5 Reasons You Should Shoot With A Cosplayer

I call this beauty "Theia." Theia is the name of a Greek titan/deity/goddess of the moon! I thought it would be cool to create another character from Greek mythology to go along with this image.

If you follow my work at all, you've probably realized by now that I did a shoot with Lopti of "Some Like it Blue." For those of you who don't already know, she is a cosplay artist/model/awesome person. What is cosplay you ask? (Well ... you ask if you don't know yet.) It's a word that's firmly in my vocabulary, but I say it to some people and they look at me like I have tentacles coming out of my head ...... which ironically is just the sort of thing a cosplayer might do, but anyway ...

Basically it's just a fancy little term for people who spend hours upon hours crafting incredible, intricately detailed COS-tumes to PLAY characters from all forms of various nerdy culture. They then wear said fantastically created costumes to gloriously nerdy conventions! They also tend to make some pretty baller ensembles for Halloween and put all those store bought costumes to shame.

Lopti was introduced to me by my internet-photo-friend, Katelin Kinney, who turned irl-photo-friend when she came over for a weekend of epic-photo-shoot-fun-times here at the studio! We had been planning to meet up and it worked out perfectly to throw Lopti into the mix.

Katelin had shot with Lopti before, so she invited her to join in on the photo shoot fun. On their long road trip over from Indianapolis, Katelin and her boyfriend Braden (whom you can see in many of her masterpieces such as this one) would be conveniently passing right by their cosplay friend. So they scooped Lopti up along the way and arrived here ready to create all kinds of wonderful art. And boy, did we. (Well at least I think so!)

I could go on all day about how great it was to create work side by side with Katelin, brainstorming and bouncing ideas off one another while we took turns shooting Lopti (or each other). It really was such an enjoyable weekend, and so many incredible works of art now exist because of it.

So here are my 5 reasons why you should do yourself a favor and befriend a cosplay badass like Lopti so you can do a photo shoot .... like right now.

1. They Bring the Best Stuff!

Seriously people, when Lopti opened up her magic roll-y bag of mystery and started to pull everything out for us to see, I thought I might just faint. (And face-plant safely into her mountain of wigs ... ) If you shoot with a cosplayer, you instantly gain access to their years of costume collecting! Just because many of the pieces were purchased or created for a specific costume to portray a certain existing character, it doesn't mean we couldn't mish-mosh things together from different costumes to come up with new wondrous etherial characters.

In addition to all the dresses, jewelry, belts, and numerous wigs, she also brought tons of different contact lenses! These were something I'd never played around with for photo shoots before and I just LOVED THEM!!! I felt like they were usually the piece that I would build the character around; I'd choose the lenses I wanted to shoot and then pick other things to go with the eyes. 

My only regret from this whole shoot is that I forgot to use any of the ears she brought. That's right - Lopti showed up with a bag full of ears ... okay that sound terrible, haha ... but yeah she has all different shapes and sizes of FAKE ears. Pointy elf ears, floppy fawn ears, fin-like mermaid ears and that sort of thing; you name it she probably has it. Oh well I guess I'll just have to shoot with her again if only to create with ears!! :)

2. They Do Their Own Makeup

Well I guess I can't speak for ALLLL cosplay peeps, but it does seem to be the norm (and was for Lopti) that they've been honing in on their makeup skills for years. From each costume they create they gain a little bit more knowledge, try something a little different, and build a little more experience painting up their faces to be all kinds of different creatures and characters. After I had the contacts/hair/costume/accessories picked out, we would move onto deciding what sort of makeup was in order. 

For "Theia" she used some super awesome shiny metallic makeup, which she not only put on her lips and eyes, but also applied liberally to her eyebrows without a second thought. Brilliant. 

3. This Isn't Their First Rodeo ... I Mean Photo Shoot ... 

An alternate title for reason-number-three could be "They Aren't Camera Shy." Cosplayers don't spend hours of their free time crafting an outfit just to hide it! They want the world to see their creation, which is why they proudly wear them to conventions with literally hundreds of thousands of people attending. If a costume is fantastical enough, the wearer of said costume gets stopped all day long by convention goers that want to take their photo.

 This is Lopti mid-convention posing as Maleficent. (As if that wasn't obvious - she totally nailed it!)  Photo by  David Ngo

This is Lopti mid-convention posing as Maleficent. (As if that wasn't obvious - she totally nailed it!)
Photo by David Ngo

Also, odds are most cosplay artists have already done lots of other photo shoots with other photographers just for fun. Those like Lopti who have collaborated with tons of photographers are just a dream to work with; they really understand posing, movement, and expression. It was so easy to shoot her because she just kept making different faces, changing angles, and doing all the things I often have to ask people I photograph to do.

4. Get Vastly Different Shots in a Short Amount Of Time

Normally for a highly stylized and developed character photo shoot, it takes me a heck of a lot of planning and imagining. But with all the costume pieces and inspiration bouncing around the studio during our shoot, it took no time at all. Okay so it took some time (we were in the studio shooting for most of a day), but in a matter of hours Lopti completely transformed over and over again into drastically different entities. Katelin or I would consult with her to figure out what the idea was, choose the appropriate wig, contacts, outfit, props and whatnot, then leave Lopti to work her magic. I swear every time she would emerge from the dressing room with her new look ready to shoot, it resulted in all matter of "Oooos" and "Ahhhhs." Check out all the different images that we created that day! (Please note that the fire, red hair floaty diamonds, red smoke, and obviously "Theia" are my images and the rest are Katelin Kinney's work.)

5. They are just awesome people to be around!

Perhaps I'm biased because I happen to be an incredibly nerdy type individual who can gab for hours about fantasy/sci-fi stuff, but cosplayers are just fun to hang with. They are so passionate about their creations and the shows/books/movies/etc. they are based on, so odds are you'll be able to connect with them on at least ONE of their many interests. There was no shortage of nerdery talk in the studio that day. :)  

So are you convinced yet!?!? Are you looking up the next convention near you so you can go and make lots of new friends to shoot with? Are you? ARE YOU!?!?

Special thanks to Jeff Padgett for lending me the fantastic underwater particle-y texture. If you watch closely he even makes a brief cameo in the speed edit before I clone him out.

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