Posts in Portraits
Portrait photography: Zea Stallings, Denver folk musician
Zea & the Copper Children album art

Zea & the Copper Children album art

Zea Stallings is a picture-book folk singer: curly hair, a slow stride and an ardent gaze. When the 20-year-old speaks, he spills abstract, grandiose ideals that might cause the more cynical among us to smirk.

"I don't want to be tied to a label, you know? I don't want to identify as folk, or soul, or anything. I just want to make music."

But by far, the most striking thing about Zea is his voice. This voice can silence a buzzing room of people who don't even know his name. It skips across stanzas and darts through heavy subject matter without trivialising the stories he weaves. And what stories they are: Zea's idealism complements his musical mastery to great effect, and it's easy to forget he's still too young to drink in some parts of the world. 

I met Zea through another stellar singer-songwriter, Colleen Evalyn, and despite my preference for electronic music - I've recently started DJing - I was immediately taken with his live performance. I knew I had to photograph him, so we put our heads together and created a shoot in corners of the Denver CBD that lent the shoot a country town feel. Can you believe these were all shot in the middle of a busy city the size of Melbourne?

Chuck him a listen and tell me you're not impressed. I hope you enjoy the images while you're at it.

Chanelle x

Photography and post-processing: Chanelle Leslie, on Ilford XP2 35mm film as well as digital.

Denver music photography
Colorado musician photographer
Fort Collins indie photographer
film photography fort collins
band photographer fort collins
best photographer fort collins
best photographer denver
Unretouched outtakes from Bloom Magazine's first issue
Gina wears Razak dress

Gina wears Razak dress

It was a grey Saturday morning about 11 months ago in Adelaide when four friends found themselves in a 1950s-era townhouse off Melbourne Street. Two were models, one was a photographer, and one was a hair & makeup artist - and all of them needed to refresh their portfolios. And just like that - with barely a lick of planning - a shoot was born.

Gina snatched dresses off her racks while I darted down to the church around the corner to ask if we could shoot. Larissa's brushes were put to work, and Kristy's 10-year-old son, Max, had an education on the duties of photoshoot styling.

It would be nice to have an army of talent, an exotic location, pools of clothing and equipment B&H buyers themselves would rave about. But I'm convinced the most inspirational work happens when you create with what you have.

There's not a visionary out there who hasn't victimised herself over the resources she doesn't have. But every time I'm tempted to whine about the tools I don't have, I recall the extraordinary people who do a lot with very little. Casey Neistat, who makes viral YouTube videos with a tiny silver Canon S120. Drake Doremus, who was 28 when he shot my favourite feature film on a budget of $250,000 with a camera I own.

These are merely the unretouched outtakes from the rest of the shoot, which features in Bloom Magazine, a new teen girls' publication out of Queensland. I'm not claiming they're anything special, because they aren't. But to me, they're a powerful reminder that creating with what you have always beats creating nothing at all.

Chanelle x

Hair & Makeup: Larissa Jones

Models: Gina Penhall (independent) & Kristy Templer @ Pride

St Peters church Adelaide
Gina wears vintage dress, pearls | Kristy wears Zac Posen for Target dress

Gina wears vintage dress, pearls | Kristy wears Zac Posen for Target dress

Colleen Evalyn @ Forest Room 5

I still haven't found a bar I like in Denver...except Forest Room 5. If Moonrise Kingdom were a bar, this would be it. So it was there amongst its hand-hewn furnishings and mismatched seating that I photographed up-and-coming singer-songwriter Colleen, with Jules of local label Topo Designs by our sides. It's been a while since I got to shoot so freely. Days like these remind me how much I love being behind the lens, even though I'm keenly aware of how far I have to go.

Chanelle x

PortraitsChanelle Leslie
Fort Collins Fashion Design Shoot
Dixon Lake Fort Collins
Fort Collins Natural areas

Colorado at its ugliest stomps all over most of the western world at its finest. Even after the trees have shed October's golden robes, even when the flowers of spring have been crushed, even when summer's sapphire skies have been washed into hibernation, beauty remains. And soon, our naked hills will bear the sparkling glaze of snow.

It was this reticent landscape that awaited us when our team arrived at the Front Range foothills to shoot upcoming designer Michelle Rushton's pieces for her lookbook. But Mother Nature remained the true star. 

Chanelle x

Clothing & styling: Michelle Rushton

Model: Regan Lee

Photography & processing: Chanelle Leslie

fort collins fashion photographer
Dixon Reservoir Fort Collins
Horsetooth Reservoir
Colorado fashion
Colorado State University fashion students
Pineridge Natural Area Fort Collins