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Dragoncon 2019 Client Spotlight

The last time I was at Dragoncon, I was a different person. It was 2017 and I didn’t know what I wanted from my life, only that cosplay photography was going to be a part of it, because that was the one thing I was sure about. Two years have passed, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what the future holds and I’m thrilled with the present! 2019 has brought a magazine feature, an interview, and clients from around the globe I feel so privileged to have worked with - I can’t wait to see what else is in store! This Dragoncon was a refreshing and grounding experience to have with my camera and the path I’ve chosen to go with it.


Being in Atlanta again was a whirlwind, as is every con lately, it seems; but that’s not a bad thing. Shooting cosplay has become half of my photography career, and a busy weekend is good news! And a busy weekend it was. Well, more like four days. Dragoncon…I forget how nuts you are. The partying was a bit out of my realm after each day of shooting, though I did manage to go out for one night and had a blast with friends while in cosplay. Overall it was a very successful, if not exhausting weekend.


Traipsing through the semi-familiar streets of Downtown Atlanta, I was pleased to find that I saw things differently than I did two years ago. I noticed my eye had changed. I looked at everything differently, looked for harsher shadows or dappled light. I posed my subjects more confidently and bravely. I got to play a little bit with new techniques, and indulge in the moodier, richer side of what I think is a turning point in my work. And lastly and most importantly, I got to work with another amazing collection of people from all around the globe. Toronto, London, Australia…Dragoncon brings cosplayers from all over the world, and I’m stoked I got to work with them.


You know the drill by now - scroll down for the pretty pictures of the awesome people. If you’d like to book me, I shoot on-location in Boston and NYC, and I’ll be at Colossalcon East, Anime NYC, Anime USA, and Holiday Matsuri in the remainder of 2019. You can read about working with me and see when booking opens for those cons here.





Otakon 2019 Client Spotlight

Otakon this year was the best one yet! From past clients to new, I had a blast capturing an array of talent in Washington D.C. Currently I’m booking for Dragoncon and Colossalcon East; shoots start at $150. You can send an inquiry directly to me here and we can set something up!


Colossalcon 2019 Client Spotlight & Review

Colossalcon always felt like a wild cosphotography fantasy to me for years AND YEARS. Each time it would come and go, I’d stare in wonder and envy at these photographs taken in a dusky golden field with soft grasses and long unobtrusive horizons dotted with trees. It looked like everything I ever sought in my own location shoots, but wrapped up in a convention weekend with fun, waterparks, and lots of partying. Well, dang it, I was tired of pining!


It was finally time to make that happen for myself! So I hopped a plane to Ohio from Boston and ended up having the absolute time of my life. Oh, and I def used it as an excuse to party hard because my birthday was earlier that week. Treat yo self. (Spoiler: I did. It was worth it)


I went easy on bookings this time around (though anything feels easy compared to my 25 shoot weekend at Katsucon, oops) and went with the intention to place emphasis on FUN rather than WORK. When you’ve been going to cons as long as I have for JUST work (9 years…) it’s a hard thing to rewire my brain to do. I could have booked more but I told myself I wanted to give con life a try… and boy did it not disappoint.


The rooming situation was rad. I shared a suite with a group of wonderful, talented, supportive girls who mostly all Colossalcon veterans and showed me the ropes…plus they knew how to throw a rad room party to boot. Rooming with them was a dream! It’s always nice when your con rooming situations are secure and peaceful so you can focus on having fun.


I was the first to arrive on Wednesday night at the Kalahari in our giant suite, and the first thing I did after a gross flight was dunk myself in the jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. We’re off to a good start. I wish I had more to tell you but that was essentially it before I plotzed into bed. To be honest I was feeling pretty anxious about Colossalcon; it’s been four years since I’ve been to a new con and I’ve become so used to knowing the ropes that approaching a new landscape felt intimidating. Would I do it justice? What if it rains (spoiler: it really rained) or there arent a lot of spots to shoot? All I’ve seen in the past were the fields and the pool–but Thursday morning I woke up and scouted around to prep myself for the weekend, and the more I saw, the more jazzed I became. There were definitely a lot of fun, unique framing opportunities I could use to make the images my own. Don’t get me wrong. There are still plenty of Ye Olde Colossalcon Field photos, because I didn’t come all the way out here to not do that. But other than that, I’m quite happy with the weekend’s shots!!


ON TOP OF ALL THAT, I COSPLAYED MY BEST BOY WITH SOME RAD PEOPLE!! I am still GLOWING from this and it happened a WHOLE WEEK ago…I can’t believe I got to photograph Final Fantasy XII and cosplay at golden hour in the Colossalcon field. If you know me at all you know how much I love FFXII and this! was! a! dream! come! TRUE!!! My heart is so full!!!! It was such a magical time just chilling in this field surrounded by cosplayers and friends, shooting and posing and goofing off. It was so special to me! 


I roomed with new friends, I made some newer friends, I saw some old OLD friends from high school who I cherish so deeply. At night, I partied hard, laughed a lot, sang and danced, and did it all over again for three more days. I finally understand what a post-con depression is…I kind of wish I could just live at Colossalcon, and I know I share that sentiment with others. Y’all, I am definitely coming back. And you’ll see me at Colossal East too, with a Kalahari cup in one hand and a camera in the other.


For now, here are some of my personal favorite “photographer’s choice” images from the con which are just a handful out of my private bookings, plus one or two for-fun shots because I can’t resist photographing FFXII at sunset… Catch me next at Otakon, booking is now OPEN! ONTO THE PHOTOS!


Damn, what a weekend! Thanks for stopping by and go give these folks a follow. Again, I’m booking for Otakon now! Grab me while you can!


Katsucon 2019 Client Spotlight & Review


It’s overwhelming to sit down and write about the best shoot weekend of my photography career (9 years come Anime Boston). There’s honestly a lot to say. But I’m going to do my best, so strap in if you want to read, or scroll down if you want to see the pretty pictures of the rad people. 


25 shoots, three days, 40+ cosplayers, and one amazing convention. My heart and memory cards are full of the many talented creatives that graced my lens over these insane 72 hours. I’m still reeling from it! There is a massive sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that only comes with this type of work I do with cosplayers in specific. I shoot weddings full-time, and that is something I enjoy too, don’t get me wrong. But this is a whole different beast. 

Cosplay Photography is what I really love. Working with cosplayers is what I love. Making people happy with my images of their hard work and years of talent and months of crafting and sewing and pricking themselves with needles or accidentally burning themselves with a glue gun… when I can make them feel so great and make it all feel worth it, it fulfills me in a way nothing else does. I’ve found my niche and I’m endlessly, endlessly grateful to this community for allowing me to flourish and grow. I learn something every con. I’m endlessly fascinated by photography and the way my eye is always changing.


I cannot imagine my life without doing cosplay photography. I really, really can’t.


I think of the 14 year old girl I was at my first con, Animazement 2006, posing with my chocobo plushie and Kyle Herbert (DBZ’s narrator VA) and I think of the woman I am now, and I think 14 year old me would be stoked to know this is how she immersed herself into the con scene. Although, I think 14 year old me would have one criticism… “Cosplay more!”

So I did! And I’m going to. Watch out world. WATCH OUT. 


I was Prompto this weekend from Final Fantasy XV. Anyone who knows this massively popular game knows he’s a freckled ray of sunshine, the token comic relief of the group, and …the photographer of their beautiful and heartbreaking journey together. I love him so much, and some friends helped pool together their own Prompto cosplays so I could wear him. team.deathmatch on IG lent me her Prompto vest, and thesistersmischief lent me the accessories and t-shirt. And of course, the drop-dead flawless wig was made by retro.hime/Kait, who is competing in Iron Wig right now. I get by with a lil help from my friends :”“”) I made the pants, which I know doesn’t seem like much, but it involved  custom bleaching, dyeing, and many hours stenciling in some leopard print spots. I ended up feelin’ pretty proud of my work! LET ME HAVE THIS.


I had SOOOOOO much fun as Prompto (so. much. FUN.) . I didn’t shoot much in cosplay because I move and jump around a lot and mobility/comfort is key. But rest assured I’ll be cosplaying him a lot more, and thank you all who complimented me…it means a LOT, considering I never cosplay. When I looked in the mirror and loved what I saw, I felt like 14-year old me again, trying on Thief Rikku in the hotel room with my mom who took me to Animazement for my birthday weekend. :’) It was nice to feel that way again. Blonde FF characters are my brand…

Sam (sam_saturn) was the bEST and did a shoot with me of my Prompto which was SO SWEET and I really love them!! THANK YOU SO MUCH SAM!!! I FEEL VERY CUTE AS POMPO.



Onto the con!


Katsucon is a con I have a love-hate relationship with (lifts mic out to the audience of other photogs who yell in agreement). The ‘hate’ really just comes from the crowds, as I’m sure others can share the sentiment, but the Love outweighs it all tenfold. Especially this year. I had the time of my life here while still managing to shoot the most I’ve ever booked (and if I can curb myself, most I ever will book, cuz I dont wanna do that again LOL)!

 I decided for the first time ever to really, really make an effort to socialize - I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve spent the majority of these nine years not going to cons, but simply booking, shooting, and heading back to the airbnb/hotel. Cons have been strictly work for nearly a decade for me (LORD it’s scary to say that LOL what is time). Yet in this decade of work I’ve met the most amazing, compassionate people. People who make me laugh, people who support me, people who share my work with others and refer them to me. Nine years of culminated contacts and experience gave me a vast network of cosplayers to reach out to and make a connection beyond just twenty minutes in front of a camera. 

Thursday night I was 1920’s Prompto with team.deathmatch and heirapparentcosplay as 1920’s Cindy and Luna and it was a dapper time. Friday I didn’t cosplay, and also didn’t eat until 6pm, so like, that was fun (read: dumb). However I DID get to hang with Liz (comiclz) who I met for the first time and it was AWESOME I love her. Then I died because I had nine shoots that day.

 Saturday I rose from the dead for another day of nine shoots. I can’t remember what day Security told me to get off the bar for the laying-down-on-the-floor shots but they gave up after the first time and I was spotted by several people doin’ the Thing LOL. Listen, I have a brand, I gotta keep on brand, okay? I’m a simple woman. I see a subject, I put them on the goddamn floor.

 I was saved TWICE this weekend by an actual angel who brought me food and water and made sure I was taken care of - ruffledquillpen, thank you SO much. BIG SHOUTOUT TO HER!!!! I AM ALIVE BC OF THIS HUMAN BEAN. I am also stupid and need to Chill with my scheduling and limit my shoots next year. My soul is in the gaylord fountain, resting with Danny Devito cardboard cutout. 

And this year I didn’t just hang with cosplayers. I hung with photogs too! With some recent happenings in the cosplay community with photographers abusing their position, I wanted to pool together a little outing with female photographers in the cosplay community. Cosplay is so female-centric, fandom is so female-centric, and photography is perceived as something very male-centric, which is a stereotype I’m always trying to change. It was a spontaneous decision on Wednesday before the con to try and get together with other female togs, which I know is hard when we all have shoots and 874535 other things to be doing with 358397539857 other people. But it ended up being such a serendipitous and wonderful last-minute get together. 

On Saturday at 5, I met up with Sam (sam_saturn), Solita (solitadelacruzphotography), and Ayden (solaris.studios) at Starbucks and we geeked out over our clients and shoots and cosplayers and it was WHOLESOME. Next time I’d really like to set aside a real block of time and do a dinner or coffee date with more of the female togs!! I had such a great time talking afterwards with Sam as well, and look forward to stuff we have planned together for the near future. We went to Grace’s Mandarin for their amazing happy hour and had hot sake and sushi…honestly one of the highlights of my con! Good talks, good food, good sake…GOOD TIMES. I’d love to make it a mini thing at other cons too. Ladies, where you at!

Since last year I’ve started connecting with other female togs in the wedding industry and so transitioning that into cosplay, which has been such an intrinsic part of my life for so long, would be so cool. I hope to keep doing stuff like this in the future!!?!?!  It was great also to see Sarah (sorairo_days), Amie (amiephotos), Lisamarie (ethereous), Alex (Alexandra Lee Studios) and meet Emily (yoemilyrey)! LADIES, YOURE AWESOME, KEEP KILLIN IT!!! I’d love to interact more with female cosplay photographers (gender is a social construct so whatever, take that as you will). 


I had so much fun connecting with other ladytogs, that I’ve made a small FB group for professionals and hobbyists to join so we can organize get-togethers at cons, shoot days, and discuss technique/ask for help/anything under the sun. Please feel free to join. I hope to see more folks and interact soon! I know cons are so busy…but we always have time for coffee. And if you don’t, you need to make some, because you gotta breathe. 


I’m still reeling from a weekend of 25 booked shoots (including the two giveaway winners). This was the most packed weekend I’ve ever booked (why do I say that after every Katsu), which was great but also I’m planning on toning it down big time next year. I like to limit myself to 15-18 at most, but it’s so hard to turn away some applications I get in and past clients I adore working with. Plus, Katsu is so beautiful! It’s too seductive to say no to shooting! AHHH


Onto the client spotlight! This is a fraction of my bookings over the weekend of some of my personal “photographer’s choice” photos that I love. I know that’s what you’re here for so let’s GOOOO


I will be booking for ANIME BOSTON next. Booking opens on MARCH 1ST. Shoots will start at $125. Follow me on IG, chezphotocosplay, for updates. 


That’s a wrap, my friends. Katsucon 2019 was seriously a milestone in my career. And no, I’m not exaggerating when I say career. If it weren’t for cosplay, I wouldn’t be a full time photographer. I owe every ounce of my love to all of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. THANK YOU!!! I cannot wait to cosplay more this year and attend many more conventions!! This is the start of something really great.


For now though, I really need to clean my room…


XOXOXOXOXO

RILEY



Otakon 2018 - Client Cosplay Photography Spotlight


Woah, it’s been a hot second since a blog post.

Otakon just happened this past weekend in downtown DC for its second year there, after being a longtime runner in Baltimore. But whether here or there, Otakon stands true to one thing: IT’S HOT.

But despite the trepidation about the temps, I was still looking forward to it. This is my third Otakon and last year I really enjoyed the versatility offered in downtown DC for locations immediate to the con. Even though the heat was a bit of a limitation for both myself and my clients, we still got some amazing images which you can see and read about below.

I’m from Boston so my trip to DC was yet another 9 hour bus ride, but actually it barely felt like 9 hours at all. We pulled into DC around 6pm on Thursday and I stumbled blearily into the Embassy Suites to be greeted by–wait what–free happy hour?! 

Yeah, this hotel ruled. I had a tequila sunrise that definitely lifted my spirits. 

This year I was also #blessed with a solid rooming situation. I found these two girls through the Otakon 2018 FB group and they ended up being super chill, friendly, and respectful. 10/10 would room with again.  After a much needed shower I met up with Cee of Ruinous Cosplay for a chat and before I knew it, it was dark out and I still hadn’t gone to scope out for any new locations! So off I went. To get all sweaty again.

Whatever.

I noticed on my taxi ride to the hotel that the library across the street from the con was under construction. That wasn’t a huge deal for me, but it did make me wonder about the  cos/tog crowds being denser in more desirable shoots areas. I was right. It definitely was cramped. But y’know what? If I can do Katsucon every year and get the images I do, I could do this. 

Here’s the thing about shooting cons with me: It takes me about half a day to figure out a formula of sorts. When I figure out that formula, I stick to it. Often that means clients are taken to the same places and there is some similarity among finished images. But that really doesn’t bother me; people aren’t paying me for my photos to be different from everyone else’s who also book with me. They’re paying for strong images, and if a spot works, I’m gonna plant my butt there and shoot.

Cons do not give time for me to casually experiment. My shoots are short and I need to know what works and what doesn’t and every year it’s a grab bag with weather, crowds, etc. Even Katsucon, I con I could walk through with my eyes closed, makes me anxious because you never know what the new year is going to bring in terms of crowds and weather that can completely thwart an entire weekend of packed shoots. So once I feel out a con vibe, I discover some new shots and angles for trustworthy locations (could be as generic as I Like This Building or as specific as I Like This Shadow in This Corner at 2pm Let’s Go There). Then, it’s smooth sailing for the most part! 

 Usually I try to limit myself to no more than 15 shoots a con, but I overbooked and Saturday I had nine shoots instead of my planned five (oops). Thankfully, I paced myself with one shoot every hour on the hour for the first half of the day, followed by a few back-to-backs to tie it up. In the middle of it all, Cee brought me some food, which really really made my day, lol. The last time I had a helper at a con to make sure I didn’t plotz was Katsu 2016. I forgot how nice it is to just have someone bring you a sandwich lmao. Cee is the real MVP (and now I have discovered Potbelly’s delicious shakes?!). 

Oh, and I even cosplayed myself too! I was Princess Garnet from Final Fantasy IX with Disastertowncosplay’s Zidane (he won Best Journeyman for it!), and on Sunday I did a quick chill shoot with my darling Heir Apparent Cosplay as Draco with her Hermione. We both shot with Marie Newby Photography and I’m looking forward to seeing what she captured, even though I’m reeeeeeeally not easy to photograph, lol. Honestly? I don’t know how you cosplayers do it. Sure, I have someone who is new to shoots from time to time but even then, it’s hard to find someone in this community who is Bad in front of the camera. 

I briefly ran into Adoyible Photography/Molly while we were both shooting in the (lovely) Henley Park Hotel. I had never met her before and we ended up chatting for a bit after some shoots and she said something really interesting that struck with me: When doing regular portraiture, people are so much more reserved. It’s hard to bring them out. But in cosplay, people are so open. So receptive and eager to portray. It’s as though being in costume allows people to bloom in front of a camera. And I thought that was a really beautiful thing Molly brought up. I do really love that about what I do. 

A quick ending note: With my wedding photography business picking up, I see cons being on the backburner for me, but I truly owe so much - if not, everything - to credit to cosplay for how I’ve grown as a photographer and a professional. No, really. I owe everything to this community from the bottom of my heart. And although I desperately want to go to more cons for fun now, and less for work, I’m not sure where to start. It’s ironic; I’ve spent 8 years shooting cosplay but when I want to dip my toe in the community myself, I feel a little intimidated and lost and timid. So, to counter that and hopefully connect with people in a way that I can have some fun at cons too and make new friends, I’ve finally made an FB for cosplay folks to add me! Please do, I would love to connect!! 

Now, onto the photos! These are a select showcase of a fraction of my bookings. Please give these cosplayers a follow. And connect with me too, on IG at chezphotocosplay!

-Riley

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