That time I joined the Circus...

Not everyone can say they ran away from home and joined the Circus. In a way, I can.

Unfortunately my one-handed clapping act didn’t make the bill on stage, but I did get a pretty ripper opportunity to photograph acts from all over the world performing in The Great Moscow Circus at the Marina Bay Sands Event Space in Singapore.

To be completely honest, this was a really challenging shoot. The light restrictions due to performer safety & total light capacity of the tent made things really tough. Flash photography was out of the question & most performers needed translation. This blog is going to be a little bit technical for the shooters out there who are interested, so buckle in! I was also lucky enough to have Mark Williams taking some behind the scenes shots. Cheers mate!

The first act I shot was called the Cat Walk, which had acrobats jumping off the roof onto trampolines and performing all kinds of backflips, twists & turns in the process, adding in their own playful charm throughout the act. The speeds at which everything was happening was intense, I chose to shoot this job on my Canon 5D Mark IV and my Canon 16-35 F4 for the majority. When I wasn’t kitted up with that, I was using my Canon 70-200, Sigma 50 & 85 mm Prime lenses. “Use a 1DX” You might say - I considered it, I also considered using a 5DSR, I opted for using my own baby, mostly because I needed a blend of both. The application of these images is to be on Billboards, posters, flyers, massive print applications. It was sort of like the Goldilocks approach, one was too hot, one was too cold, my 5D4 was just right.

Getting the most amount of light was imperative, but getting them in still motion was more important to me than having a bit of grain.

You might think I’d be shooting free hand, but I shot the whole thing tethered to a laptop with a local assistant Shawn Paul Tan (Attic Digital, if you ever need a digi in Singapore, give him a ring! He’ll sort you out).

Shooting tethered meant I knew exactly when I had the shot and didn’t have to second guess, I came out of every shoot with at least one image I was pleased with, which was what the brief needed.

This particular act needed me to get IN the catwalk and shoot upwards to get the right angle… the video of me getting in there is embarrassing to say the least, but worth a laugh.

After this, we shot the Run Track. A series of acrobats running down a gymnastics track… These guys all spoke Russian but were more than happy to repeat some tricks as much as possible to get the right shot, I couldn’t get them away from my assistant as they peered over his shoulder to see the photos. I took a rather precarious position… see below.

So what’s a Circus without a little bit of danger? I thought the same, but it was mostly fear for my gear.

This Circus is animal cruelty free, so there was no risk of a Sigfried and Roy scenario, but I did shoot the loud roar of 4 motor cycles circling around a dome in synchronisation. My major issue with this part of the shoot was capturing the performers through the dome. Shooting at 35 & 50mm, the subjects inside were completely unapparent. I managed to get a few close in depth of field style shots on stationary performers, but that was about it.

The only way to do this right was to put my 16-35 right up against the dome in the crack (that the motorbikes drove over) to get a clear shot. It was one of the most disturbing shooting experiences, the noise from the bikes was deafening as I felt the whoosh of the bikes blow into my hands. Yikes.

The force of the bikes on the dome literally had me shaking - as you can see from the video above. The shots were worth it.

The pace of the day was extremely quick, we had thirteen acts to shoot over 2 days, each act had approximately 45 minutes to get the shots… but most could only perform their act so many times before becoming too fatigued (another trying consideration I had to work with).

I also photographed two live shows and the tent from just about every angle inside & out. I also spent a day and a half before & after the event organising the shoot, having meetings and inspecting the application platforms + renting equipment. I had to pick up a 300mm in country and it proved to be quite an ordeal…

With that in mind, you can understand why we didn’t manage to get behind the scenes images of everything. None the less, here are some of my favourite images from the rest of the shoot, featuring an incredible double rotating wheel, aerialists, clowns & contortionists.

That just about wraps it up… in my 5 days in Singapore I didn’t manage to see a single thing other than this site.

Alas, The Show Must Go On.

TGMC2018-CAST PHOTOS-Web 4k-003.jpg

My Best of 2018


A friend of mine said to me I really need to write down some of the things I do, because when asked what I've been up to recently, my brain instantly forgets anything I've been doing & I resort to checking my calendar, I'm useless. So here it is, my photographic highlights of 2018.

1: The White Album - Shooting Chris Cheney, Phil Jamieson, Tim Rogers & Josh Pyke. Press images from this ended up on the sides of The Opera House in Syd & QPAC in Queensland. I will never, ever forget this shoot, it was pure Rock 'N' Roll and I couldn't have been happier to share that shoot with anyone other than my Dad.

The White Album (Web)-1.jpg

2: White Night, One beautiful reason why it's the best city in the world. Taking photos of fire breathing dragons & Melbourne's State Library illuminated by animations and projections.

White Night - Michael Woods-2.jpg

3: Shooting for delicious. Australia at Dinner by Heston BlumenthalVue de monde & Cumulus Inc. (and eating there too).

4: A gorgeous wedding for two in Melbourne's City.

5: The Bird Cage - Because Fashion, for Broadsheet Melbourne.

6: The Espy - I'd listened to my parents go on and on about this venue since I was a kid. I felt so nervous, for this Job because of the expectations built into me through this. The shoot was a dream and watching everyone work together in there on such a large project was really inspiring. Highlight.


7: Shooting for Novotel Melbourne Central & Ibis Melbourne Central & their new Restaurants, Goldie Asian Canteen + Brews & Pretty Boy Floyds. A fantastic campaign with Hatching Communications.

8: EVERYTHING Untitled Group... Particularly Green Velvet, one of my favourite DJ's on the planet who fills up a stage with his electric smile. Finishing his set I was standing right next to him, all he could do was laugh and smile and walked off stage and pulled me in to hug me (having never met him before), he just wanted someone to share it with, and I was happy to be the person hugging him back. I try not to fangirl... but boy did I lose it at that.

9: Mjølner & Ms Collins for World Whisky Week, I tried a $50 glass of Whisky... Yum.

10: The Everleigh - you know why.

11: I woke up at 5 in the freakin' morning to roll into the National Gallery of Victoria to photograph a live dance performance marathon through the halls of the Melbourne Arts Centre & NGV's MoMa exhibit. An interpretive art piece that wanted participants to look at Art differently.

12: 2018 Took me just about everywhere. I travelled for work & pleasure to Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali, Greece, Italy, Spain, Amsterdam, Argentina & Singapore.

The photos are all going up on my blog, but I thought I'd place a few in here, namely from shooting The Great Moscow Circus in Singapore. A crazy week in a steaming hot city (that I sadly didn't get to see much of other than the event space) More on this later, but I'll never forget it.

13: This year I started working with TGI Fridays Australia. I shot their Thanksgiving campaign which ended up featured on menus and in store displays all around Aus...

Well. 13 Sounds like too many. I'm going to wrap things up there but I'll without a doubt have forgotten something. To surmise, the opportunities I’ve had this year have been phenomenal, and I can’t thank everyone enough.

My new years resolution for last year was to follow my heart in all facets of my life, it lead me into a completely new style of shooting & all over the world, for travel, fun, work, relationships, everything. It was a wild ride.

I'm sure that same resolution will do for 2019.

Much love everyone <3, Happy new year.

Italy 2018

Stop two of my Eurotrip saw much nicer weather… or at least the forecast said so. In reality, it flipped on me so many times I didn’t know whether to pack shorts or a rain jacket, or both.

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t travel Italy by the most independent means, I took the easy route and booked a Contiki (live your best life!) as I just didn’t have a clue what to prioritise or where to start. I chose the Little Italy trip, which took us all around Italia in 11 days.

We started of at the Vatican city in pouring rain. I wore shorts and a T-shirt this day. Just to let you know the kind of mental state I was in shooting these.

Next on the agenda was Sorrento, a beautiful seaside town just a boat ride away from Capri, a mountainside island with crystal blue waters, even on a rainy day. The heavens poured and our boat ride was so wet we all thought, screw it, and jumped into the ocean. The phrase “A fish can’t get wet” came to mind.

After drying off and getting my tourist-dork outfit on (#CapriSquad), I set off.

After a lovely Sorrento dinner and a little bit too much Limmoncillo was Pompei, the ancient Roman city frozen in time. Mount Mesuvias errupted in 79 AD which was the doing & undoing of this kingdom, it killed everything in it’s path, but preserved it for the world to see for centuries to come. The death toll (in the thousands) has for centuries remained unclear.

From the images above you may be thinking “wow Michael is really short”. But alas, that is just my 6 foot 8 room mate Guy, who upon meeting I had to physically point my head upwards to greet.

After a delicious pizza outside Pompeii, that I enjoyed a little bit too loudly, We moved on to Florence. We started with a walking tour & finished off at the Basilica of Santa Croce. Can confirm, it is a church. I moved on to explore a giant mansion and do some shopping through the Markets of Florence, only 4 days into my Italy trip and I already needed a new belt.

After sinking a few more limmoncello’s & giving Florence’s Karaoke scene a taste of my Music Theatre background, we ventured on an afternoon trip to my long lost love affairs house, La Casa Di Gulietta. A few people had mentioned I held some form of resemblance to a Young Leo (the debate between Nicholas Hoult and Young Leo as my celebrity dopple-ganger remains a hot topic of discussion).

I soon discovered that Italy has many superstitions which I ended up taking part of, the first, was the belief that ‘rubbing Juliet’s Breasts would bring you good luck’.

After Verona, Was Venice. Bucket list, check.

My favourite Photo from my whole trip, At the Rialto Bridge just after sunset.

Day two in Venice brought the rain, instead of going into see yet another Church (St Mark’s Basilica), I went to the Modern & Contemporary Art Museum and saw an awesome exhibit by Fiorucci the design label, showcasing the transformation of Italian fashion since 1914.

Taking a cheesy gondola through venice was how we signed this one off, it was pouring with rain when we’d booked our trip, which served as yet another reminder to avoid the tourist trap affairs. Never the less, nothing was going to stop me posing with a pink wall.

Moving on from the rainy days in Venice, we set our sites on the fashion capital of Italia, Milan. First, we stopped at Rocca Scaligera for brunch, then hopped on a boat through Lake Garda’s gorgeous waters.

And finally… Milan. I tore away from the group on this one, determined to hit as many culture spots as possible (while others opted to see Duomo Di Milano, you guessed it, another church). I stopped first at Campari House, which I stopped at for ‘one’ Campari and Soda, which quickly escalated to three and quite an intoxicated stumble across a shopping centre. Even after three (tripple shot?) Campari & Sodas, I found everything much to expensive. We’re talking 200 Euros for a black t-shirt, the staple of any photographers closet. See the shot reference below…

Powered with a little Italian confidence & creativity (synonym: Campari), I went into the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to find some style and satisfy some superstitions.

Apparently, it brings good luck to spin around on this bulls bangers and mash 3 times counter clockwise.

Poor Bloke.

This is a church.

And now… the moment we’ve all been waiting for, La Cinque Terre. After a boozy afternoon (please don’t notice any sort of trend here) in Milano, I was in a bit of a mood, much to Guy’s dismay as this was his golden insta opportunity. We followed his trip advisor spirit and had lunch over looking the whole damn thing, it was spectacular. Props to guy for making it happen. I was completely useless.

Resting up after a long day & lots of walking, tomorrow I visited Pisa. The last time I was here was when I was 6 and I was just as underwhelmed as I was then. Definitely something you can miss on your Euro-Extravaganza. All I wanted was to be back in beautiful Rome. We stopped at a winery in The Chianti Region on the way… Just because.

Back in Rome, I quickly realised I was on my last days in Italy. I spent it at the Colloseum, and finished things off with prosciutto in a park & a bottle of Rosé, benissimo.

That just about wraps it up! This guide was a little bit more of a picture diary (it all is really), as I hit so many spots with Contiki, I hope you enjoyed it!

Just to remind you - all of these images are available for print (except the photos of me, that’s weird, come on guys) & were shot on my Canon M50 with a converted and my 24-70 F2.8 II.

Next up on My Guide To The Galexy > Barcelona & Amsterdam, the end of my Euro-Trip!

Athens 2018

Greece in September, Risky? Definitely. While I remained optimistic, the tropical storm that seized the Greek islands during my stay blocked all trips to/from Ios and Santorini. So no, I wasn’t able to Party in Mykynos (bitch) like Lindsay Lohan, but I was able to give Athens the culinary smashing I was hungry for. Five days of power let me really whip through the place, staying in a lovely backpackers (stay humble folks) meeting some fantastic travellers.

Some tourists book trips on what they want to see, who will be there & the weather. I booked this Europe trip on my favourite worldly cuisines, which saw me scraping through Greece, Italy & Spain. Welcome to My Guide to the Galaxy.

First up on my Euro-trip, Athens. I took a walking tour through the city with the only Sun I saw, Spanakopita in hand (first of many), My lovely guide took me and a few others through all the major sites of Athens. First up was the temple of Olympian Zeus, the Panatheniac Stadium & Parliament House.

My first taste of ancient Greek architecture taught me that the Ancient Greeks built their pillars so they were smaller at the top than they were at the bottom, just so that visually looking up at the ceiling would create the illusion it was bigger than it was. I guess male size obsession isn’t just a thing of the twentieth century.

Moving onto the Stadium, I was standing where the old Olympics used to happen, just days before the Greek Marathon. According to legend, A soldier ran 25 miles (40 km) in full armour after defeating the Persians on the nearby battlefield of Pheidippides, to inform them they had won the battle. After delivering the news “naɪki!” (Victory) he collapsed and died from exhaustion. The marathon, created in 1896 for the first Modern Olympic Games, was a nod to this soldier.

Next up was the tomb of the unknown soldier, a sculpture dedicated to honouring all the Greek soldiers who have died, without ever having their bodies recovered. Guarded by soldiers of the Athenian Guardarmerie, crowds consistently gather for the routine salut given to the tomb on every hour (Much like the Buckingham Palace guards but with it’s own Ottoman twist). Remember not to step too close or they will huff & puff and probably shoot you, so be on your best behaviour.

Athens Web-22.jpg

This is a church.

This brought us to the Plaka markets… where I would not recommend buying anything. Whilst beautiful to walk though day and night, I can’t help but feel like 70 Euros for a white linen shirt (especially at what is essentially a 2:1 Euro/Aussie Dollar conversion rate at the moment) is a bit of rip. What lies on the other side is why I made the trek though.

We walked up a small hill to get a gorgeous view of the Parthenon, giving my M50 to The Global Amigo (Andy) he superbly ripped out a few good pics of me. First & Last good photos someone else took of me in Greece mind you. How good is handing your camera to tourists and getting an absolute pancake of a photo back?

After a quick feed at the Acropolis Cave Restaurant (not overly expensive and a great feed), I started to feel the tough effects of jet lag and went back to the hostel for snooze. 16 hours later… I woke up to get cracking on day two with much bleaker conditions.

The Ancient Agora, or The Old Market place & place of politics. These ancient buildings have some of the most beautiful marble you’ll find in the world… It’s like every single building was built for Instagram influencers to shoot pics of their breakfast on #foodblog #avo #housedeposit.

A local guide was telling me how politicians would congregate in the centre to make all the important decisions. Politicians were all male but there was a famous tale where the Greeks made a decision to punish a colony who was committing… some sort of crime, my memory fails me. Regardless, they wanted to punish them by capturing the women and children and them as slaves, whilst murdering all the men on the island.

After making the decision all the politicians went home and told their wives about they’d done that day, unilaterally all the women were horrified, and the politicians came back to work the next day and cancelled the plans to murder & maim the island.

The problem was they had already sent a ship to undertake their orders, so they sent another with double the resources and man power to catch up to the boat, and tell them to turn back. Democracy for the win.

The view of the Parthenon from my 20 Euro Hostel…

The next few days saw the weather get more & more extreme, which resulted in me taking my camera out less and less. I couldn’t risk it as sadly my M50 isn’t weather sealed. These days took me on my biggest foot adventures around Athens to find all of the best cheap eats outside the city centre.

We went to a small restaurant (or 5F on trip advisor), upon walking in we were politely greeted and told that we can either ask for some things, or they can bring out a series of traditional greek dishes to our liking that met our diet. We opted for the latter and were pleasantly surprised with the off-beat, non ‘traditional’ traditional food we got. Think Risotto, beautiful roasted meat, and unbelievable dishes that left without a menu I still can’t name.

7 Dishes (each, think Greek Tapas Style) and a beer each set my friend James and I back 10 Euros. SOLD!

This versus the Innercity tourist trap dishes that will cost 10 euro EACH was a much preferred option… Despite the 30 minute trek, we found ourself eating with locals, which I would much rather. Whenever I’m travelling I always judge a place not by how many people are in it, but by how many locals are eating there.

If there aren’t many locals in there, it’s probably a bloody rip off.

Putting myself into a major food coma, I decided to settle down for yet another afternoon nap. How good is a holiday? Plus, I had to prepare for a bar crawl that evening, which I will leave the details of outside this somewhat work related blog post. All I’ll say is, stay safe, and remember one drink is actually three over there as all European countries are quite liberal with their pouring.

Athens Web-82.jpg

The next day held yet another gloomy day in Athens… But that didn’t dampen my traveller spirit, or my need for eats. Taking my own track for the day I decided to take another punt at the Plaka markets. I didn’t exactly do that well, I don’t think I bought any memorabilia from Greece (I’m a photographer, I make my own memories and I hate knick knacks, in my mind they loosely translate to garbage).

It did finally take me to the Ice-cream joint every back packer had been telling me about with a range of Ice-cream that made me faint. Move over Messina, this was some of the best Ice Cream I’ve had to date, they even had ‘Dulce Lecce’ Icecream which would rival that of Argentina (Sorry Violet).

They had these magical cones covered in nuts, coconut, peppermint carvings, chocolate, just about anything you could dream of.

Athens Web-47.jpg

The next gloom task I undertook was heading to a Rage Room and undertaking the greek tradition of Plate Smashing. Thankfully I didn’t have to get married first.

This left me with but one task left to tick off, climbing the Parthenon. I had been waiting for a brighter day, but with none in sight, I took off during a bleak evening, hoping for a beautiful break in the clouds before I departed Greece and it’s fantastic 2 Euro Gyros for Rome.

Argentina 2018

“I’m not going to go away for a while, at least until my Europe trip” I remember thinking. “I’m just going to stick around in Melbourne and get through some work”. What a fabulous lie I told myself stepping on board my flight to Vietnam. Little did I know it was here that I would meet Violet, a fantastic Argentinian who graciously offered to host me during my stay

From what I can tell, Argentina and Australia are distant relatives who love nothing more than slapping some meat on a barbie. Whilst I think they’ve taken the much more cultured approach to it, we still get an A for effort. This country also has an amazing craft beer & bar scene, I couldn’t get enough of their IPA’s the entire time, not to mention they have the wine to match.

While my jet lag eased off, we took things easy & headed off to the old country towns surrounding Buenos Aires (of course) to lunch and eat what you will become all too familiar with in this Gallery - Dulce Leche, Otherwise known as caramel. Argentina is ‘Loco’ for Dulce Leche, it is genuinely offensive to say no to it at a dinner table. Trust me, I learned the hard way. While I followed Violet blindly I lack the names for these gorgeous places, so here’s a feast for your eyes.

One of things I loved about South American culture was their dedication to enjoying their meals. So much so it’s literally embedded in their language. In english ‘Lunch’ is a noun, in Spanish it’s ‘Almozar’ which is the verbTo Lunch’.

On a solo trip through Pallermo I came across this man, who’s job it was to literally hold up the train crossing to let traffic through. Upon telling my Argentinian friends this I received a response I became all too familiar with “Haha, Argentina” as though it were the most simply natural but bizarre thing. I received the same response when I was telling a story to Violet’s mother who was slowly losing attention while we spoke. I thought it was the language barrier, but apparently behind my head someone was jumping off the third floor of their building and climbing down the building from the outside, landing, dusting off his hands and walking off, carrying on his day. “Haha, Argentina”.

On a new day solo in Buenos Aires, I ventured out on a new expedition, this time trying to see some art galleries. Little did I know I went on the day that they were all closed (Don’t bother on Mondays ladies and gentleman). I was ‘forced'‘ to spend another day sitting in cafe’s, but couldn’t help but be inspired by the streets around the law university. An awe inspiring building abandoned by a government prioritising themselves over their people.

A quick stop at La Panera Rosa to fix my hanger.

I stopped at ‘La Recoleta’ cemetery of Buenos Aires. Allegedly, celebrities and very important people pay thousands of US dollars just to be buried here, guarded by gorgeous felines, this graveyard has quite an intriguing air to it, with families piled up by the dozens on the walls surrounding…

I’ll admit, it felt strange taking photos in a Cemetery, yet with the celebrity theming I couldn’t help but find it fitting (and necessary). Never the less, I walked through with respect.

Taking my leave, I stumbled back homewards through yet another beautiful sunset in Argentina, something I became all too used to over there.

Wrapping up my time in the north, Violet & I headed south to live the cabin life near Bariloche, a beautiful small lakeside town with gorgeous mountains on the surrounds. It is here I decided to learn to ski. It is here, that I failed.

The south held lots and lots of driving for us, Violet had rented a manual which she later learned to her dismay that I can only drive an Auto. Never the less, this gave me more opportunities to snap flicks on the road.

With the south all wrapped up, this just about meant goodbye. Going our seperate ways, I’ll never forget that gorgeous country or how kind the people there are.

For now, I have other adventures tackle, next up on My Guide to the Galaxy ~ Athens.

Vietnam & Cambodia 2018

Vietnam, my second time back to this beautiful country. This time I decided to take a more formal way of capturing it all. The biggest trouble for any commercial photographer is taking a DSLR away on holiday with you can sometimes make travelling feel like your day job. Usually I would shoot film for something different, but after bad experiences going through security scanners and getting it wiped, I decided to pick up the new mirrorless Canon M50 that was just released by Canon. I couldn't have been happier with the results, the lightweight body gave me all the freedom to run around like the maniac tourist I am, as well as the quality and megapixels that I need as a shooter. Anyway, this isn’t an advertisement or anything, just some really average travel pics for you to scroll through at your own leisure.

Hao Long Bay

Hao Long Bay

I won't lie... not many images were taken here. But this location is absolutely gorgeous and should be the starting point of any Vietnam trip. 

Social-77.jpg

Hoi An has repeatedly been one of my Favourite places to visit. So much so, we ended up extending our stay here by 7 days, oops. The weather is just too nice. If you want a place to relax poolside, Hoi An is the place to do so, Kahuna Beach Club & VBH especially get the vibe just right.

After far too much street food and shopping temptation, we jetted off on an overly expensive flight direct from Da Nang to Siem Reap. Home of Angkor Wat, and far too many Cheeky Monkeys. We said our prayers and went in.

With that in the bag, we honestly found there wasn’t too much else to do in Siem Reap, it’s quite easy to get lost in the temples for days. We had nice weather on our mind, so we took the night buss to Kampot… We were seen off by one of these mental Cambodian rain clouds we would become all too familiar with in the small riverside town.

Social-281.jpg

First up, we challenged Bokor Mountain with to a duel. We teamed up with a lovely chap we coined Yung Will from the UK. Armed with Two measly bikes riding bound-2 style, we took on this mountain in the rain… Would not recommend taking it on in the wet weather, but up there, a storm can roll in and out in minutes. on one side is a blue sky, the other, the worst storm you could imagine. The risk is yours.

And that’s it for me, I took my leave as the boys sailed off to Koh Rong, ending another asian adventure.

Through this trip I really didn’t keep track of the places we ate too much, trip advisor can be helpful, but remember the golden rule of asian eating: Any place that looks real nice, most likely has the worst food. Find the small dingy places, they will have the best asian food you could ever eat (and pray not to get sick).

Please note these photos were taken for my own pleasure, but if anyone would like a print, please email hello@michaelwoods.com

TOP 10 PLACES FOR VALENTINES DAY

Around this time of year I get asked a lot of Questions... Sadly, not about my availability on February 14, but about where you should take the ball and chain for a lovely feed this Valentines Day. 

HERE IS MY TOP 10 (that aren't already booked out):

1. DONINIS - 320 Lygon Street, Carlton

This place has the best pasta you will find in Melbourne, for real. The Donini family have been making pasta (and waves) in the food scene along Lygon since before I could walk. I would easily state this to be my favourite Italian in Melbourne.

I would recommend getting a platter of Bruschetta and following it up with the Trio of Pastas. sharing is caring. Alternatively, any independent dish would also go down a treat, but Valentines day is all about being with someone, keep that in mind with what you order team.

Fun fact: as a child, I was taken to Doninis multiple times and would apparently run around trying to take photos of peoples food, Marco reminded me of this fact on my most recent trip there and I haven't been unable to shake how doomed I've been to fill this Career my entire life. Destiny is a thing. 

For those like minded fellas, you're thinking "hey, that's right near Cinema Nova, maybe I could take my girlfriend to a really cool indy film so she can see how intellectual I am". You thought right. The Disaster artist is definitely worth a spell of your time, or just see The Showman, or anything really. You can't miss in there. 

2. ICHI NI NANA IZAKAYA - 127 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Sister to Ichi Na in St Kilda, The Fitzroy branch also has a cocktail bar AND hawker hall in a complex of 3 levels (which they renovated with a casual $20 mill) so your options are endless. While everyone in the world is quite poised towards the Chapel Street "Mr. Miyagi" (and rightfully so) it's booked out. Don't despair, Ichi Ni Nana has a really deep library of any Japanese (or Japanese blend) dish you could wish for. If you're from Southside, Feel free to stick to Ichi Na. 

I would follow this up with a walk down to Black Pearl or The Black Cat for an old fashioned.... but you know, that's just me. Ask for Chris & He'll rock your world. Tell him I sent you and he'll probably smile slightly and do absolutely nothing for you. 

3. NAKED FOR SATAN - 285 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

The perfect precursor for what we all know is about to happen later that night. Naked For Satan is a gorgeous rooftop bar with incredible city views in the heart of Fitzroy. For a post dinner met up, you can grab some bites to eat on the roof and avoid awkwardly smashing 3 burgers and a large chips in front of your future prospect. I recommend the Croquettes, Lamb Skewers and a couple of espresso martinis. Or head downstairs for some $1 finger food. 

4. SUDA - C2/550 Lonsdale Street (down the lane)

Located down an alleyway off of Lonsdale Street (brownie points for hard finds folks), SUDA has some of the best Korean blend dishes around. I've taken multiple groups here and never heard a single complaint. You can't go wrong with the Korean Fried Chicken or the Mini Pizza's, there's also plenty of Veg options if you're that way inclined. 

Most people won't care for this, but boys, they also have quite a variety of Asian beer (including Singha's) which particularly tickled my fancy on a night that I swore "I AM NOT DRINKING".

If you're looking for a quick bar to go to afterwards, hit up White Hart Bar (22 Whitehart Lane),  a mere 5 minute walk. Extra points here for neon's and another hard find. 

5. SUPERNORMAL - 180 Flinders Lane

Look. I'm not going to lie, It's probably already booked out, but any Andrew McConnell restaurant will do. Asian Blend & Cocktails to die for is a mix made in heaven that McConnell nails site after site. If Supernormal is booked out, check out Ricky & Pinky (Fitzroy) and Supernormal Canteen (St Kilda) for similar success stories.

Supernormal speaks for itself as a cocktail location, but if you'd like to check out another rooftop bar, go and have a couple of drinks at Good Heavens (Upstairs, 79 Bourke Street). A lovely spot to end your night. 

Super Normal - Michael Woods-1.jpg

6. GINZA TEPPANYAKI - 139 Little Bourke Street

Eating and playing games catching food in your mouth, the key to any romance really. 

On a serious note, you can't beat fresh cooked food,  having it made straight in front of you brings things to the next level. Teppanyaki can be a loud affair - but active entertainment, great food, and great company (hopefully) can make for the perfect memory this V-day. For those on a first date, it can be a great silence & barrier breaker. Nothing stops an ego like getting a piece of fried egg thrown at your face. 

If you want to cool things down afterwards, walk up chinatown to 18o6 (169 Exhibition Street) to snuggle into a slightly warmer, less volatile environment. 

7. LONG SONG (CBD) - Upstairs, 44 Little Bourke Street.

Because I know you need a safe bet for your first date, I give you, LONG SONG. You never know what cuisine your newest fling might be (for some reason) opposed to. Long Song has a huge open space that cultivates a nice talking environment (that isn't too open). Taking the goldilocks approach, it nails the spot between intimate and spacious. I would definitely still opt for the sharing option here (as I would on any date) but their cocktail list will ease any nerves you may have on that. Plus it's a really cool venue guys, have I mentioned that? 

8. SHUKAH - 104 Chapel Street Windsor

I know you were all waiting for a Chapel Street option, but this ones worth the wait. Shukah came into our lives about 6 months ago and isn't looking to leave. This menu has heaps of Veggie options, and while it may be spicy, the Armenian cuisine has some incredible flavours. Feel free to go cool down your tongues at Messina afterwards though, it packs a punch. I'd highly recommend trying the variety of dips they have (their hummus is great), as well as the fried chicken. They also have some Armenian beer, that is totally a thing. 

Oh yeah, and they have dumplings?!

19390771_718263488361452_1480540412439564021_o.jpg

Because they deserve their own post....

9. BLACK PEARL  - 304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. 

Put some class in your glass. Old Fashioned & Moscow mules are my potions of choice here... Black Pearl LITERALLY has the best bar tenders in the world, and I've never experienced perfection in drink mixing (as in, will get you drunk without you noticing) like I have here. Cocktails do come at a penny, and you'll definitely want to eat before hand, so perhaps try out Tora Dumplings (just under naked for Satan) to get some cheap Japanese action before signing yourself up for some world class mixology. 

 

KEEP IT SIMPLE-1.jpg

10. Thirty Eight Chairs - 4A Bond Street, Prahan

Your South Side fix for all things Italian. Have a couple of Aperol Spritz's and some pasta while getting to know your partner. This venue opens up to a sort of open air blend at night and has a lovely atmosphere. I know I'm talking a lot about the different vibes places has, but it is important. The Dessert menu here is particularly to die for.

Located conveniently close to the Jam Factory if you fancy a visit to the cinema as well. 

38 Chairs - Michael Woods-3.jpg