February 2013 Featured Photographer of the Month: Bunny Tuan

Cosplay Photographers: Today we are joined by Bunny Tuan, an amazing cosplay photographer. You may or may not have heard of her as she keeps a fairly low profile, but her photography is so amazing, we want to share her with the world. Her style of photography can almost be described as cinematic in look, feel and captures the essence and mood of each character resoundingly.

Hi Bunny, thanks for joining us today! So where are you located?

Bunny Tuan: Hi ^^. I am in San Francisco now.

Cosplay Photographers: Beautiful city, I hear! Must be endless opportunities for amazing photoshoot locations. So is Bunny Tuan your real name, nickname, or something else?

Bunny Tuan: I love San Francisco, a lovely city. Many amazing photoshoot locations come to my mind. Bunny Tuan is my nickname. In my hometown, friends always call me Tuan. ^^

Cosplay Photographer Location URL
Bunny Tuan San Francisco, CA, USA http://bunnytuan.deviantart.com

Cosplay Photographers: Very cute. So how did you get involved with cosplay photography?

Bunny Tuan: I started to get involved with photography 5 years ago. My mother is really good at photography. We planned to have an art-photo studio together. She takes photos of normal portraits and I shoot cosplay photos. My mother taught me a lot regarding photography. When I went to a university, I met my friends who like cosplaying, like me. Since we didn’t have a professional photographer to take photos of us at that time, I became a cosplay photographer.

Cosplay Photographers: Oh nice! Does your mom have a website where we can see her work? What are things that she taught you in terms of photography?

Bunny Tuan: ^^; My mother has no photography website, but she is good at photography and it’s not even her job. She likes taking photos of people when they are talking and thinking about something, like a big movement pose, or a tiny change on the face. When I was younger, I always laughed at my mother and asked why she likes taking photos of such strange facial expressions. She affects me a lot. I love catching the moment in cosplay photography now. Really like it! Also, my mother taught me a lot about photography, like how to use camera and the basic skills.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you instruct your cosplayers on how you want them to pose, or are you just waiting for that right moment and “snap?”

Bunny Tuan: I tell them what they need to do. “Please keeping running, please keep chatting with each other,” stuff like that. And then I start to look for and capture the right moment. Sometimes they need to do it twice or more. Then I can try different angles to get a different look.

Cosplay Photographers: Your approach seems to be much more photojournalist/candid. Do you ever find that some cosplayers need more direction than others? How do you handle that?

Bunny Tuan: Maybe? I like to try different types of cosplay photography. I typically ask cosplayers what types of feeling they want for the photo or “please tell me story of this character.” Then I think, is it an awesome lighting photo, storytelling, a sports movement, or some other way they saw. Sometimes, they will show some pictures of what they like and I will try to get the feel of what they want.

Cosplay Photographers: So how long have you been doing cosplay photography for now?

Bunny Tuan: About 4 years? Or 3 – 4 years.

Cosplay Photographers: What are some lessons you have learned in those 3 – 4 years?

Bunny Tuan: I learned from many awesome photographers. They all have their own unique styles. Sometimes it can also affect me on drawing pictures. Colors, combination, and angles.

Cosplay Photographers: Any tips for new cosplay photographers?

Bunny Tuan: I like cosplay photographers having their own opinion or ideas on their shooting every time, telling a story from a set of photos without words.

Cosplay Photographers: So tell us about your cosplaying. What kind of characters do you cosplay?

Bunny Tuan: Any characters I like, or animation I like. It’s hard to say. There are so many characters and animation that I love.

Cosplay Photographers: So when you’re photographing, how often do you know the characters you’re photographing?

Bunny Tuan: 80% characters I know. If I have time, I will go to see the animation. Otherwise, I will search for references about the characters and their stories.

Cosplay Photographers: In your opinion, is it important to research and know the character in order to effectively photograph?

Bunny Tuan: Of course! Any kind of researching will be a good point that can be used in my shooting. The better I know the character, the better I can have the right feeling to take the photo.

Cosplay Photographers: How much time would you spend researching a character or series if you didn’t know much about it? Do you just read what’s online or do you try to watch the series a bit?

Bunny Tuan: I will have the shooting scheduled one or two weeks before the shoot. And I watch the series as well. On the day before shooting, I will search for some cosplay photos as well.

Cosplay Photographers: What has been you’re most exciting shoot to date? And why?

Bunny Tuan: Hmmmmm, let me see… the first time I got flash, I brought them to do a night shooting for Tiger and Bunny at the end of 2012. It was a big change in my cosplay photography. I started to take photos with different lighting such as flash and LED light. It’s a new beginning in my cosplay photography.

Cosplay Photographers: So you’re using more flash and artificial lighting now? What’s the biggest thing about using flash?

Bunny Tuan: I use a reflector at day-time, outdoor photoshoot and flash+LED light for in-door or at night-time photoshoots. I didn’t even know how to use flash before I got it! I’m trying to level up my flash abilities! I also ask some of my cosplay photographers to give me some advice on how to use flash. I think the biggest problem that I’ve had is that I didn’t know how to use flash before I got it. ^^

Cosplay Photographers: So do you find that you are doing more photography than cosplaying now? Which interests you more?

Bunny Tuan: Yes, I felt that. Maybe I feel I cannot have too much time on just cosplaying. Maybe then I will change my hobby to my job in the future. Honestly, it’s hard to say which I love better. For cosplay, I like to cosplay together with my friends, usually 2 or 3 people together. I don’t know if I will still keep cosplaying by myself, but for cosplay photography, I never think about when I will stop it.

Cosplay Photographers: Are there any cosplay photographers that inspire you in your art?

Bunny Tuan: Hybridre, I think many people know her. Also some Japanese cosplay photographers who are also cosplayers. There’s also 35RYO, another Chinese cosplay photographer.

Cosplay Photographers: Oh yes, we are very familiar with them. Are there “regular” photographers that you find inspiration from as well?

Bunny Tuan: Hmmmm….because I’m always browsing photos or drawings from CURE and Pixiv, it’s hard to see any “regular” photographers there I think. One of my friends who does photography for bands, his name is RYAN Kort, and I like many of his works and opinions. Some wedding photographers’ work that I like to see is TANGVISION, but I don’t know if many people know him. And also Ninagawa Mika! She’s kind of a regular photographer, but her works give me many ideas.

Cosplay Photographers: So what software do you use to process your photos?

Bunny Tuan: Photoshop CS5.

Cosplay Photographers: Just Photoshop? You don’t use Lightroom or anything else?

Bunny Tuan: No. I use Canon software to select and delete photos and then Photoshop to edit them.

Cosplay Photographers: So on a shoot, how many photos do you end up taking?

Bunny Tuan: Around 200.

Cosplay Photographers: How many of the 200 make the final cut?

Bunny Tuan: I will delete until I have about 50 left. Then I’ll edit around 30 of them. Finally, I’ll post around 20 photos.

Cosplay Photographers: Do the cosplayers get to choose or do you select?

Bunny Tuan: I choose what I like. ^^ And then I send the 50 I selected to the cosplayers.

Cosplay Photographers: What are you looking for when you’re deciding which ones to edit?

Bunny Tuan: Many of them are of the same poses, but I’m looking for the best facial expression, composition, and movement. It must a interesting photo, not just a normal photo.

Cosplay Photographers: When you’re editing a photo, what are you typically doing? Is it just minor exposure adjustments?

Bunny Tuan: Listening to music. It’s really important to me, OK! I do overall color adjustments in RAW, then liquefy in Photoshop, if needed. I’ll also change the light and shade of color a little bit. Finally, sharpening and blurring.

Cosplay Photographers: LOL, nice! Great way to get into the mood! Do you find the type of music you listen to affects how you’re editing a photo?

Bunny Tuan: Depends on which animation I’m processing from, I’ll choose the music from that series to listen to.

Cosplay Photographers: So how long does it take you to complete the editing of a shoot?

Bunny Tuan: If I can put aside a whole day without anything else to do, maybe 3~4 hours to edit. Then 1 hour to post online. Sometimes I feel I spend too much time on posting photos to my blog or other websites.

Cosplay Photographers: Which is your favorite photo that you have taken and why?

Bunny Tuan: It’s hard to say… Maybe the APH-Russian & China shot I took in Summer 2012 when I was back in China or the one I edited with snow flying around. I love that photo very much. It has good lighting, shadow, color, facial expression and has a strong feeling in my mind.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you attend a lot of Anime conventions?

Bunny Tuan: Hmmm, in China, YES. In U.S., not so much. The big conventions that I generally go to are just Fanime and Anime-Expo. Others are small local Anime conventions. I’d like to go to more conventions more often, but it’s too far for me to go without a car…

Cosplay Photographers: Which has been your favorite convention(s) so far?

Bunny Tuan: Fanime and CP (Shanghai, China).

Cosplay Photographers: So how do cosplayers typically get a photoshoot with you? Do they ask you or do you ask them? A combination of both?

Bunny Tuan: If the cosplayers are not too close to me, meaning that they are not my close friends, I’ll ask them by email. During conventions, I will give cosplayers my business card with my email and other info and they can ask me for a photoshoot anytime.

Cosplay Photographers: So why are Fanime and CP your favorite conventions?

Bunny Tuan: So many awesome cosplayers! The best cosplayers I saw go to Fanime. This is the first time I can discover how much hard work they do by themselves for their costumes and weapons. Really nice. Many conventions are different from Fanime than in China. I think CP is the biggest one. I can buy so many interesting fan books and handmade stuff there.

Cosplay Photographers: So if we look inside your camera bag, what kind of camera, lenses, and etc. would we find in there?

Bunny Tuan: Camera is a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8L lens. Sometimes, I use my Helios-44-2 58mm/F2 lens. I use Yongnuo flash and 1 led light.

Cosplay Photographers: How do you like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8L lens?

Bunny Tuan: Oh~ I usually shoot inside a studio, so it’s a little bit wide-angle, which is enough for me. I am considering having a Canon fixed focal lens with a little bit more wide-angle. I like Canon’s color more than Nikon ^^.

Cosplay Photographers: So what are your cosplay photography plans in the next few years? Anything new or interesting that you want to try?

Bunny Tuan: Not any big plans at the moment, but I do want to shoot more cosplay of Hetalia. Also more elements, like raining and snow. Also I want to shoot some old animations and to try to shoot like a movie series. ^^ I am still trying a different kind of movie feeling, basically shoot photos with a movie feel. It is still different with real pictures from movie. And I think a different topic, but animation or manga need to be shot with different types of movie style. It’s hard, I know.

Cosplay Photographers: What goes through your mind when you’re trying to shoot one of those series?

Bunny Tuan: I don’t know. Perhaps color? Shooting angle? Story telling order? I am still trying to do my best. I want to tell people a story in my mind or show how the character is feeling with my camera.

Cosplay Photographers: So thank you so much for joining us today Bunny, and sharing your amazing work with us. Did you have anything you wanted to add before we finish up the interview?

Bunny Tuan: ^^ I think it’s ok. Thank you for the interview. I hope I can do better in 2013.

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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    Great interview. With her skills and style, I’m sure she will be well known. Thanks for introducing her. ^__^

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    She is awesome ! Thank you!

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