Photo Essay

Cosplay weird and wonderful

Evil eyes

Cosplay, or "costume play", is wonderfully win-win.

It is when those who enjoy being photographed dress and make themselves up - outrageously - and gather at a public venue. And photographers swarm in by the hundreds.

This must be the weirdest photographer's paradise. Where else can you find hundreds of strangers who are all too happy to pose for you, all day long? The more bossy photographers even direct them to stand against a particular background, pose themselves, their arms and hands this way, that way... and the Cosplayers happily oblige.

Cosplay has become hugely popular, both among Cosplayers and photographers.

In Singapore, many young photographers seem pre-occupied with shooting XMMs (xiao mei mei's, Mandarin for young girls or sweet young things.) They spend their weekends shooting either girlfriends or amateur models (paid or TFCD, "trade for photo CD") and the local photography forums are flooded with such images.

So when Cosplay comes along... Whoa! There will be plenty of coverage.

I am not young, however. I turn 55 soon. I never ever photographed XMMs, motor shows (where, I just learned, they even featured a Korean porn actress posing with some fancy car last year) and similar events. But Cosplay always fascinated me.

Some of my friends who consider themselves more "serious" photographers were less enthusiastic. "No point to go down," one advised. "There is nothing you can do with such photos."

"Who knows?" I replied. "Maybe there will be a Cosplay photo contest with $10,000 worth of hair dye as the top prize?"

In any case, I had a very clear idea of how I would shoot Cosplay - uptight, very very uptight.

I had seen enough of Cosplay images and none interested let alone impressed me. They were all wide-angle or at most medium-telephoto shots with plenty of distracting background. The photographers feel obliged to capture it all - the costume, the pose and the zillions of people hanging around.

No. For me, the green, purple, blue or red hair and the facial make-up are more than enough to define Cosplay. Even those may not be needed. I would also shoot just the hands, the feet, the knees... (watch this space for another photo essay on those).

And so I did not take my friend's advise to spend the Sunday afternoon napping at home. Nor did I take another photo buddy's advice when he said that he found his 50mm 1.4 lens "too telescopic" for Cosplay.

Nah! I went for my "virgin" Cosplay shoot with only my 80-400 VR lens. I was glad i did. I spent more than four hours at Cosfest IX, the ninth Singapore Cosplay Festival. I shot about 500 images and ended up keeping 300, which is a very high percentage by my standards.

I posted some images on the local photography forum and one viewer commented, with a "whahaha", that they were like "macro of the face".

Whahaha! I like that. Macro of the face!

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