insecurity

Regaining Your Spark

Photography has slowly become my way of looking at the world. It’s the chain that keeps me tethered to the world around me and my way of putting things into some semblance of an order.

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It’s no accident that the word melancholy in my ‘name’. It’s a part of me that I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. It’s something that has permeated through all aspects of my life and for a long time I thought maybe photography was the one exception to the rule. Sure, I had some off days but I never ever felt like I wanted to throw it all away. It kept me grounded, and kept me from feeling listless and lost.

I wonder if maybe I am having that tether ripped away from me, or whether I am subconsciously doing it to myself. That as I am feeling so disengaged from the people and the world around me, that maybe I am losing my ability to document and capture that engagement.

For whatever reason, I am finding it harder to just shoot. When I was doing the 365 Project, I had something that was constantly driving me and pushing me forward. I had to take a photo every day. But beyond even those restraints, I wanted to shoot that much. Now I don’t know what I want, or what I’m feeling.

Yes, I know that I should shoot through whatever this is. I shouldn’t wait for inspiration to come, I should proactively hunt it down.

Yes, some of an artist’s best and bravest work will come out of pain, or sadness, or loneliness. You can’t have light without darkness and what is photography if it isn’t light?

Yes, in all likelihood – hopefully – this feeling will pass. If it is true to the ebbs and flows I’ve experienced up until now, I will claw my way out of it.

And yes, my pain is nothing in comparison to what others are feeling and dealing with right now. I have heard this over and over again.

And no, I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s just what do you do when you lose your spark? How do you regain something that is seemingly so personal and can’t really be taught or learned?

 

Up // Osric Chau Cosplay Photoshoot

This past weekend I attended Salute to Supernatural Burbank 2014 (which I will write about in another post). It was special for many reasons – I could see all my friends again, it was the last convention of the circuit for 2014, and I was also going to be photographing Osric Chau in his cosplay outfit after the convention.

Osric has started getting photographers to record his different cosplays at each convention, and this time he asked if I would be interested. Of course I was! But I was also intimidated – this was way outside my comfort zone. I’ve met Osric a few times before so I knew he would be amazing to work with, so it wasn’t so much working with him that was making me nervous. But I’ve never done a location photoshoot before outside of my family. This was outdoors, somewhere in Burbank and before I saw him at the con he didn’t even tell me what the costume would be!

So this photo, of him making an entrance for his panel during the convention, was the very first time I saw what costume I’d be working with!

Osric as Mr Fredrickson from "Up"

Osric as Mr Fredrickson from “Up”

 

Now I haven’t even seen all of the movie Up (all I know is that the first part should be avoided at all costs and that came from tumblr) so I was really flying blind! At the last minute my friends Angie and Brooke came along and offered moral support (thank you so much guys!) , and luckily they are both hugely talented artists who had seen the movie and were great at making posing suggestions. We were lucky enough to find a small park off a main road, that had these huge old trees and lots of green grass. There were park benches and a playground. It was such a perfect setting it was like we were supposed to find it.

Osric was very good about posing – very patient and willing to listen to ideas. He kept emphasising scope and colour and shape – Mr Fredrickson was very squat and square, contrasting with the roundness of the balloons. He suggested wide shots to show the height of the balloons, but I also wanted tight shots because the balloons were such a good framing device, and also to see the incredible makeup work his friend Devan had done for the cosplay. We really were fortunate in our location – I loved the trees, with the greenery acting as a canopy and the branches shooting through the backdrop of some of the shots. The light was beautiful, throwing dappled spots onto the trees and grass.

It was a very relaxed, positive photoshoot and we were all bouncing ideas around.

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As far as editing went we all thought that since it is animation, the colours were extremely important. That was also a challenge for me, because I work much more comfortably in black and white. But I tried to go for vibrancy and saturation – there’s an unrealistic quality to the colouring that I think suits what we were trying to do.

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It was so much fun, and by the end of it I was feeling a lot more confident about it. It’s still something I will need practice at, but at least my foot is out of my comfort zone now! Osric was a fun, patient subject and I’d love to work with him again!

I think this has to be my favourite shot of the day.

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Learning The Ropes

I thought I’d share a quick list of sites that I am currently using to research various aspects of photography – technical, artistic, philosophical, workflow etc.

As I said in an earlier post, I find it really helpful to read articles and take notes so I can absorb what I’m reading. I’m also thinking of starting a little notebook that will sort of serve as a unstructured Photography Dictionary, with just quick meanings for terms I want to remember (eg. Posterization is a new one for me. It was one of those things I’d heard of, but I couldn’t confidently tell you what it meant. Like anything to do with maths). Not even strictly photography terms – stuff to do with web design and graphics and other aspects I use or want to use.

I think I just really like learning (I actually think it’s the Meaning of Life. Think about it; it’s something everyone does and never stops doing). I’m seeing this whole journey as a huge learning curve for me.

Anyway, here are a few websites that I’ve discovered that have been giving me a wealth of information.

 

Cambridge In Colour
A Learning Community for Photographers

I love Cambridge in Colour. They have tutorials covering every aspect of photography from beginning to end – concepts and terminology, camera equipment, editing and post-processing, printing and colour management, and different photographic styles. The site is easy to navigate and there are lots of sample images to scroll over and watch the adjustments taking place.

The tutorial index is here

 

LightStalking

Light stalking is a very well known online community for photographers – the bulk of it is a discussion board where photographers can congregate and share information, review equipment and offer (constructive) criticism on each other’s work. But there are also quite a few photographic guides on there too. These range from articles about Exposure Compensation to “How To Rekindle Your Passion For Photography”. The one I’m reading right now is about using colour theory in your photography, which I love because I’m really interested in colour theory.

The list of guides is here

 

Fstoppers

Apart from having a cool name for a site about photography, Fstoppers is huge. It not only has articles, but it has an online community, a store, and a huge social media presence. The articles aren’t just tips about photography, but also tips about running a photography business to working on big photographic projects to using all types of gear. There are profiles of famous photographers, and advice for people who are wanting to break into all facets of photography. There’s also news that pertains to photographic interests (an article on the landing page today is entitled “Update: Is The U.S Forest Service About To Charge Photographers To Take Photos?”). Basically it’s massive, but very inspiring to look through. You can buy tutorials on their store, but woven throughout their articles are a lot of good free guides too.

The main page is here

 

Those are the three big ones at the moment. There are others that are more specifically focused, and there are also a lot of physical books that I use to research and I can share them with you another day.

Really, if you are lucky enough to find something you’re truly interested in, learning all about it isn’t a chore.

The World’s End Premiere AU

You know how I always try to be honest on this blog? Sometimes painfully so?

This is going to be one of those posts.

I found out a couple of weeks ago that Hoyts Cinema at Melbourne Central was having a premiere for the new Simon Pegg movie, The World’s End. Thinking I could at least go along and shoot like I did the Man of Steel premiere, I contacted the cinema and asked for general information – eg, what time it started, where it would be in the centre, where was the best place for me to take pictures etc.

I heard back from a woman from the PR company who had actually organised the Man of Steel premiere in Sydney. She asked me who I shoot for.

I felt a little deflated, because this is what happened before the MOS premiere, and I ended up being turned away. But I thought I might as well try. I sent along a link to my site, and a link to this blog, and said that I have a Facebook and a Twitter, so I have a social media presence (true) and that I have shot conventions in North America and Europe (also true and sounds quite impressive).

She emailed back and simply said “I have added you to the media list” and gave me information about where to register.

Just like that.

I was so stunned. I didn’t want to tell anyone in case it had been a mistake, or I would stuff something up (I know, I know, confidence). I just kept looking at the email. I have added you to the media list.

So, I dutifully went into the city and registered when I was told to, and then I was ushered to stand in front of the barricades with the other photographers along the red carpet while we waited for the premiere to start. They had decorated the red carpet with a facade to look like a typical English pub.

Backdrop for the red carpet, The World's End Premiere, Melbourne Australia 2013

Backdrop for the red carpet, The World’s End Premiere, Melbourne Australia 2013

View of the red carpet from above

View of the red carpet from above

I was right at the very end of the red carpet, just before the guests left to go up to the cinema. I didn’t mind at all though – I was just soaking it all in and mentally taking notes about everything I would do differently if given the opportunity again. I was surrounded by obviously seasoned photographers – most carried two camera bodies, with huge flash guns and wide angle lenses. I have a very, very good camera, and a very good lens, but I have to admit to feeling woefully unprepared and unequipped. I have tried for so long to get away with not getting a flash, but I think If I hope to do this again I need to invest in one. It’s just that much harder without it.

The other photographers were all nice to me, and kind of stunned when they asked who I shot for and I answered myself. I was expecting to be kicked out at any minute as an interloper. It was a feeling that stayed with me for the rest of the evening, but I was so desperate to make this happen. It was scary, and exhilarating and fun. That’s the thing that shocked me the most – that however terrified I was, I was also having a lot of fun.

Nick Frost

Nick Frost

I know they are not my best photos by any stretch of the imagination. And I have already seen other photographers work from last night and….mine is completely different. But maybe I’m always going to be different? I don’t know. I just know I have a lot of work to do, but this experience has helped me immeasurably.

Simon Pegg

Simon Pegg

Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost

Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost

So I have to say a big thank you to Tanja, who gave me the opportunity. And a huge thank you to everyone on Facebook who gave me so much support when I finally told everyone what I was doing!