The stylish Mel Brady, naturally.

Mel Brady first captured my attention over three years ago at an exhibition.  Her style and grace attract attention from men and women from all walks of life. I just had to get know who she was, and after connecting, I found out she was a Melbourne based stylist and model.  I have watched her journey through social media over the years and wanted to learn more about her and celebrate her beauty and power through portraits.

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How did you get into the career of becoming a stylist?

I’ve been styling since I was in my early 20’s, long before it was actually a job description.  I sort of fell into it. I wasn’t prepared then and quite frankly sometimes I still think I’m ill prepared ;) but, I take each day as it comes without fear...so, I think I run with the ball pretty well.

What has been the biggest challenge or fear you have had to overcome in business and how did you manage this?  

I’ve had so many challenges over the course of 35 years in business, too many to mention really; but if forced I would say falling over and smashing my wrist some 8 years ago.  

I had to have an extended break from work to learn how to use my hand again.  It was very challenging financially and emotionally.  

But, through that recovery I came out the other end rather fearless.  It was during that time I shaved my head and grew out my silver hair, which is whats lead me into modelling as a naturally ageing 50 something and consequently, writing about embracing age rather than defying it.  So my biggest challenge it appears was my ‘sliding door’ moment.

When you are running your own business, how do you achieve balance between relationships, work and personal needs?

Truthfully I don’t question how I do this..I just do.  Those I care about know very well how important they are to me...so they understand when work is busy I keep focus and don’t socialise much..when it’s quiet I make sure I balance my relationships books.

What have you put in place as a reminder to nourish your body and take time out for yourself?  

I don’t ‘do’ anything regularly to nourish myself, for me it’s more about finding the zen in everyday tasks.  

In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?

In the beginning as I recall I was happy enough to have clients ..as I said stylists were few and far between.  

The trick really is not to ‘try hard’ to attract them, if you are good at what you do, passionate and thoughtful they will come; if you go above and beyond in fulfilling their brief, then the trick is to make sure they keep coming back to you.  

In my line of work, even then, chances are eventually they will move on to someone else, so it’s important to remember to not take this personally.   In life doors close, doors open all the time.  The only constant I’ve found is change.

What does a typical day look like for you?

No day is typical..I could be in preproduction for a shoot sourcing props designing or building sets.  Styling a shoot..or, If styling is quiet I might be organising a shoot for new shots of myself to go with my writing, or writing.

What do you love most about what you do?  

Ha, that each day is different ;)  

Who are your biggest role models or influences that have impacted your career?  

None that I can think of really..there are plenty of women I admire like Diana Vreeland or Coco Chanel but I wouldn’t say they are role models nor would I say anyone has influenced me..  

I’m a maverick I suppose.

If you weren't afraid and had no limits, what would you do?

I’m not afraid, but life still has limits no matter who you are.

But…If I didn’t have to think about paying my bills then whatever I did it would be helping others to see they have nothing to fear…fear holds us back, worrying about what others think is often many peoples fears.  

Life is too short to worry about others judgements.  What other people think of you is their business, don’t you think?

Tell us something we may not know about you already?   

I photograph cats for a shelter (it’s a long and sad story how that all started so I will leave that part out) The end result is my images show their personalities and adoptions are up since I’ve been doing it these past 6 months…it feels good to help.  (always looking for cat wranglers too..so put your  hands up anybody, if you want to donate some time to wrangle for me)

Any words of wisdom or for those thinking of taking the leap?

Working for yourself is not for everyone..my journey is probably quite different from many peoples as I’m a lone ranger, I don’t employ people aside from freelance assistants occasionally.  This has its benefits and its downfalls.  Benefits being I don’t have the worry of making sure everyone I employ is okay..downfall is I can be a little insulated.

How has working with Prue as your photographer contributed to your business?  

 

She understood my brief which was paramount to me, I don’t want to be retouched in any way..so it was important we shot with daylight to address my mantra of being natural.

What are you listening to right now?

Client Liaison

Quote that keeps you inspired?

‘The only constant is change' & 'Every problem has its own solution’

What are your values?

Oh gosh..really?  I could write a book. Instead I will say something my mum said to me a million years ago..which has really stuck and goes to the core of who I am.  

‘I am not better than anybody else..and no one is better than me.’

Carla Troiano - Talent, Passion and a little bit of Diva!

I first met Carla Troiano back in 2015 where we spent a very long weekend together over new year's eve at Falls Festival. I was absolutely mesmerised by her energy and the way she engaged with people making her a magnetic empowered soul.

When I was asked to photograph her and her band Mayfield for their album cover I was over the moon, although having references to some of the best photographers on the world such as Mario Testino and Annie Liebovitz I was a tad nervous. I made sure to spend time with the band to get to know all the members and understand their music. This did involve some late night antics and a little too much drinking at times. The end result was capturing what I believed was their true authentic selves. I wanted to share a little more about Carla and how she got to where she is Today.

We all have a beginning, what was your first ever singing gig?

My first ever singing gig, where I thought…"yep, this is what I’m going to do forever" was when I was 11 years old. I won a singing competition singing “Hands” by Jewel. I was so nervous and excited. Michael Gudinski from Mushroom records was in the audience and he came up to me after the show and said. “Never, ever stop singing with a voice like that”. I think from that day on I developed a serious fire and passion.

Was there a defining moment that made you decide you wanted to be a musician?

I saw Tina Arena on Young Talent Time and I thought to myself, “That is exactly what I want to do”, so I made my mum take me to the Johnny Young talent school when I was 3 years old. I decided that I wanted to front a band and sing soul music when I was 13. I saw Renee’ Geyer in concert and was mesmerised the entire time.

How did you prepare yourself to start your career in the music industry?

I don’t think anything can really prepare you, because the industry isn’t linear. It’s not a conventional kind of industry where you get a degree, then maybe intern, and build your way up a corporate ladder. I just dived in head first.  

Once I decided this was my path, I never looked back.  I watched a lot of musicians play and listened to their skills and style. I asked lots of questions of experienced players and people in the industry and learnt from their mistakes and the paths they took. I made connections and contacts and paid my dues.  

I learnt some of the best skills early on backing singing for singers that I admired. I had to be patient. I am still having singing lessons and I watch as much live music as I can. You never ever stop learning. You have to have pretty thick skin. Not everyone is going to love you. But you have to back yourself.

 
 

What has been the biggest challenge or fear you have had to overcome and how did you manage this?

The biggest challenge in my younger years was with body image. As a young girl, most “pop stars” look a certain way and have a certain type of body shape. I was also around a lot of dancers and studied a musical theatre course. I never looked like the other girls did growing up and I think that really affected me. I thought that in order to be successful I had to be slim and tall and portray a certain type of image. It was a challenge that I have constantly had to overcome.

As I’ve gotten older and more comfortable in my own skin, I wish I could tell my younger self that it has nothing to do with the sound of my voice and my body is my tool to create music. I adore getting older, feeling stronger, more confident, and more accepting of myself. I have embraced all I am and no longer compare myself to anyone else. I am just myself. In all my Diva ways...hahaha. I just had to trust myself and my heart and I’ve done a lot of work on my soul and my voice. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more confident and more beautiful than I have at this stage in my life.

 
Justin "Kenny" Hall - Saxaphone

Justin "Kenny" Hall - Saxaphone

Benny Oastler - Guitarist

Benny Oastler - Guitarist

 

How do you achieve balance with family, friend and work?  

This is a really hard one. I am so so so lucky to have the most incredible support network in the world. I have the most beautiful family who are always there for me and friends that I have been friends with for over 18 years. They all know that this is what I do and sometimes I will miss out on things due to my music commitments.

My relationships are very important to me so it’s not easy to miss things like birthdays, weddings and family occasions. I do my best to stay in touch with technology and stay up to date with texting and emails and make a lot of phone calls to check in with those important to me.

My friends and family ground me. If I didn’t speak to them, I would just miss them all too much.

And what have you put in place as a reminder to nourish your body and take time out for yourself?

I love to work out! I’m obsessed with the gym. More for my mind than my body actually. It allows me to totally switch off, get off my phone and not be thinking of a million things to do. It’s my time out.

I love the feeling of a big sweat session and feel on top of the world and the sexiest after a big workout.

I also eat very well. I’m not a huge sweets person and I’m also not a fan of a lot of take away food.  I love good, clean meals. My downfall is Pasta (I am Italian!) so I make sure I have that at least once a week because it’s my favorite.

Oh and red wine. I love red wine.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My days and schedule always vary, depending on gigs, rehearsals, recording sessions, practice and work. It’s always a little different. I like that I’ve created that kind of lifestyle. A typical 9-5 day is not for me. I work part time in admin and marketing.  I also run a social media management and creative direction agency, “Impero media group”.  I’m managing my band and my solo career. So my day is all about lists and ticking things off. I love a good list!

Ivan "Choi" Khatchoyan - Drummer

Ivan "Choi" Khatchoyan - Drummer

What do you love most about what you do?

I love that I get to tell stories. I think that being a singer is being a storyteller.

I get to engage with an audience and musicians and have a beautiful live, authentic experience that is never the same twice. I also love to dress up.

Stage outfits are my thing. I’m a diva all the way and I don’t apologise for it. Why would I sing in the same clothes I wear to the cafe down the street? The Melbourne music industry lacks some serious glamour. I hope that I inspire others to have more fun with it. Take more risks- Musically and with clothes!

Who are your biggest role models or influences that have impacted your career?

My brother Anthony Troiano.  Drummer of “Tame the Sun” and founder and creator of “AJT Jewelry”.  He is fearless, won’t take no for an answer, and has achieved so much with his career and business that it blows my mind. He just keeps going, is passionate, works hard as hell and if a door closes, he makes sure he opens another one.

Benny "Hoos" Huisman - Keyboard

Benny "Hoos" Huisman - Keyboard

What's next for you and your business/ music career?  

My band Mayfield are set to release our debut album on the 15th of July at The Gasometer hotel. The album has been 2.5 years of work. It’s going to be the most incredible feeling to actually have it out in the world.

I have also started working on my solo album. I’m excited to explore some different sounds and work with some different people. The plan is to have the album out early-mid next year.  I want to grow my social media management business “Impero Media group”. I have a lot to look forward too.

Any words of wisdom or for those thinking of following their passion?

My biggest piece of advice is “Talent will only take you so far”. Nothing can replace worth ethic.

Get hungry, get passion and work your ass off.

No one will love your business and work as much as you love it. If you don’t know the answer, ask questions.  If you don’t have the skills, learn how to do it or outsource. Back yourself. Learn from your mistakes and remember to nourish your soul.

How has working with Prue as your photographer contributed to your business?

Working with Prue was a dream come true. I knew that there was no one else who could capture what I wanted. She made me feel comfortable.  I was feeling a little shy and she pushed my boundaries and we ended up with the most sensational photos.

The photos Prue took of me really cemented my branding, show my personality and a beautiful combination of sass, strength and vulnerability. She captured me in a photograph, which I think is the most important thing. When I released the photos everyone went crazy over them. She really nailed it.

Also she shot the front cover of the Mayfield album. I knew it had to be the album cover as soon as I saw the photo. She’s a genius. No other Melbourne band or singer were taking photos like this. I knew she had to be the one to set us apart from the crowd.

What are you listening to right now?

My gorgeous friend Zoe K’s new album “It’s just what I like”

Favourite movie?

Vicky Christina Barcelona.

Quote that keeps you inspired?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

What are your values?

Kindness, Forgiveness, Humility and Work hard.  Really hard. Then work harder.  Nothing in life comes easy.

What is the vision statement for your business?

That my music can be heard all over the world. I want to live in another city for a little while. New York or LA and continue to grow as a person and an artist.

Mayfield Album Launch Saturday, July 15th at The Gasometer Hotel 8pm

The Real Magic.

My heart broke into pieces this week when my 7 year old daughter Myla cried "I wish magic was real!".  It has been a tough year for her. I believe she's a little too young to find out that Santa isn't real, nor the easter bunny, and then this - "Mum why are you writing on the same paper that the tooth fairy writes her letters on?" $#%T!

I hold her tight and respond by explaining that there is real magic.  It is just different from the magic she knew. "No it's not, it's all made up, it is a set up!". I felt like crying too.  If you asked me a year ago, I would have probably agreed. It is going to take some time to prepare her for the type of magic that does exist...For now, I want to share with you a story from the past month in my life where I trusted in the magic to get me through.

On 1st May 2017, I arrived back in freezing Melbourne at 6am after my first ever trip overseas for my business as a photographer.  I wanted to maximise my Monday and get straight into work, for anyone that has met me you know this is how I roll.

I was in meetings most of that day and after catching up a week's work, I finished early to pick Myla up from school. Also, I needed to stock up on food to join some week old veggies and off milk in the fridge.

En route, my car stopped, literally. I couldn't get out of 1st gear.  It crawled straight to the mechanic. He had no idea why but advised I'd be without a car for a few days.  Unloading Myla and all my equipment into an Uber, I arrived home and fell in a heap.

Thank god for Uber (also suppliers of our chinese takeaway that night).  "You can have a lunch order tomorrow Myla YAY!"  Oh that's right.  School doesn't do lunch orders tomorrow. "How about an old apple, cheery tomatoes and prawn crackers leftover from dinner sound?" Mum fail # 987.

I kept my cool as the public transport to meetings took four times as long. The inbox filled up and the pressure I put on myself to deliver everything perfectly and on time built. By Wednesday the mechanic still wasn't sure what was happening with my car.  I had two shoots that day, and luckily my lovely assistant drove me around.  Upon finishing the second shoot, however,  I'm on the other side of town with 1 hour to pick up a loan car, pack down the shoot and get back to my daughter's school before after care closed.

I had to leave the shoot early.  It killed me.  Letting people down and being late are my top two nightmares. At the train station, I had no idea what platform I was suppose to be on.  The guard made me aware it was the very distant 4th one over (of course!). I had to go through a gate at this point and my myki wouldn't tap on. "YOU HAVE ALREADY TAPPED ON".  The moment of breakdown.  I just stopped and cried.  I asked myself and the universe "What have I done wrong?".  "What am I suppose to learn from this and why have you stretched me to breaking point?"

The poor security guard comes over and asks if I'm ok.  Shuddering with tears "my ccaarrdd woontt tapp on".  Oh dear - first world problems, he must have thought. You may be asking why I didn't get an Uber at this point?  Trains are a lot faster than sitting in traffic at this time of day.

Anyway, so this story doesn't drag out too much longer.  I picked up the loan car and then Myla just in time to order Uber Eats AGAIN and with the sleepy girl companion, drove back to the other side of town to pack down the shoot I had to walk off earlier.

Thursday. The car was going to cost $4K, but they suggest I get in touch with the car company as it maybe a fault. I had the car towed there meanwhile clearly visualising the phone call "Hello Miss, we are letting you know that your car is going to have the transmission replaced complimentary by us". I ran it over and over in my head.

The following week I had a coaching session with Kemi Nekvapil, this woman has changed my life in so many ways but I will save that in another chapter. Kemi gave me the encouragement I needed to book a day off for myself, do yoga, take myself out for brunch, write (about a personal project). I scheduled it into my calendar for the following week, 1 whole day for personal care, blocked out. The moment of magic, it was as if the clouds parted and the sun shone where I was standing and the angel chime rang (you know the sound). My car company rang "We are going to fix your car complimentary and you will have it back on Friday". 

The magic does exist and the message was clear - slow down, take care of yourself.  Without you, there is nothing. The world needs the magic inside of you, but you wont have anything to give if you don't stop once in a while, reflect and have gratitude for everything you have created in your life.

So my wish for you is to take time out, look after your body, mind and spirit.   Give your best to the world and savour the real magic.

Birdie Cashmere - Pure and Simple Luxury

Birdie Cashmere - Pure and Simple Luxury

This would have to be one of my favourite shoots from 2016.  I've had to restrain myself from sharing these photos until this seasons launch for Birdie Cashmere. I was thrilled when I first met Rebecca Trinca, designer and founder of Birdie Cashmere.  Birdie provides great quality fabrics and classic designs at an approachable price point.

Peta Sitcheff helps discover your signature selling style.

Peta Sitcheff helps discover your signature selling style.

When Peta Sitcheff approached me about starting a new chapter I was surprised.  She had a successful sales career with multiple options on the table.  Her courage to leave a secure flourishing job and go out on her own would inspire anyone.

After a decade working in a highly demanding position, her experience and knowledge is extensive. Peta is now passionate about empowering professionals to grow their personal brand or business by coaching clients to find a signature sales voice to build confidence and growth.

Love, Career and Motherhood with Nicole Kidman

This week I had the honor of photographing Nicole Kidman.When I first received an email titled “Do you want to photograph Nicole Kidman?”, I thought "that's a strange title for a hoax email," only to realise that it was real! Immediately my brain kicked into gear thinking of all the ways I would like to capture this influential woman; the background, the props, the poses, and how would I make her laugh to capture those "in-between" moments.

Artist & Designer Hannah Sutton

Artist & Designer Hannah Sutton

Wearing a striking red dress an infectious smile I had to know who that girl across the room was. I was introduced to Hannah Sutton by Kemi Nekvapil at her book launch 3 years ago, and she continues to blow me away with her creative astute across so many mediums. Not only is Hannah an illustrator and graphic designer, she has most recently been accepted into the prestigious world-renowned Florence Academy of Art for her classical painting. 

Restore A Yoga Mum

Restore A Yoga Mum

As a mum in business finding balance and keeping a clear head can be the biggest challenge. I've been working with Tina Bruce from Restore a yoga mum the past two years to get her story out there through photography for her social media content. Here is Tina's story on how she created a space for women everywhere to enjoy the benefits of yoga and meditation.

Shoe Envy

Usually I would try to come up with a catchy title for my updates, but my client Heather Potter has made it all too easy with the name of her business, Shoe Envy.
 

As I have entered my thirties and become a mother, my body shape has changed making it a little more difficult to get the same enjoyment out of trying on clothes. One thing I can always rely on though is fitting shoes!

When I first saw Heather’s shoe wardrobe I nearly fainted! At lease 500 pairs of bright bold statement shoes.

In collaboration with stylist Jess Dean I have been busy reimagining Shoe Envy's brand. Combining photography with styling, the goal was to showcase the products and how they can be worn in a variety of ways. By keeping the design concept minimal, it is hoped customer will be able to see how the shoes can be adapted to their wardrobes.


Since our first shoot three months ago, Shoe Envy's online following has doubled and there has been increased traffic to the website with leads converting into sales and helping the business to grow.