Waiting for Godot

[Warning, emotional crap ahead, feel free to skip.]

I’m still here.
I have to say, work has been really getting me down for the last few months. Couple that with a move, and you got the slump that I’d been in.
I had been through some episodes before, so I understood immediately that if things continued, I’d fall back into the pit.

I hated that pit.

I wanted to change. I hated not shooting, not producing stuff. Everyday I did work, came home, played video games until late, and went to sleep listening to League of Legends LCK. I’d wake up, drag myself out of bed, drink a copious amount of coffee at work, and do it all over again. Work to me is just that these days, work. It had stopped being interesting or fun.

Watching esports was my persistence; video games and food was my escape; but photography is my drug, and I can’t quit it.
No, I can’t think about quitting photography, I don’t want to quit it, I don’t want to stop shooting.

You can pry the camera from my cold, dead hands.

 

 

Cue the sad music?

I wanted to shoot more portraits, in particular. I had planned a trip to shoot more portraits with Shirley, but I was desperate for a fix. I had gone on the streets a few times, with and without my photography friends, but it wasn’t doing it for me.

I wanted to shoot good portraits, in my own definition.

To me, a good portrait requires a personal connection with the subject. It requires a shared vision, a shared understanding of how the composition would be perceived.  When I moved to the west coast, I had lost all my friends with whom I had such understandings.

At some point, I realized that I was truly alone.

I started to miss Ontario, not because of the province, the city, the weather, but because of the friends I had made through photography, because they understood me, because they accepted me, because they empower me.
But even all that, I couldn’t. I couldn’t just leave, aside from monetary issues, I felt responsibility to my work, to the new house that I had just finished some work on, and I didn’t want to give up. I had moved to west coast for a better life.

It’s still too early to crawl back and give up.

 

 

Now, I’ve had a couple of conversations with my friend Monkey. She told me her plans, and how she was going to approach it all. This had an inspiring effect on me, because I had only the long term goals, but I wasn’t breaking down the steps for achieving it.

I had wanted to start my own photography club, and preliminary research had garnered some interest within some groups that I’m a part of, this gives me a source of members, thus making the whole thing a possibility.
But having been under Chandan for a few years for UWPC, I knew that running a club productively is a huge undertaking. I need to have a rough outline of the curriculum I wanted to teach for beginners, and a list of ideas to share with collaborators.

But I digress.

 

 

I don’t know how many people have actually seen “Waiting for Godot” – it’s an absurdist play about many things, including philosophical topics such as the illusion of control, as well touching on the purpose of life. I didn’t know about this play until I had met Godot. But having read a very detailed script on it, I felt like I understood it. The play (at least, in my understanding) echoed the points that Monkey made, and I need to find my own  Godot; I need to be more proactive, I need to take control, even if it’s just an illusion.

Carpe diem, as they say.

I met Godot from a WeChat group for some Amazonians; she wanted to ask me some questions on photography, and we talked for the next few days regarding various topics – including the origins of her name. Having established that I wanted to shoot more portraiture, she asked if I’d want to collaborate on some street portrait, and I gladly accepted. For me, this was exactly what I needed.

[Begun, the photo section has.]

This is going to be the first time I’m going into such detail with each photo. Feel free to just scroll through if you’re not interested in the technical/motivational details. Honestly I don’t feel any closer to approaching a consistent style, but I’ve settled on using a single color tone for each set, so at least it’s a little bit more stable?

She wanted to shoot what’s known as Lolita Fashion, a subculture popularized in Japan, drawing heavy influence from Victorian era clothing, with elements of Gothic revival thrown in, drawing inspiration from works like Alice in Wonderland. The subculture became somewhat mainstream due to many popular anime having characters with such fashion, usually to convey high prestige, like Nunnally from Rebellion of Lelouch, and Victorique from Gosick.

The style itself is highly dependent on the environment and clothing. Godot had brought a fancier dress that would have meshed with the surroundings of Gastown a bit better, but she had forgotten the blouse of it which meant that we had to make do with the dress she wore to the convention.

Pastel Wonderland
Sony A7II
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM
f/1.4, 1/1000s, ISO-100
Gate
Sony A7II
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM
f/1.4, 1/250s, ISO-100
Mad Hatter
Sony A7II
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM
f/1.4, 1/60s, ISO-160

Turns out I’m not really good at this.

I can’t seem to nail down the color style/composition style of Lolita Fashion, partially due to the environment in Gastown being a bit less Victorian than anticipated, partially due to my own lack of experience. Only the first photo, “Tickets”, can really be attributed to the Lolita Fashion style in my mind.

After Gastown, we had went to a couple of places to no avail, and honestly, at that point we’d given up on following through the Lolita style, and went for some dinner instead.

With darkness setting in, we moved on the second phase of the shoot, which was based on Granville Island.

We had hypothesized that no one will be on Granville Island after dark, because everything would be closed. I had brought my set of lights, soft boxes, reflectors and everything. I was itching to use them.

Look
Sony A7II
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM
f/1.4, 1/125s, ISO-400
Yongnuo 560-IV set to 1/128 with softbox 45 degrees front, high, left, orange color gel.
Tip Toe
Sony A7II
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM
f/1.4, 1/80s, ISO-400
Yongnuo 560-IV set to 1/128 with softbox 35 degrees front, high, right, orange color gel.
Affair
Sony A7II
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM
f/1.4, 1/80s, ISO-400
City Lights
Sony A7II
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM
f/1.4, 1/80s, ISO-800

To our surprise, this set ended up being much more successful. Perhaps not Lolita Fashion, but going back to a very vintage, very “hipster” style that I personally liked quite a lot.

Happy Merry Crew
Sony A7II
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM
f/1.4, 1/100s, ISO-800.
20 shot burst, Adobe Photoshop stacked.

This was a series of burst shots where I had to freehand with AF-C, which ended up not quite as up to the bar I set for myself. But I think it’s a decent starting point for a proof of concept, next time, I’ll use a tripod and manually focus.

Of course, Godot couldn’t resist having one final shot.

X
Sony A7II
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM
f/1.4, 1/400s, ISO-1600

It really is a nice looking wall.

-Tao