Cosplay Videographer : ModernAnimator // Photo : DTJAAAAM

I was at Gem City Comic Con in Dayton, OH and wanted to try out cosplay music videos as I was learning photography and to add to #behindthecosplay – I’m asking cosplayers what they do outside of cosplay/conventions, let them write on a whiteboard, and taking a picture with them holding the sign. Some photo tutorials started to lean into Videography which surprised me, but made sense and gave it a try because my camera could do it.  I started watching more cosplay videos as I wanted to attend more conventions for my project. Videos I eventually came across featured a wide range of cosplayers of the community that gave me ideas on how to make videos. Creators such as Minerablu, Legend of Micah, and Kevin The Director, are to name a few of those that did something different then most videos/photos I seen at the time. Eventually, I was like “I don’t know what I am doing, but it don’t hurt to try and learn.” Doing that with my #behindthecosplay project gave me something more to do as I am not big into attending a lot of panels and wanted to add further to my experience. 

Conventions that really stand out to me are Gem City Comic Con, Colossalcon, and Dragon Con. Gem City is more of a smaller local to Ohio con (Dayton, Ohio) that slowly helped with ease into convention/ cosplay space. Not too small and not too big. Colossalcon was unique for me as it was the first con I had ever been to in 2015, and I didn’t think a comic/anime would be in a setting like a waterpark. Also at the time, it helped me meet and learn ALOT about cons in Ohio outside of just knowing about big east and west coast comic cons. Dragon Con feels like a huge comic con, but it is geared toward fan experience and fun. A lot of people from a much wilder age group of congoers with a party atmosphere and more of a “Let’s just have fun.” was the feeling I got. Also things like huge cosplay groups, celebrities even in cosplay/hanging out, the conventions having the largest parade in the state (to my knowledge), and a tv show for it is just amazing. Kind of reminded me of Colossalcon Con, but almost like a 23+ type of feeling. Also it is in Atlanta and lucky that it is held mostly in hotels over traditional convention spaces so helps avoid the heat of the tail end of summer/start of fall. 

So #BehindtheCosplay is more of an answer to why I got into cosplay music videos also, but I wanted to do something different. I was not big into panels as much with more networking, learning from, and friending artists in artist alley. Originally I have seen a video from what looked like years ago of a really short cosplay interviewer having them write on a board their info and a random fact (I think). They maybe had like 3 people write about themselves (I have seen video once and never found again) or anyone doing that again after that (might have been from 2013-2014 ish?) and I thought, “hmm interviews can be awkward and not everyone likes to talk, so what if I go about that completely different.”

From there I got 1-2 whiteboards and just asked whoever that might not be busy and was in cosplay about what they did outside of cosplay, but had them write on the board and take a picture. Fast forward as I slightly updated my process and questions, the response has been really great with having done over 2,000 of them. Most people share that they like the idea being different, loved the concept of seeing what people did job wise and or found that it is a lot more comfortable to do for most cosplayers. Many creators I met ended up learning more about each other on the spot and finding out they had even more in common with friends. Even more responses of people following my photos to see if someone had the same career/job/hobby. Seeing and having people say they had added feelings of confidence in themselves as far as career, job, and cosplay really was nice. So I enjoy doing it and meeting people and I enjoy the responses that it brings that I may not have thought of.

What inspires me to keep making music videos are a lot of fellow creators in the space, people I meet through #behindthecosplay, and a big one for me personally is meeting first-timers. I have run into a lot of people who have never really been asked to have their picture taken in cosplay and/or been in ask to be in a music video, which surprises me in many cases especially if they been to cons for years longer than I. Maybe I reach a part of the community that doesn’t get represented?

As far as I do know, I have fun making videos, I have fun working with creators, and as different as it still feels to have to said to me, enjoy the inspiration. I always enjoyed art in various forms especially since I am self taught and went to school for fine art, so just another form of creating. It is just fun to do I guess. Something I will always remember is when someone first told me that I helped them get into cosplay, which for what I mainly do, really means a lot to me. Idk it is wholesome and always wish to just do better as a person and learn to bring out and show greatness in everyone.

I know I don’t have a huge following at this time, but I see or better yet don’t see a representation of the community as much for black people/people of color (POC). I recently have seen a lot of people upset or felt that they or people like them are not at conventions from music videos more so. So as someone who is an African American/Black Man, I thought “why not make a CMV that shows black cosplay here?” “Why not show that despite negativity online, there are people like me?” Self-reflection of my own work even as I am still new to the space as a minority photographer/Videographer, really made me think about things. Asked myself questions: Why are there not a lot of black people/people of color in videos? As it can be an expensive hobby, does that add to the lack of cosplayers in that space to see? What’s with some people telling black people/POCs that their cosplay is not “correct” cause of their skin? A lot more questions can be asked, but my take away for me at least is what can I do better or to help people feel like for everyone that the community is a space for all? Long story short, if that video at least is seen by one person that is interested in cosplaying and feels like they won’t be the only one at these conventions, then that is wonderful enough for me.