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Frock fetish 1

Kate Seabrook

(Credit: Kate Seabrook)

Photographer: Kate Seabrook

Speciality: music photography, portraiture, documentary

Biography: Kate Seabrook is a self-taught photographer and occasional contributor to online music magazine Mess+Noise. Her work to date has largely been to document the vibrant underground music scene in Melbourne and those who inhabit it, both onstage and off. Kate has held two solo exhibitions in Melbourne, photographed a wide range of events from underground punk-rock gigs to large community and corporate events, and is currently taking her husband and cameras on an exploration of Germany.

Equipment: Nikon D700 and D90, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens, Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens, SB-600 speedlight, Hoya UV and polarising filters, Adobe Lightroom, Werra 1 film camera, Olympus Trip 35, Rollei black-and-white and Kodak colour film and a recently acquired Ricoh GR Digital IV.


Your personal series Housepeeking documents people's living areas. What do you look for when you step into someone else's private space?

With Housepeeking, my aim is to document the "setting-up-house" aspect of a relationship, as well as allowing both myself and the audience to get an insight into people's private lives. I am very interested in how people express themselves through fashion, as I explored in the series "Frock fetish", and Housepeeking is kind of an extension of this. I am looking for objects with stories to tell, beautiful alignments of colour, shape and form, gorgeous kitties, but, most importantly, evidence of people's creativity, unique personal style, memories, hopes, dreams and general presence in a space. Plus, it gives me an excuse to visit lovely people, be nosy and share a cuppa and a chat!

Who or what are some of your inspirations?

As much as I have the greatest respect for the work of the photographic giants such as Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, I draw most of my inspiration from my subjects — the beautiful, talented and colourful people I surround myself with — as well as my photographic peers. Leah Robertson and Lauren Bamford (both Melbourne based) and Lyndal Irons (Sydney) all do absolutely beautiful work, and have been hugely supportive of my work, to boot!

How do you go about building and refining your personal style?

That is a tricky one! I don't think it is something that can be done deliberately, as that would be too forced. I just focus on documenting people and things that I love and/or find interesting, and try to be as sympathetic and respectful to my subjects as possible. The personal style seems to develop/appear of its own accord.

What advice can you give to photographers who want to start photographing bands and musicians?

Look to your local music community first, and get involved. Forget about making money from it. Music photography is not a way to make a living, for most, so you will have to love what you are doing. Try to find the balance between generosity and being taken advantage of. The great thing about music photography is that it really hones your photographic skills; if you can find a way to deal with the horrendous lighting in many venues, you can deal with most things!

How much of your time do you spend taking photos, as opposed to post-processing?

I tend to get very wrapped up with what I am shooting and get a bit obsessed with capturing every angle and take too many photos. I am trying to rein this in a bit. I do only minimal post-processing on my photos, so most of my time in Lightroom is spent agonising over culling decisions!

Where do you hope to take your photography next?

I really want to dedicate myself to Housepeeking, as it has not been as regular as I would like. The challenge in taking it overseas will be in convincing strangers to let me poke around in their homes!

More of Kate's work can be seen on her website

This photo of my friend Irit was taken at the Applecore Backyard Festival in February 2011. I saw Irit holding the fig, and thought the position of her hands and the delicate colours were beautiful. I had an 85mm lens on the D90 (approx 127mm focal length equivalent), which allowed for a tight crop with compressed perspective.

Exposure: 85mm, ISO 250, f/4, 1/160

Caption:Photo:Kate Seabrook
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Frock fetish 2

Also captured at Applecore, using a shallow depth of field throws the distracting foreground elements out of focus. The woman leaning in the opposite direction to which the man is walking creates tension in the composition.

Exposure: 85mm, ISO 200, f/4, 1/2500

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Frock fetish 3

This photo was taken after some good friends got married in the Treasury Gardens, just as the heels were starting to come off! I de-saturated the colours slightly to emphasise the textures and shapes.

Exposure: 85mm, ISO 250, f/4, 1/500

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Frock fetish 4

As I was photographing a gig at the Rooftop Bar at Curtain House, I spotted this woman in front of Beatbox Kitchen, and was struck by how the silvery grey of her boots so perfectly matched the dials on the Beatbox.

Exposure: 85mm, ISO 400, f/5, 1/1250

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Frock fetish 5

At the risk of this turning into "shoe fetish", I just had to include this photo I snapped recently at Ponyfish Island. I love the contrast of the outrageously colourful shoes in the centre, bookended by more traditional black shoes.

Exposure: 45mm, ISO 200, f/4, 1/400

Updated:Caption:Photo:Kate Seabrook
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Housepeeking 1 — Paul and Jules

The diptychs came about purely to make the blog format flow better, but I found that pairing photos based on colour, texture or subject matter ended up being quite fun!

Exposure: 50mm, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/80 (left image) 50mm, ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/80 (right image)

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Housepeeking 2 — Paul and Jules

I used a shallow depth of field to put the focus firmly on the eye, with the swirly lines out of focus to enhance the psychedelic feel of this shot.

Exposure: 50mm, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/100

Updated:Caption:Photo:Kate Seabrook
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Housepeeking 3 — Paul and Jules

I normally don't include people in my Housepeeking photos, but I could not resist snapping this photo of Jules and her glowing red hair under the UV light.

Exposure: 50mm, ISO 1600, f/2, 1/60

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Housepeeking 4 — Leah and Tommi

Arbus the kitten found my camera strap to be a fun toy, but was happy to pose for this photo on top of his ladder.

Exposure: 50mm, ISO 800, f/3.5, 1/125

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Housepeeking 5 — Leah and Tommi

I spotted Leah's collection of Polaroid cameras under the cabinet, and had to lay face first on the floor to snap this shot.

Exposure: 50mm, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/50

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Housepeeking 6 — Leah and Tommi

I deliberately blew the highlights to keep this colourful composition looking fresh and uncluttered.

Exposure: 50mm, ISO 800, f/4, 1/125

Updated:Caption:Photo:Kate Seabrook
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Tim of Plague Doctor

I had the pleasure of documenting a Hawaiian Zombie Dungeon Party featuring local band Plague Doctor in the basement at the Grace Darling Hotel in Collingwood. There was no stage lighting in the venue — just a couple of dim lamps on the wall — so I used diffused flash to get this shot.

Exposure: 50mm, ISO 250, f/2.8, 1/40

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Kim Salmon

I took this photo at the Old Bar in Fitzroy, home both to my favourite bar staff and my least-favourite stage lighting in Melbourne! I only took three photos at that gig before giving up, because the light was so rubbish, and it was only when I looked at this on the computer later that I realised it was a keeper. The original photo was all red-light fever, so I converted it to black and white, upped the contrast a bit and, hey presto, Kim looks like a rock star!

Exposure: 85mm, ISO 1600, f/2.2, 1/100

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Kim Volkman

Also taken at the Old Bar, this photo demonstrates that there is nothing more beautiful than the love between a man and his bass.

Exposure: 50mm, ISO 800, f/1.4, 1/100

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Kirsty Stegwazi of Hand Hell

Another photo from an Old Bar gig, I combined flash with a slow shutter speed, and moved the camera slightly as I was taking the photo to create the light streaks, which makes the composition more dynamic.

Exposure: 85mm, ISO 200, f/4, 1/10

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These photos of local band DEAD were taken at the Prague Bar in Thornbury, which is a rare pleasure to shoot gigs at since they installed a new lighting rig. I like how the light gives texture and definition to the subject.

Exposure: 85mm, ISO 1600, f/4, 1/160

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DEAD (2)

These photos of local band DEAD were taken at the Prague Bar in Thornbury, which is a rare pleasure to shoot gigs at since they installed a new lighting rig. I like how the light gives texture and definition to the subject.

Exposure: 85mm, ISO 1000, f/4, 1/160

Updated:Caption:Photo:Kate Seabrook
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Troy of the Paul Kidney Experience

Taken during an intimate Paul Kidney Experience gig at the Lyrebird Lounge in Elsternwick, the silhouette against the smoke was emphasised by warming the white balance and adding a vignette.

Exposure: 50mm, ISO 1000, f/1.6, 1/60

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James Grim

This photo of James from the Brothers Grim was taken during a sold-out show at the Tote in Collingwood. It was almost impossible to get to the front of the stage, so I used the 85mm lens (127mm on the D90) and stood on a couch at the side to get this shot.

Exposure: 85mm, ISO 1000, f/2.5, 1/100

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Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes

Captured during an in-store performance at Basements Discs in Melbourne, I love the warm, rich colours and the repetition of diagonal lines in this composition.

Exposure: 24mm, ISO 1250, f/2.8, 1/100

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Two Bright Lakes, Melbourne Central Rooftop gig

Whilst photographing a gig on a rooftop through a non-stop downpour is a bit oppressive, it does offer up some beautiful photo opportunities.

Exposure: 85mm, ISO 800, f/4, 1/160 (first photo) 85mm, ISO 800, f/4, 1/200 (second photo) 85mm, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/200 (third photo) 85mm, ISO 800, f/3.5, 1/160 (fourth photo)

Updated:Caption:Photo:Kate Seabrook
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Paul Kidney Experience: flower punk feast

Following a birthday feast at the Paul Kidney Experience headquarters, the band raided the dress-up cupboard for a photo shoot. The photo shoot itself produced fairly average results, but this spontaneous snap taken just before dessert proved to be a keeper. I appropriated an armchair as a makeshift tripod to get the shot.

Exposure: 50mm, ISO 250, f/2.5, 1/20

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Tim Rogers & Dan Sultan at the Community Cup

This photo of Tim Rogers and Dan Sultan was taken shortly after the Espy Rockdogs won the 2011 Community Cup. I love the contrast of the warm, natural light falling on their skin against the dark, moody background.

Exposure: 50mm, ISO 400, f/5, 1/160

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