Articles, Column, Featured, Markus Jaaskelainen, Photo Focus
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88 Stars


It’s been a while since I last did portraits. I arrive at the hotel at 9.45am. It’s too early and I need to wait for my subjects to get out of the lecture. There are 88 of them.

I have been hired to photograph an astrophysicist convention in a well known Blue Mountains resort. These are probably the most intelligent portrait subjects I’ll ever get to photograph.

It’s a good thing there’s a whole constellation of them.

I talk to my contact. She suggests we do the shoot outside, in front of some greenery in the back of the hotel.

All I need is a decent background, and the sun facing me. “We don’t want people squinting in the sun,” I tell her.

It’s almost time. I’ve checked my camera settings. My flash works. It’s a beautiful day in the Mountains and I’ve been in Australia for almost ten years. When I arrived I had nothing, I think to myself. Now I’m photographing scientists.

And then they start coming. The first person steps inside the designated area, smiles like a star and moves away. This is going to be a fast ride.
I greet everyone with a hello or how are you going.

Then, a quick glance at the back of the camera to make sure that the focus is spot on.

“Thank you very much.”


I feel like the soup nazi in Seinfeld. Except this time everyone gets their soup.

The portraits are over in an hour. My contact tells me she had a photographer somewhere in Perth that took an hour to get the lights right. I think of soft boxes and elaborate lighting diagrams.

The more you learn the less you need. This time, all I needed was my camera, the sun and a flash.

And 88 stars.

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