The Story

This year, I got the opportunity to shoot with some of the most renowned photographers from Australia: Hayden Pedersen (@haydos_pedersen), Mike (aka @northborders) and Limon Fan (@limonfan).

I met them for the first time at the big Melbourne photowalk on the 6th of September 2019, while I was living in Melbourne on my semester abroad. While the photowalk was a super hectic even with more than 200 photographers walking around the city's central business district, I got a few chances to talk with the boys for a while and simply took the initiative and asked Hayden if I could get a chance to shoot photos with him one time. Just a couple of days later, Hayden invited me to come along to a shoot the next Tuesday after that.

In this action-packed shoot we took pictures of the mad american scooter rider Dylan Morrison, who got be an ISA (International Scooter Association) 2nd World champion winner in 2013. He showed off his incredible talent for us and we spiced up to the photos by adding a bunch of sparklers to his scooter and BMX. 🎇

This turned out to be one of the greatest chances to learn about photography I got this year and I wanted to reflect upon my experience and share my takeaways with you.

1. Prepare your photoshoot

Good photos usually don't happen by accident, they get planned. 

If you have a specific photo in mind before you head out, chances are it's gonna turn out much better if you shoot whatever comes in front of your lens. Get some inspiration from the internet (my tip: Pinterest), save a few pictures similar what you want to achieve and have them ready when you're out.

Select a suitable and interesting location. 📍 Consider time of the day, and how the look of a location can change. For this photoshoot we went to Webb Bridge, an interesting pedestrian bridge over the Yarra River in Melbourne, which is illuminated at night and usually pretty empty at night.

As a second location we went to the Riverslide Skate Park further south of the city, which is not lit up at all at night. If you know that in advance, you can use that to your advantage and create your own lighting situation. So we showed up with a lot of flashlights, lume cubes and LED light poles. This made it bright enough to perfect light up the subject without illuminating the whole skate park. 💡

Webb Bridge

Riverslide Skate Park

2. Master Your Tools

Make sure you know your camera. Especially at fast-paced, action-packed photoshoots under difficult circumstances like this it is absolutely crucial that you can operate your camera not only manually, but blindfolded.

If you know exactly which button to push and which direction to rotate the wheel to change aperture, exposure time, ISO etc. you'll be much quicker adjusting to changing conditions and not miss the perfect shot. Do research about different AF modes and know when to use each of them, find the highest usable ISO setting for your camera and good camera settings for specific occasions. Since I got a new camera body about a year ago, I dove deep into the manual and learnt what every single button does. Since that time I use my camera way more consciously, which also takes the stress and nervosity out of a shoot, because you know what to do if you don't achieve the results you're aiming for.

3. Sparklers! Steelwool! Oven grills! Whatever!

Make your photo stand out with adding effects and sparks to it 🔥

If you take a closer look at the look of the photos of Hayden, Mike, Liam, Limon and Co. you'll soon see how they turn rather simple motives/locations into something mesmerizing by combining them with some prop: Those could be sparklers, your phone flashlight, fairy lights, clothing that stand out, flying objects or even fire. That gives your photos some extra colour and makes it stand apart from other photos if you take pictures of something which has been photographed a hundred times before. Sometimes that can just be seemingly random things laying around your home, as you can see in 7th Era's viral portrait photography ideas YouTube video.

4. Get creative

Photography is about creativity. Try to show the world from a unique point of view and find new perspectives. In our example, we got specifcally low to emphasize the jumps and movement in the shots. Hayden, Mike and Co. like to get really close to the subject, so you have a dramatic depth effect.
I arranged myself so I would have the skyline of the city in the background.

5. Have fun during the process

Even though your idea might not turn out as expected, that doesn't matter, as long as you had fun on the way! 🙂

To me, photography is not about taking the perfect picture, but enjoying it as my passion. If you are shooting portraits of someone and focus on having fun and joking around, you'll quickly see that this also results in much better photos. Take it easy, establish a loose atmosphere and your model will feel more comfortable, you'll feel pressure and and everything is gonna go a good way. 😎

Create more and enjoy the journey!

Peace out, Max.

the boys on social media:

Hayden Pedersen


Limon Fan

Dylan Morrison

Watch Hayden's vlog on the shoot

Sparkler bomb photography!

About the author

Hey there, I'm Max aka Maximalfocus. Nice that you found my blog. I'm a business student, product manager and photographer from Germany. I started off with landscape and wedding photography in 2015 and got into portrait and business photography in the last years.

I've always loved taking pictures at night, which ignited my love for Neon Portraits during my time in Melbourne. Check out more of my stuff on my website here or my Instagram.