Photographed by Briars Atlas

Story

Winnie and Mau run an aerial dance studio and event space in Melbourne, and they hired me for an intimate couples shoot. When meeting them for their first consult, something pretty incredible happened: the previous tenant from 40 years earlier, an internationally acclaimed magician, turned up to have a look at the space he called home, the space where his family stayed, and the space where he rehearsed his shows: now, Winnie and Mau’s.

You can probably imagine the stories he was reeling off to us, from a much less-regulated time (oh, the doves/pigeons…). And at the end of it, we took a portrait of him, in the same place he had one taken all those decades earlier. Sublime!

But this isn’t about him (not entirely, anyway).

By the time the shoot came around in their space, it became important to see if there was some way of interfacing past and present (without overthinking it). I love the simple beauty of a double-exposure, and even more so when taken on film. The cityscape here is out of one of the same windows that the magician, Sam, would have peered out every day, and all the layers of buildings that were either the same or different. So I wanted to show that. Without agonising over composition, or any of that stuff. Just a simple layering of the outside with the new custodians of that space there.

Eyes can be confrontational or intense when in this sort of setting, and so having them open might have fought with the whole frame a little much, so I just asked them to take a breath and keep them closed.

Click!

(Or, whatever entirely non-delicate noise it is that my Hasselblad makes when its throwing around a giant 6×6 mirror).

Gazunk?

Better.

I thought about whether I could have agonised over the composition a little bit to #levelitup. Get the triangulated building right in the middle. Line up their faces perfectly with some other structures. Try to architect it within an inch of it’s life until sweat is rolling down their heads while I micromanage them and suck every millimetre of joy out of the process. But i’m finding that by-the-book stuff so agonisingly boring and easy now. I love that this is a bit off the cuff and it feels much stronger to me for it: it feels like a photograph, it’s all baked into one physical piece of celluloid, and it is what it is.
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Directions

CalmPosedSerious

“Alright. Shoulders touching, breathing slowly. Raise your chin 2 grains of sand. Wait – split the difference. Perfect. Drop your left ear by a measure of one grain of sand. Hold that…”
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Composition

Rule of ThirdsBroken RulesMid RangeSquare Crop

Focusing

Single Point Focused on eyes Manual Focus
Light & Weather

Soft LightDirectional LightNatural Light

Equipment & EXIF

1/30 f/5.6 ISO 400 WB 5000

Camera

Hasselblad 500CM

Lens

Hasselblad 80mm

Additional Equipment

Kodak Portra 400 film

Editing

Photoshop and Lightroom Monogamy

This image was edited with

Monogamy

Challenges & Solutions

Location

Warehouse Australia

Melbourne City

Melbourne CBD

Final tips & Advice

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Briars Atlas

Photographer Melbourne, Australia Hasselblad 500CM Hasselblad 80mm
I’m a photographer, designer, and community builder in Melbourne, Australia. One half of my magic-energy-mana-bar is spent photographing the most fabulous creative couples all around the planet (including a giant women’s science expedition and some penguins in Antarctica this one time), and the other half is spent asking the question “how can we do education differently”. This has led to my mini creative platform called A Strange Atlas, and a local community in Australia called Humble Gatherings, where I pour my passion for democratised learning, instead of the leader & follower model (let’s be honest, it’s had it’s run). We just sold out and hosted our first retreat where we had a bunch of really great activities that got everyone learning from each other and having a voice, and it was radical, and you should come.
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