It’s currently 1:42am on Saturday, December 31st, 2016.
When I was little, the countdown to Christmas went by in the time it took you to blink. Then before you knew it you were counting down the days until New Year, and until you had to go back to school, and that seemed to go even faster.
But I’m grown now, and the end of 2016 feels like these last few months have staggered and almost crawled to the end.
2016 will probably not be looked on fondly when people look back years from now. I can practically feel the echoing wave of collective sighs of relief when the clock ticks over around the world into the near year. To a lot of people, 2016 has felt like one long drawn out ending. We’re all holding our breath.
Good things happened; of course they always do. It can take longer to look for them sometimes. I feel like this year my photography finally took a step forward – it’s closer to where I want it to look, feel. I’m still not there (I’ll never feel quite “there”, I don’t even know where “there” is) but it definitely took a leap over the seemingly immovable static I had been feeling.
I was privileged to get to work with incredible people, to be supported by incredible people. I was able to push myself way out of my comfort zone and found I liked it; no, I loved it. Even when I hated it, even when I was scared of it, I loved it.
2016 firmly cemented in my mind that portraiture is where my heart and soul is; it’s where I feel strongest, where I feel the most afraid, where I feel the most exhilarated. I was so, so fortunate I had such a wealth of amazing people that helped cement that for me.
But 2016 was an ending for me too. I don’t know what the future will bring, and it was an ending for me thinking that if I just sit back and be patient enough things will happen. I have to stop thinking that way. I need to become proactive and make things happen. Patience is a virtue, but so is passion and movement and action. If I really want this as much as I claim I do, I need to go out and get it.
I don’t know how.
I will still tell myself I’m not good enough.
But I won’t listen anymore.
It’s now 2:22am, Saturday December 31, 2016. I’ll go to bed, wake up, and it will be the last day of this crazy, unrepeatable year.
I have been wanting to take a historically based portrait of my niece Makayla for awhile, ever since I took her photo for the Exposure contest last year. I feel like she has a particular look that is quite timeless and ethereal and I thought it would be interesting to play with.
We found a Renaissance Maiden costume online (I cannot sew, and I don’t really know anyone who can) and so we decided to set up my lights and try taking some photos today. It wasn’t ideal – the weather has been crazy here, and it was really, really windy. There was nowhere really inside that we could set everything up, so I ended up having to try to make space on the patio outside. In between gusts of wind, we hung up the brown material backdrop and weighted it down to stop it from blowing everywhere (did I mention I really need a proper setup? I really need a proper setup). It was kind of misshapen, and what little sunlight backlit it in such a way that you could see the railing behind the material. I just hoped that I could stand Makayla on something tall enough so that she was in front of part of the material that didn’t have any shadows, lines, or weird looking creases.
My sister helped by doing Makayla’s hair and getting her ready, and then helped hold down the light (so windy …). I just used the one light setup with my Elinchrom Rx4 flash head and a 66cm softbox, camera left, quite close to Makayla to diffuse the light.
I had actually planned to try a butterfly lighting setup, and I probably will next time since I have already convinced my sister and Makayla that we should try again when it’s less windy.
I was actually quite surprised how the photos ended up turning out. I think I was better at directing Makayla this time; still not perfect, but everytime I’m doing it I think I’m improving. There are definite poses I had hoped to do that I didn’t get to, so I will try them next time.
I really like how rich the backdrop material can look with a light vignette in post. I very lightly adjusted the temperature and added the vignette, but other than that they didn’t require a great deal of editing. I knew roughly how I wanted them to look, and I thought they turned out quite well!
Makayla is actually really, really patient with me photographing her which I’m hugely grateful for. Now that I have done this style once, I can try again hopefully with some different poses and maybe an alternate lighting setup.
By the time August rolls around it usually means three things; my birthday (ugh), lay-by now for Christmas (what?) and Salute to Supernatural Vancouver.
This was my fifth (what??) year going over to beautiful Vancouver, BC to attend Creation Entertainment’s convention at the mecca of Supernatural. While I haven’t done the normal touristy things that people do in Vancouver, the small downtown and harbour side places I’ve hung out are so, so beautiful and make it seem like it would be the coolest place to live. I could spend forever meandering along Robson St, or walking through the lush greenery of Stanley Park, or sitting on a park bench in Coal Harbour.
I was lucky this time, because my friend Chris actually took me out to see some of Stanley Park, so I did get to photograph something other than the inside of a hotel convention hall this time.
But for this weekend it was all about the con, and Supernatural.
The cons have become a well oiled machine by now, although this weekend was going to be different. Richard Speight Jr, who usually hosts the con weekend, was busy filming and couldn’t make the convention. Instead, we were going to be treated to Briana Buckmaster and Kim Rhodes as co-hosts, who promised Richard nothing except to totally throw his rule book out the window.
Filling in for Richard Speight Jr is a big task for anyone, but Kim and Briana more than rose to the challenge. They are so much fun and their attitudes to life and fandom are heady and infectious. They see fandom for all the good it does and can do. Their different personalities compliment each other in the way that those people with startling chemistry often do. It’s become one of the best parts of these cons for me; watching how these different friendship dynamics work and trying to capture that through photography.
Richard had once joked that VanCon was Porncouver, and that was the only bit of advice Kim and Briana took and ran with. The whole weekend seemed like a chance for each of the cast to try to one-up each other in making it the best Porncouver it could possibly be. But most of all it was about having FUN. Kim and Briana had the same energy at the last panel on Sunday than they had very first thing on Friday.
It was hard not having Richard there; without any of the core convention cast there it feels like there’s a hole there that can’t be replaced. He’s become the real heart of the whole thing, the glue that holds everyone together. But if he is the heart, then Kim and Briana definitely feel like representations of us. It was as if we were given the keys to car and we were all driving it headlong through the weekend.
Karaoke was the usual crazy affair, with some added weirdness with the (very) wrong lyrics being put up for a Justin Timberlake song. Matt Cohen was the King of the Con, with Rob Benedict as his Queen (?). Louden Swain came out to do a song, which is always fun (I love those guys).
The Louden Swain Saturday Night Special was a highlight, just like it always is. It has truly become one of my favourite things on earth, and the day I don’t get to see one anymore I think will crush me.
You can tell the cast put their all into it. I don’t think I’ve ever known a more talented, dedicated group of people, and the love and enjoyment they obviously get from doing this concert and watching it grow and evolve is so evident during every single moment. I am so, so honoured I’ve been able to photograph it as much as I have, and watch it change and become what it is now.
I could never accurately sum up how much I admire and love the band Louden Swain either. One day I may try, but until then I don’t think I have the words or the photographs to do it justice.
The photoshoot I did with Osric Chau in Vancouver was the 8th photoshoot that we’ve done, and true to form I had no idea it was going to happen until about an hour before it did.
Osric had been really, really busy over the Summer and had even missed a couple of conventions due to filming. When I went over for VanCon I didn’t even know if we were going to be doing a shoot; and even when I got there I was told he would be doing a shoot with Chris Schmelke.
On the Saturday (Osric’s last day at the con before he flew out of the country), Chris messaged me to tell me to meet him, and told me that I was doing the shoot. Osric had driven home to get a suit, and by the time he got back we had about half an hour until he had to eat and do sound check for the Louden Swain Saturday Night Special.
(This is all to illustrate how incredibly rushed things like this are; there’s barely any time to think or plan, but likewise there’s no time to overthink and worry.)
It was about 7PM, but as it was still Summer in Vancouver the light was only just starting to leave. It wasn’t quite golden hour, but close to it.
Because Osric was dressed in a suit, and because of the location where we took the photos, they ended up having a completely different feel to any of the other shoots we’ve done. They looked a lot more mature, and I think it was a combination of things that framed the shoot that way.
It wasn’t cosplay, so it wasn’t necessarily a character. It came from a more personal place, and that felt a bit more grounded. To a certain degree it was still acting, but there was more of an emphasis on trying to capture something rooted in reality as opposed to a concept.
It became more about me trying to find a way to show “him”, but it was a “him” that he was letting me see. I’m still learning direction, and being more proactive about what I want in shoots. I was so grateful my friend Kat was there to help, because she’s excellent at direction and knows Osric well.
It’s probably the shoot I’m most proud of and was most surprised at how it turned out. Because I went into it not really knowing what we were going to do, we ended up just using the location as a guide and going from there. Ideas were bounced around, we tried different things and if something didn’t work we scrapped it and moved on. It was a lot of fun, and I was so happy with how it turned out.
I think it shows a lot how much we’ve both maybe grown, in front of and behind the camera?