Rob Benedict

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. 

Louden Swain at the Viper Room // LA, June 2016

I’ve really wanted to see Rob Benedict’s band Louden Swain play a concert ever since I first heard them at the conventions, especially after the Saturday Night Special became the big event it is now. The photographs that I took at the concert they played at VegasCon 2014 are still some of my strongest (and I wonder if I will ever top them) so to see them play outside a convention and get an opportunity to photograph it was something I wanted to do for a long time.

I was actually at VegasCon earlier this year and heard that they were going to be playing a gig in June at the Viper Room, and coincidentally it was going to be the weekend before PhoenixCon. Being impractical, I thought …. Well this could be my chance. I’d come over for the concert and stay for PhoenixCon.

I’m so, so glad that I did. It was incredible, challenging and inspiring and solidified how much I actually do like shooting concerts. There’s something about the energy crackling under the surface and the give and take between the band and the audience. Louden Swain are such an incredibly talented band and have such a connection with their fans that it’s this amazing thing to witness that you really want to do justice to when you’re capturing it. Because I’m so fond of them, I really wanted to do a good job.

I got to LA on 6am the morning of the concert, because I like to make things difficult for myself. So by the time the concert started I was already exhausted but wired, and a little awestruck at shooting in the Viper Room. I was so glad my friend Kat was with me, because she helped me calm down and feel less nervous about the whole thing.

 

June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016

Because I wasn’t really sure what it would be like shooting at a concert venue as opposed to a normal con venue, I felt like maybe my 70-300mm lens would be too unwieldy to use, and because its widest aperture was only f4, I felt as though it wouldn’t be appropriate anyway. The only other lens I have is an 85mm f1.8 prime lens, which is mainly a portrait lens. But because 85mm is longer than the average human eye distance (which is around 50mm apparently?) there was still some “zoom” and the aperture would be more flexible in the darkened concert space. This way, theoretically, I could keep my ISO lower, stopping grain, preserving detail, etc.

Which I didn’t end up doing. But I told myself I could, and made myself believe I was making a professional decision.

 

Rob Benedict

Rob Benedict

Brian Buckley

Brian Buckley

Billy Moran

Billy Moran

The truth is, I ended up having to adjust my settings constantly throughout the gig. Depending on which area of the stage I was focusing on and where the guys were standing in relation to which spotlight, key lights, coloured lights etc I had to adjust everything. I tried to keep my shutter speed fairly constant at 1/125, because it would reduce camera shake but also freeze some motion while still showing some movement. But because I refused to budge on that, it meant that I had to make compromises on the other two aspects of the exposure triangle, so my ISO ended up being really, really super high. Which isn’t really a big deal, because shooting a lot of convention photography I do end up using a high ISO and have to clean it up in editing. But I had been trying to get out of the habit, because I felt like it would become a crutch and I would lose detail because of it.

 

Rob Benedict

Rob Benedict – at 1/125, some parts of this photograph are frozen, but the blur shows motion and movement that makes the overall affect more dynamic, which in turn tells a better story

I feel like I’ve developed this certain that style that is quite “close up” and personal, so shooting with a lens that was limited to one focal range was a huge challenge. It’s like having one tool taken away from you; you have to find new ways to sell a narrative. So I was going into an unfamiliar shooting condition without the tools I would usually use, which made me extra nervous. When I first came back and started looking through my photos I was really worried that maybe they all looked too similar, because the ability to shoot at different focal ranges just wasn’t there.

 

Mike Borja

Mike Borja

Stephen Norton

Stephen Norton

Rob Benedict

Rob Benedict

The concert itself was incredible; they played quite a long set and we got to hear a couple of new songs. The audience was loud and passionately singing (and kazooing) along and the band fed off it. It got so cramped and so hot in there that towards the end I had to go and stand towards the back of the room where it wasn’t quite so crowded. But it was such an amazing thing to witness and be a part of.

On the one hand, photography-wise it was a great challenge and it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to only use the one prime lens. But on the other, I think if I was to shoot a concert like that again, I would definitely try to rent a 24-70mm f2.8 which would give you more options – wide angle, zoom, aperture etc.

But that’s why we do these things – we try and see what works and what doesn’t and then the next time we try something else. It’s how we slowly build our knowledge and the biggest secret is to never let the failures, or the things that don’t go right, to knock you down. I was so, grateful for this opportunity, and I feel so blessed that I found this amazing network of people that are so inspiring and so willing to help and encourage and support. I think that’s one of my driving factors in wanting to improve myself – not just for me, but for these people that I respect and admire so much.

I was also overwhelmed by how supportive and encouraging people in the crowd were. I knew many people there from the Supernatural fandom, and people were just so nice to me and I’m just a very, very lucky person.

 

Mirror

Mirror

Rob Benedict

Rob Benedict

Kings of Con

kingsofcon-0683

 

Those who have been following my blog have known that I have a special fondness for Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr.

They are two of the funniest, warmest, most genuine guys you could ever hope to meet. They have been nothing but kind to me when I’ve been lucky enough to meet them, and always encouraging of my photography.

Well, this time I want to help them by giving a signal boost to a project they are currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo. They are actually very close to getting to their goal, but would still like help spreading the word!

So what is their project? It’s a comedy called “Kings of Con” 

“….after years of appearing at airport hotels across the country and abroad, they’ve created “Kings of Con”,  a single camera comedy inspired by their real experiences that goes beyond the autograph lines and photo ops to what really makes the cons truly crazy and unpredictable – the actors paid to be there.”

So please, if you can, donate at their indiegogo page at the link below. If anyone can truly show you what it’s like to be at a convention, it’s these two!

Donate here!