Intricate – The Secret Elements of Cosplay Captured

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With convention season in full force and several Masquerades to take part in, the elements and individual details of costumes can sometimes be missed. This article looks at Anna S’s latest project as she accidentally captures the details of costumes that can occasionally be missed on stage. These beautiful elements display the hard work of Cosplayers around the country and aptly reveals the secrets of pre-judging that many often miss when watching Masquerade competitions. 

For me Cosplay is creativity and craftsmanship, whether this is through making a costume or creating an image. Its about taking the source material and making it as perfect or adapting it as well as you can.

Pre-judging is a process that allows you to see close up details of Cosplays that may not be visable when on stage, can you explain the types of details that can be missed on stage that is seen in pre-judging?

There are so many details that can be missed its ridiculous. For me the finish of the cosplay is important, for some of my fellow judges it’s the way the materials have been treated. By getting up close you can see if the fabrics have been hemmed properly, if foam has been sealed or how tidy a finish is. When someone is on stage you just can’t see these details because they’re so far away. When you’re up close you can see the lovely glittery finish of a paint job, or the cracked stone effect of a paint job or the way someone has used puff paint under primer and sealer to create details. This also goes the other way too though, you can see when someone hasn’t hemmed their costume or if it’s fraying. You can also tell when someone hasn’t used a sharp knife to cut through foam which will give it a ragged edge. There is so much you can see about a costume and about the work a cosplayer puts into the costume when you look closely that you just can’t see from a distance.

Why is cosplaying at a convention so special?

Haha, I’m going to be honest here, I don’t actually like cosplaying at conventions. I cosplay at cons because my friends pretty much bully me into it. I find it stuffy, crowded and I’ve had too many expensive costumes damaged, because of people who try to touch or hug me in photos, that I’ve given up wearing them to cons. Sorry, that’s probably not the answer you’re looking for.

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Is there a way for other Cosplayers to get involved with your project?

If cosplayers want to get involved they just need to find me at a con if I have my camera and to not get annoyed if I don’t take a photo of the costume part they want me to take a photo of. Also it would be great if you don’t shout “COSPLAY IS NOT CONSENT WOMAN” like Kenny Cosplay Stuff did after I took a photo of his Chappie costume haha.

How are these images captured and what photography techniques do you use?

So these images are captured on a Nikon D800 camera, some of them are taken from a 50mm lens and others using my 85mm macro lens. I do a few adjustments in Adobe Lightroom but nothing major. As for technique, I’m just pooling all my experiences from traveling together to do this.

Do you think it’s important to portray cosplay like this and focus on the details? Why?

I think it is important to show off these small details or fabric textures because this is really what shows off a cosplayer’s skill level. It doesn’t matter if they have the right figure of the character, whether their make up or wigs aren’t right, what matters (to me anyway) is the skill, patience and craftsmanship in a costume.

I know how demoralising it can be to slave for weeks over a costume to have no one recognise it so I think this is a fun way to show that we recognise the craftsmanship involved and we salute you for the time you put into it

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Saying that, the reason this particular project started is actually really stupid. I meant to pick up my 30mm lens, which is really nice in the con environment but I accidentally picked up my 50 and 85mm lenses. These lenses are fixed focus, which means you can’t zoom in and out, and to be able to get even a normal portrait shot I need to be standing several meters away from the subject. As you can imagine that’s a bit impractical at a con so I decided to try take photos of details instead. I actually started by taking photos of my friend’s Jupiter Ascending dress, I thought she would appreciate the details, but then another cosplayer said she liked it so I took a photo of her headpiece, and then I bumped into some Norwegian cosplayers and I really love their work so I took photos of them and so it just sort of continued. As I took more and more photos I realised that this could be an interesting project as photographers always take photos of the cosplayer, not the cosplay, and while we all love seeing pictures of ourselves it’s always nice to know our work is appreciated and I thought this would be a nice way to show that appreciation.

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When did you become involved in cosplay and how has your passion led to Cosplay?

I got into cosplay way back in 2010. My friend dragged me out to what was then known as MCM Expo. I went as a photographer as she said that there would be loads of things to take photos of. For a few cons I dabbled in Cosplay but I focussed mostly on photography then I decided to go full on into cosplay because I felt a bit left out. I have had a few dips where I’ve lost my passion for cosplay, mostly because of lack of money or when I broke my knee so decided to focus on that instead, but I’ve always been drawn back because I just really enjoy making the costumes themselves. I love helping other people making their costumes, I love teaching people the skills that I know and I love seeing my friends happy in costumes that I helped make. It’s a very fulfilling hobby.

Now I’ve gone back to photography a bit more, I might have gotten a bit fed up at being sneered at once comic con when I was helping someone with his camera so I decided to dust off my camera and start snapping again.

Anna Please explain your photography project and the reasons behind embarking on such a project.

So a bit of backstory to my photography history, my dad is a travel and landscape photographer, as am I and my youngest brother. My middle brother is a fashion and travel photographer, my sister is an instagrammer (yes this also counts) and my oldest brother is a food photographer, so basically I’m from a photography background. When I did all my traveling my dad would always tell me to 1) look up and 2) focus on the small details. As a result my travel albums are filled with pictures of vase details, roof tiles and door hinges. When I started my project I decided to apply this theory to the costumes as my dad is always asking me to send him pictures of my own costume details and if dad likes them then I’m sure other people would too! I’ve also been doing this for my friend Nomes Cosplay for years with her various wigs and props so it seemed like a logical step forward (I’m trying to sound like I know what I’m doing hehe)

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Tell us about yourself and a bit about food and cosplay

A bit about myself? Ha, well I’ve been brought up all over the world and I’ve seen some amazing stuff in my life, I pretty much try and push myself to have as much fun, as many adventures, and live as many awesome experiences as possible and so far I think I’m doing pretty well.

As for Food and Cosplay, that was started by my friend Eddie and it’s a page where we share and encourage the work of cosplayers and photographers. We try to discourage bullying and encourage positivity and fun in cosplay. We also try to encourage proper discussions on Food and Cosplay in our Monday Discussions which has led us to believe we have the best followers in the world. We’ve had some very controversial subjects which we thought would cause trouble but instead everyone discusses and argues like sane and mature adults. I love our followers!

Credits; –
Anna S Cosplay –
Food And Cosplay –
Credits for Photo Montage; – Anna’s Father – David Sheldrick – Johnny Sheldrick ––/