What is “cosplay” you might ask? It’s a Japanese word, which is a merging of two English words that describe an action and more importantly a subculture. It technically means “costume play,” or to dress up in costume similar to what many Americans do on Halloween. In this case it’s done more than once a year and at times with extremely impressive or ludicrous results. Many cosplayers create their own costumes based on designs of characters from various forms of media or even ones they invent. Attending anime (Japanese animation) conventions starting in 2003 was a big reason I became extremely interested in photography. Seeing colorful, interesting, and outlandish costumes, it’s hard not wanting to take photographs and participate at times. I started with a simple 2MP Canon Powershot S200 Elph back then, and eventually moved up to digital SLRs. I can see a pretty stark contrast between earlier images in output quality and composition. However I do see keepers in all sets, it’s just that the later sets had a lot more of those.
Below I’ll show a single image from each convention starting with the oldest.
My first convention and probably the first time I really used the S200 digicam. I think that I bought the camera specifically for this trip as I had spent a lot of time online learning about conventions and what happens at them.
A pretty standard cosplay photo. The S200 needs flash for most situations due to ISO weakness and slow lens.
Anime Central 2003:
I was already starting to improve by my second convention. I took more photos and was a bit more careful about composition.
A Final Fantasy group shot that turned out okay considering the dark area and back lighting of the entrance.
We were staff for this convention, so most of my images were taken in one location.
You are starting to see a hint of how much time and effort cosplayers put into their costumes. This girl was not cosplaying a specific character, but most likely sporting a look based on a sub-set of fashion called “lolita.” It is a style that originated from Japan, but based on historic European clothing.
I was also staffing at this convention, so a bit less time for photography.
These two were from an Anime that was about a video game.
Anime Central 2004:
I’m still using the S200 at this point. This would be my last convention for a few years.
Impressive plush fully-enclosing costumes are commonplace in anime cosplay.
Anime Central 2007:
I used a Pentax *ist DS and kit lens at this convention. Quite a few keepers, although bokeh quality was lacking due to the lens and my focus on taking wide angle shots.
I really like how the umbrella is semi-transparent in this image.
Anime Central 2010:
I really stepped up my game last year by sheer number and lens improvements.
I used a Pentax 40mm f2.8 Limited most of the time. My only gripe is I needed a few more millimeters in wider focal length at times, so I think a FA 31mm f1.8 Limited would be an ideal cosplay lens. Now to just find a reason to justify the large expense… However, on the flip side I don’t think the lens has quick-shift, which is a negative for me.
While cosplay is only a single aspect to my art and subjects of interest, it played a big role in my initial stages of learning about photography. I’m glad it did and expect to continue my interest in cosplay.