This is usually the time of year when Australians would be gathering for all the things they love — especially gaming, and gaming conventions. A large part of that scene includes the local cosplay community, but since that’s not possible right now, one photographer has come up with a novel idea to keep everyone connected.
The series is called “Stillstream” and was shot by Jim A. Barker, the same photographer who took these incredible snaps from PAX Australia 2019. In a chat over private message, Barker explained how he didn’t want to lose one of the best parts of PAX and gaming conventions just because of COVID, and so he came up with a way to shoot cosplayers remotely.
“I’d be directing them from my home, but they’ll be wherever they want to be, in full cosplay,” Barker explained.
Bianca Bella, the Melbourne-based cosplayer behind Pink Spiderman who also runs the Geelong Cosplay Society, said the lack of conventions was a huge loss for the local cosplay and photography community. The events aren’t just a chance for people to show off their work, but to reconnect with like-minded friends, something that’s been sorely missed in 2020.
“We’re all missing it – cosplayers, photographers, convention-goers, all of us,” Bella said. “Cosplay is such a huge thing for so many reasons: it gives people confidence, deals with social anxiety and fulfil goals by making costumes and participating in events.”
“Without it I’ve felt a big hole in my heart and I miss getting out there and putting smiles on people’s dials. I got into cos for the creativity, and I stayed for the kind and welcoming community, so it’s hard with that aspect missing.”
The shots were all done from Barker’s home, pointing a DSLR at a screen hooked up to a Zoom call.
Four cosplayers took part in the remote shots: Jessica Luna, GasmanR, Bianca Bella and Christian Pillirone. Not all of them were based in Melbourne, but what’s neat about the idea is its scalability; Barker can use the same idea to shoot cosplayers around the world, if willing.I asked Barker how complicated the setup process was, on his end and for the cosplayers. He explained that it took a fortnight between “first contact” and each of the shoots, and that the biggest problem was providing clear directions remotely (something that’d ordinarily be a lot easier in person).
“One inch here, a couple of degrees there makes all the difference,” Barker said. “I also worked with the cosplayers ahead of the shoot to scout the best locations around their homes before our sessions started. Where possible we used tripods, lights, friends and family on their end to make positioning that camera easier while the cosplayer focused on posing.”
The shoot follows on Barker’s previous work “Doortraits“, a portrait series shot earlier this year during the peak of the pandemic. That series was all about capturing how the coronavirus had affected everyone’s mental health and finding a new way to do portraiture in a world of social distancing.
I asked Barker whether he’d do a second round of Stillstream shots, or maybe even consider shooting international cosplayers down the road. “I’d love to do this again, absolutely. If there’s any cosplayers out there in the world craving a shoot from lockdown, my DMs are open!”
Barker’s got some more great work on the Twelve Points Photography site. There’s also more incredible cosplay via each of the cosplayers’ individual pages below, so go check those out too.