May 2013 Featured Photographer of the Month: ARC Photography

Cosplay Photographers: Hi! Please introduce yourself.

A.R.C. Photography: Hello! I’m Alex Chrysler. Most people known me as ARC. I’m from Malaysia. Nice meeting you! First time being featured, hahaha. Thank you so much!

Cosplay Photographers: Thank YOU! How long have you been doing photography?

A.R.C. Photography: I’ve a big interest of photography and love taking photos around when I was 14 years old due to the inspirations from those beautiful pictures I’ve seen from internet and magazines. It’s been eight years of taking photos since 2005,  including two years of taking Cosplay photography since 2011.

Cosplay Photographers: How did you get into cosplay?

A.R.C. Photography: Well, I’ve been interested in cosplay since I was 15 because I’ve found it interesting when seeing people dressing up a character. I’d seen their photos on the internet. Their photos are taken so beautifully and captivating and made me fall in love with photography even more! But I had no idea of how to take photos like that till I got introduced to what a DSLR camera actually was and knew that those photos are taken with DSLR too. During that time, I had zero knowledge about photography basics. All I did know is composition.

photo by ShiroAng

Cosplay Photographers: Speaking of cosplay, the photo to the left is of you cosplaying. I didn’t know you cosplayed too!

A.R.C. Photography: Hehe~ I never cosplayed before so I gave myself a try and it’s really fun!

Cosplay Photographers: Can you tell us a little bit about how you began photography those eight years ago?

A.R.C. Photography: Let’s put cosplay photography aside. My first start of photography was using my phone camera, a Sony Ericsson K750i. I started with taking still life and landscape photos for practicing my compositions. There were many Sony Ericsson phones I’ve had over the years.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you own a smartphone now, and what do you think of all the phone apps for photography now (like Instagram?)

A.R.C. Photography: Yeah, currently I own an iPhone 4, the 4th gen. The apps for taking photos are amazing, especially Instagram. There are many nice preset color gradings and effects. And most of the presets satisfy me. But back then I wasn’t just practicing taking photos with my phone cameras, I was also taking photos with digital cameras too, and a HandyCamcorder. I took 5 years of practicing my photography, still life and landscapes, until I’ve got my first DSLR when I entered my college.

Cosplay Photographer Location URL
Alex Chrysler (ARC Photography) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia http://cosplayphotographers.net/profile/414/

Cosplay Photographers: And what about your entry into cosplay photography?

A.R.C. Photography: When stepping into the cosplay World and start taking cosplay photography, I started taking photos with my DSLR around conventions with my fellow college-mates who were cosplayers too. Alice by AkihikoI started to know a few cosplayers around and took photos for them. Months later, I got requests from cosplayers who wanted me to help them to take photos. Months by months, requests were getting more and more, and I learn even more while doing photoshoots for cosplayers.

Cosplay Photographers: What gear do you usually shoot with now? (besides the iPhone haha)

A.R.C. Photography: Well, for photoshoots, with my DSLR of course hahaha! For outings, sometimes using my DSLR to take photos or my iPad.

Cosplay Photographers: What DSLR system do you use?

A.R.C. Photography: Previously I owned a Canon 7D. And now I’m using Canon 5D Mark III. I am still keeping my 7D just for filming use but for photoshooting, I’ll use my Mark III. During shoots, sometimes I use my friend’s DSLR to take pictures just for trying other DSLRs’ functionalities so I can learn even more. So far I’ve used Nikon and Sony Alpha DSLRs. I love trying new things. XD

Cosplay Photographers: What are your favorite lenses for shooting cosplay?

A.R.C. Photography: Well I’m limited of lenses currently. But my favorite lens, all of them. Because while taking photos for the cosplayers, I have to judge myself of which lens to use for taking pictures on them by depending on the position and location where they’re at. Different lenses brings different depths of field and feel.

Cosplay Photographers: That’s a good point….but I’ll give you a challenge! XD Say you could only bring one lens with you on a photoshoot. Which one would it be?

A.R.C. Photography: 50mm f/1.4. This lens is enough for me.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you do a lot of shoots with people you already know or do you have cosplayers contacting you?

A.R.C. Photography: Well, mostly I do get photoshoot requests from cosplayers. Some I know them, some I don’t. For those cosplayer I’ve never met before, we will get to meet and befriend each other once we’ve done the shoot. I seldom ask cosplayers for shoots unless I’ve plans for shooting a character I like or if my cosplay friends have similar looking face and appearances. For example, Princess Merida, from Pixar’s BRAVE. She’s my friend and I realized that she has similar figures as Princess Merida, especially her face. I suggested her this character for her to cosplay, at first she said she has to watch the McD Miku and Mikuo by Sakura and Sugarmovie first before deciding to cosplay the character. At the end, she has watched it and she decided to cosplay!

Cosplay Photographers: How do you usually go about setting up a photoshoot?

A.R.C. Photography: At first, the cosplayers know my works and they wanted me to do shoots for them. They will start to prepare and work on their costumes, props and getting their wigs ordered from TaoBao, its a Chinese website which works like Amazon.com where they buy their wigs from. Then, they’ll discuss with me of where and when to shoot. At first, we have to settle everyone’s free time for planning a date to shoot. Day shoot or night shoot, they’ll decide. Sometimes they’ll decide the photoshooting venues themselves because they’ve been there before or they’ve found those suitable places for a shoot.

Cosplay Photographers: What is the climate and landscape like in Malaysia?

A.R.C. Photography: In Malaysia, it’s summer all year long. The sunlight is harsh and weather is warm and sometimes cool during rainy days. We wished to have soft sunlight and beautiful weather like those four-season countries there. The lighting has got to be awesome. The landscape in Malaysia, there are many nice places to take photos around. But it’s limited due to some places don’t allow us to do shoots unless we propose for permission or pay.

Cosplay Photographers: Sometimes I wish I lived in a place that was summer all year round! It’s been cold here for 6 months.

A.R.C. Photography:  There are many other beautiful places but located very far away from where I live. For example, again my Princess Merida from BRAVE shoot, the shooting location is at Penang Island which is 370 kilometers away from my place, Kuala Lumpur. My helper and I have to travel to there except for the cosplayer, because she lives in the island. XD How I’ve get to know that location is, I’ve seen my cosplay friends do some shoots there before and that place is really beautiful. I found it suitable for Princess Merida when she’s in the woods with her mother whom turned into a bear.

Cosplay Photographers: That Brave cosplayer is amazing. Do you have a link to her fanpage?

A.R.C. Photography: Yeah she is. But she doesn’t have any fanpage. Sorry ! (^-^)

Cosplay Photographers: That’s okay! Does a lot of the Malaysia landscape fit the games or shows that you’re shooting for?

A.R.C. Photography: Some cosplayers have no idea of where to shoot because they are from other states and they’re not familiar with the places around Selangor, the state where I’m staying at right now. Or some of them have no idea about the locations but they do know the environment based on their themes. They’ll tell me of what kind of places they wished to do shoots at because they know I am familiar with many shooting locations. Although some places have been over-used for photoshooting, but there’s still many ways to manipulate the scenes by capturing different compositions.

Cosplay Photographers: You mentioned earlier that cosplayers set up shoots with you first, then make the costume. Is that order more common in Malaysia? Usually here in the US people make costumes, then book shoots.

A.R.C. Photography: Yup, that is really common in Malaysia. Some cosplayers have done their costumes and props and then only book me for shoots. But most cosplayers book me for shootings while they’re making their costumes.

Ponyo on the Cliff by Yuan, Sky, Narukids and Ryeain

Cosplay Photographers: Are there any favorite costumes or series that you prefer to shoot over others?

A.R.C. Photography: Quite a number of them haha! Mostly those characters from video games and movies. Most cosplayers will show me their references of their characters, scenes from the anime/games, and fanarts, because some of the series they’re cosplaying, I have never watched or played before. All I can do is to research their series and understand of what is it all about before I can do photoshoots for them for matching the series and the themes.

Cosplay Photographers: Can you name one or two specific series that are your absolute favorites to shoot?

A.R.C. Photography: I am aiming at game titles more, like BioShock, TEKKEN series, Soul Calibur series, King of Fighters, Street Fighters, Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy XIII, Fatal Frame series and lots of them to be listed here hahaha!

Final Fantasy Type 0

Cosplay Photographers: Fantastic! Tell us about your general post-processing workflow after a shoot.

A.R.C. Photography: About my post processing works, it is all depending on the themes of the cosplayers are doing. The way I post-process photos, I always follow the color moods and gradings based from the anime/games/movie. All my photos are edited in Adobe Lightroom 4. Sometimes using Photoshop for HDR retouching and adding some special effects.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you use HDR a lot? I find that it’s sometimes difficult when using HDR to get skin to look right.

A.R.C. Photography: Not really. I only take HDR shots if the location is beautiful, so as the sky. Mostly shot in wide angle in composition. Taking HDR shots may sometimes difficult, but if you know how to handle the lightings in the surrounding, isn’t a problem. But when retouching, need to carefully retouch the entire shot by layers. But seems my 5D Mark III has HDR feature, sometimes I do take HDR shot manually or automatically.

Cosplay Photographers: Ah that’s right! It’s true the newer cameras have HDR built in.

A.R.C. Photography: 5D Mark III, 6D and 1DX have HDR feature.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you prefer to keep the photo as natural as possible then, or do you do a lot of retouching and special effects?

A.R.C. Photography: Well all of my photos are natural background. I hardly add any additional backgrounds on it. I do on color gradings more than manipulate the background. Some series, don’t need much of color gradings. A simple and minor touch is enough.

Cosplay Photographers: Are there any photographers that you look up to personally, in Malaysia or otherwise?

A.R.C. Photography: Hmm~ most of the photographers I always look up are from overseas. Taiwan, Singapore, and Indonesia.

Cosplay Photographers: Name your top 3 favorite photographers. They can be cosplay photographers or not.

A.R.C. Photography: Revamp, Shiro Ang and Alf Alive. I only met Shiro Ang personally, but for Revamp and Alf Alive still in pending for opportunity to meet each other one day XD

Cosplay Photographers: What do you hope to accomplish with your photography in the next year?

A.R.C. Photography: Well, photography is my passion and hobby and I hope not to give up on it. I am hoping myself to achieve of what I wished for based on my improvements of my photography.

Cosplay Photographers: Any plans to travel outside of Malaysia for photos or anime conventions?

A.R.C. Photography: I’m planning to travel to Taiwan and Singapore’s Anime Conventions on the coming months. I wished to travel and visit Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, China, Thailand, Australia and US for the anime conventions and also doing some photoshoots for some of my friends I’ve met online.

Cosplay Photographers: We at Cosplay Photographers would love to meet you as well!

A.R.C. Photography: Oh! I am honored hahahaha! I would love to meet you guys too.Miracle Paint Miku by Akatsuki Tsukasa

For more of ARC Photography’s fantastic work, you can visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/the.arc.photography

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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Ger is a Boston-based cosplay and event photographer. She's been cosplaying since 2007 and took up cosplay photography in 2010 to give back to the community that's given so much to her. She's currently traveling the country interviewing and photographing cosplayers for her upcoming book about the culture of cosplay in the USA, "Breaking All The Rules: Cosplay and the Art of Self-Expression."

1 Comments

  1. gorgeous cosplay, i absolutely love it

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