For the sake of the people who aren't familiar with this concept at all, let me try to briefly explain it. Or what it is to me, at least.
Simply put, it's a hobby that involves dressing up as existing characters from different genres. The term cosplay comes from the phrase "costume play", the word "play" pertaining to the act of roleplaying, as opposed to plays of the theatrical sort.
Different countries have different venues for this activity, but around here it's usually done during conventions and gatherings dedicated to anime, manga, gaming, fantasy, sci-fi, and other genres.
Personally, I think cosplay is more than just dressing up or putting on a costume. As a team, we always do our best to try to bring our characters into reality.
No, we aren't! We're not even sure what being a professional cosplayer entails since it's supposed to be a hobby, or if such a thing should even exist. It sounds kind of like a mascot job. We are currently mostly freelance artists as a profession, and this is something we do as friends because we have so much fun in the process (planning things out, making props, attending conventions, having photoshoots). It's just some of the ways we choose to enjoy each other's company. Artistic training and work-related projects may keep us busy (and is our first priority), but somehow we manage to make time for each other, and this hobby. We pretty much keep each other sane.
Contrary to the impression this page might give, cosplay is not all we do, hahah. We've got other things like painting, drawing, taking non-cosplay photographs, playing instruments, and a lot more.
There's a surprising demand for prints of our photos and we're rather flattered that you want them, but they're something we can't provide out of our respect for the creator of the series that we cosplay. Characters are intellectual property after all so it would be against dA rules.
We're from the Philippines. Opo, Pilipino po kami. We often get mistaken for Japanese cosplayers, but we're all Filipino. People usually remark that we don't look like most Filipinos they know, and that's probably because we have mixed ancestries. In my case, I think my Chinese blood had the most significant influence on the way I ended up looking.
We hold all of our photoshoots in our own country. It's really quite pretty here if you know where to look.
So many are surprised and even rather envious about the fact that we're a group of friends who share the same geeky interests. It seems that for some people, it's quite difficult to find people to relate with and do things like cosplay together. I really consider myself lucky that these people came into my life. Sometimes you really just have to be aware of the people around you and reach out to them. You just might find a friend you didn't know was just there. I've met so many wonderful friends through cosplay, but let me focus on these three for now.
China is someone I've known since 2nd grade, though our interaction wasn't all that significant until the later parts of high school. Right before our graduation, an unexpected circumstance led us to the discovery that we've been neighbors since, like... the beginning of time. We became much closer after that, and she's also the person I first cosplayed with. Been through a lot of other things with her, seen each other through a lot, even traveled together and I can't imagine where I'd be if we hadn't found out we were neighbors.
Our cosplay misadventures led us to make the acquaintance of a guy who was once unbelievably shy and quiet... Miguel. We had a Naruto group cosplay photoshoot where we were both Sasuke (though different versions) and I'd make small talk like ask him about how he did his hair. He used to be so MEEK, hahaha! After that, we found ourselves hanging out with each other during conventions along with our other friends and eventually he cracked that shy exterior and we got to know the genuine guy who was hiding behind it. He's gotten so much crazier since we first met, and it just... wins the world.
Kat was a little late in joining us in the whole cosplay thing, but we're definitely thankful we managed to convince her to get into it. China and I went to the same elementary and high school as her, but I don't think she even noticed our existence back then because she was- okay I can't finish this sentence, Kat will kill me. The point is, at some point we became close friends and China and I were able to make a geek out of her and even though we practically coerced her into cosplaying Mikuru for our The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya group, she ended up having so much fun that we no longer have to beg her to cosplay with us.
We don't hire anyone - the people who take our pictures are our friends who are photography hobbyists, but happen to have professional skills.
Erving is a rather well-known person in the local cosplay community. Even when all he had was a little digital point-and-shoot camera, he's always been one of, if not THE most dedicated cosplay photographer around. (Though apart from that, he's also amazing at his own photography experiments.) He's always around during events and manages to take pictures of almost all the cosplayers all the time. Nowadays he's usually the official photographer for events, and we're thankful we graces our shoots with his presence. We learn so much from him and he's also a lot of fun to hang out and laugh with over kimchi on cheese pizzas.
Erving handles a Canon EOS 40D named Kryides.
Sandee and I met because we go to the same school. We became friends after being classmates in Anthropology, where we bonded over the most random things while being bored in class. Then I started watching her photoblog and was floored by her skills, and when I found out that she was also an anime geek, I invited her to participate in our shoots because I figured she'd have fun as well. I introduced her to my cosplaying friends and we worked on the Death Note photoshoot, and we all got along better than ever I imagined we could. We've only know each other for a relatively short time but she's easily one of my favorite people in the world. (We love you, Sandee!)
Sandee uses a Nikon D70s name Fred.
Nico Dans is Nico Dans. No further explanation is needed or possible.
We don't buy pre-made costumes, but unfortunately, we don't know how to sew our own clothes either. So we get the garment parts of our costumes specially tailored, but we hunt for the fabrics ourselves so that the color and texture are exactly the way we want it.
We also make our own props and style our own wigs. I posted a little tutorial up here:
We get wigs and contacts sometimes from local retail stores and other times from various sites online. I don't think I should say exactly where, because that'd be kind of like spoon-feeding and part of the fun of putting a costume together is being resourceful and researching about where to find the materials you need.
It doesn't cost as much as it might seem. We do try to spend as little as possible (but without sacrificing quality), because we're aware that there are more important things to spend our allowances on.
We usually have our costumes done for us to wear when we attend anime conventions. We don't go to cons with the objective of competing. We simply enjoy the company of people who share our interests, and cosplaying simply makes us happy. It's our way of showing love for our favorite characters.
They're just places we're familiar with, really. It can be around campus grounds or places we go to on weekends, or even each other's houses. We always keep an eye open for spots with potential and make use of them when they seem appropriate.
We all started with simple little point-and-shoot digital cameras and practiced with them like mad until we managed to earn our DSLRs. So the cameras we use now are Erving's Canon EOS 40D, Sandee's Nikon D70s, my Canon EOS 400D, China's Canon EOS 350D and Kat's Nikon D80. We have a bunch of lenses we borrow from each other, but no studio lights or softboxes as of now. We usually just use natural sunlight for outdoor photos and whatever the available light is for indoor shots. For editing, we use Adobe Photoshop.
As for makeup (I guess we can consider this as part of photoshoot equipment), China and Kat have recently come up with this routine we all have to go through. They start by
strapping me to a chair and pushing my hair away from my face then sponging on this makeup primer on our faces to serve as a base. It keeps skin from sweating easily or getting too oily (but that's still kind of hard to avoid during conventions sometimes). Then concealer under the eyes and on blemishes when we have them. Then they brush on foundation to set everything in place. And that's all I'm willing to wear apart from eyebrow liner when it's needed, but China and Kat put on lipgloss, liquid eyeliner, mascara, and sometimes false lashes. I hate eyeliner and refuse to wear it when the character I'm cosplaying doesn't call for it. I have this talent of making waterproof eyeliner smudge without even touching my face. I applaud Miguel for being able to stand it, but I guess it's something you really get used to if you cosplay L several times. XD
I can't really about brands, mainly because I don't really keep track of all the brands of the stuff we use. And it's best if you go out and try stuff for yourselves to figure out what will work best for your skin.
I wrote up an introductory lesson of sorts, about the way we go about our shoots. If you're interested, you may check it out here.
I get a lot of notes and comments asking about these things, so here, let me address them.
OKAYSharing them with friends, over forums or online communities and the like - as long as credit is given where it's due. At the very least, don't crop out the picture credits. YouTube slideshows are okay, too (well for this I guess cropping is okay as long as we're credited somewhere). A link back to my page, or the photographer's, or better yet, the pages of everyone involved would be very nice. Just in case other people enjoy our work and would like to see more. It makes us happy to spread the love, fun and lulz.
Including them in your school assignments, as long as you don't claim them as your own work. We're always happy to help. I'd appreciate it if you could tell me about it if you have the time.
Using them as references for drawings. We're very supportive when it comes to artistic pursuits so go right ahead. Please send me a note if you upload your work on DA. We'd love to see what you guys come up with.
Anything completely personal like wallpapers for your own computer. I mean yeah, it kind of embarrasses me to imagine my silly face on somebody's desktop and I wouldn't encourage this behavior. But if it makes them happy then I suppose it's okay. I apologize in advance for your friends that I may potentially freak out or something when they see your screen.
NOT OKAYUsing them for anything that involves monetary profit. For one thing, the characters we cosplay in our photos are licensed so even if we don't get to you, those big, bad companies who really own them might. May it not be said that I did not warn you to watch your ass. (And if you're doing this literally, here's to you. )
Claiming the photos as your own work, or say that it's you in the pictures. I mean really, what kind of sad existence do you lead if you have to do this?
Reposting them in social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Friendster and similar websites. It's best to use your own photos for places like that.
Creating fan pages and using our photos because it's against our principles about treating everyone in this hobby equally. We appreciate the gesture, really. But having other people we don't really know moderate a page about us is kind of dubious. We can't control or keep track of what they might say about us, which could lead to trouble.
Using them in icons/avatars, layouts, signatures, banners and similar graphics for sites we aren't affiliated with. It can be misleading, and I for one am not comfortable seeing my silly mug being used as a LiveJournal icon or something. Might make certain exceptions though, so it's best if you send me a note and wait for my consent before you do anything.
Anything that would be generally considered sick and wrong. It's a sad world we live in if I have to elaborate on this.
First of all, no, we don't get paid for this. We don't need to be. Just having them is so much enjoyable, we learn so much about photography and each other, and that is an end unto itself.
Our initial intention for holding them just to properly document costumes we've worn. Convention pics hardly ever do justice because it could be that the lighting is bad or the shot is cluttered with other people and seriously, event conditions hardly ever allow for a properly composed photo. So we thought of having photoshoots where we could take our time composing shots - figuring out poses and angles, making sure every little detail is right. Much better than event snapshots. And we could also select proper locations that would suit specific characters or that would allow us to recreate the feel of the series they came from in order to further enhance the illusion that those characters have stepped into reality. Eventually, those simple photoshoots turned into our projects as you know them now - series of photos with the little accompanying stories that we write, and all. (We plan to finally attempt video projects soon.)
Again, we have these photoshoots just for fun. It's one way we spend time together as friends. We share our photos online to spread our passion for this hobby and our geeky love for the series that we cosplay. We do this in deviantART in particular because we get a lot of inspiration and ideas from this site, and sharing our work here kind of gives us a chance to give something back to the community.
People have sent me notes just to thank me for sharing our work, also saying that our friendship, the fun that we have and the love we put into our shoots and costumes really shines through in our photos. I guess such is to be expected when you do things for the right reasons, and with the right people.
We don't care about the number of favorites or pageviews. I say this a lot, but really... The best reward is hearing from people who say that we've made them happy or inspired them somehow. And it's always so enjoyable to read through the comments (especially silly conversations with fellow geeks). Sometimes we may not have the time to reply to everyone, but just know that we're truly grateful for your appreciation and the fact that you took the time to leave comments.
Thanks, you guys! You make it all worthwhile and keep inspiring us to improve even more with every new project!
Gah, this is something I really get asked a lot and I'm never quite sure what to say.
So, hmm... If you want to try cosplaying, I'd suggest that you pick a character that you resemble so that your cosplay will be more believable. It also greatly helps if you actually like the character and you can relate with them so that you'll have no trouble walking in their shoes. Apart from making sure your costume looks right, watch your facial expressions and gestures! They help more than you might think.
Well, we started out by just going for it, not worried about what other people might think. We focused more on having fun, and we definitely had a blast and even gained the respect and friendship of people we met at events. Seeing what other cosplayers could do inspired us to improve ourselves, and we just kept accepting challenges, making mistakes and learning from them, and working to be better with every new experience.