Athena Cole of Enayla Cosplay has always displayed an enormous attention to detail when it comes to crafting her own cosplays, so when I heard that she was in town for break, I jumped on the chance to photograph one of her latest cosplays— Shining Blade from Guild Wars 2.
As far as the cosplay photo shoot went (we did a fashion photo shoot earlier in the day), we spent quite some time discussing the fine detail, going from location scouting, time allocation, lighting/temperature condition, and refreshment procurement, among others. For photo shoots this size, especially one that involves 2 photographers, 2 assistants, 1 makeup artist, and 1 model, it’s usually a good idea to have a well thought-out plan to make sure the photo shoot goes as smoothly as possible.
Not being an active Guild War player, getting familiarized with the game setting itself is usually one of the very first steps I take. After having checked out a few screenshots, it’s evident that the setting is quite similar to many magical, medieval type games where castles, forests, open fields, beaches, and bodies of water comprise the majority of the scenes. Based off of that, we narrowed it down to two possible parks around Seattle that could work. Our first choice was Discovery Park, one that resided by the water and has a beautiful beach with amazing scenery. But because of the remoteness and the fact that sand is difficult to wash off of the costume, we decided to use our second best location, Magnuson Park, opting for a rye field scene where, as it turned out, matched wonderfully with the color scheme of the costume.
The Photo Shoot
The setup was simple: 50mm lens and 1 Einstein E640 monolight, mounted with a reflective and diffused PLM for fill, with the sun to back-light as well as rim-light the subject. Competing with the setting sun was difficult as the lighting condition changed by the minute, so I had to shoot fast and have an assistant to help adjust the light accordingly to make the photo-shoot more manageable; which Jeremy, a photographer of Open Your Eyes Visuals who I had been shooting with all day, gladly filled the role of.
Some critical matters that we took into consideration at the time of the photo shoot included the maneuverability of the costume as well as the heat. As you can tell from the photos, the costume is extremely detailed and complex, so moving across treacherous terrain was obviously quite undesirable. Luckily, we picked the right location where the ground was fairly flat, so it was a big pat on the back for us. Also, it happened to be quite a glorious summer weekend, so the sun was extra generous in sharing its heat with us. We actually shot in the shade for a good portion of the shoot until the sun set a bit further into the horizon.
Most of the photos underwent my own standard processing workflow: Lightroom editing » RAW stacking » frequency separation » dodge & burn » skin smoothing » color grading. In addition, I decided to composite clouds into some shots to make the images more dramatic as the day was extremely sunny and not a single cloud was in the sky.
Overall, this was one of the longest photo shoot(s) I took part in. From the planning to the actual photo shoot, a lot of thoughts were put into logistics to make sure the day would go as closely to the plan as possible and everyone involved would be taken care of, which meant taking care of food, refreshments, the amount of work, and in this case, temperature (we loved my oscillating fan throughout the day). With this much work involved, some may shy away from planning photo shoots at this scale, but if you are driven to capture great photos, definitely give large-scale photo-shoots a go; you may find this one of the most rewarding decisions you will ever make about photography.