All posts by Ben Apfelbaum

My photography began when my father handed me the proverbial brownie box camera as a child. As cameras developed I went through Fujica and Olympus range finders graduating to my first single lens reflex camera, the Minolta SRT101, the latter being the greatest facilitator to my growth as a photographer. Digital photography has only added to this. I was a regular contributor to Camera Craft magazine (Australian Camera ) for over three years. During Australia’s Bicentennial year (1988) I made it a personal project to document the celebrations. This culminated in the creation of a book of my photos which was published in 1989. The book was called CELEBRATING AUSTRALIA and came with an accompanying calendar. My works have appeared in a number of publications including the coffee book entitled MY AUSTRALIA (1989), publisher Robertsbridge Severn. This book had a preface by the then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke. I was a co-photographer on a book entitled SYDNEY- DISCOVER THE CITY with text written by Robert Treborland. Major Mitchell Press was the publisher. Also for two years I was the photographer for calendars celebrating Sydney’s multicultural communities. The two calendars were entitled MULTICULTURAL SYDNEY. My work appeared in a group exhibition held at Sydney’s Town Hall pertaining to the diversity of life in South America to raise money for orphanages there. I have over one hundred photos stored in the New South Wales State Library archive. I had a solo exhibition held in 2007 entitled Ben’s Lens at the Sydney Jewish Museum which celebrated the vibrancy of the Sydney Jewish community. Some of these photos are on the Museum’s permanent display. I have exhibited internationally firstly at the Spruill Gallery in Atlanta Georgia, united states, and in an exhibition entitled Kosher and Co at the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Currently I am a regular contributor to J-Wire and this esteemed publication.


Recently there have been many different colours at premieres but The Book Of Mormon’s Carpet reverted to the traditional red at the Lyric Theatre in Pyrmont.

The fact that ‘The Book’ seems to be the hottest ticket in Sydney, ensured that a full complement of celebrities walked the Red Carpet.

For some strange reason the news media seemed to be over-representive amongst the attending VIP’s with such personalities as Mark Ferguson of Channel 7 news, Peter Stefanovic and Sylvia Jeffreys from Channel 9, Sandra Sully from Channel 10, and Wendy Harmer from ABC Radio.

Perhaps these newshounds wanted to see what all the hype and controversy surrounding this show is all about.

In Melbourne ‘The Book’ broke box office records and may yet do the same in Sydney as bookings have stretched out as far as August.

Featured image- David Campbell and Lisa Campbell. All pics by Ben Apfelbaum.



The Mardi Gras Film Festival entitled Queer Screen celebrated its 25th anniversary.

A highlight was the screening of BLACK DIVAZ directed by Adrian  Russell-Wills.

BLACK DIVAZ wen behind the glitter, flamboyance and glamour and extreme make-up tools as indigenous drag queens battle it out for the Miss First Nation pageant.

Their gruelling tests included  lip-synching, contests, photo shoots with crocodiles and revealing intimacy as they talked candidly about what being Miss First Nation means for them and their communities.

The heat and humidity was totally absent on the Red Carpet as the participants in the film proudly paraded their fabulousness and happily posed for photos with their family, friends and supporters.

Featured image – Paul Mac, Josie Baker and Johnny Seymour. Pic Ben Apfelbaum.


Founders of FLICKS4CHANGE Andfrew Steel and James Hawthorn.

Sydney has a plethora of Film Festivals and a new one is squeezing into an untapped niche. FLICKS4CHANGE hope to initiate social change through sharing socially conscious short films

The inaugural event takes place  on March 17 at the Tom Mann Theatre where  a variety of short films followed by Town Hall  type discussion with the filmmakers, leading community activists and the audience.

50% of revenue of tickets sold will go directly to any organisations  which were the subject of films.

This event is a satellite event connected to the current Short and Sweet play festival which is currently running at the Tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills, very close to Central station.

An event such as this has already taken place in Los Angeles and it is hoped that as well as Sydney it will take place in Washington DC.

The Festival will run from 1.30 pm till 5pm on Saturday March 17, after which the audience will be able to mingle with filmmakers.


The 2018 Parade with its theme (FORTY YEARS OF EVOLUTION) broke all sorts of records. Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Terese Casu outlined the extraordinary magnitude of the event :- 200 entry floats-groups, close to four hours viewing time, 250 bikes, 178 vehicles, and 15 pushables, 12300 participants and an estimated 300,000 spectators.

Beyond the sequins, extravagant flair and wit, there were many floats touching on underlying issues; acceptance, inclusivity, diversity and respect.  

Perhaps some of the biggest cheers were for the over two hundred 78ers who attended from all over Australia, and who led the Parade. Continue reading MARDI GRAS : 40 YEARS OF EVOLUTION


Due to the construction works for the light rail in George Street, the Chinese and other Asian communities have been unable to hold their dazzling lantern parade complete with lion dancing and communal dance troupes.

So what to do?! In a Vivid like display the twelve illuminated Chinese signs of the Zodiac  which would normally be atop floats, were now displayed around Circular Quay.

As this is the Year Of The Dog, this Zodiac sign representation took pride of place by the Sydney Opera House.

Lion dancing took place in the Haymarket area and Tumbalong Park in Darling Harbour was filled with market stalls, anima figures which lit up at night, and live performances of ethnic dancing.

Nearby, at Darling Harbour, the traditional dragon boat races were fiercely contested. Winners of these races, which are also contested at venues around Australia, go on to compete at the world dragon boat races competition held in Szeged, Hungary. At times, there seemed to be more race participants than the many spectators.

The Chinese and other communal dance groups performed on a beautifully lit stage at First Fleet Park, Circular Quay.

This year, the Chinese New Year fell on Friday 16 February.

Although this year’s Festival was highly successful, one hopes that the traditional lantern parade will return in the near future.

All pics by Ben Apfelbaum (c).


Rather than a Red Carpet for the premiere of Mamma Mia unusually there was a Blue Carpet presumably to symbolise the sea which surrounds the island on which Mamma Mia takes place. The irresistible pull of the musical and 22 iconic Abba songs attracted a bevy of celebrities including  Governor David Hurley and his wife Linda. One could say that the Sydney premiere was a Royal Command Performance.

Featured image – Damien Leith with wife Erika Heynatz. All images by Ben Apfelbaum.


SWEET COUNTRY, directed by Warwick Thornton,  is a Western set in 1929 when pastoralists and local indigenous people clashed  over frontier lands in central Australia.

This photo exhibition adjacent to the Monkey Baa Theatre at darling Harbour is a partnership between BUNYA Productions and Photoplay supported by the Screen Australia Indigenous Department.

Four still photographers- Mark Rogers, Michael Corridore, Tamara Dean and Warwick Baker – travelled to Alice Springs to take stills of SWEET COUNTRY scenes whilst the movie was being shot.

The exhibition features cast members from  SWEET COUNTRY at unguarded moments and the stills also capture the gorgeous desert country around Alice Springs where the film was shot.

As it is in the open air these evocative images can be accessed at any time from early in the morning till late in the evening.

The exhibition is on display between Monday 29 January – Sunday 25 February (open 24 hours, 7 days) at 1-25 Harbour Street, Darling Quarter. 

Pics by Ben .Apfelbaum taken of the stills snapped by the above named photographers.


After a near financial disaster which threatened Tropfest’s existence it has risen phoenix like in its new home at the Crescent in Parramatta Park. The fact that it survived is due both to its founder and Executive Chair John Polson and ‘rescue sponsor’ CGU Insurance.

At the time of Tropfest’s existential crisis Susan Sarandon’s attendance had to be deferred.

As a fulfilment of her commitment to attend Ms Sarandon chaired a distinguished group of jurors comprising of Oscar nominated actress Rachel Griffiths, Emmy nominated director Garth Davis (Lion), BAFTA nominated Australian documentarian Jennifer Peedom and  Logie award winning actor Rob Collins (Clever Man).

A crowd of 45,000 watched the 16 short film finalists whose theme this year was the inclusion of a rose.

In a first for Tropfest, during intermission, a crowd was entertained by multi award winner Tim Minchin, and the evening proceedings were hosted by Andy Ryan, Christie Best, Zan Rowe, and Susie Youssef.

After a long wait for the jury’s decision 23 year old  Greta Nash’s film, Two Piece  was announced as this year’s  Best Film.  It is a tender coming of age film  about a 13 year old girls’ humiliating embarrassment- shopping for a bikini with her mother.

Two Piece lead actress fourteen year old Freya Van Dyke was judged Best Female Actress for her poignant performance.

Thirty three year old Hugo Johnstone-Burt won  Best Male Actor for his role as a terrified delivery man in COMBINATION  FRIED RICE.

Nick Baker and Tristan Klein took home Second Prize for ROCK BOTTOM and Third Prize went to Damian McLindon for THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU.

Trop Jr, held earlier in the day, for filmmakers 15 years and under was won by Tadji Ulrich.

Next year’s theme for Tropfest is candle and for Trop Jr is pizza.

Featured image – Best Actress Freya Van Dyke (‘Two Piece’) with Best Actor Hugo Johnstone-Burt (‘Combination Fried Rice’). Pics by Ben Apfelbaum.





Rembrandt and the Dutch golden age opened on Saturday 11 November at the Art Gallery of NSW.

The exhibition is a panorama of Dutch society during an era of wealth, power and cultural influence with outstanding works by the great Dutch masters. The art of painting flourished like never before with subjects ranging from intense portraits and dramatic seascapes to scenes of domestic life and studies of fruit and flowers. Continue reading REMBRANDT AND THE DUTCH GOLDEN AGE – MASTERPIECES FROM THE RIJKSMUSEUM


Seeking to repeat the success of the Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, director Stephan Elliott has written yet another comedy lit by a harsh Australian sun, illuminating the garish coloured wardrobe of its actors.

SWINGING SAFARI is set on  the Gold Coast at the height of a 1970’s summer. The comedy seeks to capture the innocence of an era of constant sunburn, careless parenting and lewd adult behaviour.

The film has an all star cast including Kylie Minogue, Guy Pearce, Rhada Mitchell, Julian McMahon, Asher Keddie and Jeremy Sims.

SWINGING SAFARI opened in cinemas on the 18th January.




Gordon Ramsay proves an ultimate fit in bondi junction

Gordon Ramsay.chatting to some youngsters. Pic by ben Apfelbaum.

On  Friday 19th January, Bondi Junction Westfield hosted one of its biggest crowds ever when controversial celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay made an appearance to promote his latest book GORDON RAMSAY- ULTIMATE FIT FOOD, as well as to signal his association with Royal Doulton ware. Continue reading Gordon Ramsay proves an ultimate fit in bondi junction


Nigella Lawson book signing at the 4 Seasons Hotel. Pic by ben Apfelbaum .

Principally here to be a celebrity judge on Master Chef in Melbourne, nevertheless the Queen of Comfort Food found time to make two appearances in Sydney. Nigella’s appearances took place  on the 22nd January at the Chiswick restaurant Woollahra and on the following day, the 23rd of January, at the Four Seasons Hotel in the city.

The porcelain skinned beauty was also here to promote her latest book –  At My Table – A Celebration Of Home Cooking. I suspect that, like many of her other books, this is a diet free zone.




This year’s Red Carpet was a victim of the success of our industry. Most of our biggest stars were working overseas and unable to attend, nevertheless there was enough glitz and glamour on show at Star City to satisfy even the most jaded paparazzo. These are some of my favourite pics.  

Featured image – Susan Prior and Damian Walshe-Howling. All pics (c) Ben Apfelbaum.


It is a convention  of the Sydney Festival, in conjunction with the traditional paid for performances, to stage a number of free events.

Fortunately some of the big events such as Opera In The Park and Symphony Under The Stars have been with the Festival since its inception  and have remained. The latter, however, has a new home, no longer in the Domain but in The Crescent at Parramatta Park. One need not worry as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with fireworks was still performed.

The Meriton Festival Village was present yet again in Hyde Park. However this year it had transformed into a Sideshow Alley.

Across the city, at Carriageworks in Newtown, German artist Katharina Grosse draped the entire front atrium in tie-dyed fabric in an immersive work entitled THE HORSE TROTTED ANOTHER COUPLE OF METRES. THEN IT STOPPED.

Aboriginal history was not forgotten with a performance entitled At Nawi Cove, Barangaroo. The performance commemorates the 4000 or so fish plundered by the early colonists thereby depriving the local Aboriginals of a vital part of their staple diet.

Let’s hope next year’s Festival, both paid for and free, is even bigger and better.

Pics by Ben Apfelbaum.


Photography by Ben Apfelbaum.

Australian star Margot Robbie flew in to Sydney on Tuesday 23 January 2018 to specifically attend the premiere of I TONYA at the Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park.

Like many an Australian superstar Robbie got her start in Neighbours. Any sign of jet lag was dispelled by Robbie mingling happily with her many enthusiastic fans. Shortly after the premiere Robbie heard that she had been nominated for the best Female Actress Oscar and it is reported that she partied well into the early hours of the following day.

Margot Robbie urged Australian born director Craig Gillespie to permit her to perform her own ice skating. In the film all the ice skating stunts, except for the most extremely difficult, are in fact performed by Robbie.




THE WIZARD OF OZ came to Sydney with a glittering opening night at the Capitol Theatre on the 4th January, 2018

This production was a remounting of the recent  London Palladium production features the original songs with some new material  by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

The production featured two  terriers as Toto, Trouble and his understudy Flick (Trouble’s real life brother). There was a charity performance on Monday 8th January which raised the sum of $27,437.12 for the RSPCA.

Instead of a Red Carpet on opening night, celebrities and their children fittingly walked on a Yellow Brick Road Carpet. 

All pics by Ben Apfelbaum (c).


Could this the last installment of the Pitch Perfect franchise?! I suppose a Box Office success would be a determinant but it is subtitled Last Call Of The Pitchers.

In an unusual occurrence at a film’s premiere nearly all the cast’s principals; Rebel Wilson, Ruby Rose, Brittany Snow and Anna Camp walked the Red Carpet at the Entertainment Quarter on the 29th November.

The two Australian stars, Wilson and Rose, have recently been in the media spotlight however despite this fact they, as well as the rest of the cast, were happy to mingle with fans and give relaxed interviews to the media.

PITCH PERFECT 3 opens in cinemas on January 1, 2018.

Featured image – Tegan Martin. Pic by Ben Apfelbaum.




Where the winners celebrated…

Featured image – Simon Baker, Winner of the AACTA Trailblazer Award. Images by Ben Apfelbaum.


The Media Room has hosted many surprise visits from notable musicians. None were so great in stature (and I mean that literally and figuratively) as Mick Fleetwood, one of the founders of Fleetwood Mac. Furthermore, the Media Room winners represented a combination of both the old and new with awards going to Paul Kelly and Jimmy Barnes (for Best Children’s Album!). The up and coming award winners saw Gang Of Youths, Amy Shark and All My Exes Live In Texas embrace the red couch to be interviewed by the ABC’s Robbie Buck. Darryl Brathwaite was inducted into the Aria Hall Of Fame.

Featured image- Daryl Braithwaite, 2017’s inductee into Aria’s Hall Of Fame. All images by Ben Apfelbaum.


This year the rock and pop chicks decided to go glamorous and the blokes wore the traditional grunge. Although the headline acts did not walk the carpet, the presence of so many up and coming musicians gave the Red Carpet a very special buzz.  Featured image is of Samantha Jade. All images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).