Author Archives: Jhay Khay

Chey (2 Feb 2020)

About 2 weeks before the pandemic COVID lockdowns began, I unironically shot a post-apocalyptic scene with Chey. Set in a world where water is so scarce it needs to be gathered from abandoned drains, and plastic clothing is so unbearably hot you can’t wear underwear, the subject of our story goes about her jobs of gathering supplies and looking fabulous.

This was a bit of a gamble stylistically – I wanted to dial up the visual discomfort to signal the hot, unpleasant environment Chey finds herself in. To that end, I used heavy silver reflection to light Chey’s in most shots. It was always going to be a gamble, and these images are probably polarising to most viewers.

Chey was a trooper and brought a spunky confident style despite the unpleasant situation – the plastic outfit was hot and uncomfortable to wear, and anyone who has been on the receiving end of a silver reflector knows how much fun that is. Thank you Chey for being a trooper!

Thematically motivating makeup, hair and styling by the ever talented Jules Dyson as usual.

Tamika Madex (March 2019)

I had admired Tamika’s work from afar – she has an artistic sense and an understated flair that is also attention grabbing. I had a couple of hours while I was in transit through Canberra, so organised for a quick hotel room shoot with her. Hotel rooms are cliched and boring, so I was never going to leave that to chance – research ensured I picked a hotel that had style and would catch the sunrise through its balcony windows – all I had to do was ask for (and hope I’d get) a room on the eastern side. And I did!

This shoot goes back to my roots – no strobe, just natural light with a bit of reflection. I did bring a tiny flash head, but long cycle times and some malfunctions saw me quickly bin that idea and work with the abundance of natural light beaming into the room.

Tamika and I had settled on a “practically nude” theme with an evening dress that often isn’t quite there and perfectly matches the room – well done Tamika on the wardrobe! I feel this photo set has a particularly sexy feel. Tamika was great at emoting exactly what the shoot needed and smoulders her way through each shot. She was very easy to work with, very down to earth and no-fuss. A great collaborator.

Elie Winter II (June 2015)

It was the longest winter.

I previously had my first and only shoot with Elie in 2010. She was seriously good: able to internalise the vibe of the shoot and return amazing poses to me in spades. Fearless, she was completely comfortable with her work, ready to play and explore, and connect on a mental level. She was nothing short of amazing.

But no sooner than I had shot with her, she retired, setting off a deep winter for my creative photography.

I kept dropping her notes every year of so, but alas she had moved on.

Five years later, out of the blue, we caught up and agreed to shoot. And then this happened, in a hotel room – I’d never normally shoot in a hotel. We drew upon each other and the location to come up with a series of visually different themes. Sometimes they are art, sometimes they are bordering on the erotic. But all of the time, they are 100% Elie.

She retired again. But I still selfishly hold hope I can create again with this amazing person.

Sydney Ryder (June 2014)

After an absence from shooting for over half a year, I decided to get back into things with a themed bicycle shoot in a studio, with Sydney Ryder.  Sydney’s naturally slender form was a perfect choice for such a shoot. I opted to only do two setups – after all, how many ways can you shoot “girl on a bike”?  🙂 I opted for two styles, one high contrast colour and the other a softer more shadow-driven monochrome.  The high contrast look was a bit of a risk – Sydney is more tanned than she looks here, but I managed to get the right amount of direct light and over-exposure to get the look I wanted.

Sydney was a champion – it was a blisteringly cold day with high winds banging on the roller doors, but she soldiered on.

As always, styling and makeup by the amazing Julia.

Anoush Anou (November 2013)

When was the last time you watched a movie, got bored, and started making your own entertainment?

I wanted to do something in an old cinema, but I needed styling that would go with it. Makeup artist, hair and wardrobe stylist Julia delivered the look in spades, and model Anoush Anou soaked it up and worked it. Anoush can really pose. Give her 5 seconds, and she can give you 5 totally different looks.  Anoush isn’t afraid to play a character, and this made her perfect for this series.

I particularly love the whimsical clash of old and new with the selfies, and the story that develops with one very bored audience member. One must make one’s own entertainment!

Moofy (May 2013)

As soon as I spotted Moofy, I knew I wanted to work with her.  But it was one of those rare times that a model’s looks, style, and grace exceed all expectations.  In short, she’s the complete package.

A very smart young lady, Moofy was completely at home playing a character and gave it plenty of sas – something that is very important to me.  It allows a shoot to be more than just a human body – there’s a mystery too for the viewer to interpret any way they wish.

Makeup, hair, and wardrobe styling by the amazing Julia Dyson.

Deanne (April 1999)

My second figure shoot ever, Deanne was also my first professional model. She previously had long hair, but chopped it all off on a whim. At the time Tank Girl had been released in the cinemas, so I got the idea of a slightly punk, in your face military character, and Deanne lapped it up!

Like my first shoot, I feel my skills were not evolved enough yet to be able to take full advantage of Deanne’s wonderful figure. But there are moments, like the image where she is stretched up into a metal frame, and I can see I am learning from my previous mistakes.

Deanne loved posing. She loved playing the character. A good time was had by all, but sadly I lost contact with her shortly after, and she never returned to modelling that I saw.

For film nerds, the two colour shots are both AGFA Ultra 50. This extremely high contrast film needed to be dialed back a lot in contrast and in reds after scanning the negative.  It was just too punchy and not a good choice for such a high contrast environment.

Annaleigh (February 1997)

Annaleigh had the graceful body of a dancer, and she was also brave enough to volunteer to be my first ever figure model.

I was young and naive, and far too inexperienced to be shooting nudes.  I didn’t know how much I was yet to learn, and boy – do these images show it.  When I look at them now, I see missed opportunities to utilise her figure.  I see someone who was out of their depth and didn’t know it.  Most of all, I see barely controlled use of on-camera flash to combat rapidly advancing clouds.

But I also see someone who was reaching for the stars.  Today, I wonder – if I hadn’t taken the massive leap to shoot nudes in the February of 1997, then when would I have?  And how would things be different today?

It was the first step in a long road of learning how to work with the human body.  Thank you Annaleigh.

This series was shot on Ilford XP2 400 – a strange, heavily purple tinted B&W film that could be developed with a colour process.  I always thought it had a very fine grain for a 400 ISO.

Jamie (September 2004)

Jamie was a quite but striking lingerie and swimwear model.  A pretty face, and a very down to earth girl.  We found a disused shunting yard for this shoot, and were soon visited by the police (much to Jamie’s embarrassment).  A quick and polite explanation from me, and the officer promptly left us alone. He appeared to be just as embarrassed as Jamie was! Although this was well after September 11, I think today we may not have had such a favourable outcome, being in such close proximity to railway lines and petrol storage tanks. My tip to photographers when dealing with police: be polite, be helpful.

Looking back at my work, I believe I photographed Jamie when I was just starting to really understand and take command of film.  I had around 7 part-time years on the clock by then, but in this shoot I see a marked improvement in my choices of exposure and handling of the different film types: the bright, boldness of Ektachrome, and the subtle all seeing eye of 160 NC.  Film was a hard mistress – she punished you when you didn’t think it through, but rewarded you when you treated her with the respect and attention she deserved.

Scanning these film strips reminded me of the joy of viewing a roll of exposed Ektachrome film – there really is nothing like seeing those images “pop” with their naturally vivid colours, still on the roll.

All of these images are scans from Kodak 160 NC colour negatives, except for the last image, which is Kodak Ektachrome E100GX (slide/positive).  Can you see the difference?

Elie Winter (August 2010)

I had the pleasure of having a shoot with the amazing Elie Winter in 2010.  She is a wonderfully creative model and a beautiful person.  I’ve never worked with someone so giving and so keen to assist the creative process.  I want to have lightning strike twice, but alas, Elie has retired.  Gone too soon.

At least we have these.

Makeup and hair by Julia Dyson.

Miss Julz DiVine (August 2010)

Burlesque star Julz DiVine is a creative powerhouse, a born entertainer, and stunningly beautiful.  I’ve known Julz for a long time and our shoots are always full of laughter and fun.  I leave a shoot with Julz feeling recharged and wondering why I don’t work with this amazing lady more!

Check out more Julz at her official Facebook page.