Thomas Kuan, aka Hexlord

November 2011 Featured Cosplay Photographer of the Month: Hexlord

Cosplay Photographers: I first happened upon international cosplay photographer Hexlord when I joined up with DeviantArt back in 2009. At the time, dA was all new to me, but he was one of the earliest cosplay photographers whose work really stood out to me, so naturally I added his page to my watch list. And the thing I’ve seen about Hexlord is that he puts out high quality work on a consistent basis; certainly a photographer to follow and draw inspiration from.

Hexlord, let me first and foremost thank you for agreeing to be interviewed as well as being our first ever Featured Cosplay Photographer of the Month. So for the people who have yet to see your amazing work, you’re based out in Malaysia correct?

Hexlord: Yes, that is correct. Previously, I have been staying in Singapore for the purpose of studying and for work.

Cosplay Photographers: So how difficult is it to find cosplayers in Malaysia?

Hexlord: I don’t think it is that difficult. The local cosplay community here have been growing at an exponential rate for the past few years. Most of the cosplayers do go online often, communicating via forums, social media sites like Facebook, and so forth. They are well aware of the upcoming local conventions, smaller scale event, etc.

Cosplay Photographer Location URL
Hexlord (Thomas) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia http://hexlord.deviantart.com
Kau (front) and Arbitro, cosplayed by Yang and Naokunn respectively. From the series Togainu no Chi

Kau (front) and Arbitro, cosplayed by Yang and Naokunn respectively. From the series Togainu no Chi

Myoubi, from the series Alichino cosplayed by Jessica AllieKagamine Len (left) and Akairi, cosplayed by YAsuukun and Akairi respectively. Series is Vocaloid: HakamairiLucy, from the series Elfen Lied. Cosplayed by Byou

(Click to enlarge.) From left to right: Myoubi, from the series Alichino cosplayed by Jessica Allie. Kagamine Len (left) and Akairi, cosplayed by YAsuukun and Akairi respectively. Series is Vocaloid: Hakamairi. Lucy, from the series Elfen Lied. Cosplayed by Byou.

Cosplay Photographers: How long have you been involved in the cosplay scene?

Hexlord: I have been around since 2004. That’s around 7 years or so.

Cosplay Photographers: During those 7 years, were you always doing cosplay photography?

Hexlord: Yes, I am. However, in recent years I have been working on other genres of photography ranging from landscape, street to fashion/casual portraiture.

Cosplay Photographers: For the many cosplay photographers who are just starting, can you tell us how you got started?

Hexlord: I got started when a few of my friends invited me to attend one of the local conventions. After being fascinated with the costumes on display, as well as making new cosplaying friends, I decided that I would like to take photos of their amazing costumes.

Starting with my digital camera, I decided to get a bit more serious with my photography, culminating with the purchase of my first DSLR towards the end of 2007. The rest as they say, is history.

Cosplay Photographers: How many conventions have you been to so far this year?

Hexlord: I attended 5 conventions so far this year. C2Age (Malaysia), the Japanese Arts Festival (Singapore), Cosfest X.1 (Singapore), CLAS:H (Indonesia) and Animangaki 2011 (Malaysia).

For the remainder of the year, I will be attending the Anime Festival Asia (Singapore) and finally Comic Fiesta (Malaysia).

Yang cosplaying as Shi Ye Guang (师夜光) from Chang An Huan Ye (长安幻夜)Crestryn cosplaying as Nagi from the series KannagiKazehaya Shota (left) and Kuronuma Sawako, cosplayed by Nick and Shine. Series is Kimi ni Todoke

(Click to enlarge.) From left to right: Yang cosplaying as Shi Ye Guang (师夜光) from Chang An Huan Ye (长安幻夜). Crestryn cosplaying as Nagi from the series Kannagi. Kazehaya Shota (left) and Kuronuma Sawako, cosplayed by Nick and Shine. Series is Kimi ni Todoke.

Cosplay Photographers: Any favorite conventions?

Hexlord: Main Animania (Australia) as well as the annual Comic Fiesta event in Malaysia. They are well organised and I had a great time there.

Stocking Anarchy, cosplayed by Shine. Series is Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt

Stocking Anarchy, cosplayed by Shine. Series is Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt

Cosplay Photographers: Are there any conventions you would like to attend if you could?

Hexlord: Japan Expo, Dragon*Con, Tokyo Game Show, Fanime, GENCon, AnimeExpo, SMASH, among others.

Cosplay Photographers: What are your convention plans for 2012?

Hexlord: Currently, I am planning to attend Thailand Game Show, Cosmania (Philippines) and maybe a few Malaysian events. I am considering a trip to the US for Fanime but due to budget constraint maybe in 2013 instead. :)

Cosplay Photographers: As a cosplay photographer, what do you look for in a cosplayer when selecting them to photograph?

Hexlord: Accuracy and visual impact. Also, if they happen to be cosplaying characters from a series I like.

Cosplay Photographers: Are you often approached by cosplayers asking you to photograph them?

Hexlord: Yes, I do. Some of them are friends of mine, while others were recommended to me by their own friends.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you research any of the cosplayer’s character before shooting or do you play by ear during the shoot? Or both?

Hexlord: I do both. While some series are very familiar to me, some are very new so I had to get feedback from the cosplayers before shooting. I had to work out the shots that best convey the series’ mood, so the feedback helps a lot.

If there’s ample time, I will either research the series online or watch the show/movie whenever possible.

Cosplay Photographers: What was a particular challenge you recently faced and how did you overcome it?

Hexlord: There was a night shoot which I attended in which my softbox + flash isn’t producing the effect that I like. So I borrowed my friend’s LED torchlight and used that for my shots. It worked well because I exposed enough to allow a bit more ambient light and making sure the highlights on the cosplayer is not blown.

Also for the same shoot, I used a strong light source and bounced it using a silver reflector to produce a well-lit photo. Link: http://hexlord.deviantart.com/art/Beauty-Divine-254570326

Cosplay Photographers: You always choose some of the most amazing scenes and locations for your photo shoots, almost like right out of the anime series. How do you find these great places?

Hexlord: Research, research and research. Familiarity with the series is also a must.

Flickr and Google are good sources of information, especially when doing your research.

Finally you have to be lucky but as they say, the harder you work the luckier you get.

Cosplay Photographers: What is your favorite lens to photograph cosplay with and why?

Hexlord: Among my lenses, my favorite is the Nikon 85mm f1.4. It is the ideal portraits lens with near zero distortion, creamy bokeh and fantastic colours and contrasts out of the camera. Although my other prime lenses are pretty good on their own, this lens is hard to match.

Cosplay Photographers: Are you a Strobist-style photographer or ambient photographer?

Hexlord: I am more of a natural/ambient light photographer, but I have done a number of shoots using strobing techniques. Having said that, I am planning on investing in a few more flash heads to complement my existing setup.

Cosplay Photographers: Are there any cosplay photographers you are dying to meet?

Hexlord: There’s many! Kifir, Madcrecha, Mokrushina, Kenjiko, Darkain, Tony Quan, Andy Rak, SolarTempest, Masakocha, JackHangar, Hellsign, Hybridre, Ryohei Takanashi, Urarod and more.

Cosplay Photographers: Which cosplayer are you dying to photograph?

Hexlord: Astrohime, Aura Rinoa, Bellaid, Onnies, Omi Gibson, Kipi, Kenshiro-FDP, OnPaperWings… I lost count. :)

Cosplay Photographers: Any advice for cosplay photographers or cosplayers?

Hexlord: Work hard on your hobby but at the same time, have fun! A balanced approach is the best.

Cosplay Photographers: List the tools of your trade.

Hexlord:

Nikon D300s
Nikon D80
Panasonic LX5

Nikkor AF-D 85mm f1.4
Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.4G
Nikkor AF-D 35mm f2.0
Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm f4-5.6G
Nikkor AF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6G DX
Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 AT-X DX
Tamron 60mm f2.0 Macro

SB-800 AF Speedlight
Standard softbox setup, a variety of ND/CPL filters, tripod, monopod, lightstands, reflectors.

Cosplay Photographers: So I’ve been curious, as I’m sure others are as well, how did you come up with the handle Hexlord?

Hexlord: My handle? Ah its nothing special, I made that handle when I was er… ‘owning’ my friends in the old game Hexen. Its a FPS game where you can select three character classes each with their specific weapons. It’s a classic back in the mid 90s!

Cosplay Photographers: Thanks again for your time and sharing with us so much invaluable information. We can’t wait to see more amazing work from you!

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