Shutterbugs is a new Australian comedy web series documenting the lives of a group of photographers living in Melbourne. It's a premise that hasn't really been explored fully in a format like this before, with photo geekery meeting its natural, humorous match.
Several of the characters will be familiar to those photographers who spend a lot of time observing other practitioners of the craft; you'll recognise a time-lapse specialist, an analog shooter with a penchant for Diana cameras, as well as an obsessive portrait photographer in the mix.
The series makes its debut online at www.shutterbugs.tv on 27 September, with each episode accompanied by a range of images from a guest photographer. David Collins, the writer and director of the series, said that the characters aren't all works of fiction. "For some of the characters I started off with a type of photographer and then pulled inspiration from people I knew and also the culture surrounding that type of photography. For example, Trent is a time-lapse photographer, I based his business on a successful time-lapse photographer I already know and then built his personality by adding in a colourful elitist attitude based on certain photographers that I've come across," he said.
Collins has worked as a TV producer and director before for networks such as the ABC and Channel 9. His love affair with photography started a few years ago with his first purchase, the Nikon D90, allowing him to carry across a lot of the skills he had developed using video cameras. "It follows me everywhere," he said about the D90. "I also love to experiment with lo-fi film cameras and love to play with my Fuji Instax and Lomography fisheye. Shutterbugs has been great because it's a chance to mash together two of my passions."
Surprisingly then, the series wasn't shot on digital SLRs. "We tossed around the idea of shooting the series with a Canon 5D Mark II, but we only had access to the one body and we needed to use it on-screen as a prop! Also the speed at which we needed to shoot was an issue, given that we only had eight days to shoot 12 episodes we really had to race and dSLR video limitations in regards to sound and needing a rig for our hand-held style unfortunately meant it wasn't possible for season one."
Instead, the series was shot on a Panasonic HPX172, which allowed for a faster turnaround of footage. DSLRs weren't entirely shunned, with most of the guest photographer interviews shot on the 5D with an EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens. "I'm hoping to shoot on dSLRs in the future because I love the look and, of course, it seems crazy not to when the series is about photographers!" Collins said.
The series is decidedly DIY, with Collins and producer/production designer Kate McIntyre enlisting the help of the cast and crew to augment their existing kit, borrowing lighting, audio equipment and cameras. "We've also been lucky enough to have several companies send us cameras and other gear to use on-screen, which has been great," he said.
Were the rest of the cast and crew avid photographers before they were brought on board to the project? "The great thing was that with so many talented guest photographers dropping in on our shoots all the time the photography fanaticism really caught on and the members of our cast and crew that knew very little about photography beforehand were getting right into it by the end! Of course, the amount of shots being taken on phones and uploaded to Facebook increased dramatically," Collins said.
Season one of Shutterbugs debuts on 27 September at www.shutterbugs.tv