Shooting for the Women’s Refuge – to keep what you have you’ve got to give it away.


I do pro bono shoots every now and then  (the one before this was for Shine up in Auckland) and I’d urge you to do the same whatever your profession. There are hundreds of charities and non-profits in desperate need of help (pictures, web design, even things like making posters) and would absolutely love to hear from you if you have some free time.

I saw a post on Facebook. A friend of a friend from the Women’s Refuge was looking for someone who could help out and take some pics of some women who had been through hell and come out the other side. There was to be an event, a ball, to celebrate the launch of a coffee-table book called Grim Tales featuring stories of these women and how they prevailed and triumphed through sometimes life-threatening abuse. For sure I put my hand up and volunteered to take the photographs. Nobody should have to endure what these women went through and if my mediocre skills help just a teensy bit then it’s worth it right? The only thing it costs me is time after all, but that little bit of time might give someone something they can cherish and look back on in years to come… which would mean printing the images.

I spoke to Kale Print in Tauranga and explained what the shoot was for and why I was doing it, and to be honest I was looking for some prints to give the women after the ball. Otherwise, no matter how good the pictures might turn out they’ll just be on a hard-drive, or on Facebook, or on a screen and forgotten about. A print is so much more meaningful than a collection of pixels and Kale Print, in all their awesomeness, were totally on board and offered to print an A3 on the house for the ladies at the event. How cool is that? Sometimes people are fantastic.

So, the night. I went down early to check out the location (The Incubator in Tauranga’s historic district) and try and find as many different backgrounds as I could that were in keeping with the theme and could be shot in the same room with minimal teardown/setup shenanigans. The Incubator is a total smorgasbord of random props and bits of sets from TV shows, stage productions, that kinda thing. None of it matches, and its eclectic wacky nature was a real inspiration in framing some of the shots.

Lighting was just a big octabox and occasionally a softbox for fill. I had to be quick with an hour to photograph all the ladies before they were needed for the ball and presentation of the Grim Tales book. Without further ado, here are the images selected for printing.

wr3 wr8 wr2 wr6 wr5 wr7 wr4 wr1

I wanted to make every image different, personalised but also hopefully complimentary to the outfit as a whole and testament to the strength of these women. I didn’t want the posing to be demure or effacing, but proud, forthright, unashamed. An attestation that they won’t be broken. I’m proud of what we accomplished that night. I’ve done a lot commercial jobs around the world for some pretty big clients, but this one means a great deal to me and hopefully, to the women involved.

Please go and check out the book here: and all the proceeds go to the Women’s Refuge who need all the help they can get.

And if you’re inspired or wondering if you can help out, have a look around on Google or Facebook for charities and non-profits in your area. What floats your boat? Conservation? Animals? Human rights? Someone out there would love to hear from you and have you on board.