The Blackhelm shoot you see before you had been done and dusted several months ago in the heart of Melbourne’s winter.
The shoot was embargoed however, until the band (formerly Metalstorm) was ready to be unleashed to the world under their new moniker, Blackhelm. I was so antsy as I really wanted people to see these shots as I felt that we had a great day together making them.
Well, the time has come and Blackhelm are ready for the world to hear and see them!
I had very much been looking forward to this photo shoot for a while and I was super stoked that the boys wanted to work together and shoot throughout the grounds of the Abbotsford Convent as it has so many fantastic locations to utilise. Especially for a Metal shoot. Especially for a Black Metal shoot!
I had presented the boys with a few locations, but the Convent is where their hearts were.
Picture the scene… a cool wintry Saturday morning in Melbourne. Hundreds of families taking their kids off to the adjacent Collingwood Children’s Farm for a Farmer’s Market outing. And there we are. Six dudes dressed in leather, studs, dark glasses and long hair carrying a box of skulls, candles, a candelabra and other assorted macabre goodies. I’m surprised no one called the police or mistook us as the cast of Sons Of Anarchy of Church Of Satan acolytes(!)
The plan beforehand was to utilise as much of the exterior of the Abbotsford Convent before moving inside. Having had a peruse through my location shots of a few weeks ago, we were in complete readiness on what to do and where to do it. In short, we were prepared.
First point of call was against a side wall in a lot adjacent to the convent. The textures are amazing and I got the boys to pose in front of it whilst I did the rest. Positioning them was easy and I let them stand as they would without forcing any contrived poses and such. Keep it simple. Keep it natural. Let the surrounds do the work for us.
We did several band shots at this spot and also individual portrait shots. The white wall and the boys’ dark demeanour made for great contrast and looked perfect through the camera’s viewfinder. Easy!
Although the wall looks old, I believe the signage on there is not real and was used for a recent film shoot there. Superb set dressing indeed!
With the individual head-shots, I like to get in as close as possible, literally shoving the camera into the boys’ faces and taking 5-6 shots whilst moving from left-to-right and just getting the individual member to stare at me as if they wanted to slash my throat. Quick and nasty.
On our way to the convent’s courtyard, we stopped in a brightly lit hallway and this is where the props first reared their head! There was incredibly strong backlight coming in from the rear and we decided to take a couple of snaps utilising the cool lines and light afforded to us by the ‘under construction’ exterior hallway. I found this a little tough as the incredibly bright rear light was causing silhouettes of the boys. Trying to shoot it the other way wasn’t working aesthetically as the cool factor of the wooden construction was suddenly lost when it wasn’t being backlit. Trust me, it just looked dull the other way.
Quite a laugh when an elderly couple interrupted us as they wanted to walk through the hallway to get the courtyard. It was a little awkward and you’re wondering just what the hell is running through their heads but the situation was calmed nicely down when all present burst out laughing. I wasn’t happy with the results so we’ll just consider these as out-takes and only shown here as an interesting idea that didn’t quite work out.
Still outside at this point of the day, we ended up in the Convent’s courtyard. With a magnificent tree and the old infrastructure of the convent flanking it on either side, the boys stood in the middle and again, we let our surrounds sell the shot.
After the courtyard stop, we move to the side of the Convent and this is where things get all Opeth-like with a round monument adorning the open side courtyard. Again, killer spot that does all the work for you setting up the right atmosphere.
With the exterior shots done it was time to go inside. Now take into account, the Convent was swamped with visitors at the time and as stated, it was a little hard to remain anonymous and inconspicuous at the same time. Inside the Convent, I wanted to take the boys to a restricted area which was cordoned off and not allowed to be accessed by visitors. With clear instructions to everyone to keep things very quiet we moved downstairs and quickly got to work. Light was poor but that would add to the overall atmosphere. Clean, crisp, bright as hell photos were not what we were after in the first place, so the underground surrounds we now found ourselves in were perfect.
At this point of the day, we were pretty much done and dusted. Of course there are other shots we did on the day but they’ll remain in the our collective archives but as we were all leaving and saying our goodbye’s outside the flank of the Convent, we all noticed this incredible tree. In unison and almost without anyone even saying anything, we were lining up to use this tree in another shoot. Personally, these are my fave shots of the day as they captured the mood of the band and the day perfectly. With the band in the foreground, the tree in the middle almost enveloping the band and a crucifix at the top of the building in the rear, we had some killer stuff to work with. Positioning it all to get it all in frame was a minor challenge but we got what we were after.
It was a fantastic day made all the more easy by everyone being on the same page and working together to achieve an end result. I am super excited to see what the future brings for the boys and am very much looking forward to seeing them live and hearing the new album. Some links below will help you to get to know Blackhelm a little better.
Links you need to check out: