Edits – testing my abilities (Personal use only)

Disclaimer: I do not own the background images for the edits, these images were made for the sole purpose of testing out editing with different lighting effects. I just wanted to include them to show progress on my editing.

When working through my images from kupo con the environment started to annoy me. The flooring and backgrounds were becoming very distracting. I decided these images would be good for me to test out my editing abilities on.

Background source

The first image is the how the image appeared after I edited the exposure and used the gradient tool to darken the edges of the image. After I had made these edits I realised there was not much I could do to change the background of the original without making it appear fake. I would be unable to edit out all the chairs to leave it with just the floor and the back wall. I decided to cut out the subject of my image and try make him fit into the background I selected, it was difficult to figure out the correct placement for my subject on the background as in the image there is already a figure. Once my subject was on the background I used photoshop’s smudge tool to blend away the figure behind my subject, clone stamp was used to blend areas which didn’t quite match up. I adjusted the colour balance of my image and increased the cyan and blue in the image to allow my subject to fit in with the cold coloured background. I brightened up certain areas of the image by painting over them white on a soft light layers and lowered the opacity, this allowed for my subject to fit into the background.  I then used the Nik collection software to add a vignette, film grain and colour effect to my image, the results are as you see above.

Background source

The first image is the basic editing in the convention environment. I have corrected the levels and adjusted the colour balance as the original image had a very orange colour cast. I used the clone stamp tool to remove the bag and plastic cups which were on the floor, this was difficult to do due to the carpet pattern. I liked how the edit came out but felt like I should try remove them from the environment they are in. As these are just tests for me to advance my editing abilities I have used stills from the Final Fantasy XV game. I cut around my subjects using the pen too before placing them on top of the background from the game. As the environment I placed my subjects on is artificial it allowed for a challenge. I used a feathered eraser to go around the subjects to make their outlines less sharp and harsh, this was difficult around the hair because some of the hair flicks made it appear fake so I had to smooth some of them off. Due to lighting affecting the subjects face on the original image I had to make sure the lighting on the artificial background matched up and was just as bright. The artificial background had a blue colour cast and this was noticeable against the subjects, to correct this I used the colour balance tool and increased the blue and cyan in my image which allowed my subjects to fit in with their background. To allow my subjects to blend in with the lighting of the image, I painted certain areas on the subject white on a soft light layer and lowered the opacity. I kept layering on the soft light layers with painted white areas until I believed the subjects blended nicely.

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Cosplay and consent/harassment

Cosplay isn’t with its issues, consent is a problem which can be seen at conventions so much so that their is a Cosplay is not consent campaign.

This has become an issue due to some attendees not understanding how to behave properly in a convection environment around cosplayers. There has been campaigns in the past for conventions to revise their harassment policy to have clearer guidelines but this yet to addressed. Most convention policies state that Harassing and offensive behavior will not be tolerated and asks anyone who feels their safety is at risk is to report it to a member of staff.

(source)

People’s understanding of what is seen as offensive behaviour is the main issue, people don’t understand that it is wrong to grope someone who is in costume because some see it as that’s why the person is dressed up for. This is not the case. Cosplayers wearing revealing cosplay outfits are never asking for it or being teases, they are dressing as a character that just happens to show a lot of flesh. Some characters are very sexualised and people want to portray them correctly and their is nothing wrong with that. Everyone should be capable of controlling their impulses and behaving appropriately. Its important that cosplayers are seen as people and not inanimate objects.

(source)

This offensive behaviour happens to a lot of people regardless of their gender, cosplayers can sometimes be bullied due to them not fitting a certain costume correctly. Popular cosplays can get a lot of heat too and receive nasty comments targetting how “mainstream/overdone” a character is. (The main targets of this are Harley Quinn and Deadpool cosplayers.) Crossplayers (those who dress of characters of the opposite sex) have also admitted that they have received a lot of derogatory comments, for example “women can’t cosplay men as they don’t have the muscles for it”. This type of comment is ridiculous especially when not all male characters are muscly to begin with and it’s not up to them who people cosplay, after all most cosplayers participate for the “play” aspect of cosplay. People who cosplay cosplay characters of a different race or body type will sometimes experience similar derogatory comments.

This is not always the case, a majority of the time Cosplayers have a mutual respect for one another and admire how much time and care people spend on their costumes. Harassment rarely comes from cosplayers themselves, mostly from outsiders and onlookers. Cosplayers attend conventions as it allows them to remove themselves from reality, conventions are used to build a sense of community. Conventions allow people to create their own fantasy world where they are able to become their favourite characters.

(Source)

When it comes to taking photos it is important to always ask a cosplayer if you are able to photograph them because not everyone wants to be photographed. You need to be aware of the situation, you shouldn’t photograph a cosplayer who is eating or on a break. Most cosplayers like the fact they are able to pose for photos and find it flattering to be asked for their photo to be taken. However when you take these photos without their permission it can be seen as harassment, you should always ask. This goes for when a photographer is photographing a cosplayer and you wish to photograph them too, you shouldn’t snipe pictures. You should ask the photographer and cosplayer if it’s okay for you to get images once they’re done, often the photographer and cosplayer will allow for this.

Research resources:

https://www.facebook.com/CosplayIsNotConsent/

http://metro.co.uk/2015/07/09/is-sexual-harassment-ruining-comic-con-for-cosplayers-5286543/

http://mashable.com/2014/10/15/new-york-comic-con-harassment/#nfoWD2.cBGq2

http://www.geeksforconsent.org/cosplay-consent/

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/cosplay-is-not-consent

https://www.eventbrite.com/blog/cosplay-harrassment-free-con-ds00/

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Cosplay and self Identity

When cosplaying characters it is so easy to get caught up in mimicking the character as close as possible that you take on their personality. Some cosplayers will place themselves within the narrative of their characters and then act out in real life situations the way their character would. This can make it difficult to separate what a person is actually like and what they are like as the character. Cosplayers will often pick characters because they relate to them or idolise them and wish to be like them, cosplaying these characters may lead to the cosplayer feeling empowered and cause a shift in their usual attitude.

Taking on the personality of these characters allows cosplayers to express their interests and allows them to act the way their characters do instead of how they usually behave. This can result in a typically shy person admiring someone with a extraverted personality and use this to encourage them to behave in a different way which is encouraged by the community around them.

Some people say cosplay allows them to express their true selves, they don’t need to hide anything and it can help them overcome any social boundaries. You may ask how is this possible when they are hiding behind a “mask” but the mask acts a way of separating them from day to day issues they may be facing and allows them to actually “play” and just be comfortable being themselves surrounded by a community who feels the same.

When it comes to cosplay there are no rules, men can cosplay women and vice versa. Nothing is off limits. If you can buy/make the costume then you be it. The physical appearance of the cosplayer becomes irrelevant, they are the character. Everyone is equal in the cosplay community. Crossplay is extremely popular and people will go to extreme lengths to make sure they get their version of the character as close to the original.Crossplay is where a male will dress as a female and a female will dress like a male. Gender bending Characters also happens, this is where they take a character’s normal design and change it to fit the opposite gender. Cosplay allows for people to explore their own gender identity in a safe place where they won’t be judged.

Research sources:

http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/45435673/Cosplay_-_Imaginative_Self_and_Performing_Identity.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1494807584&Signature=2VBSLc0B10UC5kGFmhuwXBs67QU%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DCosplay_Imaginative_Self_and_Performing.pdf

http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/246/230

http://www.cubebreaker.com/cosplayer-day-jobs/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/caseyrackham/san-diego-comic-con-cosplayers-day-jobs?utm_term=.yng3aQ3GV#.rngP1RPOV

https://fashpow2014.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/masked-identity-cosplay-and-the-art-of-self-expression/

http://www.e-ir.info/2016/05/22/the-politics-of-performance-gender-identity-in-cosplay/

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Cosplay and Representation

Representation is important regardless of what form of media. Cosplay is no exception.

When cosplaying people of any race or gender should feel comfortable cosplaying any character they wish. However this is not always the case as some people react negatively to people cosplaying characters of a different race or changing a characters gender to fit the cosplayer. This is why representation is important, people need to see that it is fine to cosplay a character regardless of the factors mentioned above. People wouldn’t kick up a fuss over someone painting themselves green to look like an alien or wearing contacts to change their eye colour. Cosplay is just dressing up in costume and showing their appreciation of the character.

Representation in the media, particularly photographs of cosplayers is key to try and show a varied amount of cosplayers in different shapes and sizes and skin colours to help children and young people see that it is okay to cosplay anyone and anything they wish. There is one story on Geekdad (source) which reports on how a young POC child dressed as batman saw a POC batman cosplayer and stopped dead in his tracks because he was surprised to see another POC batman.

Children are growing up in a very “whitewashed” society which can make them feel like they are less than because of their skin colour which shouldn’t be a thing in 2017. Children should feel like they can dress up as whoever they want and not feel like it’s not normal for them to do so.

Research sources:

https://geekdad.com/2016/10/representation-in-cosplay/

http://heroespodcasts.com/wonder-woman-representation

http://causeplays.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/cosplay-representation.html

http://www.xojane.com/healthy/why-i-think-representation-is-important-in-comics-and-cosplay

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Editing process

When I edit I try and go through my images in numerical order, this isn’t always the case when it comes to concert photography shots. I tend to edit the headline act first when possible as they are the images which people are most likely going to want to see as they are the most popular.

Regardless of what I have shot, when I’m editing I always open the files in Photoshop camera RAW and adjust the exposure when required and adjust the colour balance to make my images appear as natural as possible. In both concert photography and shooting at conventions it’s easy for my images to pick up colour casts from the lighting as well as the environment.

Example of how I have reduced the colour cast on a subject while still keeping the background colours vibrant.

 

This is one example of photographing a subject in a busy convention environment. I cropped the image in to remove the man on the left hand side of the image, I also used the gradient tool in camera raw to reduce the saturation and darken the areas around my subject to allow him to be the main focus. I feel like this works well as your eyes are drawn straight to the bright coloured subject while still being able to understand the context of them being in a convention hall.

Here is one example of my editing where I have cropped in to make the subjects the main focus and used clone stamp tool to remove any background distractions.

When all my images are edit and done, I take a break from looking at them before I come back and decide which one to share online. Doing this helps me evaluate my own skills as a photographer and measure my editing ability. I am trying to cut down the amount of images I share online. However when I attend cons and photograph people I try make sure each cosplayer gets at least one image back of themselves. This is because in the past when I have attended conventions I have found it impossible to find a majority of the photos in which people took of me in my cosplays so I feel like I owe to the cosplayers to make sure that their cosplay images are available for them to see.

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Business Cards

I ordered some business cards from banana print, the images below are how they look.

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dav

I happy with how my business cards turned out, they feel professional and the print on the front and on the back is to a good standard and the colours of the fireworks are still vibrant. I was recommended Banana Print by one of my mentors as they print and ship the cards within 24 hours and are good quality cards. I’ve ordered 250, They arrived in plastic containers to keep them neatly stacked. I plan on taking one of the plastic containers with me whenever I attend a convention or social event so I can hand out my cards when I photograph people.

These cards will make it easier for people to find my work after conventions as well as at concerts where I am photographing, several times I have been photographing at a concert and someone in the crowd has asked me where to find my images and they have not been able to find my facebook or I’ve said I’ll post them in the event once I upload them and they haven’t checked.

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Cosplay today

What is cosplay?

Cosplay is the practice of dressing up as a character from a film, book or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga or anime. 

Cosplay today is more than just wearing a costume, people don’t consider halloween costumes as part of cosplays culture. Cosplay could be considered as performance art as it involves people doing more than just dressing up, the try take on the physical and often then mental role of the fictional character they are dressed as. The purpose of cosplaying varies from person to person, the main reason being they wish to show their adoration of the character. Other reasons behind cosplaying could be the attention and approval from audiences and peers, another reason could be the experience and the creative process behind constructing their costumes.

Why do people participate in cosplaying?

Cosplaying is more than just the costumes themselves, it can be extended to clothing designing, fabrication and in most cases make up. Prop making can also play a key role in cosplay, people take time and care making sure that their props abide by the cons rules. There are many skills involved when making cosplay.

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Example of a large prop made a cosplayer (Steve Pearce) at Birmingham MCM, 2017

Cosplayers often chose the characters they cosplay because they relate to them or the characters possess traits which they wish to have. Cosplay can be seen to help people with their confidence. Some cosplayers will try to recreate the character they are portraying personality and mimic the mannerisms of these characters as accurately as they can, they try become the character. Sometimes people will choose to cosplay a character solely because they like their outfit.

The community surrounding cosplay is a strong one. There are a lot things which drives this community whether it be that that some people enjoy sewing, modeling or photography. There is a strong sense of unity, fans are able to interact with other fans easily and show their appreciation for each others cosplays. Often on online forums and groups fans will advise one another on how to go about a particular thing if they need advice such as styling wigs or making a prop for a character.  People who cosplay mostly do so because they enjoy it and find it to be fun despite the time and dedication they had to put in prior to put their costumes together.

(Example of a performance at a Masquerade from last year which I recorded)

Cosplay fans can vary from those who cosplay for fun to those who obsess over a character trying to get every detail right on their outfits. Cosplay isn’t a cheap “hobby” many people will spend a lot of money and time making sure that their outfit is close to that of the original character. Some cosplayers may even practice poses and memorise dialogue. This would be required for those who enter the masquerades at conventions where they are expected to “perform” for an allotted time, dances and prepared routines are typically seen at masquerades.

Cosplay Celebrities/Cosplay Famous

Most cosplayers cosplay for fun but in some cases there are people who are able to cosplay for a living. One example of this is Leon Chiro who has been able to work with video game companies. He started off with small collaborations with companies such as Capcom and 2K and has more recently earned sponsorships from companies as big as Sony and Ubisoft. These collaborations see Chiro occasionally working launch events dressed and acting like video game characters and other times he attends large conventions as a guest and works full day’s. An example of Chiro’s work would be working at Ubisoft’s boost at a convention and take photos with people while dressed in cosplay as one the characters while they are waiting to try out the game available.Chiro’s work to begin with was casual whereas now he signs contracts which guarantee him pay for the work he provides, this is alongside the costs for him to attend the conventions, the flights and his hotels. He still makes all of the costumes himself but bills his sponsors for the costs of the costume.
(Chiro’s Patreon)

(source)

Jessica Nigiri is another well known cosplayer, she became popular when she posted images of her “Sexy Pikachu” costume online. Nigiri has now since gone on to be paid to attend conventions as the official cosplay model for numerous characters including two characters from Assassin’s Creed, Connor Kenway & Female Captain Edward Kenway. She has gained many fans from her cosplays. She makes money through selling prints of her cosplays and will sometimes get sponsored to make some of her cosplays. Nigiri has also got a patreon which allows her fans to support her and each tier gives different perks to her supporters such as exclusive process pics and behind the scenes videos.

(source)

Yaya Han is famous in the cosplay community because of her costumes and her craftsmanship. Han had been of japanimation for many years and through a website found images of people dressed up as anime characters and immediately became attracted to it. She learnt the basics of sewing and made her first costume which she wore to a convention and saw many other cosplayers who informed her that it was called cosplaying, from that point on she continued to make her own costumes and developing her skills to make these costumes.

The way she got commissions was through word of mouth, more people would see all her costumes and ask her if she could make their costumes. Han started to do commissions full time as part of a commission business with 2 other craftsman before realising she prefered making accessories. Accessories allowed her to be more creative and design items which would be affordable to many people rather than just luxury items for those who could afford it. Han designed the products and sculpted them herself and another colleague sanded them and did the molding and casting before she finished them off.

As of 2005 Han has been working as a freelance artist and a crafts person as well as running her store with another craftsman colleague. The store has many different cosplay products as well as her own merchandise such as calendars and posters showcasing her cosplays. Han as had many opportunities made available to her which help her sustain her business such as fashion shows to making large props for businesses. She has also designed and made costumes for indy films and tv pilots. Han has also worked with McCalls which is a pattern company, she has made several patterns for them some including cosplay outfits and other patterns which could be altered to fit cosplays.

(Source)

Social media plays a large roll for cosplayers who cosplay as part of their job as it about how many fans they can reach and the quality of their posts. Patreon is another way in which cosplayers can earn money, they offer different perks to their fans depending on how much they pledge monthly. Perks range from prints and fan signs to special content such as patterns of behind the scenes footage.

Research resources:

http://www.drrobinrosenberg.com/resources/Cosplay-Expressions%20of%20Fandom.pdf

http://cosplay.kotaku.com/what-its-like-to-cosplay-for-money-1769567196

https://www.kotaku.com.au/2016/02/why-cosplayers-work-for-free/

https://thehustle.co/meet-the-girls-making-a-living-from-cosplay

https://www.japanpowered.com/otaku-culture/the-history-of-cosplay

https://the-artifice.com/cosplay-overview/

http://www.yayahan.com/about/yayas-cosplay-journey

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