Bowie at the Rocks

So it was late friday arvo when I got a call from the editor of Cielo Magazine “saying I need you in Sydney tomorrow to shoot the cover and editorial for the next addition of the mag, we have Bowie’s gowns straight of the catwalk, hair, make-up and an amazing model from New York, also you need to bring lighting with you”. I arrived at Bowies showroom around midday on Saturday with my 5 cases of excess luggage and met Monique the hair and make-up artist and the amazing Bowie.

The first thing he said to me was “so how are you going to shoot this?” I answered  “um I have no idea, can someone show me what the model looks like and can I see your collection”. The model Meaghan Wallen had a very classical look and the gowns had such a timeless silhouette and so much detail, all I could think of is Paparazzi  meets old world hollywood, at night, down at the Rocks but try to make it feel like Europe,  on camera flash and black and white. Bowie and the stylist loved my idea but all the editor of Cielo could say is yes love it but your not shooting the cover with on camera flash. I said ok then I will set up some lights for the cover shot to keep him happy. Its now 10 pm hair and make-up done, the model is wearing this amazing priceless gold incrusted black silk kimono and we head off to under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

When we get their the editor said “were  are the lights?” I said just let me do a couple of shots and if you don’t like them I will go get the lights. He was not very happy with my answer till I showed him the first 4 captures on the back of my camera. I was so lucky because we had a video crew there who captured his response and I’m going to hold him to it. He said quote ” if you can get photos like that you can use an iPhone to shoot a cover “. We shot till about 3am just using ambient street light and on camera flash. And yes I took the 5 unopened cases back home with me on a 6am flight sunday morning. If you would like to see how I shoot on camera flash at night here is a link to a video from another shoot















Model: Meaghan Weller @ DNA New York
Hair & Make-up: Monique Lagnerious
Stylist: Jess Wood @ Bowie
Creative Director: Dimitri Frost
Designer: Bowie
For: Cielo Mag Int
Lighting: Canon EX580II on camera flash
Model:Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
Shutter Speed:1/30 to 160 second
Aperture:F/2.8 to 5.6
Lens:16-35mm f2.8
ISO Speed:2000 to 8000


Andre De Angelis

Seriously Peter,

These are superb, as always.

What you manage to pull off does my head in. I could not imagine daring to pull of a shoot like that with anything less than a batter pack with a decent modifier.

I also love your composure and unflappable confidence in your vision and your own ability. It takes some guts to stick to your guns when a producer is that cynical, and prove them wrong.

It’s obvious why you’re the person they call to do these high pressure shoots.

On a side note, may I ask why you opted for the Mark IV and not your IDX?




    The 1Dx had not been realised when I shot this 🙂

Doctor Paul Perkoulidis

How extraordinary and stunning these photos are! And with ambient street light too! Incredible.
Well done.


By the shadows and the hard-light-look mostly on the first couple of shots I suppose this is a bare flash with the flash zoom following the lens zoom, so basically a wide angle of light, is that correct? Thanks

PS: have you ever tried moving the flash slightly off axis by using a custom bracket?


    Yes bare flash the flash was on manual and flash zoom was at its widest. I do use of axis brackets but not on this shoot.


Flash on manual? I assume you rely on the back screen a lot!


    no I just keep the same distance from the model

Don Urban

Great story to go wit the remarkable photos. Love the look with the direct flash. Rules are meant to be broken and you do it so well!


    Thanks Don, I don’t like rules 🙂

Emil Bosch

Your work never ceases to fascinate and impress me. I am hugely impressed with your approach to lighting, both in the studio (wow!) and on location.


    Thanks Emil

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