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Photographer of the week – Maylies Lang

On the wilder side of Canada, there is a bunch of talented people hiding in the bushes, waiting to come out with surprising pictures that will hypnotize us. It is funny how I consider Vancouver my home and know everything about the cold water surf culture, but never had the chance to catch up with Maylies for a coffee. 

On a random night we decided to FaceTime each other to talk about her images she captures and her love for adventures. Surprisingly, once I saw her face, I understood that I had in front of me (well, technically, on camera), a kind human being that could easily because my best travel buddy. Charming, sweet and talkative, I found the same passion of surfing that made me start Nouvelle Vague in her soul. An unexpected conversation came out about our mutual love story for Vancouver, her endless adventures that we constantly envy and her exciting transition into the big wide world of freelancing.  It has always been my favourite thing and still is nowadays – discovering secret gems and sharing them with you guys! Maylies is automatically part of that category and she’s a precious one, so keep your eyes open to what’s next before she disappears into her next trip. 

Photography is a family affair for some, and something unexpected for others. Did you go to school to develop your photography skills? 

I went to VanArts for a one-year program in Vancouver. It is like a full-time job, and on top of that, you have assignments to do outside of your classes as well, but it is awesome!

It must help to be into something 24/7. Were you doing photography before getting yourself in the classrooms?
I never thought that I would get that as a profession, not at all! I do remember as a kid, I was working in Austria as a shepherd and I finally realized after the second summer being there that I had an urge to learn again, but I had no clue what. My sister was telling me to invest my money in education, so I started making lists and eventually realized that photography was always coming back. When I realized that, I enrolled myself into school and jump right into it! 

Did you end up finding your place in the industry after being in an intensive program? 

I actually did! Since I graduated back in 2013, I got random gig here and there, doing a lot of assisting. I started working at the studio of a photographer every weekend for two years and recently just quitted. I am in a big transition moment right now, but between the last three years, assisting photographers has taught me a lot and I really value that. 

Assisting photographers… What does that role involves? What are your typical tasks? 

It ranges from a lot of things, it could be from grabbing food and coffee, from hauling things around, going shopping for stuff we need, lightning, setting up a camera… It definitely depends on the photographer and what’s the shoot is about, basically. 

Assisting photographers helped me become more comfortable to shoot people. I never felt comfortable enough to do it, but through assisting and observing, I started being less afraid. Now, I just love it, I crave it all the time! 

Do you have a specific purpose when trying to capture people on pictures? 

It varies a lot. Most of the time, I am shooting people I know, except when I shoot weddings – which is a business I have with a friend of mine- but when I am taking pictures for myself, I am trying to recreate the moment. I want to share the perspective of what I see with the viewer. The moment, the adventure, but most especially, the life. I want to have life in my picture as I am trying to transport the viewer at the place where the photo has been taken. I think it helps people to become more engaged and relate to what I do a little more. But, oh, I am in love with people’s face, they are all so interesting! 

They definitely are, they are all so different and relate different stories, quite an interesting art form in itself. It must be harder when you don’t know the subject, no? 

It is hard to make them feel comfortable! 

Two weeks ago, I went to La Push area as we were making a camping/surfing trip out there. We ended up meeting new people, but I quickly realized that I wasn’t as confident as I thought to take my camera like I usually do. My friends got used to me, they don’t stop what they are doing for me and it helps me create the images that I want, the natural moment. I need to work on my comfort with strangers a little bit more.

La Push… you’re driving me crazy, always on a trip somewhere beautiful! 

I know, haha! It wasn’t like that before, I was really focused on my work and didn’t have much free time, but on my 23rd birthday, I just knew that that year was going to be amazing, full of adventures! I guess I just went a little overboard with my trips, haha.
This year, I am trying to find the perfect balance though. I always wanted to go somewhere else, so I figured that in order to enjoy Vancouver, I had to get out more often. It feeds my soul, basically!

We can see that you shoot a lot of surfing pictures as well. How did you discover surfing?
It wasn’t that long ago, only since last year. I moved with two guys from Shaper Studios that were good friends of mine, both shaping boards and because of their interest in surfing, I got involved more. Without them, I would probably never have tried surfing, cause they created the accessibility. They had the boards, the gears, they were going on trips. Last spring was my first time in Tofino and my first time shooting surfers. Then, in the summer, I went to meet up some friends down in Baja for a road trip, so I bought a water housing and it was my first time ever bringing a camera into the water! 

Was it a stressful moment for you as you weren’t used to it?
It’s nerve-racking, yes! It is a different system, it’s a rubber case that protects it. It’s more affordable compared to the other water housing and you’re just overthinking, “is it sealed enough?”, but it is awesome! Unfortunately, my last one has been stolen so I had to buy a new one. I learned to be more careful with my stuff for sure, and at the end, it is no big deal, it’s only material. I am still getting used to shoot in the water though. 

As you are still getting used to it, do you prefer staying at the beach to capture the actions or going into the water? 

I am leaning towards water as it is a challenge and that’s why I am attracted to it as well! I do love incorporating the landscape, though, so when I have the right spot, I do like to shoot on land.

I really like bringing the camera into the water as it is a different environment that I am not used to. Sometimes it gets quite scary in different areas of Tofino, when there are bigger or steeper waves, and that’s when I realize I need to understand the ocean first. It all is a constant learning experience. 

Now in a big transition moment in your life, you recently quitted your stable job for a new adventure that involves a lot of freedom! What would you do? Are you stressed at all? 

I am expecting to get my income from the wedding photography company I have and assisting some photographers still. As for my own personal work, I want to focus on building a portfolio and this is what I am currently working on at the moment. 

I love my personal works as it is where I can truly express myself. I am really excited for the upcoming month as I will be mostly gone, exploring around and meeting up my friend in Portland to finish her road trip back to Canada with her. I am also doing a project with my sister about farming, so I am going to document this as well in the Okanagan. A lot of exciting stuff!

So many adventures, all the time… We should not be surprised anymore! 
I know! I have such a rich life, the things and opportunity I have are crazy. I am so thankful for being able to do these things. It is a challenge at the moment for me, but it is an interesting one and I am glad of where I am at. 

See more from her now! 

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