This is a great photographer I had the please of meeting at a local convention. I hope you enjoy their interview as much as I did.
What is your business name and name?
St. Louis Cosplay Photography.
But I also do other kinds of photography, and for that I use K. Roberts Photography.
My given name is Keith, but you might occasionally hear people refer to me by my other name: Cathus. I respond to either.
What is your favorite beverage?
Lol. Diet Coke. ☺
I have diabetes, therefore the “Diet”
Tell me a little about yourself?
I was born in 1966. I’ve been in fandom my entire life, or at least as long as I can remember. I watched Star Trek: TOS with my mom when it was first on TV. I remember stumbling across Dr. Who when I was 6 or 7, and I was instantly hooked for life. I graduated college with a linguistics degree, and I received a masters degree in Old and Middle English literature. After that I was a medical textbook editor until 2012. I have one wife, zero kids, a dog, and eight or so nieces and nephews. In my free time I do medieval living history, and I make candles on a medieval candle rig. I do not have any formal training with a camera, but I have spent a lot of time behind one.
When did you start cosplay photography?
I started cosplay photography before I became a photographer. I starting doing cosplay in the 90s, and I liked having photos of my and my wife’s costumes. But as I got more into photography, it became harder and harder to both cosplay and photograph. Eventually I gave up on the costumes to become a full-time photographer.
What got you into photography?
I took photography classes with my dad when I was a kid. But back then it was all film, and I did not like dealing with film. I bought my first camera shortly after digital cameras were introduced. I spent as much money on that first point-and-shoot as I did on the most recent professional-grade camera that I bought.
What made you go into cosplay photography specifically?
People are my favorite thing to photograph. And, as I mentioned, I used to be a cosplayer myself. It really didn’t take a whole lot of effort to put those two things together. I still do other kinds of photography, but cosplay is by far my favorite.
How long have you been doing photography?
I got my first digital camera in 2002. I enjoyed taking pictures, and I started asking friends to model for me. People told me I was good at it, and like a fool I believed them. So I started a photography business in 2009. In 2012, I got laid off from my desk job, and I decided to try to make a go of a photography career.
What types of cosplay do you like to shoot?
All of them. If I have a least favorite, it’s probably the horror ones where there’s a lot of fake blood involved.
What is your photo shoot goals, or something you would love to shoot?
I’d love to do the promotional sessions for a large-scale movie. It’ll never happen, of course, because I don’t move in the right circles. But I can dream big. Something more obtainable would be to be a staff photographer for a large event like Comic-Con.
What is your favorite kind of cosplay photo shoot?
I really have a favorite genre. But I do really enjoy doing sessions for anything that I am personally a fan of myself. It’s easier for me to interact and come up with unique ideas for the cosplayer when I know the intimate details of their character.
What do you love about cosplay photography?
Making the world of the character come to life. Helping the cosplayer experience their character to a degree they might not otherwise, by seeing themselves fully immersed in their character’s setting.
What is the most difficult thing for you about cosplay photography?
Cosplayers, as a group, tend to be on the poor side. If I could make Cosplay photography my full-time job, I would. As it is, it only accounts for a small part of my income.
Do you have any camera equipment you can’t live without?
Not really. I firmly believe that if you know what you are doing, you can take good photos regardless of the equipment you have. Better equipment just gives you more options. Some might say that this is better photography, but not me.
If you could live in or visit any fantasy world, where would you go?
Ugh. Most of the best stories take place in universes that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. That being said, the Star Trek universes are pretty optimistic, but kinda boring, unless you are on a starship where the laws of physics can be altered by a genius engineer. But the Chronicles of Narnia during the Age of the Sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve has got swords and talking animals.
If you could give cosplayers tips about working with a photographer, what would they be?
Every photographer is different: different styles, different personalities, different strengths and weaknesses. Try different ones to get different results. Talk to them ahead of time to find out what they need from you, and to let them know what you expect from a session. Try to relax during the session. Try to have fun. If you have fun, it will show in the photos. It will likewise show if you are not having fun.
What are your “fandoms”?
Neil Gaiman, Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, The Tick, Red Dwarf, H.P. Lovecraft, some older anime such as Ranma 1/2, Cowboy Bebop, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Cardcaptor Sakura. And many others. ☺
What is something you wish cosplayers knew about working with a photographer?
Less than half of a photographer’s time on a session takes place during the session. Most photographers go through an editing process afterwards, which can take anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes per photo for basic cleanup, up to an hour or more if they are adding intricate special effects. Personally, although I can give a client unedited photos, I very strongly prefer to edit them first.
What misconceptions do you feel cosplayers have about working with a photographer that you’d like to clear up?
Cosplay photography is a ton of fun. But, as a cosplayer, you very much understand how expensive a hobby can be. Your photographer is doing something specifically for you by doing your session, so please be willing to pay them something, even if it’s along the line of a favor for a favor. Be aware, though, that they probably already have a lot of cosplay photos, so more photos will probably not add a lot of value to their portfolio.
What is something you wish cosplayers knew before they booked a photography session?
Hmm. I got nothing to add at the moment. ☺
What is your creative process?
First, I need to know about the cosplay. If I am not already familiar with it, I will look it up and find out as much as I can about the setting, the story, personality quirks of the character, and whether they have any signature poses. I’ll ask the cosplayer for their take on the character. After that, I’m pretty free-flow. I start the session with a couple of pose suggestions, and let the story flow organically from idea to idea. Everyone involved has input. If we run dry at any point, I’ll go to my notes, and maybe look up some poses to get the ideas flowing again.
What are some proper etiquette tips for booking a photoshoot and participating in one?
Don’t flake! If you book a shoot, please show up for it. If you can’t make it, or can’t afford it, please don’t book it. If you book a session, and something comes up, inform your photographer as soon as possible. Ask ahead of time if you want to bring a friend along. For me, it is always OK to bring a friend, but I will want to know how many people to expect.
Where can people find your photography?
Facebook: K. Roberts Photography – St. Louis; and St. Louis Cosplay Photography
I also have accounts on Instagram, Tumblr, and Deviant Art, but I do not update them as often as I should.
What is your greatest achievement regarding cosplay photography?
Summer Glau likes my photos! I did a Firefly themed wedding a number of years ago, and the bride and groom took their wedding album to Comic-Con when Summer Glau was there. Ms. Glau held up the line so she could take the time to look at the photos.
Please remember I do not own any of these pictures and the opinions in this survey belong to the interviewee.