my beloved.

In my last post I talked a lot about the images that the beautiful Jesh de Rox took of Michael and I. Up until today, Ive never really showed the images to many people, except a few that I have put up on facebook and scattered around my home. They  were something I wanted to keep to myself because they were so so special to me. I remember the first time I saw them, when I started to watch the little slideshow Jesh made me, the entire world around me froze and my arms were covered in goosebumps. Later that night, when Michael finally came home, witnessing his reaction to the images is one my favourite memories of him.  I have a quote by Jesh on a chalkboard in my living room that says “perhaps the best gift you can give someone is to truly see them, that kind of honest seeing is the root of true love.” These images, the whole beloved experience, is one of the best gifts I have ever received. The best part is that it keeps on giving, a year on, these images are still making a difference to my life. Thank you Jesh :)

While I was in Vegas in March this year for WPPI, as part of his platform speech, Jesh launched the beloved movement, inviting and encouraging other photographers to continue the exploration into beloved sessions. I am so so proud of him for launching the beloved movement and the speech he gave that day (you can listen to it here). The energy in the room that day was out of this world amazing. I still get goosebumps thinking back to it. Jesh showed our beloved images to the packed theatre of about 800 people. My heart almost leapt out of my chest. Being in a room full of that many people looking at images of me on a huge projector is a crazily intense experience. I do not think my heart has ever pumped so hard in my life. After the slideshow finished, Jesh asked Michael and I up the front to ask us a few questions, oh so nervous and so shy we are standing in front of all those people ;) But my wall got smashed into even tinier pieces after that experience. So many people came up to me after the class and the remainder of WPPI to introduce themselves and say nice things to me. Thank you to each of you who did, it meant a lot to me :) While I was in Vegas, I also finally meet the beautiful Jesse from Our Labor of Love. These words she put up on her blog yesterday moved me greatly. Her words resonates with me deeply and inspired me to finally sit down, be brave and put all my thoughts on here. thank you jesse :)

Michael and I…

{images by jesh de rox}

Jesh is coming back to Australia (Perth, Melbourne and Newcastle) this November / December for his {life as an artform} workshops. A few spots are left for the Perth {life as an artform} workshop. I am hosting the workshop again and this time its at my house in the hills, so many exciting things planned for it, I cannot wait for November to arrive :)

beloved.

Over the past two years my portrait work has been evolving and is something I hold very close to my heart.  In December 2008, while Jesh de Rox was here for his life as an artform workshop, Michael and I asked Jesh to do a beloved session of us. This two hour portrait shoot changed our lives. Two hours shifted our whole way of thinking, how we see each other, photography and the world.  Completely inspired and encouraged by my dear friend Jesh, the last 18 months has seen me experiment with the idea of what a ‘portrait session’ could be, should be. Most people who walk into my office, after they sit down on the couch, the first thing they tell me is that they hate having their photograph taken or think they do not photograph well. I’ve learnt that when a person absolutely loves and adores a photograph of themselves, it is when they are being a hundred percent genuine in the moment the photograph was taken. The images Jesh created of Michael and I, we are a hundred percent genuine in every single image and I absolutely adore every image created. There are images where I see some of my less favorite features, like my nose! hah! but when I see the images, I remember what I felt at that moment of time and maybe its helped me begin to like some of my less favourite features ;)

It sometimes can be hard to be genuine and authentic. I am naturally a shy person. Its really hard for me to go up to person and introduce myself. Ive learnt that its okay to be shy but I also learnt the less shy I am, the more genuine and authentic I can be. I think everybody has a ‘wall’ that they have created unconsciously and is placed in front of them, different people have different sized walls, low, high, thick and thin. All the things we experience in life and the interactions with have with others, good and bad, adds and subtracts to the wall. As kids, the wall is only at its foundations and by the time we become adults, we have walls of all shapes and sizes. We often wish we could experience being a kid again. To go back to a place where the wall never existed. I know I would love to be six years old again, even for just a week. To go back to that child like state of play, wonder and excitement would be magical. To have no worry, no stress. To have none of that emotional baggage the last twenty, forty, sixty years has given us and maybe made our walls rather thick. I admit the last two years I have been working hard in knocking down my rather large wall. Jesh has been massive factor in helping me smash my wall into tiny little pieces. Through his workshops and in the beloved session, we enter into a child like state of play. We are reminded of what it is like to be a kid again. We do experiments and we explore. We listen to music and we make art. Most of my closest friends now are people I met or reconnected with at one of Jesh’s workshops.

Each time I do a portrait session now, my wall is knocked down a little more because each time I truly connect with my clients, where I am being genuine and authentic, it creates a space for my clients to be genuine and authentic. Through the portrait shoot, I invite my clients to enter a child like state of play by suggesting experiments and encourage them to explore. The results create genuine and authentic images. When this happens it is confirmation to me, that this is the way a portrait session, or photography should really be. It propels me even further knowing this is the work I am suppose to be doing.

This portrait shoot below, taken in the hills near Queenstown in New Zealand, sitting on the side of a road, Dave turned to me and simply said “thank you”. Surprised and unsure what the thank you was for,  I asked him and he responded saying that they had not spent time like this together in months and thanking me for creating this space for them. In that moment, I knew this was exactly what the beloved movement and my portrait work was all about, to create a space for people to enjoy and to focus on each other and themselves and for them to be reminded of what is truly important.

old polaroids

I stumbled across some old polaroids today so thought i would share :) All of these were taken back in 2003 and most were taken down in Albany (my hometown). They were taken part of a university assignment. Oh how I miss university, playing in the darkrooms and venturing round the place taking polaroids and playing with film. ❤ ❤ ❤. Funny to think that in 2003 I had never touched a DSLR camera.

AMANDA + PETER

Amanda’s father straightening out her dress moments before they walk down the aisle at St George’s Cathedral.

The above image would be my all time favourite image Michael has captured at a wedding. This image is the whole reason why I like to have a second shooter with me when I shoot weddings. This sweet moment would have been missed because I was photographing the groom when this happened (the below image). Incase your wondering who this Michael fellow is… he is my beloved and these days he assists me at most my weddings :)

AIRHORNS AND LASERS

The reason I go to the USA every year is to attend WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International) in Vegas. Basically its a photography tradeshow and with lots of photography classes. The best bit about going is that I get to catch up with all my photographer friends from around the globe. Vegas + friends + parties = a mighty fine time that does not involve getting much sleep for a week. The Airhorns and Lasers Party was absolutely awesome! Jesh de Rox and Amy Seeley played early in the evening and the flashdance had me dancing all night long! Three of my favorite music people in one night! ah! good times! :) Check out more from airhorns and lasers.

I may or may not be in the below video having a shot of… some water ;)

airhorns & lasers from stillmotion on Vimeo.

THE airhorns & lasers video!! from matt miller on Vimeo.

AWAY IN THE USA

I am currently in the USA until the 20th March. The best way to get in contact with me is via email. I dont suggest the phone because I have it off most of the time due to the time difference and costs involved. I am doing my best to respond to emails as soon as I can, but will take longer then normal to respond because I do not have regular access to email.

USA

highway 1 – somewhere near big sur. california. february 2009.

In a few days im heading to the USA. Im visting San Fransisco – Vegas – Seattle – Portland – San Fransisco. I am so excited to catch up with heaps of friends, go off an explore and work on some personal photography projects for a few weeks. Do you have any suggestions for anything I should go, see or do? Any cool little cafes or shops I should visit? would love some ideas :) Ive been to San Fransisco and Vegas before, so some ideas to get off the beaten tourist path would be cool ;)

I ❤ moore and moore

and Emma and Ian’s good taste.

I want this wedding to be my wedding. It makes my heart melt. Moore & Moore is a little cafe just round the corner from my office in Fremantle, situated in the Moore’s Building on Henry Street. I love spending time there and visiting the exhibitions they have in the Moore’s Art Gallery. A few years back, I had an exhibition in there part of the Foto Freo Fringe (FotoFreo is on again next month – if you are interested in photography come to Fremantle to check out all the amazing photography on exhibition from international and local photographers). Once I heard Moore & Moore were doing wedding functions, ive been so eager to shoot a wedding there and when Emma and Ian told me about the plans for their wedding day, I was very excited. I think there is one thing I would love as much as being a photographer and that would be a wedding stylist ;) dear universe, can we please make this happen?

Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle
Moore & Moore Fremantle

Yolanda and Ben

I adored this wedding very much. Everything had meaning and told a story about Ben and Yolanda. To read more about their day, check out the two posts (here and here) on Polka Dot Bride. I have to say, the picnic they shared, just the two of them (just before we started the portrait session), was the best thing I have ever seen at a wedding.

Words from the Polka Dot Bride article, “choosing a cocktail reception, Yolanda and Ben knew they wouldn’t get much time for eating while mingling with their guests. Instead, Ben’s mother and sister organised a private picnic for the newlyweds that they could enjoy while having their photos taken.

Yolanda says “An added bonus was that it provided an opportunity to just sit together, without being the centre of attention, and take in the moment of having just got married.  It was a really special time that we both cherish, especially as the reception whizzed past and we were often engaged with different guests.”

Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben
Yolanda + Ben

new zealand

New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand

In December, Michael and I went over to New Zealand to photograph Barbara and Dave’s wedding in Queenstown. We were there for only three nights as we had to race back to Australia for two more destination weddings the same week. We had a few free hours the day before the wedding, we had a hire car and we went off to explore a little bit of New Zealand.  After driving aimlessly around the mountains for a few hours (we were trying to find some snow, hehe), we pulled over at a little picnic area and spent some time on this pebbly beach. I wrote in my journal, we skimmed rocks into the river, put our toes into the chilly water and we collected some rocks to bring home (I have a jar with random pieces of the world in it). It’s one of my favourite memories from 2009.

mentorship

dog

This polaroid was taken out the front of my studio in Fremantle. I walked past this van and noticed this dog with his head sticking out the window with sunglasses on. I ran into the office to grab my polaroid camera and was mighty glad to see him still sitting there when I got back. I was trying to get close to get the photo when he tired to bite my head off. His owner was nowhere in sight. One of my favourite polaroids :)


I am working on a *special* project that will involve me mentoring a young artist. Ideally the person will be around 16-21 years old. I am not interested in teaching how to be a wedding photographer, or anything really related to commercial photography (however I am opening up a mentor program that will cater to this, if you are at all interested, email me for more details). This project is about being an artist. I am currently reading an amazing book by Seth Godin called “Linchpin“. A quote that helps me sum up what this project is about. “Art is about intent and communication not the medium you work in. An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo and an artist takes it personally.” I have really enjoyed reading this book, Ive almost finished and once I finish, I will probably reread it straight away. I have never reread a book straight away before, so take that as a sign that this book is amazing :) I have read a number of Seth Godin‘s books. I particularly enjoyed reading ‘Tribes‘ too.

Over the past two years, I have spent much time, thought and energy into studying what it means to be an artist and my role as an artist. The last few months in particular have been a really defining point in my life. I have faced a lot of fears and learning to overcome the things that are holding me back. 2010 is going to be all about conquering fears ;)   One item in particular is writing. Oh how I wish I was a better writer. I have so many thoughts flying around in my head that I wish I could express myself better in words. There is so much I want to write on this blog and so today is my first step towards bravery, insight, creativity and boldness.

So getting back to the project.. One day I thought, what if I could give some of the information I know today to the ’15 year old Samm’ alive and kicking in 1998. Some of the things I know now, I could have really benefited knowing when I was 15 years old. (I am sure, 15 year old Samm could teach me a thing or two). So rather then this just being a wish,  the idea of the project was formed. How amazing and beautiful would it be, if I could give some of the information and insight I have learnt over the past few years to a younger artist. This project is part of a much grander project I am pouring my heart into (I will share more details of this in the future). This mentoring project can be part of the JUMP Mentoring Program, read more about it at www.jumpmentoring.com.au.

If you or someone you know is at all interested, please get in contact with me :)

happy australia day!

sammblake_aussieday

sammblake_aussieday2

happy australia day! A few years ago I started working on a series of images that depicted Australian suburban life. All shot on my Mamiya 6 in black and white film, the series will most likely take me over 20 years to complete because I always forget to take my Mamiya out with me. Just thinking now, I shot a awesome series of an “Australian Santa” at a christmas party in December 2008. It is still sitting in a draw undeveloped.

The first image, was taken on Australia Day in 2006. It’s a tradition in Perth to head down to the river early in the morning, sit in the boiling hot sun all day, play cricket and drink way too much.  The inner bogan comes out in most and everyone gets rather obnoxious. In the evening there are fireworks over the city skyline. This was taken around 7pm, at this point in the day most people are either really rather drunk or just really hot and exhausted, getting impatient waiting for the fireworks to start just so they can get back home to the aircon.

The second image was taken at a guy’s house called ‘lambie’. I received my Mamiya 6 in the post earlier that day (bought off ebay) so I was eager to test it out, so this was the first roll of film I put through it. I somehow ended up at this guys house and in the backyard, a bunch of guys were doing burn outs. I love this shot because it does not get much more bogan or Aussie then this. teehee :)