gratitude

When Words Fail

I don’t really know if I’m setting out with a clear idea of where this blog post is going. We’ll just call it honest rambling?

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I like photography. For the longest time I actually wanted to be a writer. I toyed with the idea of photography in high school, but I always went back to writing. Words were the link between what I felt and the outside world; between my imagination and chaotic reality. I can’t tell you when exactly that changed, but it did. I don’t even know if it happened slowly, but it did happen. Suddenly words weren’t enough, or rather it felt like my words weren’t enough.

But photography, if I did it right, could say a thousand things in one frame. Photography could be as verbose or as understated as I wanted. All without an utterance.

 

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I could do it when I couldn’t find the words, or when I ran out of words altogether. Photography could say everything I felt about my world – both immediate and wider-ranging.

 

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Photography could be powerful and forceful and barely contained, or it could be quiet and still.

 

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Photography made me see the beauty in the connections and dynamics between people and taught me to exhale and pay attention.

 

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Probably the biggest epiphany I’ve had over time was exactly how powerful my own input is. My photography is so dependent on how I feel. The photographs that seem to truly “reach” people, are the ones that I remember feeling the most when I was taking them. It could be when I was overflowing with joy, or overcome with sadness.

 

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I still don’t know where I am in this journey. The photographs above are in no particular order – they are scattered fragments from the last four years, and they vary wildly in style. I’m trying to define a style that I can call my own. I like photography because the possibilities seem endless for me, if I am able to overcome my own self-imposed obstacles.

But I do know that with my photography I will never run out of things to say.

Ariel // Osric Chau Cosplay Photoshoot #2

Unlike the first time I did a cosplay photoshoot with Osric Chau, this time he actually told me what he was cosplaying as.

True, it was only a day or so before I left Australia to fly to San Francisco, but we’re slowly making progress in Let’s Get Megan As Prepared As Possible. So I sat in the airport, waiting for my connecting flight, googling other Little Mermaid cosplay photoshoots.

I would email some suggestions, “What about this?”. I would get an email back, “Hmmm…maybe, but we can do better than that! Do you have an underwater camera? Are you bringing a bathing suit?”

The thought of having to juggle doing a photoshoot with wearing a bathing suit in front of people kept me in a terror-filled stupor the whole plane flight to San Francisco, and I arrived no more the wiser than when I left, except for the fact that this would be a big old adventure, which seems to be Osric’s favourite word. We didn’t even know when we were going to do the shoot, but we were thinking in between Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles’ Gold Panel and normal panel on the Sunday. So all I knew was that potentially I had half a day, with a costume I didn’t know the mobility or logistics of.

I was starting to feel completely out of my depth. No pun intended. I’m a person who likes to know whats-what. I’m very new to posed photoshoots, and this would be only my second time working with Osric.

Sunday morning, I step outside the hotel and there is fog. Wall-to-wall fog. It’s like something out of a Victorian gothic novel. I text message my friend – who is back up in our room waiting for the convention day proper to start – panicking that I can’t do it. She writes back that it will be perfect. “It will be like a Gothic Not-Quite-Right-Little-Mermaid!” She managed to calm me down, and I stood in the carpark across the road from the hotel metering for different objects in the light.

Osric appeared then with Isa and Gretchen, his costumers (who were both really lovely). We all introduced ourselves and made our way down to the bay. I was starting to feel pretty okay, then Isa comes over to me.

“Has he told you he has to check out of the hotel in like, an hour?”

“…….. no….”

Half a day turns out to be an hour, which technically turns out to be half an hour, because he needs to change and pack.

Half an hour.

My brain could go two ways now. It could shut down, or it could get it done. And for some reason, that day it decided to get it done. I ignored the creepy taxi drivers that were in the carpark watching us, and tried to work with the setting we were given. And I only made him sit in the water for about five minutes.

It turns out the fog acted like a gigantic soft box, diffusing the light and spreading it out in a more even, flattering way. Rather than having Osric sit with his back solely to the bay, which would have resulted in a flat, white background we also tried to turn him so the camera aimed slightly down the shoreline to add interest by showing texture and colour. I brought those out in post-production using dodging and burning. As far as editing went, I tried to desaturate the colours slightly, and add a slight matte finish. There’s still a vibrancy there, but it’s very different to the Up photoshoot.

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It turns out that while we are very different in the way that we approach things, for some reason it works really well for these shoots. Osric’s very spontaneous and likes the excitement of not-knowing, and I’m very measured and detail oriented (at least as far as photography goes I am!). He looks at the bigger overarching picture and I look at what I can do practically and what I can do as far as editing etc. But the main thing is I always have so much fun and even in the mad rush and even when I’m panicking that I won’t be able to do it I wouldn’t change the experience for anything.

Because slowly, with every little push I am doing it, and I’m giving my negative-self less ammunition.

So I really can’t wait for the next big adventure!

December and the End of 2014

December 2014

December 2014

 

When I started doing the 365 Project I had this lofty goal of using it as a way for me to improve using my DSLR. A photo every day? If I thought I was ever going to be “a photographer”, a photograph every day should be a piece of cake! After all, it’s what I most want to do, and what I’m passionate about.

But, like most resolutions, this one started from a good place but quickly revealed itself to be something that would require a great commitment; more than I realised. Not just when I felt good, or when the year was fresh. Not even when I had a specific event, or an “excuse” to photograph something. The true measure of how committed I was came at those times it was hardest – when I felt uninspired, when I felt angry or resentful that I hadn’t been able to take a photo that day, and most especially when I felt down (I had a few really, really low points this year). And yes, in the beginning I did use my DSLR for a majority of the time but that was something that fell away the further along I got in the year. But instead of getting discouraged, or using it as an excuse – well, I’ve already ruined it now by not using my proper camera, I might as well stop – I forged ahead and used my phone. I really dislike the camera on my phone, and some photos were truly bad, but I still kept going. And on the days when I absolutely couldn’t take something, I made myself sit at the computer and edit something I had taken as recently as possible.

 

January 2014

January 2014

 

February 2014

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March 2014

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April 2014 4/12

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It became something that was deeply personal the further along it went. I felt as though people could tell how I was feeling, or what was going on in my life just by one small snapshot. It felt like the year, and time itself, was much more tangible when it was documented in this way.

 

May 2014

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6. June 2014

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July 2014

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It also felt like some days all I was photographing were leaves, or sunlight in between tree branches but I started to appreciate them for what they were. Photographs are so much more than the content. They are emotions, story, history. For that particular day, on that particular spot, for whatever reason that was what caught my eye. And so much of that depended on what was going on with me, both the big and the small. And it’s the smaller moments that we might forget as the year goes on.

 

August 2014

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September 2014

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October 2014

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November 2014

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I can also see differences in my photography from the start of the year until now. I think my eye is more honed, and I have a different sense of composition. I believed before I started that I “thought” like a photographer, but I think so much more in terms of photography now than I ever did before.

It’s the one thing that I have most noticed about doing this project and the thing that surprised me the most – driving home this evening, on the 1st of January 2015, I was stopped at a traffic light and saw the late afternoon Summer sun stretching lazily over a church on the corner of the street. And I clearly remember thinking, it’s a pity I don’t have my phone out, that would make a good photo for today.

I thought I’d feel the deep sense of relief once it was all over, but I don’t. I feel accomplished, but a bit empty now too.

So the 52 Project is probably a good idea, yes?

 

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Merry Christmas!

 

Thank you so much everyone for being so lovely and supportive of my photography (I actually screencap every nice thing people say about my photography and read them when I get discouraged so I truly, truly appreciate it!)

I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season and here’s to 2015!

Em xx

Salute to Supernatural Burbank 2014

The last convention of the SPN con circuit is BurCon, in Burbank California. This was my second time at BurCon, and I have a real fondness for it. It’s one of the smallest cons, it’s at the end of the year and the guys and the fans attending all seem more relaxed. It’s bittersweet too – between one year and another I never know what conventions I’ll be photographing next, if any. I am so fortunate to have been able to photograph and document the ones I have attended, but I’m also aware that next year is The Big Con Year and I am desperate to be a part of it. But that is getting ahead of myself! BurCon 2014 was such a fun, positive experience in so many ways. Cons are strange in that they can feel all at once completely familiar and yet completely different.

Timothy Omundson, Karaoke

Timothy Omundson, Karaoke

 

Osric Chau and Gil McKinney, Saturday Panel

Osric Chau and Gil McKinney, Saturday Panel

 

Richard Speight Jr, Rob Benedict and Matt Cohen, Saturday Panel

Richard Speight Jr, Rob Benedict and Matt Cohen, Saturday Panel

 

Misha Collins, Saturday Panel

Misha Collins, Saturday Panel

 

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Sunday Gold Panel

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Sunday Gold Panel

 

The Saturday Cabaret has especially become a big favourite of mine. There is something different about photographing the guys there – their interactions with the audience and each other are so different to during a panel. There’s a certain heightened sense of emotion and vulnerability, because this is so new and it’s gathering steam quickly. It’s almost like they are learning it in front of us and I think that’s really exciting!

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Rob Benedict, Cabaret

 

Osric Chau, Cabaret

Osric Chau, Cabaret

 

Stephen Norton, Billy Moran, Richard Speight Jr, Mike Borja and Rob Benedict, Cabaret

Stephen Norton, Billy Moran, Richard Speight Jr, Mike Borja and Rob Benedict, Cabaret

 

Gil McKinney, Cabaret

Gil McKinney, Cabaret

 

Since this is the last convention of the year, I want to thank everyone for the absolutely incredible year (years!) I’ve had since I’ve started going to these cons. This is going to get soppy, because I’m in that kind of mood!

All of the incredible friends who I have met through this and have given me love and encouragement, I am so grateful. To everyone who reads this blog and these convention posts and somehow makes sense of it, I love you! To my friends from highschool who put up with my weird fandom stuff, you’re amazing.

Thank you to my family, who saw me in the darkness for so long and are now watching me learn to paint with the light through my camera.

Thank you to the men (and women!) of SPN that I have the pleasure of photographing. It seems strange but you photograph people over and over and you start to develop a genuine affection for them. I know I absolutely have. Thank you most especially Misha Collins, Osric Chau, Richard Speight Jr and Rob Benedict, who have always been so, so kind to me and pushed me to keep taking photos when I wanted to stop. You’ll never know it but you’ve helped me changed my life.

And thank you to Christopher Schmelke, who is the most amazing mentor a girl could have. He has been doing this most of his life, he is such a professional, and yet he has never spoken down to me or made me feel inferior. He sees people beautifully and that’s why he takes such amazing photos. He’s my big brother and I’ll always be in his debt.

 

I am aware this sounds like an Oscar’s speech. I’m sorry for that. But I truly am grateful, and I don’t ever want anyone to think I take it for granted.

 

Here’s to Salute to Supernatural 2015!