Photog' Phee-ture - Brian Lim!
Cosplaying is a hobby that requires patience, energy, and lots and lots of dedication! Always there to assure that you get pictures that are as awesome as your costume are the Cosplay Photographers - also known as 'Photogs'.
It's not just about pointing a camera and clicking away however; Cosplay Photography in itself is an art form that requires just as much effort in its own right. In this new feature, we give "Photogs" the spotlight!
First up; it's long-time anime fan and veteran cosplay photographer, Brian!
anibee: Hi Brian! Let's start with the basics - Please introduce yourself, and tell us how long you've been into cosplay photography and what got you started!
Brian: Hi, my name is Brian! I have been taking pictures casually since I was young, and I have been an anime and manga fan since university. The turning point for me came when I followed my friend to a cosplay event, where she asked me to help her take some pictures with her fancy camera.
I found that I really enjoyed taking pictures of cosplayers, especially from my favorite anime or manga series, so much so that I got myself my own camera soon after.
That was about 3 years ago. Along the way I got to know many awesome photographers whom I made friends with and learnt from, as well as many fantastic cosplayers whom I had the great fortune to work with.
anibee: The entire process of producing a cosplay photoshoot seems complicated! Break it down for us - and how important is each part of a shoot to you?
The process for me begins when a cosplayer approaches me with a request to do a shoot. We will do some initial discussions on what type of shots we want - what is the character, which costume, what is the feel of the shoot and are there any specific scenes that we want to recreate etc.
Once we have settled on the type of shoot we want, I will do some research and planning. I may need to watch/re-watch the series to familiarise myself with the source material, scout out a suitable location for the shoot, plan out the shots that I want to achieve, especially if it's a technically elaborate shoot. Sometimes I may need to call some friends to help out.
For the shoot itself, I will run through the plan for the day with the cosplayer, then start off with some simple shots to get warmed up. If we have a planned list of shots, we will follow that plan. Otherwise, we will just see what the interesting spots at the location are and try different types of shots.
After the shoot is done, I will go through the shots with the cosplayer and choose the ones we like. Once we have narrowed down the shots, I will work on the post processing of the photographs with input from the cosplayer.
The most important part is definitely the preparation. In order to get a very good shot which has a strong "feel", we need to go into the shoot knowing exactly what we want and be fully prepared beforehand to get that shot.
anibee: What makes a "perfect" cosplay shoot for you?
Brian: A perfect shoot would be one where all other elements are perfect - a good cosplay of a series which I love, at a beautiful location - and I am able to do full justice to the character being portrayed with my skills.
anibee: As unfair as this question might seem; what particular shoot, or subject; has been the most memorable to you!
Brian: This probably has to be the time I shot Kaika (of the Cosplay Chronicles) cosplaying as Shana (from Shakugan no Shana), where we experimented extensively with real fire effects. Everything is more exciting with fire! We got some really amazing pictures at the end of the day also so it was well worth it.
A close second would have to be the time I shot Orbakat as Momoji outside the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple at Chinatown. The location was next to a busy road, and one taxi driver driving by was so distracted by our shoot that he crashed into a van!!
anibee: A shot that's technically sound and perfect, versus a shot that's more in the spirit of the character being cosplayed - which is more important to you, or is there a balance?
Brian: There is a quote by a famous photographer called Ansel Adams which goes like this - "There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept."
Likewise I feel that a good cosplay picture must, above all else, convey the feel of the series. Technical perfection can only help to TELL the story, it can never BE the story.
anibee: Any advice for aspiring cosplay photographers?
Brian: The most fundamental advice I can give to aspiring photographers is to shoot more. Familiarise yourself with every single piece of gear you own before getting more. Improve your technical knowledge by reading photography books. Expose yourself to the works of others, be inspired by what others have achieved and constantly challenge yourself to keep doing better!
Truly the words of a passionate fan of anime & cosplay, and handy advice too!