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Top 5 Ways of Getting Epic Images of Cosplayers at a Cosplay Event

So GameStart Asia 2015 happened over the weekend and I am pretty sure those who went enjoyed themselves loads! There was just a lot to do over a period of two days, and I only got a chance to experience just one day due to work! I managed to squeeze in a few shots of some cosplayers here.

Held in the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre from the 13th to 15th November 2015 (13th being a closed door event for invited guests/media personnel only), GameStart Asia 2015 was a hell of a memorable experience.

Being a premium gaming convention, event-goers can expect cool loot/merch/swag, massive multiplayer tournaments, grand trailers and sneaks of upcoming games and movies on big screens, and gaming software/hardware demos. I even got to try out the Star Wars: Battle Pod machine which has never been released in Singapore.

But what sort of convention would GameStart Asia be without the presence of cosplayers and their epic props and costumes?

It would still be an amazing experience, but seeing cosplayers among the event-goers definitely added a lot more depth and colour. Whenever interaction between a cosplayer and an event-goer happens, the event would feel more alive and personal. Imagine having a little chat with your favourite character? Or just seeing your favourite character come alive right before you?

Some of the more recognizable characters cosplayed by cosplayers include special guest Acanthastar Cosplay‘s Tracer and Angelus of The Neo Tokyo Project‘s Symmetra from Blizzard Entertainment‘s upcoming Overwatch, Alexander’s Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Kiellne’s Quiet from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. There’s just too many to mention!

alex-1Annie, are you OK? Are you OK? Are you OK, Annie?

But who are cosplayers? What makes them… them?

They are generally hobbyists who take their creativity and passion to a whole new level by dressing up to look like their favourite pop-culture characters. Some create their own costumes and props painstakingly and even go into character to complete the look and feel. Forget your Halloween party-costumers. This is a different league of costuming altogether!

I have worked with many cosplayers ever since I started photography a few years ago and they never cease to amaze me with their attention to detail and intense love for their craft.

Anyway, I have decided to write this post because people were interested in my personal thoughts – namely, my ideas for the top 5 ways of getting epic images out of cosplayers at cosplay events such as GameStart Asia, Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC), International Cosplay Day Singapore (ICDS), Cosfest ASIA, Anime Festival Asia, etc.


There are other cosplay events too as cosplay has become an important and recognizable aspect of our pop-culture. Plus, I usually stick to GameStart Asia, ICDS and STGCC for the games and western/gaming cosplays (I relate to them more since I am more into gaming than anime).

Before you start reading my Top 5 Ways of How to Get Epic Images at a Cosplay Event, you might want to check out my previous article 10 Ways to be a Better Cosplay Photographer first.

This post also follows my personal experience of doing impromptu photoshoots of some cosplayers within GameStart Asia’s area (including the interiors of the hall and the area outside the perimeter) armed with only a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, a Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM and a Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM and an iPhone 5S’s LED light for auto-focusing assist. I did not use my speedlights for this event (I wanted to challenge myself).

Hopefully, the following 5 ways will help you in your quest to get epic photos from cosplay events.

12194533_10153319075269053_7392951262399688851_oHere, I was telling Anakin what would happen if he turned over to the Dark Side of the Force. Or was it an instruction to lean forward? I can’t remember! Photo by Darkon Lore, used with permission.

#1: Do the shoot away from the crowdsDigitalRev recently ran an article which showed some photographers taking cosplayers away from busy convention halls and taking waaaaaay better photos. I know how we love being a part of the crowd, but chances are, you wouldn’t want to have other event-goers in your shots.

It would be weird if Captain America was striking a battle pose, ready to take on Bucky, when Bob was just standing there in the background with his own camera, grinning. No amount of bokeh can save you unless you really want to clone Bob out.

Poor Bob.

If you had done cosplay photography in event halls, you would also notice that the moment you stop a cosplayer for a shot, a wall of photographers would form even faster than you could say chotto matte kudasai in an exasperated manner, complete with exaggerated sweat droplets.

That could be difficult for you and the cosplayer because the cosplayer would be trying to cater to many photographers including yourself.

Advice on top of an advice: You do not want to be labelled as a selfish or a creepy photographer so do seek the cosplayer’s permission to take him or her elsewhere for a shot and make sure the cosplayer was not in the midst of a photoshoot with another photographer. Respect the other photographers too! When asking the cosplayer if he or she would like to go elsewhere, take their answers seriously. If the answer is ‘no’, move on. Respect his or her wishes. If the answer is ‘yes’, make sure you are prepared for the shots too so you won’t take up too much of the cosplayer’s time.

2015-11-14 18.55.32.jpgLeft my iPhone 5S with my assistant Raymond and he had to take a selfie… fifty times. Is he celebrating SG50 in his own way? But check out all that purple.

#2: Know your equipment well; get that white balance RIGHT! – Shooting in GameStart Asia’s main hall was a challenging affair. The ambient lighting was generally purple, and it was really dark with the occasional roving spotlights creating patches of well-lit areas that get hidden in the shadows just as quick.

You get purple skin, purple highlights in the hair, purple everything.

It’s like Barney the Dinosaur was stuffed into your camera.

You have to get your white balance settings right so you won’t have to fix it so much in post (not like that’s bad but it’s just extra work, yes?). Or at least get as close as you can.

Depend less on the Auto White Balance function. Try to get your WB right manually before you approach the cosplayers too so as not to waste time. Sometimes, I would use the Pocket Light Meter by Nuwaste studios on my iPhone 5S to get a head start with white balance reading. It’s not entirely accurate but it helps.

Work it such that you get accurate skin tones (or as close as you can) from the get go unless you are going for the ambient light’s effects.

Know what aperture and shutter speeds to go for. Modern DSLRs can handle high ISOs pretty well, but you don’t want to end up with too much noise either. A tripod and a speedlight/flash can help for desperate situations.

#3: Angles are your secret angels – When you go low enough, you might just be able to isolate the cosplayers from the crowd without exiting the busy event halls. Don’t be afraid to lie down but remember to be considerate. Do not lie down in the middle of nowhere or in the middle of a busy pathway.

Be careful of double chins too. You do not want to get unflattering shots. Communicate with he cosplayer. See how he is supposed to tilt his head or how she is supposed to twist her hips to get the most of the shot. See if you can get a nice ceiling to shoot too. Here’s the magic: The ceiling has become your new backdrop. But remember that the rules of composing in photography still apply unless you intentionally want to break them. Here is a good read for composing of shots.

For this shot of Theodora’s Catwoman from Batman: Arkham City, I had her stand and pose where the path of the spotlight would be. I also had us move to the sitting area in front of the main stage where it was emptier and people were unlikely to walk about.

^2F6951EB4F2D08D12CE81AACCBA6C78CCF03EFE438ED84725D^pimgpsh_fullsize_distr^1F21E7D53E4E2B44CCB1904772206588B4323E49DEC308389A^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrBehind-the-Scenes photos taken by MizDesert on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Check out all that purple! Epic!
theodora-1And this was how Catwoman looked like in the end in the event hall. She seemed excited at all the purple loot.

#4: Overexposure and cropping to isolate the subject – Other than bokeh, overexposure of the background and cropping of images can help remove unwanted backgrounds/distractions. Let’s get rid of Bob!

A little help from Adobe Lightroom to crop, edit and recover shadows can help an image work. It is best to know your trinity of camera controls – shutter speeds, ISO and aperture – well.

No reflector was used in the following image.

rocky-1Before: Rocky Go stands ready to fight, with event-goers just chilling out in the background.
rocky-1After: Rocky Go is ready to kick ass while the baby he is protecting continues to sleep.

If anyone is interested, here are the EXIF/settings for the before image:

Body: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Glass: Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM
Exposure: 1/50 sec at f2.8 ISO 1000

#5: HAVE FUN! Basically, don’t take things too seriously! – You gotta remember that at the end of the day, this is an event. Just like you, the cosplayer is here for the event too, not just to pose for photographs.

Everyone is here to enjoy themselves!

12194816_10153319075469053_8665526954877538500_oEven Anakin is here to enjoy himself even after turning to the Dark Side of the Force. Photo by Darkon Lore, used with permission.

As with all other photography assignments, be polite and treat your subject with respect.

Get the cosplayer to feel comfortable and to be at ease with you. Some cosplayers are veterans and would be more comfortable standing in front of the lens. Some may not be so and would require a bit more encouragement.

Stay positive! Words of encouragement help a lot. It works both ways – when you remain encouraging, the cosplayer gets to shine and you both get great photos at the end.

In post production/processing, go crazy! But make sure it puts the cosplayer(s) in a flattering light. Do composites, put them in believable atmospheres or environments that work with their characters. Go all out with special effects to make the images more epic!

Well, hopefully those 5 tips would help you loads. If you have any suggestion, feel free to leave a comment below! If you think this is helpful to other people, feel free to share with them!

Epic Cosplayers at GameStart Asia 2015

Had a really great time yesterday at GameStart Asia 2015 (14th November 2015). Caught some cosplayers in game/movie-related fantastic costumes. Couldn’t resist the urge to take shots of them on location. All the shots were taken only with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with EF 50mm f1.4 USM and EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM. Light sometimes boosted by the iPhone 5S’s torchlight. Had to pump up the ISO by a LOT. Shadow recovery in Lightroom also made the images work.








There were many other epic cosplayers around too but I just had to get around the exhibition booths and try out some of the games. I even got a chance to try out the Star Wars Battle Pod game which features historic battles in the Star Wars Universe!

And of course, there’s this amazing 3D-printed 1:1 scale BB-8 :D


And here’s some behind-the-scenes courtesy of MizDesert of how I shot most of these images.



The Making of “Battle of Undercity”


The Making of “Battle of Undercity”
Photography and Edits by The Art of Mezame
CG art by Cecil B. Gnome

Digital art and photography can be combined together to re-create a scene from a game – in this case, a scene from our re-imagination of the climactic confrontation in the Battle of Undercity.

This image was originally shot in Fort Canning Park in Singapore which to us looked like a tunnel in Undercity in the World of Warcraft.

We got Angelus to thank for coming in her Sylvanas Windrunner costume, complete with a bow, which she self-made. To view her work-in-progress shots, check out the album here:

During the storyboarding process, I envisioned a scene where she’s waiting to ambush Garrosh who was raiding Undercity. To complete the look, Cecil B. Gnome from Cecil’s Travelling Circus got on board to add details onto the walls and ceiling of the tunnel as well as Garrosh himself using 3D software (he usually uses a mix of 3Ds Max, Vray and Corona for engineering and rendering). We had chains and creeper plants and wooden beams added to give a more Undead feel to the tunnel.

To get an accurate reading of the tunnel, a 3D scan was made using an iPhone 5S and 123D Catch by Autodesk. This enabled Cecil to have an easier workflow as distances were automatically measured and geometrical shapes got recorded.

The image was shot with powder and a simple 3 light set-up (2x 580 EX IIs and a Bowen Gemini GM500). A speedlight was placed deep in the tunnel to provide lighting for Garrosh and to give depth to the end of the tunnel. Another was placed behind Angelus to kill unwanted shadows and to provide a bit of rim light. The key light was a strobe unit in an octabox to light Angelus up.

We played around with the lighting, dodge and burns and added a slight haze to the image before playing around with the colour gradient to bring out the mood in Photoshop and Lightroom. Seeing how Sylvanas’s eyes glow, red was brushed in onto Angelus’s own eyes via Photoshop to complete the look.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this mini behind-the-scenes. Feel free to share your thoughts or the image. Cheers!

Talent: Angelus of The Neo Tokyo Project as Sylvanas Windrunner
Wardrobe and make-up: Talent’s own
Assists: Siti Zahara, Jason Koh, Terence Fong

10 Ways to be a Better Cosplay Photographer

2014-10-25 10.10.38Above: The Art of Mezame crew with the folks from Kachang Puteh and Thailand cosplayer Yuegene Fay as Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul after a photo shoot in 2014

I was thinking, why not a “10 Ways” series that is more familiar with my Mezfans? Many are cosplay photographers who have experienced difficulties with their own shoots and some have asked me how to be better cosplay photographers.

To be honest, there is no hard and fast way of becoming better cosplay photographers unless you keep on practising (other photogs might have different suggestions).

Here is a list of what I think are ways that could help you out as a cosplay photographer, especially if you’re a beginner! Feel free to share.

“10 Ways to be a Better Cosplay Photographer” by The Art of Mezame

  1. Be polite, and don’t be a creep
  2. Know your cosplayer well (get to know them better to ensure a better photoshoot, be polite with your requests, refer to tip number 1 too)
  3. Know your source material well (or at least some – you’d be amazed at how easier it is to storyboard a photoshoot if you know the source material better)
  4. Know your gear well (it’s never a good idea to fumble with your gear in front of the people you are about to photoshoot, makes people nervous)
  5. Know your skills well (as well as your limits) – basics such as knowing your camera settings and how to compose properly exposed images are important
  6. Know your location(s) well (even for indoor environments such as studios)
  7. In event halls, keep your gear close or risk losing them to theft; keep track of your gear too
  8. In event halls, don’t create/leave a mess – it’s just being polite, especially so if it’s a public place
  9. Safety first – keep your cosplay talents, your crew, assistants, yourself safe
  10. Don’t take too long with your edits; creating works of art may take a lot of time, and if you do, at least inform the people you are working with of how long you need before the release of images (i.e. keep them updated, it’s just being polite!)

10 Ways to be a Better Wedding Guest


I was scrolling through my Facebook feeds and came across an article featuring a wedding photographer’s rant on disruptive guests who get in the way of wedding photographers who are just doing their job.

Good to note that the photographer who was featured in the article did his best to get good shots by getting around guests and other obstacles.

Well, since some of my Mezfans are into wedding photography, I’ve decided to compile a list that may help you.

Oh wait. Maybe the issue isn’t the photographer but the guests themselves after all!

Here’s a helpful list for anyone on how to be a better wedding guest!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a wedding photographer. I specialise in themed concept portrait photography. These are my (tongue-in-cheek) opinions.

If you would like to contribute a tip or a suggestion, feel free to leave a comment below.

“10 Ways to be a Better Wedding Guest”

  1. There’s a professional photographer hired by the bride and groom; let him or her do his or her job
  2. There’s a professional videographer hired by the bride and groom; let him or her do his or her job
  3. Put that tablet away – it won’t take good photos or footages and tend to get in the way of the hired personnel
  4. Put that mobile phone away – enjoy the wedding ceremony; leave the photography and videography to the paid professionals
  5. Keep that GoPro and selfie stick – you’re not going skiing
  6. Just because you have a DSLR does not mean you should get in the way of the hired personnel – you might be destroying important moments
  7. Do not touch a professional’s equipment – sliders and tripods could be placed in strategic spots for good reasons
  8. Try not to distract photographers or videographers with small talk – they could be really, really busy
  9. Do not, under any circumstances, push away photographers or videographers; it’s not a nice thing to do and they could miss their shots or lose their focus (literally)
  10. Do not judge a photographer or a videographer based on his or her equipment, and make life miserable for him or her with open snide remarks – it’s not helpful or constructive and they probably know better

For couples, you might want to check out the concept of unplugged weddings. See if this concept works for you (and your photographers/videographers whom you have set aside a nice chunk of your wedding budget for to cover your Big Day).

12 Percent of a Plan: A Little Surprise for Ollie

We did something really special for Ollie, a huge fan of James Gunn‘s film Guardians of the Galaxy, who is based in Australia!

Ollie originally wanted our CG Artist friend Cecil (he helped work on the CG effects in our Star-Lord cosplay photoshoot) sketch Peter Quill aka Star-Lord for him but we thought, “Why not go a galaxy further?”

So we had some prints from our Star-Lord cosplay photoshoot made!

Cecil helped print special limited edition copies of our collaboration with Singaporean cosplayer Shyam of Knowhere: For The Pop-Cultured who portrayed himself as the legendary Star-Lord (played by Chris Pratt in the film).

We just wanted to put a smile on a fellow super fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy with one of our cosplay collaborations.

Judging from the video shot by Ollie’s sister, Zea, we’re glad that he liked what he got! Cool smooth, bro!