A few months ago I met this awesome photographer, Nicola Bernardi. You know how you meet someone who claims to be 'a photographer' and when you see their photos you're pretty sure you could take a better shot? This was not one of those occasions. Nico is actually a photographer who really fucking delivers.
Straight out of high school I worked on a few film crews, from being a lighting monkey to a sound jockey (you might be wondering how a monkey lights or a jockey sounds …), so aside from being able to tell you what the best boy does (they are the primary assistant to either the key grip or the gaffer) I am quite comfortable sitting in a room crammed full of cameras and lights. This, however, was the first time I was the star of the shoot.
(You might also be wondering what a key grip and a gaffer do. Grips set up the camera dollies (the crane looking thing) and the key grip is their supervisor. A gaffer is the supervisor to the lighting department. Both jobs require moving heavy equipment millimetre by millimetre while giving the evil eye to the sound department, because the sound guys finished setting up half an hour ago and have been talking to the make-up girls with a fresh batch of coffee in their hands.)
I had a blast! The whole shoot took three hours in a great house (it isn't mine) in Melbourne. We began outside to take some portrait shots to loosen me up (posing can be a bit weird at times as sometimes you have to sit/stand in an awkward position and make it look comfortable). That took just five or ten minutes.
Then we moved inside, cluttered the fuck out of a table, and blinded me for the next hour or so with flashes just two feet from my eyes. Seriously. You see the laptop in the picture below? There's a flash sitting on the keyboard to light up my piercing blue eyes. Blinding.
We tried a few sexy lighting shots with an orange light coming from outside, then we changed it to blue and got an eerie, yet fantastic look. There was a lot of tweaking going on with everything that normally sits close to my computer at home and Nico laughed out loud that one of the props I brought along was a sandwich. Mostly the tweaking came from how I was sitting. Lean forward a bit, chin up, forehead down slightly, tilt your head this way, a centimetre more, focus on a dot on the far wall, give me a concentrating look, write something, now look back up again, lean back, head this way, deep in thought, stare into space …
It helped that Nico and I have been friends for six months already, but even so he had very good direction. To stop him from eye balling my sandwich I brought a bottle of wine to share. He's Italian, so that seemed to work. Then we moved onto the kitchen shot.
Do you see all of that atmospheric clutter on the benches? None of that is mine. The household were furniture sitting (apparently that's a thing) and had to get rid of the bench and table the following day, so they were pulling everything out from storage and figuring out where to put it. And all the while we were there shooting some author pictures during a crazy time in their house. We managed to blind a few of them as they were in the red light room using the microwave just as one of the main flashes fired, blinding them and making them think the microwave had just exploded in their face (sorry!).
It was fun. It was relaxing. It actually made me feel like something of a professional. Have you seen some of the author photos on the internet? They look boring. They're either just a black and white head shot which offers no personality at all or it's a writer standing in a bookshop. I wanted something different, atmospheric, and good enough that wouldn't be replaced in six months with a nicer shirt against a new collection of books. I got the photos I wanted.
Then … it was a wrap! (Alas, there is no wrap picture, but imagine there were cheers and high fives all around) It was time to pack up, get dressed, and have a beer down the road to see what Nico is up to next. If you even remotely like these photos of me you'll loooove looking over Nico's portfolio on his website.