Monday, August 08, 2011

Interview GET!

I’m not sure why I’ve never done an interview on CostumeGet these past 6 years since I’ve conducted countless Q&A’s in my previous day job. That oversight gets rectified now with a chat with one of the photographers I’ve become a fan of on flickr, Mr. Muggles. 

CosGet: How did you get started in photography?
Mr. Muggles: I'm a huge Harry Potter nerd and was introduced to the world of fandom and cosplay in 2006 when I attended my first HP convention in Las Vegas. After returning home, I quickly regretted not having a single photo of the great costumes I saw, or the new friends I met so I purchased a basic point-and-shoot. Long story short, I had so much fun playing the event photographer at the following conventions that I began to pursue photography as a hobby.

CG: Do you have any formal photography training?
MM: No, but I've spent countless hours scouring the web for tutorials and reading everything I can find about photography and lighting.

CG: Who influenced your style or is/was an inspiration to your work?
MM: I can't think of a single dominant influence, but I certainly owe much to folks like David Hobby and Zack Arias for their tutorials and generous knowledge sharing. Aside from that, perhaps the biggest influence comes from wedding photographers as they shoot with many of the same challenges as hallway cosplay photogs--that is, low-light, high iso and a hybrid of photo journalism and narrative.

CG: Is cosplay your favorite subject? If so why, if not what is your favorite?
MM: Dramatic visual narrative is what I'm artistically and creatively drawn to capture and create and Cosplay set me on that path. I've been experimenting with more deliberate editorial styles lately, but I suspect that I'll always be rooted in photographing people in lavish costumes whether the inspiration is Anime, literary characters, or drawn just from my imagination.

CG: Describe your routine when preparing to go to an event like Anime Expo?
MM: Shooting a convention like AX can be thoroughly exhausting--it's not uncommon for me to go non-stop for 8-10 hours with only a brief lunch break. Given that, I try to travel as light as possible. The night before the event, I'll review my gear and whittle my bag down to just the essentials. Also, I try to get lots of sleep beforehand, although that never seems to happen somehow =P.

CG: What is your workflow after getting back from an event?
MM: I shoot raw and import the files into Lightroom. From there, I typically crop if necessary and adjust the tone curve to give the image more punch, sharpen and then export. I don't often round-trip into Photoshop, but will do so if there's heavy spot removal required.

CG: Is your day job photography related? If not, is photography something you want to pursue professionally full time?
MM: My job isn't (typically) photography related, but I work for Yahoo! and have had the good fortune of being asked to cover events such as Blizzcon and E3 as a direct result of coworkers hearing about my cosplay photography. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there will be additional opportunities in the future.

CG: What are you shooting with now? Are you satisfied with it?
MM: I'm currently shooting a Nikon D700--it's light years ahead of my abilities, so if I ever complain, take those comments with a grain of salt ;-). That said, I wouldn't mind dual memory cards as I've had two separate memory card scares where, for one heart-stopping moment, I thought I had lost a good chunk of my day's work. Other than that, I wouldn't mind even better low-noise performance, but that's always a given.

Poison, a CosGet favorite character and outfit.

CG: Any tips for others who want to attend events and shoot?
MM: Know your gear. Get to the point where you're intimately familiar with your camera's quirks and begin to think like your light meter! Also, spend the time to size up your environment before you start shooting. In particular, look for interesting backgrounds and especially "pools of light" if you're shooting natural light. As you begin taking photos, don't be afraid to provide gentle direction to your subject--"quarter turn to your left", "chin up slightly". Also, think before, during, and after every shot. Ask yourself what you did right, or what could be improved. Perhaps most important, though, is to be polite and considerate--don't interrupt a cosplayer if they're obviously busy (eating), or rushing off to a panel. Besides just good manners, a little professionalism will generally put your subject more at ease which improves your chances of getting a good "performance".

Thanks so much to Mr. Muggles for your time and keep up the great work!

There has never been a Kiki's Delivery Service game, but this pic too damn cute not to post. ADORABLE!

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