The backdrop was my doona cover

The thing I love about this photo is that, while it looks totally serene, the truth is far from this.
It was 1990 and a good mate of mine - the bloke on the right - was in a local Brisbane band called the Appaloosas. I wasn't a big fan of the band name but their music was pretty good.
At the time I was living in a share house with two mates - one a fellow news photographer and the other an old school friend - at Toowong in inner Brisbane.
While it wasn't an out-and-out party house, we were all in our early twenties and the house reflected this - lots of beer was consumed on a regular basis and our hangovers were treated by excursions to the local Hungry Jacks up the road at Taringa.
Being a house full of twenty-somethings, where beer and fast food were the priority, not much thought had been put into an area of the house that could be used as a studio if need be. This was despite the fact two of its inhabitants were photographers.
So, getting back to the photo, I can't remember how it came to be that it was decided to do a band photo at my house. Either way, one night they all trooped over to get a photo done.
The band showed up and were keen to do something similar to the 'Meet the Beatles' album (http://bit.ly/hJofmP), so 'dark' was the theme of the shoot. When it came to choosing locations, we looked at the limited options on offer and decided upon the dining room which was, at least, a room unto itself. We pushed the dining room table and chairs to one end of the room and the band stood up against the wall opposite the table.
The lead singer's partner and toddler had come along too and the toddler, not quite into the whole band photo 'thing', decided to make the table and mish-mash of chairs into an imaginery world and was in kiddy heaven.
If we'd been in a proper photographic studio, there would have been an equally proper black backdrop - preferably material. Being a dining room, however, there was no material - not even a set of curtains - so I had to do with what was on offer. In this case, my navy blue doona cover.
I upset the toddler and took one of the chairs from his imaginery world so I could fasten my doona cover to the wall with the help of some masking tape and a few tacks.
I wanted to get some height for the photo (eye level photos are, invariably, boring) so, realising by now the toddler had forgotten his imaginery world was one chair down, I kept the chair I'd borrowed to use as the step ladder I needed.
The lighting in the dining room consisted one bare, stark light. As far as studio lighting went, it was horrible - crap, even.
I was using an Nikon FM2 and my flash 'set up' in those days was a Metz-45 flash. For those not in the know, the difference between a Metz-45 and the flashes used nowdays is similar to the difference between the first, house brick-style mobile phone and the sleek works of art available today.
The Metz-45 was a massive contraption that was strapped to the side of the camera via a bracket (it's not a Nikon FM2, but similar to this set up - http://bit.ly/hDaFzQ - scroll down to the first photo).
I stood on the chair and sized up the scene. Direct flash (the flash head pointed at the subject) would have left horrible shadows behind the subject, so I pointed the flash head at the ceiling just above my head and used 'bounce' flash to soften the light. I now started shooting, trying several variations of the same theme - 'try looking here', 'try looking there'.
After a dozen or so shots I knew I had something pretty good. The set up was basic but with a bit of work in the darkroom (this was pre-Photoshop days), I knew I could get a great photo, which is what I got.
I know it's not the first time a band has been photographed this way but I love it because, while it looks like the sort of photo I'd have taken if we were in a proper studio, the fact of the matter is:

1. We were in my dining room.
2. I was standing on a chair.
3. Behind me was a dining room table and chairs that had been pushed to one end of the room.
4. My two house mates and the partner of the band's singer were standing next to me looking at what was going on.
5. Their toddler was running around us all...that is, when he wasn't playing in his imaginery world under the dining room table.
6. The 'moody' lighting was my Metz-45 flash bounced off the ceiling a few centimetres above my head.
7. The backdrop was my doona cover.

Whenever I look at this photo I see serenity but I always think of the mayhem going on around me.

Gear used: Nikon FM2, 24mm f2.8 lens, HP5 400ISO B&W film, Metz-45 flash, 1/250 sec, f8.


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