Photography Course - Student Profile

A day in the life of a builder. 
I set my last Level 2 Photography Group the task of choosing one day and taking a photograph every hour. 

Jarrod's a busy man but he's also a keen student so he documented a work day, from start to finish. He came to class thinking they were pretty ordinary photos and it took a while to convince him that he has quite a unique viewpoint on life and we were all pretty impressed with his interpretation of a building site. He tells a great story with his images. Jarrod did the Intro to Photography earlier in the year and once he figured out what the camera could do, he was hooked. This task was early on in the Level 2 course and Jarrod continued to improve his photography skills and impress us with his way of seeing the world. 

#1 Photography Tip

All photography, every image, comes down to three parts.

Technical - Light - Composition. 

1. TECHNICAL: Understand your camera, how it works, and what it can and can't do.

2. LIGHT: Look for the light (and shadow) and know how to use it. 

3. COMPOSITION: Decide what goes in and what stays out of your image, and where you put things in the frame. (An understanding of Design Elements will help improve your composition.) 

It doesn't matter what you like to photograph, those three things are the foundations you need to build on your photography skills. You can pick up hints and tips from books or blogs, but if you can get with other photographers who will share ideas and give feedback, then you'll really see a big jump in understanding.

I teach photography at RMIT in Melbourne and I run Photography Tours that provide great opportunities to practice what you learn. Keep an eye out for an upcoming post where I share some more ideas and resources for learning to take better photos.. 

And because you can't have a blog post without an image, here's a couple of favourites from the desert in Morocco.

Morocco Desert
Deborah Dorman

Happy Birthday to Me, from my daughter.

Aka, luckiest mum in the world. I have two very special kids. Rebekah wrote this (on Facebook) for my Birthday. 

This is my Mum.

Deb in Sahara.jpg

Sometimes she forgets who she is. Sometimes she feels a bit lost in the world.

I know who she is. 
Joey knows too.

Now that we're full proper grown ups, we're going to tell you a bit about our mum.

If you've met her I think you will agree that she certainly is a mum, but she is so much more as well.

This person is the strongest person in the whole world.

She has lifted and carried Joey and I through all sorts of challenges we couldn't make it through on our own.

From autism, epilepsy, anxiety and depression - she never tried to "fix" us.

She alone guided us, she was patient with us, she was supportive, kind, and she believed in us.

She recognized the challenges that we could overcome on our own and encouraged us. She empowered us. She would pick us up, dust us off, and wait at least an hour before deciding if we needed to go to hospital or not (I could be dramatic at times. But the broken leg was legit.)

She is calm in a crisis. She has extinguished multiple, literal fires.

In this photo we were in the Sahara desert. She is an adventurer but
she is a also a home body, a home owner, a home maker and home builder.

She is a teacher, an artist, an intellectual. She is passionate and incredible. She is inspired and inspiring.

There is no one else like her.

We exist in awe of her. Even when she feels flawed and flat and frail (as all sensitive people do sometimes), she has achieved more than you could imagine.

We love her endlessly. Unwaveringly. We could flood the Sahara with our love until it was an overflowing ocean.
We could fill the MCG a million times over with it and still have more left over.

If she ever doubts herself, we never will.

Happy birthday Mum.
(Sorry we can be little shits sometimes)

Double Delight - Timeless Photographs of Twins

Two weeks old. Jacob and Harper. Perfect little models who slept through their whole session and didn't poop once. Amazing!

Alicia gave me free reign when it came to photographing her little bubs. I'm not a fan of fancy props and poses and gimmicky ideas. I prefer classic, simple and uncluttered. Images that are all about the baby and not the accessories. Images that are timeless. 


Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Despite my best efforts of not only catching up on work but even getting ahead and getting some personal work done, I'm now further behind than ever. There are a few reasons for this.

One reason is I have a very dear friend fighting for his life. Yes, the Big C strikes again. About the time I was freeing up space to catch up on work was when he was first diagnosed. I covered his classes in the hope he would soon be returning to work. That was wishful thinking. It's been a roller coaster ride for him and not a fun one. Good news and hope one minute, back in hospital with doctors shrugging their shoulders the next. I've tried to be available to help in whatever way I can. There's nothing makes you feel more hopeless than watching someone go through this level of suffering.

I had work in Qld to do. When I left him he was doing ok (ish). Soon after I got to Qld he was back in Hospital. Home for two days and then back in again. By the time I got back to Melbourne they didn't know what was going on but it wasn't looking good. This is not how things were supposed to work out. The new drug trial he was on was giving positive results (hell side affects but it was working). But now, well, when palliative care is mentioned, you have to check your expectations. 

Last week I had a couple of clear days put aside to get work done. Instead I chose to spend it with my friend. In between all this I had been planning an escape to Uluru. The bucket list, ya know. I considered cancelling it. But then I thought, if cancer teaches you nothing else, surely it's to take the moments when you can, because you never know when you won't get the chance. So I went. And the day I landed in Yulara I got sick. Nothing life threatening. 'Just' a cold. Personally, I think it might have been a strain of 'man flu' because I sure felt like I was dying. I was travelling on my own, sleeping in a shared dorm room, trying not to cough all night and keep others awake. Forcing myself to at least achieve one thing each day thanks to the assistance of modern drugs. It was a struggle, but I am glad to say I have been to the big, red rock and it is wonderful. Even more awesome was the amount of wildflowers there were. When I'm better and caught up on work, I'll share more photos.

And now I'm home. And my head and my chest hurt so much I can hardly think. The work is banking up, deadlines are looming. I can't visit my friend until I get better. The cold is affecting my thinking and everything seems monumentally hard. 

But I keep thinking of a conversation I had with my Aunty Avis many years ago. She had terminal cancer at the time. I asked her for some life wisdom to share. She said that even though she vaguely knew the term 'don't sweat the small stuff' throughout her life, she really understood it's relevance once she was staring death down. I'm trying to adopt that philosophy. I know you can't live each day as if it could be your last, because if it's not, you then have to deal with the next day. But striking that balance between dealing with what is important and what can wait and not stressing about it, that seems to be the goal.

So if you're waiting on me, to get a print to you or reply to an email, or make a decision, I'm working on it. Work with immovable deadlines has my priority. The other stuff will happen when it happens. I hope you understand. 

And if you know someone with the dreaded lurgy, make or buy them some chicken soup and deliver it. I'm sure they'll be grateful. And if you know someone with cancer, maybe give them a foot massage. 

PS. I've lost my voice so can't answer the phone. I can't even call to get an update on my friend in hospital. Last I heard though, some of the worst symptoms were easing and he was slowly improving. We're still planning a trip to Bryce Canyon next year. 

In the meantime, here's one shot from Uluru. Front row seat at sunset. 

Front Row Seat

Front Row Seat

Sarah and Rupert at the beach

It's been almost 7 years since Rupert the cheeky Dacshund went to live with his new Mum, Sarah, and I started commuting back and forth to Melbourne. It was a bold and somewhat rash decision but one of the better ones I've made in my time. Melbourne has been good to me. The Coast will always be 'home'. When I get stressed at the complexities of living between two places, I remind myself how bloody lucky I am to have the best of both worlds.
I went to visit Rupert and Sarah last week and we went for a walk on their local beach (Yaroomba, I think it is). I'm absolutely certain that Rupert got the best deal in the world when Sarah adopted him. He is so well loved and looked after. 
Sarah not only took on Rupert but she kept Wild Honey Photography running while I got up to speed with teaching photography. She's a great portrait and event photographer. You can find her at Your Life Photography.
I'd seen Sarah's great sunset shots and put an order in for a similarly spectacular sunset for my visit. And then I got lost and nearly missed it. The light was fading fast (up the ISO on the Fuji X-T2) but we got a couple of quick snaps with Rupert before heading back to Sarah's place for a Thai Green Curry and a bottle of red. 
Blogging is a good way to remember that amongst all the shit that goes on in the world, there are good things that life offers up. Beautiful beaches, sunsets, good friends, cute puppies, yummy food and red, red, wine. 

Sunshine Coast Beach
Sunshine Coast Beach Sunset

While I was walking (on the Sunshine Coast)


I went for a walk around the Moffat Beach Headland yesterday afternoon. I popped in to share a wine with a friend at Shelley Beach and then walked back in the dark. 
I walk home from work in Melbourne in the dark too. 

"Be Careful" people say.

"Remember what happened to Jill Meagher" they say.

I wonder what the statistics are for people getting raped and murdered at night time, as opposed to in the day time or in their own homes. I figure I'm much more likely, statistically,  to die or get injured in a car accident. But nobody frowns at you disapprovingly when you say you're going for a drive. 

Anyway, it was an absolutely beautiful night. And I was just grateful to be alive and to live in such an amazing place. I feel doubly lucky to also live in Melbourne, which just landed the "most liveable city in the world' for about the 7th time in a row. 

I took a few happy snaps along the way. I was a little bit too early and then a little bit too late for the best light (that was the wine drinking time, which is surely a reasonable alternative to taking photos).

MOffat Beach
MOffat Beach
Moffatt Beach

I spotted this guy watering his peas and as I walked past I thought it would make a great photo with the old house in the background. My confidence and outgoingness waxes and wanes, and as somewhat of an introvert, I usually keep walking, and then berate myself for my cowardice. (PS. No problem approaching strangers if I'm getting paid to photograph, but when it's just for me...).
But then I thought of my friend in Melbourne who is so sick going through cancer treatment, and I figured I had nothing to lose by asking. So I backtracked, said g'day and asked if I could take a photo. Simple as that. I then had a lovely chat in the afternoon sun talking about old houses, (multi)million dollar views and growing vegies. His daughter came out and got the obligatory squirt with the hose and for a moment life seemed quite simple.
One day this house will be gone and apartments put in its place and I will be so glad I stopped to take this photo. Thanks for being a good sport Travis. 

Moffat Headland Old House

Suburbia at Sunset.  

Moffat Beach after dark
Moffat Beach at night

Photos taken with the Fuji X-T2. Night shots balanced on the edge of a railing. 

Sensuous Serendipity

I walked outside my back door and the wind had blown this little Bougainvillea beauty right onto my door mat. I stooped to pick it up and study it. Then placed it on my lightbox to capture the exquisite beauty of nature. 

I love the details that are so often overlooked in the bigger picture. The intricate patterns of the veins. The sensuality of a curve. 

Macro flower
macro flower photography

Student Profile - People & Portrait Photography Course @ RMIT

It's always sad when a Short Course comes to an end. We spend an intense eight weeks together (one night a week) and then it's all over.  So I've decided to occasionally feature selected students and their work just to ease the withdrawals. 

Jeremy has just completed the Rmit Short Course in People & Portrait Photography. He presented this series of photos, 'ORANGE' as part of his final folio.  

What camera are you shooting with?  
Sony a7rii

What's your favourite lens?
50mm f1.8 lens

What's the hardest part about portraiture for you?
Trying to achieve the closest photo to your idea. I usually have small compromises or have sudden new ideas while shooting. So I would always be experimenting while I’m shooting. This applies not just for portraiture but for photography for me in general.

What did you enjoy or learn or like the best about the People and Portrait class?
I enjoyed learning how to use studio lightings. I’ve always admired photographers create amazing photos using studio lighting in unconventional ways. I also enjoyed seeing other student’s work and perspectives in their photography.

How old are you? 
23 years old.

How/why/when did you get interested in photography?
Photography has always been a hobby of mine but I really got into it in my 2nd year of university. The ever-changing creative culture in Melbourne has definitely deepened my interest in photography. Seeing new ideas from students and/or people working in different creative fields are one of my inspirations for my photography.

Why did you choose to do the People and Portrait Course at RMIT?
I studied in RMIT before so I knew that in terms of creative subjects, RMIT is one of the more practical and hands-on universities, which is my preferred method of learning.

What's your next photographic project?
Probably another single color theme. This time, I would like to experiment more with studio lighting with the next project.

Would you like to go pro one day or is your photography strictly for fun?
I definitely would like to go pro one day but I like to find balance between two aspects. I would want my work to be professional and be fun for me at the same time.

What do you like to do when you're not taking photos?
I would be either be hanging out with friends, listening to music or finding new music to listen, learning how to cook new recipes or playing video games.

Working or studying? 
I graduated from RMIT last year with a Bachelor’s Degree in Games Design but after realizing that I want to have a change in career to photography, I took a few months off and practiced on my photography and eventually signing up for the People and Portraiture class. My next move would be to look for an internship in photography.

Where did you grow up? (How long have you lived in Melbourne?) 
I grew up in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. It’s an island kind of town, slow and chill. I have stayed in Melbourne for 4 years now ever since I left Malaysia for university.

Will you continue with portraiture or venture into other genre's? 
I would definitely continue experimenting with portraiture but I would also like to develop on my street photography too. I was even considering learning videography at one point.

How did you come up with the ideas/inspiration for Orange?
I was inspired by Korean photographer @ralachoi for his use of strong, single-block colours, as well as his simplistic set design. I stumbled upon his work when I was listening to Spotify and saw an album cover that stuck out to me.

Do you have any portrait tips to share?
Always try to have a good composition between subject and space. Sometimes what you show less is better.

You can follow Jeremy on Instagram: @jrmy_wng

If you're interested in learning more about photographing people, the next People and Portrait course starts in October. 

self portrait - jeremy wong

self portrait - jeremy wong

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers - Photography Holiday - Sept 2017

Who is it for?

  • Anyone who likes taking photos!
  • Or more specifically, anyone who likes photography and taking photos and likes to get to the best locations and don't want to be hurried along by others who don't understand if the lights is just right. 
  • Anyone who wants to learn more about their camera or how to take better photos.
  • Anyone from complete beginners through to serious enthusiasts. 
  • Anyone who wants to be at the best places at the right time but doesn't want to figure out how to get there or worry about parking. 
  • Anyone who wants to learn more about using composition and design elements and light to take better photos.
  • Anyone who loves taking photos. Who loses themselves in the moment. Gets lost in the lens. 
  • Anyone who loves parks and gardens at their most beautiful. 
  • Anyone who has questions about photography or their camera but doesn't know who to ask. Or even 'how' to ask or 'what' to ask. Q. "How do you get that thing to do the whatsit so it looks like a thingamibob." A. "Oh, you press that button and spin that dial and bobs your aunty."  

The tour offers lots of opportunities to practice different aspects of photography. Macro, low light, action, landscape, movement, fireworks, street photography. There's something for everyone.

My favourite part is getting in amongst the flowers with a macro lens in the early morning light before the crowds move in. 

The photos here are of my brother Stew, who is also our bus driver and horticultural expert. I visited the Carnival in 2016 to plan for this years tour and gave him a few photography tips along the way. He's pretty happy with his slow shutter speed shot of the flowing water in the waterfall. 

Learning Photography.png

Night Photography at the Carnival of Flowers

Apart from Fairy Floss and Dagwood Dogs, both of which I'll be avoiding (unless there's a good photo opportunity), there's plenty of other action in Side Show Alley at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. A great opportunity to practice those slow shutter speed shots with colourful action rides and fireworks on over three nights. 

Night photography

Learn to Take Better Photos while you're on Holiday

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers Photography Getaway

I covered 'Why Toowoomba' in the previous post. This time I'll share 'Why Me". Or the lengthier version of, Why would anyone want to go on a Photography Holiday with Deborah Dorman?'

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers Photography

Why Me?

1. I love sharing photography knowledge with others and seeing their 'aha' moments as they learn knew skills. 

2. I'm a qualified photographer AND a qualified trainer. (Dip of Photography, Cert IV in Training and Assessment) and I'm passionate about both. There's an art to photography and there's a skill to teaching. A great photographer does not automatically make a great teacher of photography. 

3. I've taught photography at the esteemed RMIT University for the last 7 years (and continue to do so).

4. I especially love gardens and nature and flower photography. 

5. I know how to teach photography at any level. I'm great with beginners and explaining things in simple, non-techy language.

6. You can talk about photography until the cows come home but you really need to get out and do it. There's no better way to learn than out in the field (with or without the cows!). And with a qualified photographer on hand to answer all your questions. 

7. I've planned a great itinerary with plenty of action, enough 'down time' to chill out, the best locations and the best time of day to be there. I've chosen a range of activities to challenge and stimulate you photographically. There is flexibility in the schedule to opt out if you want to skip an activity and do your own thing. There is opportunity for feedback and I'll be there every step of the way to answer questions and give tips. 

8. I'm friendly and fun and occasionally funny. I love photography and it's a never ending journey of discovery. I'd love to share that journey with you. 

9. Don't take my word for it.  Here's a couple of testimonials from others.
"Deb is inspirational and full of enthusiasm for her craft. A talented photographer and a gracious teacher" Sherlaine Charisiou
"Thanks Debs. I loved learning with you! Lots of knowledge, experience and a relaxed environment gave me the perfect platform to really develop.
If you are looking to improve your skills you should definitely get in touch with Deb!"
Paul Johnstone

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers Photography Holiday

It's 8 weeks until the Carnival Weekend Getaway. (Tour? Workshop? Holiday?).  

I thought I'd share some thoughts on why I'm doing this and what it's all about.  It's not too late to book.

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers Photography

Why Toowoomba? 

1. It has so much to offer in one location.

2. The Carnival weekend is splendid with opportunities. 

3. The parks and gardens are at their most spectacular for the Carnival.

4. There's also Parades, and Fireworks and Markets and Old Churches and Street Art and endless other things to photograph. 

5. I grew up in Toowoomba

6. My brother is co-hosting the tour with me and he still lives in Toowoomba and is a Prize Winning gardener. 

7. You get to practice a wide range of photography skills in the one (long) weekend, including macro and action and landscape and low light and fireworks. A bit of everything!

8. I've booked the most amazing, historic accommodation to make this a really special getaway. 

9. There's also a photography exhibition we will visit to inspire us on our photographic journey.

If you've been to Toowoomba for the Carnival of Flowers before, I'd love to hear what you liked best. You can leave a comment on the blog or pop over to the Facebook page and leave a comment there. 

I'll be back with some more thoughts in a new post soon. 

While I was procrastinating...

'tis a windy winters day in Melbourne. Instead of tackling the pile of paperwork on my desk, I photographed the paper daisies near the window. It's nice to be able to connect with the wonders of nature even if it's in the nice, warm confines of my bedroom.

I did start off with a much more complex idea, but ended up liking the simplicity of these shots. The shapes and patterns and lines and shadows and subtlety of colour all work nicely for me. 

As for the actual flower... strawflower, paper daisy, everlasting, helichrysum, Xerochrysum bracteatum, Rhodanthe chlorocephala? I have no idea. I'm trying to get better at identifying the flowers I photograph, but it's a bit of a mine field. If you know what it is, please leave a comment and help me out. 

Shot on Canon 5DmkII. 100mm Macro lens. Window light. 

(now to tackle the paperwork that hasn't miraculously dispeared)

Garden Photography Tours
Photography Lessons
Flower Photography

While I was walking... (Fitzroy North)

Autumn leaves, rows of trees, wedge shaped buildings, famous soup bars, views to the city and a rotunda. 
And that's just a small section of what Fitzroy North has to offer. 

(This walk was a couple of weeks ago)

#11 Tram to Fitzroy North
Edinburgh Gardens Rotunda

Edinburgh Gardens Rotunda

One of the grooviest looking library's around. Bargoonga Nganjin North Fitzroy Library.  

One of the grooviest looking library's around. Bargoonga Nganjin North Fitzroy Library.  

I don't often see this stretch of road in the morning. It's a hive of activity in the evenings so has an eery quality about it seeing is so deserted. 

I don't often see this stretch of road in the morning. It's a hive of activity in the evenings so has an eery quality about it seeing is so deserted. 

Autumn leaves falling. Edinburgh Gardens. 

Autumn leaves falling. Edinburgh Gardens. 

Avenue of Trees in Edinburgh Gardens.

Avenue of Trees in Edinburgh Gardens.

While I was walking...

Glimpses of Melbourne. On the walk home from the State Library. 
I walk these roads often but they always offer something new. The seasons have a way of transforming the cityscape. I like the way the trees compliment the architecture.

La Trobe St. Hints of Physical Graffiti. Anyone agree? Anyone know what I'm talking about? lol

La Trobe St. Hints of Physical Graffiti. Anyone agree? Anyone know what I'm talking about? lol

Carlton. Trees and architecture create winter tonal delights. 

Carlton. Trees and architecture create winter tonal delights. 

Carlton. Something about the trees and architecture again. They were really talking to me (visually) on that day.

Carlton. Something about the trees and architecture again. They were really talking to me (visually) on that day.

Sidewalk art. 

Sidewalk art. 

Winter tones in Carlton. 

Winter tones in Carlton. 

Carlton. Just caught my eye and appealed to me. 

Carlton. Just caught my eye and appealed to me. 

Oh the stories that must live in these walls! 

Oh the stories that must live in these walls! 

Almost home. Carlton North.   

Almost home. Carlton North. 


State Library - Part Two

Some more favourites from hanging out at the State LIbrary in Melbourne. All of these photos were taken on the Fuji xt-2 Mirrorless Camera. 

I like the idea that the birds are playing chess. 

I like the idea that the birds are playing chess. 

This guy didn't feel the cold at all! Everyone else is rugged up in layers and coats and scarves. He's not even shivering!

This guy didn't feel the cold at all! Everyone else is rugged up in layers and coats and scarves. He's not even shivering!

State Library of Victoria

This is my last Saturday off for a while. Next Saturday I start the next Level 2 - Introduction to Photography - Technical & Aesthetic at RMIT  in Melbourne (Still a couple of places if you want to join us).  Once of the activities we'll be doing is photographing the State Library, so I thought I'd head down this morning and see where the light was falling and make sure it's not covered in scaffolding like it was one other time. I ask the students to edit down to 6 of their favourite images so I limited myself to the same number.

I love the State Library. It's a fantastic building inside and out with so much to see. It's a 'must see' for any visitors to Melbourne.  I stuck to the outside of the building. Apart from the striking architecture, I'm always impressed by the 'life' and activity that goes on out the front. 

I have more favourites though so I might cheat and do another post! Oh, and I had arranged a meeting at the Cafe (Mr Tulk) but in the end no one else could make it, so it was Eggs Benny and a Bloody Mary for one. 

Wild Honey Photography _ State Library 1
Deborah Dorman State Library 4
Wild Honey Photography State Library 3
Deborah Dorman Photographer
Deborah Dorman
Mr Tulk

Alowyn Gardens

What an absolute delight these gardens are. I left Melbourne in the morning with an anxious, muddled mind and came back clear headed and relaxed. Best medicine ever. 

I'll be making a point of visiting this garden every season. It's such a wonderful design.

Aboriginal Heritage Walk

Change is slow coming but I hope for a time when as a Nation we respect and honour Australia's First People with a genuine pride. 
I went with my housemate Phil to the Melbourne Botanic Gardens for an Aboriginal Heritage Walk. It was a wonderful way to learn about the people and the culture. The walks are held every day but as part of Reconciliation Week they are free (you're too late, today was the last free day, so you'll have to pay unless you want to wait 'til next year). 
We had a terrific guide to educate us and were treated to a traditional smoking ceremony. I was struck most by the talk of listening to your spirit and felt a sense of the purposefulness of the culture as opposed to the busyness of todays society. It was humbling.

Aboriginal Heritage Walk