Fight Face


Images © Matthew Venables 2014. All rights reserved.

Tuesday June 17, 2014

I really enjoyed the shoot I did for the Seizure “Sport” issue and one of the stories gave me an idea I decided to pursue: these “fight faces”.

Pictured above on the right is my friend Alice and to the left her colleague Jyy Wei, both of whom enjoy kickboxing as a fitness type pastime. Pretty mean elbows and upper cuts on them I must say!


Seizure Sport Issue – Round Up


Images © Matthew Venables 2014. All rights reserved.

Saturday February 1st, 2014

As last year wound down I did a number of shoots for the final print edition for which I enjoyed myself and, at times, was pleased enough with the results. Up above is an old tennis ball – the magazine features three double page section breakers in each edition, usually textured or patterned, sometimes text based. For the Sport themed edition we did this kind of close up of sports equipment textures; in addition to the tennis ball, a cricket wicketkeeping glove, a basketball and an old rugby league ball.


The picture above is of author Fiona Wright for her article Why I Am a Writer, Not An Athlete. We’d had the idea of dressing her in her old netball gear and shooting her in her office. A simple shoot and picture really, fun to try and create quite naturalistic light and only have to finish the session with a single decent picture. Having photographed Fiona before we had some sorta rapport, and she is excellent at getting into “character”, at striking the right mood.


A second attempt at a light painting to go with Sam van Meurs story “Trajectory”. Don’t completely love this shot – think I should have held the depth of field for the background to be sharply focused. Whilst I do like the “unreality’ of the light you can make using torches and a long exposure, this is perhaps a bit too much…But given that deadline approached and I had already had a go at making this picture a week or so prior something had to be finalized!


To round out this summary is the first shot I made for this edition of the journal back around September last year. We took a drive up to the Megalong Valley where the author of the piece “An Interview With the Other Three Quarters” Rosanna Beatrice Stevens greeted us at the property. The idea here was to do a vaguely Voguey fashion type of shoot with Rosie indeed interviewing her horse. Haven`t worked with horses before, and, as I suspected they don`t really like sudden explosions of light – we had to go natural light most of the way here as the poor beast wasn`t happy and that seemed cruel.

Moving Portrait – Berndt Sellheim


Image © Matthew Venables 2014. All rights reserved.

Friday January 31st, 2014

With my buddies at Seizure going largely digital, lateish last year they asked if I had any ideas that might be suited to such an online context. Knowing that they had planned a series of long form interviews conducted by Jason Childs with various writers and thinkers, I though a moving portrait might suit.

In this case, author and philosopher Berndt Sellheim, who kindly trekked down from the mountains to our space in Redfern at 107 Projects. Having conducted all my tests earlier in the week in a nice light controllable space within the building, I arrived on the morning of the shoot to find one of my colleagues had double booked that room and I would have to conduct the shoot amidst my piles of building rubble elsewhere in the space – as a group we were amidst a large renovation, putting in a bar and cafe, building some walls, hopefully making the space cosier.

Luckily Berndt was a friendly and co-operative fella, and was happy to sit there while I reconfigured, fiddled some lighting and then went about getting the material we needed to make the picture above. He even said it was quite the relief to have a half a day travelling on the train as he is the father of a young child, and those hours of travel were peaceful times of reading, working and thinking.

Here’s a link to the interview.

Jesse’s Kickboxing Face


Image © Matthew Venables 2013. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 15

For the forthcoming Sport issue of Seizure I was lucky enough to do a number of interesting shoots. From horses in the country scape, through tight up macro-sized ball texture landscapes and into some nice, varied portraiture and a second (and third) stab at light painting. We had an excellent set of shoots, and I thank the Seizure crew, principally David Henley and Alice Grundy for the good times, and often the authors themselves for getting right into the swing.

I took particular delight in the collaborative aspect…in getting to pursue some ideas in response to the stories and in the conversations…also in having my own way as often as not.

Now that the final print issue is due imminently, it’s a changing of times (they’re moving most of their operation to online and digital publishing) and about right for a blog post.

This shoot above is for Jesse Adams Stein’s Kickboxing Face.

I’d had the idea that I wanted to try a “hyper lighting” type of shot, a close up examination of Jesse as she threw a punch. Lots of illumination so that I could see plenty of detail and that a simple, pastel type of background colour would be great. The picture reminds me somehow of those retro calendar illustrations of powerful or strong women, often with a positive or vaguely feminist catchphrase.

For more information about the doings of the Seizure gang this is the link to the webite.

Redfern Devotional

Redfern Devotional

Image © Matthew Venables 2013. All rights reserved.

Wednesday November 27, 2013

Every now the world colludes to hand you a shot on a platter.

Walking out the exit of the side platform after having finished a job last week, on the threshold of being home and eating dinner, this moment presented itself. I’ve looked at this frame and the station in general many hundreds of times, often dreaming a way to best photograph it. But here now was a great piece of “action”, or a human gesture to offset the brick and concrete construct.

I’m not sure I could have planned it any better – camera in hand, a fast lens in the kit, a sparse crowd and even a chair to sit on as I quickly made just six shots from which this is my favourite.

Justin Yu in Training


Image © Matthew Venables 2013. All rights reserved.

Wednesday October 16, 2013

I’ve been following the team now for a few years, and in the latest escapade Justin is heading to Japan in a couple of weeks for two days of intensive competitive pastry making. A world away from the glamor of the competition, here he is practicing his chocolate showpiece in the demonstration kitchen of his boss at South Strathfield. Around this period the air-conditioning in the kitchen was playing up, and to counter the possibility of his sculptures’ structure being weakened Justin started his work on this day at 3am.

Suffice it to say that I was not on site at that hour, these pictures were made somewhere around 9am, several hours into Justin’s allotted time. He also had to make a raft of exquisite chocolates during the time allotment.

Newtown Rat


Image © Matthew Venables 2013. All rights reserved.

Tuesday September 10, 2013

You’d think I’d be done with the dead things, having just finished an exhibition that included a set of deceased birds. I know half the people who ever mention these shots, say they don`t need to see anymore. The other half however seem more like minded, to the extent that some have taken to sending me siting locations, that I may haul over there and get lucky I suppose.

Between one thing and another I rarely do. The “gesture” of the beast not being right, not enough decay, too much. Down a few years now I’ve only really gathered five or six that I’ve liked.

The other day however, my mate Tim sent word that he’d found a rodent outside his fathers’ house, in a lane behind the high school. He’s a nice fella with whom I sometimes have a beer and play pinball. While photographing, Tims’ father popped his bowler hatted head out the side gate to say hello, an artist still later in his life, amidst a last minute painting for a competition entry deadline.

There’s nothing at all tricky about making these pictures. Really a simple process of just turning up with a camera and lens, making an exposure. Whilst most of the time there ends up being nothing I’ve felt worth shooting, that could be a part of the reason I enjoy it, a slow collection. When you take lots of equipment, or have a specific idea, you tend to make something happen. You end up with a result, a photo for something. Most often there’s a good reason for this, or someone needs it for something.

Here it’s the opposite is true, the instant I get to the spot I tend know I won’t make a good photograph . I still operate the camera, let some frames be made, almost as waste. Perhaps that the ones I like somehow stand for and represent those other shots as well…sounds ridiculous. Certainly I enjoy the getting up and going in anticipation, usually to stand on a place I’ve never specifically stood before.

Sci-Fi writer David Henley with Queue


Image © Matthew Venables 2013. All rights reserved.

Tuesday August 27th, 2013

I’d been looking forward to doing this shoot with Dave for a couple of weeks, if not months now, till finally we were able to organize and get out shooting.

As an old friend and collaborator, we’d dreamed up some notions of doing him up a set of nice “author shots” to help in promoting his terrific new novel The Hunt for Pierre Jnr, just recently released to bookshops, electronic and brick.

We were thinking along the lines of a shot where he’d just be in an environment, not the feature so much, as the scene would be one hopefully somewhat hard to place in time, expansive and “impressive”.

He’d also be utilizing his Queue, a device popular in the future.

This was a fun shoot, just the two of us and the equipment in this old abandoned lifestyle showroom. I’d been here before and knowing what to expect made for a pretty straightforward affair. We tried three different views of the space, but this’ the best I’d say, made by the lines of light spilling in through the windows.

You can find out more about David and Pierre Jnr. by clicking the link.

Urbanal / Scmurbanal

urbanal_schmurbanal-400pxAfter a good few years, I’m finally having an exhibition, this time with my good friend and collaborator Paul Gilsenan. And it’s at 107 Projects in Redfern, a multi-arts hub with which I’m heavily involved.

Entitled Urbanal / Schmurbanal here is the text from the promo card…it’s late and I’m weary. Hung the show today and didn`t do the best job. Have to half redo it tomorrow!

If you are in town I hope you may make it.

Urbanal / Schmurbanal


Opening: Thurs, 1st August, 6-9pm. 

Exhibition continues: Thursday – Sunday 12-5pm until Sunday 11th August.

Local artist Paul Gilsenan and photographer Matthew Venables will exhibit ‘Urbanal / Schmurbanal’, a

collection of works born from the two artists’ visual accounts of life within the urban mundane.

Matthew Venables is a concept and art photographer, experienced across a range of photographic

disciplines, including video and animation. Paul Gilsenan is a Sydney-based artist known for his alter-ego, Duckman, a cartoon character with the whimsy of a Leunig who is happy to traverse the edgier sides of contemporary life.

Matthew had been working on these sets of photographs for three or four years, and as a

founding member and director of 107 Projects really wanted to have his exhibition in the space. All set to go and no-one to show with, he turned to his long term friend, collaborator and like minded individual Gilsenan. Paul, fresh from an in-depth detailed commission and an exhibition of paintings five years in the making, decided it would be refreshing to do some beautiful, quick works.

Together they’ve produced a set of works made around the feelings of life in the urban landscape.

For Venables it’s a distillation of those feelings into photographs of existing things and places. For Gilsenan those visions are more fantastical. Either way, in the arena of the urban landscape, they aim to settle their age-old, only half-joking, dispute about the relative merits of photography against drawing and painting as art.

107 Redfern street, Redfern •