SITTING in a typical office chair, nothing out of the ordinary, he looks down with thumb and index finger on his chin.
Takes a deep breath and slowly turns to face me, fix me with his strong, intense eyes.
And I take the photo.
My subject is Oscar-winning Australian director Scott Hicks.
My assignment was for the Messenger Newspapers but the photo was not something my editors want for the paper.
Yet 10 year later, now, the rejected picture has carried me to the final for one of Australia’s most prestigious portrait prizes.
Most shoots I go to I’m greeted with “I hate my photo being taken” or something the complete opposite – either way it’s my job to get the best out of people.
I’m the one telling them to smile/frown/jump/cartwheel/stand on their heads.
And isn’t there always a but?
Every photographer I have met who has photographed Hicks has told me he ‘directs’ the shoot, and my case was no different.
An artist who is a photographer himself, Hicks is visually aware, asks about the background, about his pose and even counts you in as he swings into his pose.
For a newspaper shoot this is something completely different to what we are used to, I remember sharing how the shoot went with my colleagues and how I enjoyed the effort Hicks had put into the short session.
When it was suggested I enter the Martin Kantor Portrait Prize I’m pretty sure my friend thought I’d enter a portrait of a famous sports person.
The Kantor is a $15,000 acquisitive prize is awarded for a photographic artwork of a significant, living Australian in the fields of art, letters, science, sport or politics.
Going through my works over the years the Scott Hicks portrait stood out to me.
I can’t remember what photo was eventually used, or how it was cropped, from the original shoot but this one is an image that has always had its place in my folio and one of which I’m very fond and rather proud.
Seeing the other finalists I’m lucky to join I’m taken aback.
Some of the country’s finest photographers will have their work on show.
If you find yourself in Ballarat in late August to early September be sure to pop into the town hall and have a look.