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Katsucon 2018 - Cosplay Photography Client Spotlight


(Now Booking: Anime Boston, click here to apply
Up next: PAX East, limited availability; booking opens 3/5)

I’m sure I speak for many when I say that Katsucon is, personally, one of the best events of the year to travel to. Every December, I open up booking for cosplayers to apply to work with me as their personal photographer for 20 or 40-minute intervals, and every year I get about 80+ inquiries of super talented folks. When choosing a client, I pay more attention to their costume, the quality of it/their past work, and the relevance of that costume to my personal style - rather than their Instagram or Twitter followers/their general online presence. In fact, some of my clients don’t have an FB or IG at all! All I seek in a client is someone with talent and excitement to collaborate and make some magic. From there I accept about 15 clients total (I try to limit myself to 5 shoots a day but this year it was more like 6-7), ranging from solos to groups. Below is a showcase of some of the shoots from my beloved clients, both repeat and new. 

Listen, I know you’re here to look at pictures, but I do want to talk a bit about Katsucon, because it’s a special convention for me. Though it gets more and more crowded every year, and admittedly quite overwhelming with the sheer number of people, I always feel this great sense of accomplishment after this convention. Katsucon, I think, puts a lot of pressure on cosplayers - I’m seeing this now, as I read feedback from the community this past week since the con wrapped up. A lot of people pour themselves into their work to showcase at this convention, and that can come with two things: Excitement, or Stress. I’m used to seeing a mix of both with people who come to me on the day of their shoot - of course, if you’re excited and satisfied with your work, then it’ll show and you’ll be exuberant and stoked - just as much as it will show in your face if you’re stressed, or maybe not as thrilled with how things look, or how your day is going. I know cons can be a coinflip for many and I’m so sorry if you didn’t have a great time…please try to remember you’re in this to have fun! In the end, I’m here to do one thing for you as a client: make you happy after all the  blood, sweat, and tears you put into your work (and trust me, with how sharp those needles are and how scalding those heat guns are, I know there’s definitely blood involved). 

After many years of traveling to do this, I understand conventions can be stressful. With all the people and the insulated community, there’s a lot of needless competition and inevitable “drama” that can really throw off your day. I get it; as a photographer and less of a cosplayer I’m certainly more of an observer and I see how the three days at a con can either be really freaking amazing, or really awful. But if you can put on that costume and I can get you some bomb photos for just twenty or forty minutes of your time, then I feel like–at least there’s that, you know?

I feel like I say this every year but this was my busiest year of bookings yet! Or maybe it felt moreso than usual, because for the first time in many years, I actually cosplayed for once! It was only on Thursday, but I was Princess Ashe from Final Fantasy XII (aka the best one sorry, go by The Zodiac Age already, what are you waiting for). The costume was made by several very talented women in the cosplay community I’ve met over the years: Coffee Cat Cosplay, Sarah Shortcake Cosplay, Gingerybiscuit, and MissKoumori. The quality of their work is outstanding and I was so pleased with the final result - I hope to have a formal non-convention shoot with her after I get a new wig because, well, I may not have taken the best care of mine and it wasn’t in the best shape. Oops. But wow–I didn’t even make this costume save for like, two tiny things, and even then it gave me such a window of insight to what all of you go through. And even aside from the costume itself being made–timing it right to put it on in a timely manner, and doing makeup, and making sure everything is in place… y’all work so hard! It was great to step into your shoes for a little bit and be reminded of all the stuff you put yourselves through to wear your work, or even someone else’s, to embody a character. I had a lot of fun, and I look forward to sprucing up Ashe’s wig and wearing her again when it’s warmer. 

While wearing Ashe on Thursday I got to hang out with some fellow togs which I rarely do (I’m definitely shy and often don’t meet fellow creatives at cons). Sorairo-Days/Sarah has been a long-time fave tog of mine. Her work is just so stunning! I also met Neil from Maison_Hikari/House of Light, and he was super funny, we had a great time and I was honored to be in front of their lenses even though honestly, I am a terrible subject and am extreeeeeeeemely uncomfortable in front of the camera…I’m sure I was not their ideal model but thankfully Thursday was quiet enough that we all just kinda played around. (I’m mad jelly of Sarah’s double skillz of being a good model and good tog…and you too Neil). 

Anyway. Less talking more pictures-and-still-talking-because-I-love-to-talk-and-gush-about-my-clients. Below are “Dealer’s Choice” images that I picked that I liked, before the clients get to choose their own favorites in their proof galleries.  Thank you all, as usual, so much for choosing me as your photographer. Katsucon is saturated with them and I’m thrilled to be behind the lens that captures your work.

I have something really special to say about Alexis, @sakythia on IG: she booked her Kida cosplay with me on Friday, and I was working on…like, maybe two hours of sleep. I was really not on top of my game appearances-wise and felt like a horrid zombie. It was bad, y’all. But when I showed Alexis her back of camera previews during the shoot - she literally had to take a minute because she was about to cry. She was so, so happy with them, and like–I dunno man, that heavyness in my dead no-sleep soul just totally lifted at her reaction. It completely turned my day around. It made me smile afterwards for so long that I like, wanted to just hug my camera close because …being able to make people feel that way about their work through my work is just very surreal to me. To collaborate with a fellow creative and make something that garners such a positive reaction from them it just really reinforces why I travel along the east coast to work with new people. Alexis, you are beautiful and thank you so much for choosing me. Your kind words during the shoot really turned a sour day around.

I often don’t have time for “for fun” shoots at Katsucon, but I did have time as usual to snag some shots of J Hart + Garnet Runestar in their Sakizous, Cowbutt Crunchies in her Seraphim, and a few of Sorairo-Days. Those will be published in the coming days.

Also, wearing Ashe got me thinking that I’d really like to get back into cosplaying this year. I’d love to join a group or pair up with someone, so if you’re organizing anything for future cons and have an open spot, let me know and I’d love to see if it can work out! 

Thank you for reading. Please go give these cosplayers a follow on IG or Twitter. Happy cosplaying!


Riley

CHEZPHOTO


Dragoncon 2016 | Sakizou Group | Luxury Cosplay Photography by CHEZPHOTO

I’m probably repeating myself like some Sakizou-obsessed parrot… but um, have I mentioned how fulfilling it is to me as a photographer to work with these kinds of cosplayers?

Don’t answer that question, because I know I have. I’m at least a self-aware parrot.

I’m also certainly not unique for loving these designs to begin with. Why else would seamstresses slave away for endless nights, finishing the perfect seams, bedazzling the 1000th crystal, ruffling the perfect ruffles (clearly you can tell I sew by how I’m describing this, LOL) to achieve the level of ethereal elegance and fantasy that this illustrator imagines? There’s nothing like these illustrations come to life! Um. Then again, I’m biased.

There’s a certain chemistry I have as a photographer with these sorts of costumes; I tend to visually fall right into place with what I see in terms of these designs. And I find that the photos I take of these costumes are clearly my favorite–and in turn, become my best. I’ve become somewhat of a go-to photographer for Sakizou cosplayers to book with - and this is indeed the Literal Opposite of a Problem. (Honestly, I should probably set up a separate gallery page just for my Sakizou work! For now you can check out my Sakizou blog tag to view what I’ve done so far.)

However, I also find that photographing Sakizou costumes are the most challenging shoots I do. I found myself pondering this while editing this set, honing in on every detail–it almost became stressful, and when it comes to shooting/editing Sakizou shoots, this is usually the case. This is because these costumes are so, so overwhelming. The sheer amount of minute detail on these costumes calls for a lot of attention from a photographer - it demands them to give as much justice to the piece as the client deserves. I never want to deprive the viewer and the creator anything in my images–for Sakizou it is no exception.

I love when my work is challenging for me, and I love when it demands a lot from one image. For designs like these that have hundreds–literally, hundreds–of details strewn about that I know the cosplayer worked hours on perfecting, the challenge comes in how to capture all of that in one image. 

Even then, with these photos that I ended up being really pleased with, I found that the costumes still weren’t shown enough justice… so I have decided to do a special publication of them on my instagram in nine-part photo-tile series for each costume, zooming in on every detail so that you can see just how much goes in to these. Check it out periodically this week on my insta: chezphotocosplay. 

Sakizou cosplays are, as I said before, both a great challenge and an incredibly fulfilling experience for me! Katsucon is coming up and that’s when I book the most Sakizou of the year–and I am counting down the days. Hope to hear from you when booking opens December 15th!

Now, on to the photos!

 In the order featured, find them on Facebook:

Coffee Cat Cosplay

Betsy Bon Bon

Sarah Shortcake

Hold the Mayo Cosplay

Ms Silverfox


See ya soon!

Riley


Dragoncon 2016 | Client Spotlight | Luxury Cosplay Photography by CHEZPHOTO

Booking for AUSA.

Katsucon booking opens December 15th. (Read up on these policies as I have been getting a lot of inquiries lately.)

…Oh man, am I late to this one! But here I am. Life has been quite busy lately. Senior portraits, engagements, weddings…let’s just say my shutter finger has been happily sore!

But last month, I did something I should have done a long time ago–I went to Dragoncon.

If you’re reading this and you’re unfamiliar with this side of my photography career, I travel the east side of the country doing cosplay photography for clients at popular conventions. Dragoncon happens to be one of the largest cons in the country–boasting roughly 75k people a year in downtown Atlanta. Yeah. Over SEVENTY THOUSAND enthusiastic nerds from all different facets of fandoms; sci-fi, television, movies, comics, anime, video games…you name it, it’s at Dragoncon. 

And man. Was it nuts. I have never been to Atlanta before. But I have heard much about the sheer amount of people that completely take over the city for 4-5 full days, and that was so freaking cool to me. Usually I just go to mid-sized cons so this was quite an experience. So, I booked my Airbnb, hopped on a plane, and off I went!

…Only to find, after 15 minutes of dragging my suitcase down the blazing hot Atlanta sidewalks from MARTA, that my Airbnb - a popular Victorian home, rated highly on the site - was the sight of a drug bust (and the Guy apparently on the run), frothing sniffing german shepherds and all. Erm…no, thank you. 

So, what does one do when their fully-booked weekend of photoshoots on Labor Day Weekend in a completely new city with a fixed room budget do in this situation? Well, you could just suck it up and stay there. Chances are it would be fine. But I wasn’t about to take my chances with thousands of dollars of equipment on hand with that as a first impression. So, if you were like me, you would:

1) Call

2) Complain (kindly)

3) Wait

4) Wait more

5) Profit! …eventually…

Thank goodness I didn’t book any pre-con shoots! PHEW! This ordeal took hours.

Airbnb’s customer service was a lifesaver, although a tedious one. I am so grateful I had a kind group of friends staying at a con hotel, so that I could kill time somewhere air-conditioned and close by to the con. Eventually they hooked me up with a different airbnb room in a beautiful home, just 10 minutes from the con. No one else was there so it was like having a house all to myself! Although I mostly kept to myself and after long days of shooting, all I can do is limp to a bathtub and then to a bed. 

But one thing is for sure - Dragoncon is the first con that I’ve been to where I said to myself, ‘Dang… the amount of fun I’d have here might outweigh the amount of money I’d make booking shoots…’

Which means, perhaps count on me wearing a badge for once next year? Who knows. Point is, y’all know how to party, and I want in next time. 

As for my shooting recap: I was only shooting from midday Friday through midday Sunday. I had a true savior for my entire weekend in the form of a pool, surrounded with lush greenery and adorned with twisting, ornate wrought iron, teeming with spiral staircases and stone fountains…oh, and the giant skylight filtering through my darling natural light. Yeah, you can imagine how I fell to my knees in gratefulness, having never been to this con before and coming upon that location through a referral. SOOO… mostly I frolicked in there with my clients, snapping away. Sometimes I dared to visit the ever-popular Hardy Ivy Park…which isn’t a park so much as a gorgeous stone monument. It was kind of like the Gazebo of Katsucon–a very coveted spot for every kind of cosplayer and photographer. I visited it a few times, when the right cosplay fit. Otherwise, you could find me lounging at the pool or sniffing around for some other spot to frame. I really like some of the other locations I’ve seen from other ‘togs at Dragoncon… downtown Atlanta certainly has its gems. 

Anyway, you’re not here for a ramble (though I do it anyway)–ON TO THE PHOTOS!

Three days, 20 photoshoots, 30 cosplayers. What a weekend. 

Note: Not all clients have been featured in this post. Groups (Hannah Alexander & Sakizo) will have their own blog post following this one later this week. Follow me on instagram to see more photos from the these and other privately booked shoots as I update it @ chezphotocosplay 


COSPLAYERS IN THE ORDER FEATURED

Tham as Camilla, Fire Emblem

Sketch Cosplay & Shiva Cosplay as Han and Leia, Star Wars

Sky Pirate Cosplay as Balthier, Final Fantasy XII

BearSatan (Tumblr) as Blackwall, Dragon Age

Guhzoontight as Swashbuckler Tigger (independent design)

Lady Lee Cosplay as Goddess Vaporeon Ginjika, Pokemon

Anime Layer Cosplay as Sakizo’s West Witch

LyddiDesign as Crystal Mercury, Sailor Moon

Tera_Misu (IG) as Princess Jasmine

Kitancosplay (IG) as Ivy Valentine, Soul Calibur

Dossalinithebarber (IG) as Japanese-inspired Boba Fett, Star Wars (independent design)

Leechangchow (IG) as Japanese-inspired Samurai Kylo Ren, Star Wars (independent design)

Megan (no cospage) as Anya, Anastasia 

Amanda (no cospage) as Princess Hilda, The Legend of Zelda

As a conclusion:

Dragoncon,  despite being a sold-out con for me in the blistering heat of Labor Day Weekend in ATL, was filled with costumes that were right up my alley. I love original designs, Disney cosplays, Sakizo, and video games – and my weekend was full of that. All of my clients were brimming with extreme talent and dedication, and it showed in every photo. I found the locations to be accommodating and versatile for many different types of cosplays. I will definitely be coming back, whether or not I have a camera in hand. I’d recommend this con to any con-goer ! 

See ya soon! Stay tuned next for a special Hannah Alexander group and a gorgeous Sakizo group!


Otakon 2016 | Client Spotlight | East Coast Cosplay Photographer

Now booking: Dragoncon. Three slots left per day. 

See other con spotlights here!

Oh man oh man am I behind schedule! Usually I try to get my client spotlights out of the way within a day of the con ending. But life has kinda been kicking my butt since I got back on Sunday… I’m wiped. 

Otakon, Otakon, Otakon. This was my first time in Baltimore ever. And man, were y’all not bluffing about the HEAT. I’ve spent my entire summer in NC and I didn’t think it would phase me. But man. It did. 

In doing so, I locked up most of my shoots indoors. Yikes!, I thought to myself. I’m an outdoor shooter! What do I do?!

Treat this like Katsucon, is what I did–hotel shooting party! Yas natural light, come thru.

 Thank you, Hyatt Regency, for not looking like garbage indoors. And also for having a Starbucks. (praying hands emoji) Looking forward to visiting DC next year for it, though!

So, I apologize, but I didn’t do as many edits for this spotlight as I could’ve. Usually I do more, but again…I hit the ground running after I got back on my train.  Here ya go!

Featuring SorryContinue as Rinoa

Zhrelia Cosplay as Rengar

Rhoulette Cosplay as PROJECT: LE0NA

Milkb0x as Jolyene

Khaleesi Cosplay as Nicki Minaj x KH crossover

RedSonya Cosplay from League of Legends

MoChoiArt as Devil Homura


 

-Riley


ENGAGED | Yinuo&Jason | Central Park NYC & Top of the Rock Engagement Photographer


Let’s step out of our own world for a moment and into Vogue with this editorial-inspired, highly stylized engagement shoot of the most fashionable girl I know and her devilishly handsome, sharply-dressed husband-to-be. Yinuo and Jason met during grad school at NYU–and funnily enough, they are both from the same city in China: Wenzhou. And, to answer everyone’s questions - no, they aren’t working in NYC as models…they just happen to look picture-perfect all the time. 

This engagement shoot is incredibly special to me, and let me tell you why:

Yinuo has been in front of my lens since I first picked up a camera in 2009. It was my senior year of high school, and I had just discovered my passion–photographing people, specifically portraits and fashion. She was one of my first muses, and I’ve only had a handful throughout my life so far. Yinuo and I would head out after school and wander into huge fields laden with the golden light of the setting sun, or weave through the trees in the forests of New Hampshire, to take portraits that I didn’t even know I could take–she was always up for any crazy photo adventure idea I had, and she helped me become used to photographing people and giving artistic direction. My photos of her have won local and national awards. Some of my favorite works are of her, and so when she asked me 7 years later to photograph her engagement with Jason, I couldn’t have been more thrilled at the thought. Conveniently enough I was already in Boston working with clients, so heading to NYC was just a ride away. I just love New York late April! It’s my favorite time of year to be there.

To be honest, I was really nervous about shooting these two at 30 Rock. It was a gorgeous, warm day in Manhattan after a week of rain. Spring was in the air. Not a cloud was in the sky. What was there to worry about? Well–the top of Rockefeller Center on a perfect Saturday afternoon was what to worry about. I had no idea what to expect with the crowds…it took me ages just to get in line and meet Y&J at the top. But I kept my cool; after all, I photograph artists and their costumes at conventions that harbor anywhere from 15,000-60,000 people nearly every other month…I’m used to crowds. But still, New York is a different ballpark in many regards. So, I held my breath on the long elevator ride up 850 feet, and knew that I had to be straightforward and patient with asking sightseeing folks to step aside while I shot.

To say my worries were for nothing would be an understatement–this shoot was a breeze (and not just because I was up 70 stories in the air). Sightseers were more than cooperative with moving out of the way, stepping aside and giving room for me to shoot, and even shouting congratulations and cheering for Yinuo and Jason! It was so cute, and very unexpected. To think I was ready to clamber over incessant crowds to get a shot that would still be littered with people–such was not the case!  It’s funny how my years of experience shooting conventions translated so well into this shoot; I didn’t feel nervous or awkward at all letting people know that we were shooting an engagement. It was such a weight lifted off my shoulders so quickly, that it made the rest of the shoot at Top of the Rock go very smoothly. I was simply ecstatic at the images I was getting. Yinuo and Jason were SO incredibly beautiful together, too–but you don’t need me to tell you that. See for yourself.


After our adventures at Top of the Rock, we took a quick intermission before heading over to Central Park at the entrance to Strawberry Fields. Despite the massive array of beautiful sites Central Park has to offer, the areas around W 72nd offered the best of the best. I knew this part of the shoot would be my favorite, as my specialty is emotive portraiture intertwined with elements of nature. That’s been my niche since seemingly day 1 of picking up a camera and it’s stuck with me ever since.  Yinuo, having been a resident of my lens before, knew this about me and was equally excited.


With the pond, the iconic Bow Bridge and proximity to Bethesda Fountain, this area had everything any couple could want in their ideal Central Park engagement session.

Or should I say every couple? Tons of photographers were out with their clients on this beautiful day! I loved seeing all the happy couples – especially some of the dresses the girls were wearing. But I gotta say, I think I had the prettiest clients. Haha. Just look at these two!

I’m obsessed with the light against Yinuo’s hair in that last photo! She’s like a beautiful doll. And Jason’s hair isn’t to be ignored, either–sharp and stylized! Neither of them spared a detail in their immaculate presentation. I knew they wouldn’t disappoint.

As the shoot wrapped up, we happened upon this beautiful horse-drawn carriage that Yinuo fell in love with. It was the perfect backdrop to tie together this fairy-tale engagement session.

It was pretty surreal to be the photographer for Yinuo and Jason’s engagement before they fly off to China to get married. I’m so thrilled with the results we got and I can’t wait to do more photoshoots like this in the future.

I am now booking for Fall engagements in NYC and Boston. Please contact me if interested.

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