CosplayPro: Welcome, Alain! Why don’t you tell us where you grew up and how you got started in cosplay photography?
Alain: I grew up in Los Angeles California and had a pretty good upbringing. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had an affinity for computers, cameras and things of that sort. (Video games!) I remember always taking charge of my father’s camera during family outings or vacations, which I’m sure he didn’t like very much, but I didn’t care because I wanted to be the one shooting everything. I guess that’s always been me? I’ve always liked to take charge of the creative process because I’ve always felt like I knew what I was doing, which is only about half true. (lol) I shot only occasionally when I lived in California, but when I moved to Denver, Colorado the whole thing began to take a life of it’s own. So far so good.
CosplayPro: What makes you different from other cosplay photographers?
Alain: I’m not really sure if I can honestly say that I’m different from other cosplay photographers since we’re all doing the same thing essentially. We all love what we’re doing and I love to work with as many of them as will work with me? However, since you posed the question I feel as though I should give an proper answer. I guess if I had to focus on one point of differentiation it’s this: I honestly don’t worry about relevance in cosplay. By that I mean that it’s rare that I’ll actually put a certain cosplay subject in their “appropriate” scenario.
Alain: An Example: My Advent Children photoshoot with Einlanzer and Lord Masamune at AX 08 strayed wildly from the norm towards the end, and I couldn’t have cared less because it was fun.(link: http://idolatrystudios.livejournal.com/tag/cloud%20v.s%20sephirioth ) Don’t get me wrong, I don’t recommend this to everyone as relevance in cosplay photography can and will do a world of good for the subject matter, but that’s not for me personally. I like to destroy things and put them back together in my own way. I don’t know, I guess that’s the best way I know how to explain it?
CosplayPro: What equipment do you use?
Alain: Currently I’m swapping between 4 different cameras. My workhorse camera has and alway will be my Nikon D-300. As of late I’ve also been using a Canon 5D Mark II, and Canon 50D and a Nikon D3s. Don’t ask me which one is better (or what brand) because it doesn’t really matter to me. So long as the camera operates correctly I can get the shots that I want to see……..NIKON OWNZ CANON! LOL! (Sorry, I had to throw that in there for my buddy Vince)
CosplayPro: Your favorite photoshoot of yours?
Alain: Oooh, that’s a tough one. I can honestly say there are two of them. One cosplay and one fashion. The first one is a no brainer if you ask the friends that know me: Lada Bordewick’s Alexiel from Angel Sanctuary: http://idolatrystudios.livejournal.com/tag/epicstage%20vol.%201 . The other is one that I shot for Bemodel.com which was a series of campain photos which are scattered all over the place, but if you go to www.bemodel.com, the first shot that appears is one of them. (FYI: There’s a tiger in the shot.) There are many more from this set, but bemodel has the rights to them and aren’t available at the moment.
CosplayPro: You have a lot of experience doing this, what would you tell someone just starting out?
Alain: Plain and simple….practice, practice, practice….and read! Here’s the real key though. Once you know your stuff and can determine F/stop levels at will, forget about everything you learned and just focus on the subject at hand. I know TOO many photographers that are mathematicians at heart (I am as well) that refuse to put importance on anything other than the calculations. While they may produce very accurate exposures and great compositions, they lack style and emotion.
Style is one thing and emotion is another though. In my opinion if one has to be lacking, it’s style. Emotion to me is by far the most important aspect of photography because that’s what REALLY grabs people and makes your photos memorable. So back to your question, study the numbers, then forget them and then dedicate yourself to studying how to convey human emotion, and color emotion visually. After that, style comes all by itself.
Oh and one more thing, study human anatomy and the ideologies of human symmetry. they may seem mundane and useless at first bit TRUST ME, it’ll help immensely.
CosplayPro: I see you also shoot other models that are non-cosplay, can you go into how you started doing that, and what if anything you do differently when shooting these photos?
Alain: Ah fashion photography, by far my most fulfilling avenue. Well to be honest I kind of just fell into it actually. I lived with my ex-girlfriend in Denver for a few years years and it was through that experience that I developed my love for fashion. She and I purchased a our first DSLR which was a Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D and she became my first full-time model. I made all my early mistakes and learned my technique using her as my muse. (Which she was cool with. lol) Before I knew it the photos we were producing were getting quite popular in the local scene. (Especially photos based on her cosplays like Velvet from Odin Sphere) Through a few contacts I had made through a friend of mine, I got to work for makeup publications in Denver and it pretty much blossomed from there and has been ever since. I’ve been VERY busy as of late, my Facebook constantly reminds me of that. lol.
Alain: As for what I do differently for fashion as opposed to cosplay photos is simple: I tone it down. Here is where the great divide occurs between the two genres. I cosplay…anything goes. The more fantastic the image the better. Cosplay is very flexible in that sense because it’s all fantasy based and that leaves a LOT of room for creativity. In fashion, creativity is equally as important but you’re required to be a bit more focused on certain things. A common misconception about fashion photography is that the photos are taken with glamor in mind…..yes and no. First and foremost, fashion photography is a medium used to move products. Yes, the photography HAS to look good but it’s honestly the product or idea being marketed that takes center stage here. The work is just the medium and that same work generally has a more “cookie cutter” feel to it as opposed to cosplay which varies dramatically.
A lot of cosplay photographers I’ve met are a bit overwhelmed by the world of fashion, but it’s really not that bad. It’s a bit more repetitive yes, but there is some room for you to push the envelope. (Depending on your client at the time?) I try to get away with as MUCH as humanly possible though and so far it’s worked for me. Just remember: “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you WANT to be.”
CosplayPro: Now for a fun question, what was your favorite con you went to and why? Must it always be ComicCon?
Alain: Without contest my favorite con of all time is definitely Anime Expo. Not because of anything I particularly go there to see or do, but because it’s my home con. I’ve attended AX since 2000, I know SO many people that have been in upper management for AX and also have so many friends that I only ever see there that it makes it the event of the year for me.
(Yeah ComicCon is cool, but to me AX is better for that reason alone) A close second is definitely Sakuracon in Seattle Washington. The people I met up there are the coolest ever they remain very good (aka: dorky lol) friends of mine. Oh and I’ve taken some of my all time favorite shots of cosplay using both of these cons so I guess that adds more positives to them? lol
CosplayPro: That’s all the questions we have. Thank you Alain! Your work is amazing. Thank you for sharing with us how you got to this point to create such amazing images.
Remember to subscribe to the site for your chance to win prizes this month. Here’s the post about it.