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Photographing Cosplayers

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"Photographing Cosplayers" is written by Jacob delaRosa (www.jnd-photography.com):

Hello! My name is Jacob delaRosa and I am a wedding, family and senior photographer who has been working on a personal project involving cosplayers for the past year. I really enjoy photographing the domestic side of things but I strongly believe it is important for photographers to do something for themselves in order to keep their creativity fresh and alive. Many of my photography friends are heavily involved in the cosplay photography scene and their work inspired me to start a this endeavor. However, when I began this project, I wanted to explore the world of cosplay in a way that had not been done before. I wanted to show the faces behind the costumes.

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While all of the outfits are flashy and some downright strange, the participants are no different form you and I. They simply enjoy dressing up as their favorite character and hanging out with their friends. Sadly, despite the fun they have at conventions, most cosplayers try to keep their hobby separate from their “everyday” lives because of concerns that their friends and employers won't understand. This is especially true with social media sites where cosplayers operate separate accounts and fan pages. Some even go further than that by adopting pseudonyms which they maintain online and in real life.

Photographing cosplayers
However, in spite of all this, I have noticed that the cosplay community is a tight-nit scene. So much so that one might say that the “Kevin Bacon” game could easily be played with anyone involved. Simply pick two cosplayers and chances are they won't be separated by more than one or two people. Outside of conventions, cosplayers keep in touch through social media, making plans and talking about future cosplays and meetups.

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One of the interesting things I noticed while creating these portraits is how closely the cosplayers matched their characters, both in physical appearance and demeanor. They truly strive to embody the character and make a great deal of effort to ensure the accuracy of the costume. While buying one's outfit is not out of the question, most in the community choose to make theirs by hand, which adds an element of authenticity and gives the outfit a unique flair.

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I have been working on this personal project for almost a year and will continue to produce theses portraits for the foreseeable future. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with it outside of sharing images online but I have toyed with the idea of submitting my work to art galleries. Until then, I'll keep going to conventions and contacting local cosplayers for portraits. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post!

If you have an interesting idea for a guest postyou can contact me here.

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  • seekthedragon

    I’m not sure how it is called, but there is a feature in webpages that you may move the split line of the image, allowing to freely adjust how much is visible of the right or left picture. I believe this would further enhance your work when you share it online. Anyone who knows the exact name of what I’m referring is welcomed.

    • Shane Laake

      Not the best comparison in terms of imagery (unless it’s really bad or good Cosplay!), but in terms of functionality you see it when there’s a tragedy and they overlay two Google Maps images to show the destruction.

  • NoHabla

    I think something is getting lost here, can someone translate?

    • itsmyname

      I am with you …What am I missing ?

  • DL

    Hand picked…except for the last one… Wheres all the 300lb neckbeards and chubbie chicks that are the real ones doing this?

    • n11

      Hmmm, you should probably go to an actual convention and stop being so easily influenced by the internet.

      • DL

        Nice try. I’ve seen them in San Jose and San Francisco.

        • Ricky

          Congratulations. You’ve based a worldwide hobby on what you’ve seen in two cities.

    • AM

      They didn’t fit in FF and a MF camera wasn’t available at the moment.

  • Paul

    I don’t think the execution of this is that well done. The costumes are just too different from the “normal” side so the split is very unnatural and I don’t get a good idea of the full face or the full costume.

  • Spy Black

    Interesting article, although I must say those are typically the last people you may notice at a Cosplay event: http://tinyurl.com/7narezb

    • TopTotty

      Nicely done, but it would have been even better with more exposure.

  • Mansgame

    Very amateurish.

  • surfsama

    Nice work! Thanks for sharing some of your insight about the person behind the costume. I’ve shot cosplay photography for 7 years and enjoy it immensely. Many of these folks are very talented and make all their own costumes and props.

  • Dd

    The lighting is worse than a passport photo, the focus is off etc.. However, I did find it interesting. The execution is rather poor though.

  • http://www.naturalvolo.it/ michele perillo

    while I enjoy some (some) of the books, cartoons, movies on which cosplays are based, I cannot help thinking that adult people doing this must be weirdos.

    • BernhardAS

      A hobby is a hobby because it makes no sense otherwise it would be called a job.
      For example Drinking wine and discussing books does not make much more sense in the greater scheme of things?

      • Can’t Believe It

        Discussing wine squanders valuable drinking time.

    • Global

      Great point.

      If someone smokes pot you call them weird — but others drink wine and beer at black tie events? If someone reads “50 Shades of Grey” they are trendy — but if they watch S&M porn you call them perverts? If someone dresses up at a Company Halloween Party they are team players — but if they dress up with their friends for Cosplay you call them weird? If someone watches the Kardashians or Jersey Shore or day time Talk Shows or read Maxim or Cosmo or watch multi million dollar CGI movies they are normal — but if they read graphic novels or comics or foreign films or animation you call them weird?

      I don’t get where idiots like that are coming from. They want to judge people for adding to the fun and diversity of our world, instead of accepting it as a gift.

      I hope you have never photographed anything that wasn’t considered 100% sanctioned by mainstream Catholic priests and received the stamp of approval of democratically elected Politicians. Wait. You must be a pretty filthy and weird pervert if so.

      Love cosplayers. Love people with tattoos. Love people who love life and love in the face of all the ridiculous prejudice out there from people who want to kill creativity in the name of status quo. We’d still be limited to chalk drawings on cave walls if it weren’t for those willing to do something silly once in a while!

      • umeshrw

        Bravo. Very well said.

      • 36megapixies

        +∞

    • That Guy

      Passionate fans of sports go shirtless, paint themselves in crazy colors, put on funky wigs, and go out of their way to transform themselves into a new person, and nobody bats an eye. Passionate fans of politics have done the same at political rallies, and this is considered acceptable. Why is it so strange for people who like animation and graphic novels to dress up as an expression of their passion?

  • WoWplayer

    He should at least have used the same light set-up in some photos and same angle… looks very amateur.

  • Marc J.

    I like the concept but the execution is a bit lacking — The costumes are the real appeal here — and the costumes are being shortchanged. A full-body shot in split-screen would look much better.

    But that’s just my two cents.

  • solartempest

    I mean, this is one creative approach to Cosplay photography, but there is a lot more out there!
    I’ve been focusing specifically on Cosplay photography for over the past 9 years. =)
    My focus has been working with on-location lighting and making interesting scenes from the most boring places:
    http://photography.solartempest.net/

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