When it comes to photographing cosplayers, I’m quite a selfish photographer. Creating these costumes is an art form in itself and thus if I were to only focus on shooting the creations, I feel it would be same the if I’d take photocopies of a painting; it’d still be the original costume that makes the image interesting, not the way it is represented.
This means that I don’t ask for permission nor do I ask for anyone to pose for me, but instead I shoot what I see people naturally doing – interacting with each other and being themselves, not the characters they’re performing.
All and all, when shooting cosplayers, my viewpoint is closer to street photography than actual event photography.
Unlike every year before, this year I didn’t want to shoot what everyone was already seeing on the stage, but instead I went to the behind the scenes to shoot what only a handful of people are seeing; the performing cosplayers just before their big moment.
About the process
The room right next to the stage was dark – really, really dark – for obvious reasons. But when ISO 25600, aperture f/1.2 and 1/50th of a second is barely enough to show a visible image, things get very difficult very fast; and when it’s that dark, autofocus works only when you’re lucky enough to get a glimpse from one of the stage’s rotating lights hitting the target for a fraction of a second.
Focusing by hand with a regular focusing screen is especially difficult, as it only shows the aperture at fixed f/2.5, thus most of the time you had to guess the focus. Using a precision focusing screen on a regular basis is out of question, as I’m quite often using the 16-35mm f/4L IS, which has such a small aperture that the image would seem dark and grainy.