So anytime I meet a new photographer I always ask, “What do you shoot?” Meaning, what kinds of photos do you like to do? I guess I should really answer that question of myself, and tell you how I got to where I am.
I started photography as a high-school snapshotist. This was in the days of semi-automatic film cameras. I learned a lot about what you could and couldn’t do with the camera. I dabbled in photography through high-school and with grade 12 drawing to a close I needed to find something to do with it.
This article was originally published in Absolute Underground #58
Roller Derby is a hard hitting sport that is back with a vengeance. In existence since the 1930s, the sport has surged and withdrawn over the decades and now it’s seeing a new surge. Retaining the colourful Continue reading →
Cosplay, from the phrase “costume role-play”, is the most visually defining aspect of any Comic Book/Gaming/Anime convention. It’s a lot more than putting on a pair of tights and donning a cape. There are some very serious cosplayers out there who love doing what they do.
They research the source material, whether it be comics, movies, anime or games. They create a resource list, and off to the nearest Gala Fabrics or Fabricland for materials and notions. A superhero in a spandex costume can take upto 5 meters of fabric just for the bodysuit, another 2 for a cape. Add a skirt for Supergirl or gloves and mask for Batman and at $20 per metre this can really add up.
Hours are spent adapting various patterns to make the costume, cutting, sewing, fitting and starting again when some aspect doesn’t work.
While there are male cosplayers, they are not in the majority; only 20%. So when a group needs a male character, what are they to do? Gender switching is the answer, and has two aspects. First is the act of switching the gender; imagine the male-dominant cast of Star Trek as all female. The second version is the female dressing as a male. You would think that this would be hard to pass off, but some girls even bind their chests with tensor bandages to achieve the flat-chested male form.
While a long brown jacket and black-haired wig with beaded dreads, may give you the look of Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), it’s the swagger, vocal slur and knowing the character inside and out that will sell it. The role-playing is the finishing touch to ‘being’ the character. So in reality Cosplaying is a performance art, complete with costume, make-up, hair, props and a stage. In this case, the stage is the entire grounds of the event.
On that stage there are always people recording the action, whether it’s a photographer getting great shots in the perfect setting, or friends recording a CMV (Cosplay Music Video). YouTube is full of Cosplayers singing to their favorite tunes, and new cosplay photo sites seem to pop-up daily. Cosplayers of the Week (cosplayweek.blogspot.com), features top cosplayers and Videos every week.
Beyond the fun of being a character from your favourite source material, where is the reward in Cosplaying? The recognition of your peers and sometimes costume contests. Awards come in a competition range from simple ribbons to merchandise or sometimes money. The biggest Cosplay contests takes place every summer at the San Diego Comic Con, where top prizes can be merchandise and hundreds of dollars. In most cases the award doesn’t cover costs of materials, let alone time, so it really is something one does for the love of it.
Cosplaying appeals to nearly all ages, but at Victoria’s Tsukino-Con with this years attendance of 1743 people the average male was 19, while the average female was 16.
To see Cosplaying in action, and check out other Geek Culture activities lookup your local anime convention. Calgary will be host to The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo April 26-28, in Vancouver the big one is Anime Evolution June 28-30, Edmonton has Animethon August 9-11, Winnipeg’s Ai-Kon takes place July 12-14 and Tsukino in Victoria has yet to announce their mid-February date for 2014. More events can be found at: AnimeCons.com
Don McCaskill has been a photojournalist for over 25 years. His NightShadows Photography focus is on Models and Cosplayers.
Now that I have managed to get my new computer up and running, I will be able to get back into editing images and adding more content to this site.
I have a fair number of images still to proccess from Tsukino-Con 2014 and a few Spring Life pictures to put out. I also need to work on a page about my Website work and my rates for photoshoots. It’s all coming together slowly.
Keep an eye on the Tsukino-Con 2014 folder over the next few days, as more and more is added and look for a new Page to be added on the top nav-bar of the site.
As always Tsukino-Con is a labor of love. In past years I’ve been the Media and Public Relations person for the con, this year I added Webmaster. No easy situation for an Anime Convention with as many staff and departments as ours. The staff and departments though are what makes it easier on all of us putting together a three day convention with 1743 attendees.
The great thing about my job with the con is that all my work is done in advance, giving me the convention to be a semi-official photographer.
Thursday after helping with setup, I attended the pre-Convention dance on getting some great shots of Chelsea spinning her hoops and a good crowd of cosplayers dancing to three different DJs. Anya won best costume for her Vanellope von Schweetz costume. Friday I got in a little photoshoot with +Alex Rodri and her friend Ali, as they cosplayed Bunny and Jack Frost from the film Rise of the Guardians. I had fun with Ali’s Jack Frost hoodie enhancing the frost detail that she had on it and giving her a paler complexion. As for Alex’s Bunny, I used a contrast enhancement to bring up the detail of the fur and my usual method for giving smooth skin to models.
Saturday saw more Homestuck Cosplayers and I asked Jen if the tricksters were always supposed to be grey skinned, sometimes I saw them with faces and/or hands that weren’t coloured so I wasn’t sure. Once she confirmed, I knew that I needed to work on a post process to fix the tone of some tricksters flesh where the paint wore off, and where some people didn’t paint. Sunday was another great day for pictures and I got more of Jen, this time as a Gothic Lolita Trickster from Homestuck.
I also met a Tinkerbell who’s an actress and wanted copies of her shots, so we did a set of 22 images and got some great shots. I love it when someone really knows their character.
We live in a world of evolving communications, and when we want to leave contact information with someone, we really on business cards, an old standard dating back to the 1600s. I’m not saying cards are a bad thing, just we need Continue reading →
Been a few years since I’ve been published off the web. Over the years I’ve been writing and getting pictures printed in various magazines and newspapers in Victoria. Recently I wrote for Absolute Underground, a Canadian magazine that covers Punk, Metal and the alternative lifestyles. Issue 51 dedicated some space to the large Calgary Comic Expo, and I wrote Continue reading →
Set up Thursday was a great opportunity to meet people and make new friends. I really liked the way everyone helped everyone. Giving a hand here, lending something there, all around great sense of community amongst the dealers, and con goers as a whole.
All three days proved to be great for getting pictures of cosplayers. My favourite thing to do at a convention, being a photographer 😉
Friday started with a mini shoot with a lovely Steampunker, Jackie. We got about 20 frames in to the shoot when someone else decided to insert himself into the shoot. I am generally okay with this kind of impromptu addition to the photos, if it adds to it, but I had to constantly warn him about boundaries, as his kept getting his paint-ball rifle right in her face and blocking me from the shot. All in all I did get some great shots of her.
Saturday saw lots of hallway shots, which can be fun, but usually too quick to really get the essence of the person and persona. Nonetheless I got lots of great shots and met more than a few cool people.
The real fun came when I met a pair of serious cosplayers from Vancouver that I have since had the pleasure to interview and Feature on my Cosplayers of the Week site. They formed the group, Spectrum Cosplay and where playing Ariel from Disney’s Little Mermaid, and Alice from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. I shot 104 frames with them over the course of the weekend, including a quick set including Mimi’s boyfriend James as a Steampunk Mad Hatter.
Sue, my wife, got a great offer to buy some bodyform dummies from one of the other merchants at the convention. It was really a price she couldn’t refuse, but had to because of our transportation method, SkyTrain on a Monday morning, Coachlines then Ferry and Transit. She got back to our table and told me about the offer, which was overheard by a fellow Victorian at the next table.
“I’ll give you a ride.” All of a sudden new possibilities erupted. We wouldn’t have to go through the chaos of the Skytrain, as I described in Part 1, we would be home a day earlier, it would cost less. How could we say no?
The ride was great, thank you Mark and Barbara. We chipped in for gas and Ferry fare and got home late Sunday, so I was able to enjoy a few days of relaxation before going back to work. It’s been a long time since I took a full week off work for vacation, I need to do it more often.
I have a whole gallery of images, some I added today, on my NightShadows web site.
A few months ago my wife and I tossed the idea around of going to V-Con or Cos & Effect, two conventions held in Vancouver, BC. As we live in Victoria, on a island, and have no vehicle or drivers licence, transportation was an issue for either.
We have been to Tsukino Con, a Victoria anime convention for the last few years. Her as a vendor of costumes and corsets, me as a Cosplay Photographer and staff member, media relations. Something different and away from home seemed to be in order. Costs were weighed and time considered. It was felt that the late September date of V-Con 37 gave better preparation time, and a venue that may react better to the clothing she creates. Continue reading →