Joseph Chi Lin, cosplay photographer

January 2012 Featured Cosplay Photographer of the Month: Joseph Chi Lin

Cosplay Photographer Location URL
Joseph Chi Lin New York, CA, USA
Joseph Chi Lin, cosplay photographer

Joseph Chi Lin, cosplay photographer

It wasn’t until Fanime 2011 before I knew who Joseph Chi Lin was. It was a very quick introduction by international superstar cosplayer Etaru because Joseph was on his way out to catch a plane to New York. Later, I Googled his name while waiting for my photos to import to Lightroom and I was immediately impressed with his work. The clean, uncluttered, and simple backgrounds contrasted by strong powerful poses and excellent compositions, Joseph is a no-brainer for Featured Photographer of the Month here on and so we managed to snag him for an interview.

Cosplay Photographers: So how does it feel to be a published photographer?

Joseph Chi Lin: I don’t really feel any different, but it does make instant ramen taste somewhat better.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you feel you have more pressure from cosplayers you photograph, that their shots have to be epic because you’re a published photographer?

Joseph Chi Lin: Nope. Pressure is having to photograph Emma Watson in about a minute with a room full of people breathing down your neck. Shooting cosplay is immeasurably fun and anything but pressure filled. That being said, I still try to live up to my own lofty photographic standards. In short, I don’t photograph just to make a picture, I photograph to make something memorable.

Cosplay Photographers: So what is the primary focus of your photography? Fashion, cosplay, photojournalist, architectural, lifestyle, or etc.?

Joseph Chi Lin: I photograph whatever I find compelling.

Mostflogged cosplaying as Psylocke from X-Men

Mostflogged cosplaying as Psylocke from X-Men

Jennifer Barclay cosplaying as Tali'Zorah Vas Normandy from Mass Effect

Jennifer Barclay cosplaying as Tali'Zorah Vas Normandy from Mass Effect

Cosplay Photographers: So I’m sure many people are dying to know, did you teach yourself photography, read a bunch of Photography for Dummies book (like we did), or did you go to art school?

Joseph Chi Lin: I started college as an architecture major at Pratt. After two years of it I realized that I cherished my sleep and sanity all too much to ever become a truly successful architect, so I changed majors to photography.

Joseph Chi Lin: I’ve been passionate about photography ever since my first disposable Kodak camera in the fifth grade, so getting a BFA in Photography was a natural decision. After my undergraduate degree, I rounded out my studies with a Masters in Journalism from Columbia University.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you often approach cosplayers to take their photos or do you they approach you more often?

Joseph Chi Lin: When I first started shooting cosplay about a year ago it was mostly me approaching cosplayers at conventions, but now I find it to be more of a mixture of both. For instance, this past Otakon I was already booked up about two months in advance. Dragon*Con, on the other hand, was more relaxing since I only agreed to book two shoots ahead of time.

Consequently, I spent most of Dragon*Con eating Chick-fil-A (yum!) and shooting the occasional cosplayer that piqued my interest. Going forward I’m leaning more towards the latter approach, which I have dubbed my Chick-fil-A policy. In other words, I’m most likely going to schedule only a select few shoots leaving me more free time to roam about and, of course, eat Chick-fil-A.

Etaru cosplaying as Siren from Final FantasyNealBomBad as Cecil in Final Fantasy 4ShiyaWind cosplaying as Etna from Disgaea

(Click to enlarge.) From left to right: Etaru cosplaying as Siren from Final Fantasy. NealBomBad as Cecil in Final Fantasy 4. ShiyaWind cosplaying as Etna from Disgaea

Cosplay Photographers: It’s always interesting to hear how cosplay photographers get into cosplay photography, so tell us your story.

Joseph Chi Lin: I was always vaguely aware of cosplay, but I didn’t really understand it until I wrote and photographed a photo essay for back when I was still working at Time Magazine:

It was so fun to see my favorite characters brought to life and to meet/photograph new cosplayers that I decided to stick around a while longer to see where it would take me.

Klytaemnestra cosplaying as Haydee from Gankutsuou

Klytaemnestra cosplaying as Haydee from Gankutsuou (click to enlarge)

Cosplay Photographers: What particularly interests you most about cosplay?

Joseph Chi Lin: The incredible level of detail that cosplayers put into their costumes never ceases to amaze me.

Cosplay Photographers: Give us a rundown of how you would operate at a convention?

Joseph Chi Lin: I usually try get up at around 8-9 am, but my propensity for sleeping through morning wake up calls usually throws a monkey wrench into this plan. A decent breakfast usually follows since I typically won’t have time to eat until late at night.

Most of the day will be spent wandering around looking for interesting cosplays or attending to any scheduled photo shoots. Whenever I have the chance, I head back to my room for a quick breather since carrying around camera gear and shooting nonstop all day takes its toll on you.

At night, I dump my flash cards onto my laptop and back up images on my external hard drive. I try to get to sleep by midnight to rest up for the next day since I don’t like to photograph while sleep deprived. A sleepy Joseph is a grumpy Joseph.

Cosplay Photographers: Ever do private cosplay photo shoots during non-convention time?

Joseph Chi Lin: Yes, it’s actually preferable, but the cosplay has to be exceptional enough to make me wake up on a weekend to do a shoot. Sleep is my friend.

Cosplay Photographers: How many anime/cosplay conventions did you attend this year? How many anime/cosplay conventions do you plan on attending next year?

Joseph Chi Lin: In 2011 I went to Katsucon, Fanime, Anime Next, Otakon, Dragon*Con, NYCC and I’ll close out the year with AUSA in November. I’m going to kick off the 2012 convention grind with Anime Los Angeles. For all those attending ALA, I will be most easily reached at the local In-N-Out should you need me for anything.

Maridah cosplaying as Saber from Fate/Stay Night

Maridah cosplaying as Saber from Fate/Stay Night

Cosplay Photographers: As a cosplay photographer, what elements are you looking for when selecting a cosplayer to photograph?

Joseph Chi Lin: I look mostly for characters that interest me, an accurate costume and impeccable craftsmanship.

Cosplay Photographers: Ever turn down a cosplayer asking for a photo shoot?

Joseph Chi Lin: I try to accommodate as many cosplayers as possible, but due to time constraints I have to occasionally turn down shoot requests.

Cosplay Photographers: What advice would you have for a cosplayer if they wanted to be photographed by you?

Joseph Chi Lin: Show up on time and iron your costume. That and just email me. I don’t bite… much.

Cosplay Photographers: Any sage advice or words of wisdoms for new and upcoming cosplay photographers?

Joseph Chi Lin: Multiple light stands and fancy strobe (flash) gear at a convention does not a good photographer make. Don’t do it, you’ll just look silly. Just learn to see the light.

Dia cosplaying as Rogue from X-Men

Dia cosplaying as Rogue from X-Men

Cosplay Photographers: Who were your favorite cosplayer(s) to work with so far?

Joseph Chi Lin: Starlighthoney, Lady Ava, FeliciaCat and Breathlessaire. I’ve learned so much about cosplay from them and they’re just awesome people all around.

Sushi Monster and Pho3nix cosplaying as Kneesocks and Scanty Panty from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

Sushi Monster and Pho3nix cosplaying as Kneesocks and Scanty Panty from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

Cosplay Photographers: Are there any cosplayers or cosplay photographers you’d like to meet?

Joseph Chi Lin: I’m still fairly new to the community, so I apologize for not being familiar with most cosplayers. Of the small sampling I have come across so far, I would like to eventually work with Calssara and Omi Gibson. Calssara’s Nia and Sakana-chan are spot on and Omi’s Gray Fox from Metal Gear Solid is just wow.

Cosplay Photographers: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Joseph Chi Lin: Pocky. It is the meaning of life.

Cosplay Photographers: Any other photographers inspire you?

Joseph Chi Lin: Margaret Bourke-White, Andreas Gursky, Richard Avedon, James Nachtwey, Patrick Demarchelier, to name a few.

Cosplay Photographers: I notice your shots are always very crisp and contrasty. What kind of post production do you do, how often do you do it, and your thoughts on post production in general?

Joseph Chi Lin: I used to shop out loose threads or any other craftsmanship errors overlooked by cosplayers, but I don’t have the time to do that anymore. Now, I usually just do a curve or color correction, if needed, and then save for web. I’ve always been fairly minimal with my post-production, I prefer to let my picture tell the story instead of photoshop.

Cosplay Photographers: What is your favorite lens, camera, and equipment to use when you’re photographing?

Joseph Chi Lin: I primarily shoot with my Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 50mm f/1.2 L. A baby kitten drowns every time you take a picture with a Nikon. [Cosplay Photographers: That explains why I keep hearing kittens drowning when I click my shutter!]

Cosplay Photographers: Any projects for 2012 that we should lookout for?

Joseph Chi Lin: Some time in the middle of 2011 I realized that my cosplay photographs weren’t coming out too hideous, so I decided that I would try to compile them all into a book. I need to photograph many more cosplayers in order to finish the book, so 2012 will be spent primarily working on it. Here’s hoping for the best!

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!

If you found this article interesting, be sure to join our Facebook group, Cosplay Photography Discussion Group. It is a place for cosplay photographers of all levels to learn from each other. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook as well!

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At Cosplay Photographers, we believe that cosplay is an art form to be celebrated. We believe that epic cosplays are about bringing your favorite fantasy characters to life and, through the latest mediums like digital photography and videography, sharing that with the world. We seek to foster a community of talented individuals who wish to promote the art of cosplay and photography.


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