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.






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.






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






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













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.

















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.

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.




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.



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.


Salute to Supernatural Chicago 2013

For the last three years, I have travelled to the Windy City of Chicago for Creation’s Salute to Supernatural ChiCon. Chicago was actually the city that held the very first Supernatural convention, 7 years ago.

It is arguably one of the biggest – in fact, this was to be the last year it was to be held at the Westin O’Hare, as the convention had apparently outgrown the venue!

ChiCon 2011 was my very first Supernatural convention, and I made so many friends that I have kept in touch with since then, so I have a lot of fond memories of ChiCon. On the Monday when the convention ended, I actually went around taking photos of the empty convention space. It seemed so desolate and final – even more so than the usual ending of a convention weekend.

The entrance to the main theatre hall, Westin O'Hare, ChiCon 2013

Entrance to the main theatre hall, Westin O’Hare, ChiCon 2013

I’d been looking forward to ChiCon for so long, but when I got there and shot the first panel (Osric Chau’s) I felt weird. I loved his panel – Osric is so lovely and was one of my favourite parts of the weekend – but I just wasn’t feeling good about shooting. I had a really tall man in front of me for the whole weekend, and my shots were mostly trying to frame around his head (and cap!) and I just…I felt odd about it. I couldn’t seem to find a rhythm.

I tried not to force it. I put my camera away and took it out the next day. I’m disappointed with myself because I only shot a handful of panels and it feels like failure. I’m surprised I actually got the amount of shots I did, considering how frustrated I remember feeling the whole time. It just felt off to me.

A lot of my shots ended up looking like this, with prominent ghosting

A lot of my shots ended up looking like this, with prominent ghosting

I know it probably sounds like I’m taking it too seriously, but the thing is it didn’t even feel like fun. Taking photos that weekend felt like a huge amount of effort, and it has never felt that way before. It’s like it threw off my whole balance. Then I started to feel guilty about the poor people sitting behind me who had to put up with me leaning in and out and up and down trying to frame my shots.

You go back and look at shots I’ve taken at JIBCon or some of the other events and there are heads in the frames. That was my viewpoint, the camera is reflecting what I saw and that was the view I had. It suits the overall feeling of the photo.

Henry Cavill, Man Of Steel Premiere at Event Cinema Sydney

Henry Cavill, Man Of Steel Premiere at Event Cinema Sydney

But there’s a difference between that and something like the above shot of Misha from ChiCon. That’s quite clearly a technical problem, and I’m nowhere near advanced enough with editing to take it out. I don’t even know how to lessen the impact of it. It was really disheartening.

I guess it’s learning to come to terms with the fact that it is not always going to go like clockwork, and I did get quite a few shots in the end, so I managed to work around it.

But I also forgot how truly difficult the lighting in the breakfast room is to work with!

The breakfast room at VanCon has one wall completely covered in windows, so the whole room is flooded with light. The ChiCon breakfast room is really dark and for some reason Jared Padalecki was the only one with a spotlight, leaving Jensen Ackles shrouded in darkness.

I’ve also edited a bit differently in that I’m using colour for the panels. True, it’s a very muted colour, but it is colour!

Alaina Huffman, Salute to Supernatural Chicago 2013

Alaina Huffman, Salute to Supernatural Chicago 2013

Apart from those frustrations, I had an amazing weekend. I got to catch up with my wonderful friends, made some new friends and I did get to take lots of photos. Watching Osric Chau experience the convention from both sides (as guest and fanboy) was so cool. As always, Chris Schmelke was eternally patient and encouraging with me and my photography, and Misha Collins and Richard Speight Jr absolutely made my weekend.

To see my photographs from ChiCon, visit the galleries on my site here


I feel so stuck.

For a minute there, I felt like I was on the crest of a huge wave, and something was going to propel me forward into an unknown but exciting future.

But…now I just feel stuck. I do feel like I’m in limbo.

People have been offering advice about the next course of action with my photography – reaching out to sci-fi magazines, blogs, people that would be interested in convention photography. But it all seems like so much; it seems so difficult.

It’s a catch-22 (naturally) – people will want to see what you can do, but you can only get great shots with great access, and for great access you need backing. But to get backing you need a portfolio etc.

I just..don’t know what to do. I don’t even know if any of this is realistic?