Today on #FeatureFriday we get to feature another Photographer. You can often find Jeff wandering the conventions and capturing cosplayers. He does it as a hobby, and he even brings free cookies! Read his interview below!
How and when did you get into cosplay photography?
I had been to conventions a few times through the years, but the Calgary Expo in 2012 was the first time I brought a serious camera to take photos with. Been doing CCEE, ECEE, Animethon and Taste of animethon every year since then. I always noticed these cosplayers getting hundreds of photos taken with cellphones, knowing they would never see any of them. My deal has always been trying to make sure cosplayers have one or two good photos to share with friends or family from their time at the expo. Knowing so many people in the community means i don't have to hand out my card as much anymore.
Do you have a specific type of cosplay or character (or theme) you prefer to shoot?
I mainly stick to characters that I know. I will take photos of characters I dont know if I think they look "cool" or "awesome". I have become more selective over the years. I am weird in how I go about cosplay photography. I like to take more candid or out of character shots, even across series.
What do you do as a career outside of photography?
I work in a photolab. Printing photos. Which helped feed my interest in photography.
Who is your photography idol/inspiration?
I can't really say anyone is my idol. I admire and appreciate other artists and learn from them if I can. The kind of cosplay photography I specialize in is so different from any of the other photographers I know. Gossen Photography has taught me some neat tricks, so thanks to him for the help!
Who is your cosplay idol/inspiration?
"Depthcharge Cosplay", "Nani-mizu Cosplay" and Fantasy's Soul Cosplay were the first cosplayers I really got to know. "Morgothia Cosplay", "Missy Art & Cosplay" and "Jedlock Cosplay" were the biggest three names in making me feel like I was really part of the cosplay community apart from being just "one of the usual photographers". Having friends in the community inspired me to improve my craft and made me feel more comfortable with my hobby. In truth all my cospals are beautiful amazing people who make my hobby so fun and amazing. There are too many to name and keep this article flowing. I love the work of all the cosplay friends I have. Everyone is so talented and nice. Every year I make more friends in the community. Shout out to you, Adrestia cosplay and Winterlights cosplay for not thinking I am a weirdo this past convention!
What is a dream shoot that you would want to do one day?
I thought about this long and hard. The only thing that comes to mind would be to put together one large battle diorama with cosplayers of different series. Something large scale and epic.
What is your favorite convention to attend?
Edmonton Expo is close to home, but Calgary Expo always has a better selection of Cosplayers/Cosplays and spaces to shoot.
What is your dream convention to attend?
A tie between Pax West and RTX. Time off and budget have always been a problem with those two. Went to PAX once, but getting tickets is like playing the hunger games.
Do you have any photography or convention pet peeves?
I have had some other photographers be rather rude to me. There are one or two who look down at other photographers. Also when I see people who don't know the "cosplay does not equal consent" rule, or when they are obviously taking pervy photos.
I have also seen some photographers discount certain categories or styles of photography/cosplaying as "Boring and creatively bankrupt". Its okay to not like certain types of shoots, or cosplays, but that doesn't make them bad.
Do you have any horror stories or mistakes you've made that others can learn from?
1) Double check your focus. 2) Don't be afraid to ask to take a second photo. 3)check your composition (people or signs in background) 4)check your battery levels and/or bring a charged spare!!!!!!!!!!!
Do you have any tips or words of encouragement for other cosplay photographers?
Take lots of photos at the beginning. Until you learn how to setup the perfect shot. Even then, don't be afraid to experiment or shoot on different settings just to be sure. and Auto is your friend. I use it to meter the lighting and get a range of ISO, Aperture speed and Shutter speed to use for that area, then use experience to get the value just right and fine tuned. Also, no matter what someone tells you: Raw is not the end all be all of photos. It is really good if you have specific editing in mind, but remember you may have a 25 megapixel raw image....but you are looking at through a 2 megapixel screen (4 at best if you have a tonne of money to spend on a monitor). So if you have a specific image in mind for post processing (removing all the colour but lets say green), Raw is handy, but it is not needed to capture great looking photos. DSLR's sensors are very good and if your settings are set just right, both photos can and will look amazing. So shoot in which ever one you prefer, neither one has a clear advantage.
Also, always be nice and friendly. I have made so many friends, and have gotten certain "exclusive" privileges for derpy/candid shots with some cosplayers just from being nice, cooperative, friendly and respecting them over the years. I get so angry when I see people be rude or mean to cosplayers. I know a hundred beautiful amazing people who let me take their photos....for free....for fun....why would you ruin such a great friendship by being a ass-hat/douche-nozzle.
Do you have any advice for cosplayers working with photographers?
Talk to them. "I wanna try this". "Get setup first, I cant hold this pose for long" "Please don't take any shots where I am doing ____". Let them know if something they are doing makes you uncomfortable, or if you see they might be uncomfortable with something you think is okay.
- Don't be afraid to walk away if they talk to you or treat you in a way you don't like. You don't owe them anything, especially in a hall shot or impromptu shoot. If they are taking forever to get the right shot, ask them to be specific in what they want you to do or let them know right away if your cosplay doesn't allow for that.
- There are a thousand photographers in this field who would be happy to take your photo, you can afford to be selective with who you shoot with. Don't put up with someone because you are worried you might not find another photographer to work with. You can throw a stone and hit six at any given moment of a con. I have have heard horror stories of some photographers asking models to do weird/awkward/uncomfortable things and cosplayers feeling like they would get black listed if they said no. There is not master list of who photographers work with, so you can always find someone who is happy to work in your comfort zone.
- If you ask to bring a friend for security and they say no, RED FLAG!
Also, if you haven't gotten any good photos of your cosplay, don't be afraid to approach a photographer to ask for some. There are lots at the convention who may be too shy to ask you. Get their contact photo and ask if they can send them to you. I would never turn down a shoot during a weekend unless I was otherwise already committed or if my battery was dead.
Do you have anything else you want to say, or add to this interview?
I have heard cosplayers of varying skill levels say things like "I want to be as good a Jessica Nigri" "I wish I had Yaya hans talent". Pro tip: You don't need to compare yourself to them. They are talented, hawt as all heck, but not all their fame comes from raw talent, luck also played a part. There are many people in their fan bases who are just there for the boobs and their crafting skills are not unobtainable by mortal hands. This isn't to say they are bad, I am a fan of their respective works, just don't think you have to do what they do to become famous or liked. Cosplay for you and you alone. Have fun, learn from your mistakes and never lose sight of why you do it. Also don't let some random photographer you may have never heard of tell you what or how to Cosplay.
Where can we find you on all things social?
Deviantart (not really photography anymore)
I love getting new perspectives on cosplay, and I absolutely adore his candid portfolio. He's an amazing photographer and artist, and you definitely should check him out.