I’m a little late on writing this second blog, but wow has it been a whirlwind couple of months!

Following the excitement of the official program announcement and first blog post I dove into brainstorming and planning mode. I created a list of sports I wanted to shoot, friends I hoped would model, and locations to scout all input into a tidy little spreadsheet. But as luck would have it, I couldn’t shoot during the first two weekends as I had to work, it was my mom’s birthday (hi mom!), and Canadian Thanksgiving on back to back weeks. I work weekdays and it gets dark very early during fall in B.C., so weekends are the best time for me to go out and shoot.

I took that two-week set back and really sorted out my plan on what shoots I wanted to do when and with whom as good/dry weather was running out very quickly. I was able to plan and execute 3 different photo shoots over the following two weeks: bouldering, trail running, and mountain biking.

After the long wait, the bouldering shoot was particularly nerve wracking as it was my first ever photo shoot. Luckily my two friends/models for this shoot are also photographers and they were incredibly patient and understanding the whole afternoon, helping to calm my nerves. We initially had some trouble as the rock was wet creating less than ideal climbing conditions, so we moved to another wall in the park which is a disused quarry and party spot for the local youth. I had been hesitant about going to this area as the walls were covered with graffiti and broken glass, but we were able to find a good spot to climb and get some solid shots. This shoot really helped me get used to the 7-14mm lens as I was able to capture some interesting wide angle action shots while being up close to the subject.

The second shoot came the following weekend where I shot some trail running. This time it was a group of four, most of whom hadn’t met each other prior to that morning. I was worried about making sure everyone got along and that everyone was having fun, but the crew made it easy and immediately became friendly. The usually quiet trail we were on was quite busy as it was the first sunny day in a while after a long period of rain, forcing us to change some locations on the fly and miss some shots we planned on getting. For this shoot, my mentor Justin challenged me to use the 40-150mm lens more and to try to get some textural and environmental photos to go along with my action shots. His challenge helped me think of less obvious shots and compositions and it has already influenced how I plan a shot.

Justin and I have been able to frequently message each other and get on a number of video calls throughout the program and his advice has helped shape my project, keep it going, and make it even better. He’s given me so many different ideas for shots and composition that I would not have thought of on my own. I’m not the most technical photographer yet so his ability to see that and provide me with relevant guidance to my ability level is greatly appreciated.

The third photo shoot was for mountain biking, the day after the trail running shoot. I went into this day a bit blind as I’m not a mountain biker and I had never been to any of the trails before. This shoot was exciting and challenging as everything was new to me and it gave me a chance to learn while in the field. Mountain bikers move very fast and I was able to use some sequential burst shooting modes to ensure I caught the action. My crew for this day was a rad group of four women who I chased down the mountain on foot – it must have been hilarious seeing me running behind them on the trail with my camera gear in hand. I kept apologizing to them for taking too long to set up a shot or catch up to them, but they were having fun just being outside riding and I’m happy I got to catch some of those moments.

For all three shoots, there have been a few common challenges. The first would be my inability to communicate what I’m looking for to the models and how to provide clear instructions on how to move or how to pose. The second challenge has been how to adapt when a shot doesn’t work out, whether to keep trying, and how to avoid being phased by something not going the way I planned. The third would be forgetting to capture the whole day - I’ve gotten into a bad habit of focusing on action shots and portraits, forgetting to take photos of the surroundings and details that tell the full story of the day.

Additionally, recent provincial COVID-19 guidelines have made things more difficult in terms of planning further photo shoots. We’re limited in places we should be visiting and people we should be seeing. We’re all taking the necessary precautions to curb the spread, but I also don’t want to make people feel like they need to spend time with people outside of their bubbles for the sake of my project.

OM-D E-M5 | M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8
1/2500s | F1.8 | ISO 200

All in all, I’m confident in the shots I’ve gotten so far but still don’t feel like my project is complete yet. Maybe I feel that way because I’m shooting very different things than my usual. I’ve gone on a couple of solo walks/hikes to get some additional landscape or nature shots to round things out and add some variety, but I feel like something is missing. I’m hoping to coordinate a couple more photo shoots before this is all over and maybe the project will feel more complete at that point.

I can’t wait to see what everyone else has been working on and for us to finally be able to share all of our hard work - I guess we’ll have to wait until next month!