I believe it was Anime Los Angeles 2017 when I met Alify Nasution or better known as Alive Alf. I remember this because he had a portfolio book of his photography which is rare to me – most photographers would show their photography on their phones. As I flip through the portfolio, I could see he shot differently from other photographers. I could definitely see how being versed in graphic design informed his cosplay photography. When I started interviewing photographers, I reached out to him.
Do you have any photo shoots that come to mind as being one of your favorites to do?
My current favorite photoshoot at the moment will be either Aqua (Kingdom Hearts) or Haunting Ground shoot. Both has similar reasoning which is trying to explore the character’s feeling through photography. I always enjoy doing a project that focuses on the character’s feeling, kinda like a character study project. We brainstormed keywords and drew storyboards to develop our ideas together. It was such a great team effort.
How does American style of cosplay photography differ from those in Asia ?
I’ve been asked this question many times since I moved to America in 2015, but this time my answer has slightly changed. Back then I see that American style is really focusing on a single portraiture and stylized like a movie poster, compared to Asian style that are usually focused more on storytelling photosets. I think the reason why American style is heavy on portraiture and movie poster style photos is because most photography works they’ve seen since the beginning of their career has that type of photography style which inspires them to create such photographs. Same goes to Asian cosplay photographers, they’re inspired from the media they already familiar with hence the reason why they have that specific style.
But I think now American style has evolved and I’m starting to see a mix of portraiture and storytelling sets like in Asia, I think biggest the reason is from the influence of the internet especially social media. On my part, I usually share Asian style cosplay photography and try to introduce it to my fellow cosplay photog and cosplayer friends in America because I believe if we learn from both worlds, we can make our community stronger and better!
How did you get started in cosplay photography ? How long have you done photography for cosplay
I started out as a cosplayer first in 2005 in Indonesia. Back then there were not many photographers and I think the term “cosplay photographer” isn’t even born yet. I started becoming a cosplay photographer in 2009! There are two main reason how I started in cosplay photography, the first one is because I noticed that all the amazing craftsmanship of cosplay were only being showcased in a con and usually the only photo we had just simple photo with a convention hall as a background (hall shoots), I realized cosplay has a potential to become something bigger and artistic and I feel like combining photography with all the epic craftsmanship from a cosplayer is a perfect match to create a new form of art. My second reasoning is that as a male cosplayer in the early days of cosplay in Indonesia I felt discriminated by cosplay photographers, not many cosplay photographers treat me equally with other female cosplayers in our group, even during a photoshoot. From that experience, I promised myself that when I become a cosplay photographer, I will do my best to treat everyone equally.
What is the most challenging part of shooting cosplay photographs ?
The most challenging part about doing cosplay photography is to figure out what story or message we’re trying to say with our photography and to be able to understand the character we’re shooting beyond the costume. I think one reason why cosplay photography is really unique is because we’re not just shooting someone with a costume, but we’re shooting a character and that character has a whole story & world behind them! The challenge for us is to figure out what message are we trying to say with our photos.
The second challenge is to understanding the character’s feelings, their emotion, their personality. I think once you understand them you’ll treat that character as a person, not just someone wearing a costume, and when you treat them as a person you can develop ideas that will represent the character fully from basic things such as poses, expressions, locations, to something more complex such as the message you and your cosplayer is trying to say with photography.
What is the process like working with you, what can the cosplayer expect?
Usually I ask the cosplayer about what kind of concept or ideas they have in mind. Are they interested to do conceptual cosplay shoot or portrait cosplay shoot. Once we decide which type of photograph they wanted, I’ll start gathering ideas and will try to brainstorm ideas with the cosplayer if possible. After doing all the pre-production process, the photoshoot will be pretty straightforward! Sometimes during a photoshoot I suddenly become silent and not saying a word for couple seconds, not to worry though, I’m just accessing my “Mind Palace” for ideas 😛
Suggestions for newbie togs ?
One of the most important thing about doing a photoshoot is doing a research beforehand, study the character, learn about your cosplayer’s need, communicate to each other! Cosplay photography is a really fun collaborative work, respect your cosplayer and respect the character you’re shooting.:D