Osric Chau

2016

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.

 

Osric Chau, Captain America, Vegas Cosplay Portrait, 2016

Osric Chau, Captain America, Vegas Cosplay Portrait, 2016

 

Rob Benedict, Viper Room LA, June 2016

Rob Benedict, Viper Room LA, June 2016

 

Billy Moran, Viper Room June 2016

Billy Moran, Viper Room June 2016

 

Matt Cohen, Phoenix 2016

Matt Cohen, Phoenix 2016

 

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.

 

Briana Buckmaster, Seattle 2016

Briana Buckmaster, Seattle 2016

 

Matt Cohen and Osric Chau, Phoenix 2016

Matt Cohen and Osric Chau, Phoenix 2016

 

Makayla, September 2016

Makayla, September 2016

 

Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr, Seattle 2016

Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr, Seattle 2016

 

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Osric, Vancouver 2016

 

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Sunday, VanCon 2016

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Sunday, VanCon 2016

 

Kim Rhodes and Rob Benedict, PhxCon 2016

Kim Rhodes and Rob Benedict, PhxCon 2016

 

Angie and Brooke, October 2016

Angie and Brooke, October 2016

 

Osric Chau, Phoenix 2016

Osric Chau, Phoenix 2016

 

Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Jensen Ackles PhxCon 2016

Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Jensen Ackles PhxCon 2016

 

Ruth Connell, SFCon 2016

Ruth Connell, SFCon 2016

 

Danielle, October 2016

Danielle, October 2016

 

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.

 

Misha Collins, Vancouver 2016

Misha Collins, Vancouver 2016

 

Kat, LA 2016 Makeup by Vic Righthand

Kat, LA 2016
Makeup by Vic Righthand

 

Kim Rhodes, LA 2016 Makeup by Vic Righthand

Kim Rhodes, LA 2016
Makeup by Vic Righthand

 

Timothy Omundson, LA 2016

Timothy Omundson, LA 2016

 

Rob Benedict, LA 2016

Rob Benedict, LA 2016

 

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’m scared.

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.

Goodbye, 2016.

Hello, 2017. 

Osric Chau // Vancouver 2016 Photoshoot

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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?

Loki // Osric Chau Cosplay Photoshoot #3

The Loki shoot was a bit of a departure from the other photoshoots I’ve previously done with Osric Chau. For one, I knew what he was cosplaying as. For a whole 5 months beforehand. He was particularly excited about it, and when he told me about it I actually asked (begged) to be allowed to shoot it.

So I have to be magnanimous in this instance – I did know what I was getting myself into. I went into it with three particular images in my head. One was a promotional photo for Thor : The Dark World, and the other two were from Tom Hiddleston’s Hall H appearance at SDCC in 2013.

 

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If you’ve ever seen Hiddleston’s performance as Loki, you’ll know that he is an intriguing mix of Shakespearean villain with an underlying layer of angst and vulnerability. So the key was to somehow give an impression of both.

Because of the layout of the convention hotel, there wasn’t really anywhere we could go to do the photoshoot, so Chris was kind enough to let us use the backdrop that was set up for promo photos when he had a long break in his shooting. I was taken aback by his kindness and incredibly intimidated at the same time.

Again for me it was working a balance between completely filling the frame and working with a lot of negative space. The costume was intricate and made up of lots of lines and diagonals and curves and different textures, and because we were using a plain seamless paper backdrop those parts of the composition could be brought to the fore without competing with a background. It really was totally up to Osric to try to emulate his own version of Loki. I was lucky to have my friends Kat and Sean there to help out, and we bounced ideas around (I absolutely could not have done it without them!) We tried everything, from tightly framed close-ups where I was standing on a chair looking down the bridge of his nose to emphasize vulnerability, to the full frame powerful “Say My Name” pose. The ones where he got “Loki” the most to me were the ones of him sitting beside the helmet – there was something about the expression or the mood, I’m not sure. It just worked!

 

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I did the first set of images, then Chris Schmelke tweeted a picture that he had taken of Osric and it sent me running to photoshop to heavily edit my own in an attempt to try to keep up with him! These involved many, many adjustment layers and lots of dodging and burning, which I’ve talked about on here before (basically subtly “dodging” or lighting some areas like the whites of eyes, bridge of nose, cheeks, light-touched areas of hair and “burning” or darkening other areas like pupils of eyes, sides of nose, under the jaw etc. Almost like highlighting and defining with makeup)

Working with off-camera lighting in a studio setup gives photos a dynamic quality that is so different to natural light, but you can still give the images even more dimension and “punch” using dodging and burning creatively. Because in my mind I see Loki as this hedonistic blur of black and green and gold I tried to really emphasize those colours by boosting their saturation levels and suppressing other colours like blues and reds. The final touch was a really heavy vignette (usually a no-go area) to heighten the sense of heightened drama and draw the viewer’s eye directly into the subject – “Loki”.

 

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And because I am such a stickler for black and white, I had to go back and try converting some of the images. I was actually really proud of how they turned out, especially the this one. The almost HD darkness and high-contrast moodiness of them reminded me of some of Andy Gotts’ portraits  who I follow on twitter and admire greatly.

 

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I know I probably sound like a broken record, but this was so much fun to do, and I was again so grateful for the opportunity to do it. I feel like I’m on this gigantic, steep learning curve and I’m being tested and it’s scary but fun at the same time. Each time I want to get better and produce stronger images. I’m not sure if and when the next photoshoot will be, but hopefully I can rise to the challenge again!

Thank you so much to Chris Schmelke, Katherine Arteaga and Sean Koo for all their help and encouragement. Thank you Isa, Gretchen and Samma for all their hardwork making the amazing costume and thank you Osric for pushing me and putting up with me simultaneously lol

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!

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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