Mason At The Old Geelong Gaol
On a location scout to the Old Geelong Gaol a few months ago, my first impression was, “I can’t wait to get a band in here for a shoot!” I had the location shots on file but found that I was having trouble selling the idea to potential clients. I felt it was an amazing location, full of different textures and scenery and a couple of hours in the place, and we could get some amazing results. And I still feel the same about the place.
The band Mason, a Thrash Metal quartet from Melbourne, hurriedly approached me and wanted to get a shoot happening. I was in the midst of winding down for the year and told the boys I would be free in January. However, with the impending release of their forthcoming EP, Unmerciful, the band wanted a shoot almost immediately. We had zero time so the shoot was hurriedly scheduled for the weekend.
Thankfully, they loved the location shots and were very, very keen to shoot in the Gaol. Smart lads!
I contacted one of the Gaol’s administrators on the Thursday before and told him of my plan. I told him we would only need the space for a couple of hours and would not be a nuisance to anyone. He agreed almost immediately and I informed the boys we were good to go.
We all arrived at the Gaol almost at the same time. We were greeted at the main entrance by one of the caretakers who basically told us we had the place to ourselves.
The boys acclimatised to the place and fell in love with it immediately.
The plan of attack was to utilise as much of the space as we could. There are so many differing places throughout the location that we could put to good use, and that is exactly what we did.
We began at one end of the Gaol and would slowly make our way to the next. At each point of call, we’d shoot some band shots and individual portrait shots.
Below are the first lot of photos we did together utilising the natural light and no flash. I didn’t care if the photos were a little dirty or rough, that is the look I was after…
Looking at the first batch of photos, I could already see in my mind’s eye how I wanted to process them and what colours to best push forward.
We moved to the other side of the Gaol inner courtyard and immediately I noticed there was a helluva lot more light coming through than when I last shot the place.
We treated this side of the complex pretty much as we did the previous side but adjusted to the bright light on hand so I shot the boys with the natural light on offer.
It certainly pays to have a thorough understanding of your location. I always do a very detailed shoot at any location I discover so that come the day of the actual shoot with a client, I know the area well and I know what will work best as a photograph. Today’s entire shoot had been planned and mapped out in my mind’s eye long before I even had a client ready to go and shoot here.
We then moved up to the Gaol’s second and mid level to do some more work. We utilised one of the stairwells and cell doors as a backdrop for the shots. More headshots were done here.
Moving into the ‘blue’ room, I feel this is the spot we were now really cooking with gas. Everyone agreed that this is where ‘the’ shot was going to come from. The old dilapidated room had a wonderful blue wall with a solitary window pouring in some amazing light. As soon as I took the first shot and looked at the result, I quickly let the lads have a look and we were all incredibly excited about what was being captured.
We then moved to the top-level of the prison where we were to wrap a fine day of work. We shot at the final locations and when we were walking down the stairs to exit, I called the boys in for one final shoot at the foot of the stairs. I had done this shot before with another band several years ago at another Gaol I had photographed in, but it was too cool a shot not to try with Mason so we spent a few minutes lining that up.
All in all, we had a fantastic day and collectively as client and photographer, we were pleased with what we achieved in a couple of hours in a cold, dark, unused prison complex.
I would like to personally thank the boys for their professionalism and attitude throughout the entire process and I look forward to working with them again in the future.