While we feature a lot of incredible cosplay photos around here, it’s usually the cosplayers who get all the recognition. But there has to be someone behind the camera as well as in front of it – which is why we’ll be featuring these five amazing people behind the photos that the cosplay community couldn’t survive without.
In cosplay, it’s a lot easier to ‘make it’ as a cosplayer than as a photographer. Work in progress shots of a new costume tend to be better received than photos of new camera gear — not to mention cosplayers have a much easier time marketing themselves as social media personalities.
Often photographers’ pages will garner less likes than individual photos posted to cosplayers’ pages — but when you think about it, following photographers makes a whole lot of sense. You get to see not just one cosplayer’s work, but everyone they happen to shoot with.
One of the members of Adelaide’s I Got Superpowers team of cosplay photographers, Ellen Lily is a trained photographer with an eye for glamour. Like cosplayers, photographers come from all different backgrounds — from landscape photography to portraiture to wedding photography to smartphone happy-snaps — and Ellen Lily’s is in fashion.
“High fashion publications and avant garde spreads are my motivating force,” she mentions in her bio, and it shows through in her photographic portfolio.
While the hard work that has been put into the costumes is always showcased in her photography, there’s a definite focus on the models’ faces — and as a cosplayer, let me tell you that this is important. There’s nothing worse than getting an amazing photo back to find that your face looks like a potato.
With a solid understanding of lighting and pose, she manages to take portfolio-worthy photos even at conventions. More than anything Ellen Lily’s photos are flattering, which is one of the best things a cosplay photo could be.
Cosplayers from the other side of the country get a little neglected sometimes. We featured Perth native Morethia Cosplay last time, but with a flight to Australia’s west coast taking longer than many international flights, it’s no wonder that we don’t get to know many from within their community.
Vestiige photography is one of those who I’m amazed — yet sadly not surprised — that I’ve never heard of, with an impressive portfolio of horror photography jumping out from his page straight off the bat. In a complete change from Ellen Lily’s stunning glamour shots, Vestiige has put together some creepy and unnerving photomanipulations that are impressive even as they make you want to look away.
Of course, Vestiige has proven that he can make cosplayers look good as well as straight-up horrifying. Another trained photographer, he makes great use of light and is aware of how it falls on his models’ faces — or not, in the case of some of his darker photos.
It’s also quite clear that Vestiige is aware of one of the finer points of cosplay photography — that taking the shot is only half the photo, and that the edit is just as important. While it’s important not to obscure the costume completely with computer effects, a good manipulation can bring a whole new level of fantasy to a cosplay photo.
Here’s a confession: I don’t really watch anime. Not anymore, at least. But I know enough about it to realise that if you directly translated anime stills into real life, you’d get something like one of Hiryuu’s photos. A Melbourne native, he’s got an impressive portfolio of both convention shots and proper shoot photos.
Hiryuu has also recently started a gallery of before and after shots as a way to show his post-processing prowess — and just how much of his shots are made in-camera.
With a style that’s characterised by flattering soft lighting, it’s the simplicity of Hiryuu’s shots that lend it that real anime feel. Of course, no cosplay photography collection would be complete without a few composited special effects. Enjoy!
Relatively new to the scene, or at least to Facebook, Hannah O’Neill is a cosplay photographer from Canberra. Yes, there are cosplayers in Canberra (I was surprised too). With a small but growing portfolio of impressive shots, Hannah is definitely one to watch in the cosplay scene.
Of course, Facebook isn’t the only place where cosplay exists on the internet (though by the way some people act, you’d think so) and Hannah’s expanded portfolio can be found on her website. If you haven’t seen her photos there, however, you may have caught one on the League Of Legends Oceania page, as part of their recent Ocean Week cosplay event.
It’s not only cosplay that she shoots, however, with a set of photos from a conceptual shoot being uploaded recently. In case you needed any more reason to follow her — she also takes adorable photos of cute animals. You’re welcome.
Somehow, Adelaidians seem to be ten times more productive than the rest of the country. Or at least, that’s what you might think looking at the portfolio of both photographers and cosplayers from the southern city. Houng Taing Photography is no exception, with a multi-cosplayer shoot already firmly under his belt for the start of this year.
One of the things that Houng Taing is known for is his mosaics — compilations of photos that show off all the little details of his costumes in a single image. While they’re unfortunately not quite the right size to fit on the page here, you can catch quite a few of them in the album from his most recent shoot.
Houng Taing is a photographer who doesn’t let his surroundings hold him back. Along with a number of impressive location shoots, he also has the ability to take a convention photo and make it into something that any cosplayer would be happy to have in their portfolios. Plus, by all accounts he’s great to work with. Bonus!
This story originally appeared in February 2016, and has been retimed to highlight the wonderful contributions women have made to Kotaku Australia over the years, our way of acknowledging International Women’s Day.