We are proud to introduce our contact from the great white north, Ray Lum of Ray Lum Photography as our esteemed colleague and one of the Cosplay Photographers Ambassador. His work caught our eye and has impressed us time and time again. Ray has graciously given us an introduction of himself to share with everyone detailing how he fits into our growing community. While his Facebook page describes himself with, “I don’t consider myself an artist…just some guy clicking a button” let’s see what you think. Personally, we’re excited to see more excellent work from him in the future and hope you visit his personal sites for more.
To start with, my name is Ray. I’m 31 years old and grew up in Toronto, Canada which is where I am today. The biggest conventions I cover are the ones local to Canada, Anime North being my home con.
I started shooting in 2008. Those first 2 years were the “Tourist” years filled with photos of sunsets, trees, rocks and families – everyone has to start somewhere right? Then in 2010 I began shooting the track scene and import cars. It was never anyone’s favorite to look at, but I enjoyed it and it’s where my roots are. I started to branch out after I got the hang of it. When I first started into cosplay photography about a year ago, I was already attending conventions and it seemed natural to merge the two together.
Now I shoot things outside of Cosplay for hire such as weddings, babies, and I still shoot cars on the side. It’s not something I do professionally but it does pay for my equipment so I’ll keep going at it! You can check out my Glamour Photography Facebook Page for some of my work outside of cosplay.
I’ve never frequented any U.S. conventions but the first one I’d like to hit is Katsucon because I’ve seen some very cool backgrounds used there. Because, let’s face it, a cosplay photographer doesn’t go to the convention unless it has something to offer his work.
Admittedly, I used to be a bigger anime fan than I am today. I wouldn’t use the term ‘Otaku’ and I don’t have time to watch new anime these days with all the photo processing I have to get done! So my main connection with the culture has been through my photography and cosplay group. I prefer private shoots over convention based ones because I get all the time I need to get the shots I want.
When it comes to my style, I’m pretty laid back and go with the flow, usually adapting to the situation rather than plan every second of my life or photoshoot. I’m a reactionary photographer. Likely, this comes from starting with imports; I don’t like posing my models or restricting them with too much feedback. I give guidelines or I’ll poke and nudge them in different directions. A tweak or two here and there is normally enough to perfect the image and then generally I position myself around the subject, change my distance or angle based on that pose, and encourage the model to express themselves to the best of their abilities. Otherwise, they’ll all end up looking the same.
In order for that to work, you have to have that kind of connection and trust with your model. For this reason, I prefer working with ones I know well. With untrained models it’s harder because they would get totally lost under my direction. For me, this means a majority of my work is with a set of 4 models in a cosplay group I manage called Cosmeko based here in Toronto. Having the four of them to work with means the level of cosplay is raised and there isn’t any awkwardness or miscommunication. Depending on the cosplay, sometimes we spend a lot of time scouting out locations, or we’ll have a videographer behind the scenes to post to the Cosmeko Youtube page or we get an assistant to help with whatever we need. But a lot of the work revolves around the cosplay itself. We try to be flexible and work with whatever situation we’re given.
For me, there is no backup plan. I spend about 50% of my life doing this and I don’t regret a moment so far.
I’d also like to encourage more Canadian photographers to join. We have a lot of great cosplayers up here and I think the area has a lot potential to build the cosplay photographer community. So if you’re located up here and you’re interested in learning and teaching feel free to send me a message. I’d be happy to help with any questions or inquiries anyone might have. If not, I’m sure you’ll still see more from me here soon. Also, special thanks to the lovely Casey McDonald for interviewing me and helping me write this.
I’m glad to be a part of Cosplay Photographers and hope to share more with everyone soon.