Happy Friday Jr! Only 18 days until Christmas (for those who celebrate it) or Winter break! Enjoy this awesome Photographer interview while you wait…
HI, WHAT ARE YOU KNOWN AS?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BEVERAGE?
Really depends. After a long hard days work I really dig into some good microbrews. Right now I’m super into sour beers. One that I love is Consecration from Russian River. I am super into microbrews and the San Diego beer scene. There’s a brewery on every corner and never an empty pint glass. If it’s just hanging out with friends, nothing beats any type of boba tea. The Asian kid’s starbucks. Many a night
was spent downing all sorts of teas and fruity concoctions. It all started when they opened up a shop just down the street from my dorm in Berkeley. Freshman 15 became the freshman 30
TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF.
I grew up in a very strict traditional Asian household. My parents were refugees from the Vietnam War looking to start new in America. For them being creative took a back seat to the more “practical” math and sciences. While they entertained my flights of fancy in music and art, I always had the expectation of being a lawyer, doctor, or accountant looming over me. My high school had a stellar photo program that involved in-depth photo concepts, black and white
film, and darkroom development. This had been my creative escape from the rigors of the core curriculum and afforded me the comforts of creative expression. I eventually did what I was told and focused on my studies. I excelled in high school and went to a prestigious college
for civil and environmental engineering. Never once did I consider if it was actually something I wanted to do. A few years in, my father contracted kidney cancer. Being the only child, I shifted my priorities to getting home and supporting them. The family business was accounting and because of his poor health, I would be inheriting it. I moved home, fast-tracked myself through Grossmont College and subsequently SDSU to an economics degree and then attended National University to receive a Master’s in Accounting.
In 2016, my dad passed away 13 years after the first diagnosed. It rocked me to my core. I love my father and he had always been a figure of respect that I worked to prove myself to. All I ever wanted was for him to be proud of me. So much so, I had spent my life doing as I was told or what I assumed was expected of me. I just didn’t realize it. Now that he’s gone, I have had time to reflect on myself and what I actually wanted to do with my life. I decided that I needed to pursue something good for my soul and that I’m actually passionate about. And that’s when I made the shift to photography.
WHEN DID YOU START COSPLAYING?
I always thought about it, but never felt like I was good enough to do it. I felt super comfortable behind the lens, so I ended up going that route. If I ever got my butt in gear, I would love to do a Spider-Man cosplay.
What got you into photography?
My earliest memory involving a camera came at the ripe age of 8. It was at a summertime wedding for my cousin. He had owned and operated his own studio photography business. He handed me a very big and presumably heavy looking camera that was so much more intricate than anything I’d laid hands on before. He told me to go wild. Mind you this was a film camera and digital was nothing more than a pipe dream at this point. I went nuts! The camera was an all-access pass to be anywhere that I wanted without question no less. I felt like a ninja or a spy that (would) was hiding in plain sight. Little did I know that this would play such a crucial role in my future.
What made you go into cosplay photography specifically?
I have been going to SDCC since I was 8 (I’m now 34) and pretty much grew up going to this con. My love of photography combined with me wanting to just capture how cool these people were. The cosplay scene was growing and so was I. I’ve always been not super confident in the way I look or my skill at costuming so I resided to helping cosplayers capture their best selves.
Everyone puts so much work into their costumes and props that I feel that there needs to be great photography to capture their passion and make it shine. I wanted to find someway to participate in my own way in the cosplay world. It was all so exciting and magical to have people just as passionate as I was about things that I loved and were willing to wear it out into the world. I wanted to help them be celebrated and not be put down by the people I knew would. You can’t talk trash about something that looks amazing and a good photo is a great
record of it.
How long have you been doing photography?
As i mentioned earlier, I dug deep into old school photography during my high school days. We learned on film and developed our own film and pictures. So as a hobbyist/amature i’ve been shooting since 2000…so 18 years. Professionally I’ve been running my own business since January of 2017.
My tagline really describes the core of photo philosophy, “Let’s Capture Some Dynamite Moments”. My style has been described as fun, relaxed, and creative. If you are looking for a photo session experience that takes you out of the traditional studio shoot, then I’m the guy. My studio is outdoors in San Diego. We live in a gorgeous city with everything from the beaches, to deserts, and mountains. Why not take advantage of what San Diego has to offer?
One of my first shoots was for a family that consisted of grandma, her kids, their kids, and their kids. 4 generations at a park that they had grown up with. This was a rare occasion that everyone was in town for Thanksgiving and they wanted to capture that memory. It was an amazing experience to work with such a large family. That was a couple
years ago, and just recently they contact me to let me know that grandma had passed, and these photos allowed
them to have a memory that they could share with the great grandkids. For me, that’s what this is all about. Photos
that evoke emotion and relate to a memory. You can’t get that in a studio.
What types of cosplay do you like to shoot?
The short answer: all cosplay. I love it all. Anything from anime, video games, comics. I’m into it all and love all
fandoms. I’d much prefer to shoot not at a Con, but i don’t really know enough people to do it.
What is your photo shoot goals, or something you would love to shoot?
I would love to be able to do a themed shoot and make it super action oriented. Just a group of cosplayers from
the same fandom and recreate scenes or come up with some fun ways to capture not just the costume but to
tell a story with the shoot.
What is your favorite kind of cosplay photo shoot?
I just love one where we all have a good time. Nice location, and lots of fun. Location shoots are fun and I love
con photos too. I did one with @collectresscosplay, @collectedmutineer and @ganbaregirl at a park in SD for
a Princess Bride Shoot. It was a 6 hour shoot but man was it a lot of fun and a lot of great stories
What do you love about cosplay photography?
What isn’t there to love. I love fun and the passion that people have for their fandom and craft. I love the blood,
sweat, and tears that goes into shooting in crazy situations. It aligns itself so well with my love for everything
nerd, geek, whatever you want to call it. It is at its core capturing photos of people doing what they love and
shining while doing so.
What is the most difficult thing for you about cosplay photography?
Meeting people. General nervousness when trying to approach new people and try to not be a creepy dude
that’s trying to take a creepy picture of them. I’ve struggled a lot with self esteem and a general need to have,
as comedian John Mulaney says,” everybody, all day long, to like me so much. It’s exhausting.”
I also go thru this thing where I compare myself to everyone and always look at what they are doing and wondering if
i’m missing something.
Do you have any camera equipment you can’t live without?
My trio of prime lenses. 35mm, 50mm, 85mm all at f1.8. As a natural light photographer, I can (at least try) to
make every situation work. These lenses are my work horses and feel the most comfortable. Outside of the
standard equipment, I couldn’t live with these 3. I can make any situation work with them
Maybe my spider harness system also. It allows me a good range of mobility and cuts down on fatigue for
those on the go shoots.
If you could live in or visit any fantasy world, where would you go?
As messed up as it may be, I would love to be able to visit the universe that TYPE-MOON takes place in. One
of my favorite art styles and characters come from TYPE-MOON (Tsukihime, Fate series, Etc)
If you could give cosplayers tips about working with a photographer, what would they be?
Have a good time. Its best when both the subject and the photographer are comfortable with one another. This
way you guys can team up and make the best poses and angles to really make it shine! I try to get to know the
subject and talk to them to build a comfortable space that everyone can work in.
What are your “fandoms”?
Harry Potter, Star Wars, Anime…there’s a lot there, Wynonna Earp, Resident Evil (games), Marvel, Rick and
Morty, DC animated, and it just goes on and on.. There’s a lot here, I am into a lot of things and my house is
some crazy amalgamation of all of my “Fandoms”
What is something you wish cosplayers knew about working with a photographer?
What is something you wish cosplayers knew before they booked a photography session?
I’ll tackle these 2 together.
Photographers cannot be experts in every character that appears at a convention. It’s up to you to know your
character and have some appropriate poses ready for photographers in the hall and on private shoots. If a private
shoot is happening, tell the photographer a little about the character so they can capture the mood correctly.
Be Patient & Relax! Photo shoots take time and a lot of adjustments. The photographer will probably change the
settings on their equipment, move around to different angles, and may even ask you to move or adjust your pose.
These things do not mean that you are doing a bad job! Most often, they are working to optimize the lighting or the
background of a shot.
Know your Rights. In most cases, the photographer owns all the images that they take. Unless you hired the
photographer and have a contract saying that you own the images, you will need to get the photographer’s
permission before using the picture for prints, using the pictures to sell products, or for use by third parties like
magazines or TV shows.
What misconceptions do you feel cosplayers have about working with a photographer that you’d like to clear up?
I don’t have much experience with this one. I haven’t really run into many situations where I felt there was a
misconception. I’ve been offered money a few times, but it’s usually by cosplayers who are new and feel the
need to contribute. Cosplay Photography is passion of mine and to nickel and dime con goers is not my thing. If
you want to turn it into a profitable endeavor then we can have a discussion about that separate of the con
photos. Lets just have a good time and get some really awesome photos.
What is your creative process?
I usually like to take photography to capture the moment and I work very well under really unusual situations.
Given the nature of cosplay photoshoots, sometimes the best ideas happen with the least amount of planning. This is
something that I appreciate, especially with new ideas that pop up during the course of the shoot itself. Also when at
a convention, it just look at my environment and try to make everything work.
Some of my shoots are planned early on, with discussions together with the cosplayers involved.
What are some proper etiquette tips for booking a photoshoot and participating in one?
Communicate. You are the photographer’s partner during the photo shoot. Be respectful, but contribute to theprocess. If there is a side that you don’t want them to shoot, if you’d rather they only get full body shots, if your costume is damaged somewhere and you don’t want it in the shot, or if you are running late, let the photographerknow! Most of them are really amazing people and will do their best to make you happy.
not the same as asking for larger file sizes for prints, etc.
Don’t ever crash a shoot. A photographer with a nice setup draws cosplayers like moths to a flame. However, it is very rude to interrupt a shoot to see if you can “be next,” or to stand right next to the shoot talking loudly or tapping your foot. Move a little way off and wait patiently. When you see the shoot finishing up, politely ask if the
photographer has any openings to shoot that day. Be understanding if the answer is no.
Don’t leave us hanging. Life happens. Make sure that you have a way to contact your photographer in case
something happens and you will be late or miss a shoot. Wasting their time during a busy convention is one of the
fastest ways to insure that a photographer will never shoot with you again.
Where can people find your photography?
What is your greatest achievement (regarding cosplay photography)?
My greatest achievement for cosplay photography has got to be how happy people are once they see how great their photos are. Also, just getting known for taking some darn good photos lol
Please remember I do not own any of these pictures and the opinions in this survey belong to the interviewee.