Studio Writing

On Portraits

The most important thing in portrait photography is not the camera, the lens, or the lighting. It’s the subject. Working with the person in front of the camera and finding out just how to capture their unique presence is a critical skill.

In 1941, Yousuf Karsh took one of the most widely reproduced images in the history of photography, the scowling, defiant portrait of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill. Karsh had set up his lights and camera hoping to capture a photo after an important speech but nobody had told Churchill.

‘You may take one.’ Churchill said. I’ll defer to Karsh’s telling of the moment that followed…

“Churchill’s cigar was ever present. I held out an ashtray, but he would not dispose of it. I went back to my camera and made sure that everything was all right technically. I waited; he continued to chomp vigorously at his cigar. I waited. Then I stepped toward him and, without premeditation, but ever so respectfully, I said, ‘Forgive me, sir,’ and plucked the cigar out of his mouth. By the time I got back to my camera, he looked so belligerent he could have devoured me. It was at that instant that I took the photograph.”

The Roaring Lio n, a portrait by Yousuf Karsh
The Roaring Lion, a portrait by Yousuf Karsh

This post was written by James Gray, a member of Rozelle Darkroom. James focuses on portraiture and studio photography work. You can find the original article here and his Instagram here.


2021 Projects

Every project I do at Rozelle Darkroom is informed by my mission directives which are promoting the film photography darkroom crafts as well as promoting slower thinking. It’s one thing to come up with a project and another to skillfully execute it and to ensure its greatness. I have created so much mediocrity in my life and it makes me sad. I suppose the only way though to create greatness is to have a baseline measure to compare yourself with. Many find this measure in other peoples work, but I feel it is more revealing to reflect upon your own self, and then compare that state to your work as improvement is a function of introspection just as much as it is a function of retrospection.

I apologise for my rampant paraphrasing but Steve Jobs once suggested that the greatness of a product is the sum of the greatness of all the constituent processes involved in the creation of the product. In order to achieve greatness, I must granularise all the processes that are part of a project and elevate them. With larger projects this may be difficult as processes may lie out of my expertise. If I attempt a process like that I cannot ensure the highest level of quality. As well as this, another conundrum is time. Beautiful multifaceted and complex projects require many high quality ingredients which all require the investment of time.

The only answer to these challenges is delegation, which in itself has the power to bring people together as a community working towards one goal. Through the creation of large projects which require levels of process delegation, we are able to produce impactful material that satisfies our joint goals of protecting the antiquated craft of film photography and the darkroom craft.

Project NameProject TimelineProject Status
Boob Camera – Dark MofoDue around JulyProposal Submitted
Dark Roze ZineFirst of MayDesigning
Exhibit 1JuneConceptualising
Exhibit 2JulyConceptualising
Some projects. I don’t like how normal they are… More innovative plans are to come!

If you have a project idea, please email us at – we’d love to collaborate!


Using Pillow Stuffing As A Cloud Wall

This photoshoot was last minute planned with my friend Madison we decided to spend the whole day creating a cloud wall to do artistic portraits of an ancient goddess. We decided to make the cloud wall ourselves.

The cloud wall took three hours to make using cardboard boxes held together with good old duck tape, polyester stuffing found in cheap pillows from KMART and a ton of PVA glue to hold it all together. It was a laborious process but the results were worth it and we had a lot of fun that day. We filmed the timelapse below.

The images came out perfectly!

Close portrait cloud wall

Cloud wall

Cloud wall standing portrait

Big thanks to my beautiful model Madi and also Rozelle Darkroom for space

.Cloud wall portrait

Written By:

Caitlin Edie

Caitlin is a member of Rozelle Darkroom. She joined in late 2020 and has been avidly using the studio while she progresses in her photographic career. You can find Caitlin’s Instagram here and her website here.