Hi there. My name is Kris, and I’m a theatre/conceptual/fine art/illustrative photographer from Brisbane in Australia. (I’m actually Canadian, so please don’t be disappointed if you meet me and I don’t sound Aussie. I say sorry a lot and am stereotypically nice and all that other Canadian stuff.)
My main photography gig is theatre, and all the bits that spiral out from there. I shoot a lot of headshots, mostly actors with some corporates, and also entire cast & crew sessions for productions.
I also shoot theatre production work, which is cool because I get to watch a lot of theatre, and since it’s usually a tech run I get to watch the production come together.
My personal work sits in the illustrative/fine-art category, often involving composite work. I like telling stories about people and trying to communicate their feelings and inner thoughts to the viewer.
My stories tend to cluster around a few topics – mental health, the impact of technology on people’s lives, or maybe how those two meet in the middle. Sometimes I’ll be talking with someone about their life or their struggles and realise it’s a story I want to try to tell with a photograph.
Sometimes it’s my own story, for example, how I’m ashamed that I can come home and sit on my phone and not pay attention to my family, or maybe how I’ll feel when I get a little older and suddenly my hands don’t follow instructions like they did the day before.
The best payoff with those illustrative images is when you see someone resonate with it, see themselves or someone they love in it.
Quite often my stories are a bit dark or sad, which sounds like a bummer, but it’s actually really cool when someone connects with it, sees an echo of themselves, and can say “hey that person knows how I feel, I’m not alone!”
I started out as a super generalist photographer, photographing anything and everything, and using my actor friends to practice on. (I’m a theatre musician, so I hang out with actor types a lot.)
It took me a long time to realise that in the limited time I had on my hands, I should probably shoot the stuff I love and ignore the stuff I less-than-love, so I cut everything out that wasn’t performance-related or personal work.
Now that I’m focusing on that angle, I’m happier and the work I want flows more freely. Plus I’m doing more theatre advertising work, which in many ways merges my love of theatre and my itch to do storytelling illustrative work.
My kit changes depending on what I’m up to, but this is what lives in it every day. (Not pictured – light stands and light modifiers and gels and pop-up backgrounds and tripod, and all the random stuff in the zip pockets of the camera bag.)
Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 5D Mark II – The Mark III is the workhorse, I’ve been hammering that sucker for years and it has hardly skipped a beat. The Mark II comes out when I need a second body (eg – shooting one wide and one long lens at a show). Plus I’m not showing up for a job without a spare body.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L-series – This is my main working lens. I use it for headshots, and I’ll mix up focal lengths depending on the subject and what is the most flattering for them.
It’s nice and super crisp – I want to see all that detail in someone’s eyes in a headshot and it doesn’t disappoint.
90% of the theatre shots I use are with this lens too – gives good options for full-length or tight crops. Plus carrying it is like doing weights, so basically I don’t need to go to the gym. Right?
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L-series – I love this lens. It used to be my brother-in-law’s; it’s been around the world many times, and other than a little smash incident in Sweden (now repaired, phew) it’s awesome.
A lot of my illustrative stuff is shot indoor, and I’ll use this lens extensively for that work, correcting for distortions around the edge. If I’m in a strange city and I’m walking around checking out the sights, this is my lens.
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L-series – This was my wedding workhorse once, but now it generally comes out only on the 5D Mark II for wide shots in shows.
Camranger – This thing is the BEST. I tether wirelessly to an Apple iPad on a stand, and it’s maybe the most important system to have for a headshot client. Their confidence level goes through the roof when they see you are holding up your end of the bargain with a crisp, well-lit shot.
Plus the wirelessness of it all appears super impressive. I hang my CamRanger around my neck with a lanyard, and in the pouch I have a little right-angled teeny USB extender to take the pressure off of the socket.
3 x Godox Wistro AD200 s – I love these little guys. Similar size to a speedlite, more power, faster refresh, better battery capacity, bare bulb option, HSS, and trigger built in.
Until recently, for location shoots I had speedlites, triggers, and so many AA batteries, and that speedlite setup didn’t have the reliability I needed. These AD200s are rock solid.
Godox XPro-C trigger – I love that there’s a button for each group, so you can just select the group you want to adjust without scrolling through anything.
YN600EX-RT speedlite – If I need an on-camera flash, or an emergency fourth light, using the Godox X1 trigger .
Batteries because batteries.
Cards because cards.
AA batteries and AA battery caddy – Oh man, these little battery caddies are the best. Keeps batteries together, and spent rechargeables can slide in upside down so you can keep track of them. I haven’t found them for sale in Australia, but you can find them on Amazon in the USA.
Apple Macbook Pro – If there’s downtime at a theatre shoot (eg – intermission), I can get started on headshots or culling (via the USB3 card reader), or use it as a backup tether system.
BlackRapid strap – 99% of the time I don’t use a strap at all. If I’m travelling though, it’s a must. Mine is decorated with a braid I made with my son at a school camp years ago. And for some reason, in the pocket, I have a little wrapped sugar cube from Paris. I don’t know why.
Moo stickers. One time I was second shooting and loaned my speedlite to the primary when hers died, and then we couldn’t tell which was which. So now there’s a little sticker on all of my gear (especially batteries and cards) with my email address and phone number.
CF card cases – I have non-black cases so they’re easier to spot when I inevitably drop one behind a theatre seat.
Tape Measure – When I’m shooting for composites, I want to make sure I know the height I’m at on my Three Legged Thing tripod, and the distance from the subject. Replicating that properly makes a big difference for a believable composite (see guide).
Stepladder – I swear this is one of the most important bits of kit. Quick elevation at an event shoot; gives options when photographing a tall headshot client; even makes a quick chair.
Comfortable shoes – I slide some sports inner soles into my Cons and that makes for happy feet.