two as my favourites.

Below are some photos taken during the event itself and I hope you enjoy them.


INSIDE DONGFENG RACE TEAM

I have been wanting to photograph the Dongfeng Race Team ever since when I first learnt about their stopover in Auckland in Feb 2015 as part of the Volvo Ocean Race. One Day, I got a last minute message from a media contact saying that this truly exciting opportunity had finally arrived. I got to go inside the sailboat to capture some behind the scene images.

Their incredible journey will be passing 10 cities in nine countries – Spain, South
Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, New Zealand, United States,
Portugal, France and Sweden – and will require the teams to cover 39,895
nautical miles – equivalent to 45,910 miles or 73,886 kilometers. During the stopover all the boats were parked at the Viaduct Harbour for the replenishment while the team crews were getting rest and planning for their upcoming legs. 

While I was on broad, I had the opportunity to really get a feel about standing on these boats and imagine how life was like for the 12 crew members when they were out in the rough ocean. It’s definitely not very spacious. It’s tight, very tight. It has basic amenities inside: a storage area, a “living room” with gas bottle cooking facility, purpose built bunk-beds to maximize space, a media centre, a single toilet and has no shower. Imagine one goes to a 20 day hike experience except you are spending every day and night inside a rocky boat. Due to the lack of good ventilation it feels pretty hot when you are inside, perhaps it’s meant to be that way to preserve heat when it’s cold at night in the ocean? It was very dark too for most parts inside the boat, crew members replied on headlamps to perform maintenance tasks. For the shot below I set my camera on a slow exposure of 1/4sec, and I was very surprised to find out the text written on the wall.

“You are amazing, creative & talented! A TRUE Storyteller!”

I wonder if they were just self encouraging. :)

There were 12 crew members, 6 French and 6 Chinese. In my head I was very excited, imagining myself getting to photograph an entire team on the deck, with beautiful sunset and have the team nicely lit with flash. At the time Profoto had just released their latest off-camera flash (OCF) B2 Air TTL units, I thought a tight space would be quite cool to practice with these lights. Unfortunately, the shipment did not arrive in time so in the end I brought along the B1 kit, a 2x3 softbox and a magnum reflector.

Of course the entire team shot was just in my head, it weren’t going to happen as some of their members were not present while everyone on broad seemed to be fairly busy having meetings and making adjustments to the boat. Despite all that I still pulled out the lights and grabbed some shots whenever I can with whoever was available. The last photos were shot as they were just doing their job so no posing at all. I was quite pleased with the dramatic results. I got a feeling I will have a to bring these lights to every photo assignments I go for the sake of getting different results.

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