August 2013 Featured Photographer of the Month: ImMuze

ImMuze is a West Coast staple at Californian conventions such as Anime Los Angeles and Fanime. Although he keeps a fairly low profile with a quiet web presence, there’s no escaping the fact that this talented photographer really knows how to capture amazing cosplay in equally amazing light and color. Here, ImMuze talks about his photography experience, cosplaying while doing photography, as well as shooting underwater.

Cosplay Photographers: Tell us a little bit about your background and where you are from.

ImMuze: I was born in Taiwan and moved to USA when I was 12. I’ve been here ever since.

Cosplay Photographers: Have you ever cosplayed, or do you just take the photos?

ImMuze: I do both.

Cosplay Photographers: So how did you get into cosplay photography?

ImMuze: It was shortly after I started cosplaying that I felt it would be fun taking photos of others in cosplay. I then borrowed my friend’s camera and started playing around with it.

Cosplay Photographer Location URL
ImMuze California, USA http://immuze.deviantart.com/

Cosplay Photographers: Any favorite cosplayers you have worked with so far?

ImMuze: I have worked with many talented cosplayers, some more than others due to time and location restraint. Ming is someone I have worked with many times. Others are Arisatou, Bianca, Cvy (), DaveyGwiffen, LennethXVII, Tatto, Peggy, and Hibishi18.

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Cosplay Photographers: How do you think being a cosplayer also has helped your photography?

ImMuze: I think being a cosplayer not only allows me to have a different approach for the series that I’m shooting, but it also helped me to think up more posing that is series/character orientated.

Cosplay Photographers: I’m curious, do you do photography while in cosplay at conventions? I cosplay also and I usually have to take photos in costume!

ImMuze: I try not to do photoshoots in costume. I need more mobility and I can get dirty really easily during photo taking – all that climbing and rolling around on the floor. Plus I’d rather not get makeup on my view finder.

Cosplay Photographers: What are the staples of your photography gear bag? What camera and lenses do you use?

ImMuze: I started with the Canon 5D Mark I and a Canon 17-40 mm f4 I borrowed from my friend. A year later I returned the 17-40 and purchased the 16-35 mm f2.8 as my main lens because I really love wide angle shots while f 2.8 helps in low light conditions. Two years later I purchased my second lens, Canon 50mm f1.2, and it has been my main since. I recently upgrade my body to Canon 5D Mark III and have started learning how to use flash.

Cosplay Photographers: Tell us a little bit about your style and use of color and how you decide what colors and lighting to use on a photoshoot.

ImMuze: I do not really have a specific color style per say. Most of the time each set’s general color tone is determined by what feeling the character/series give out, although sometimes I experiment in the post processing.

Cosplay Photographers: What software do you use for post-processing? Any favorite software or ones you don’t like?

ImMuze: Mostly I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I like Lightroom a lot because it can adjust the general color tone much easier without having the photo look too processed.

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Cosplay Photographers: Are there any post-processing techniques that you think give your photos a unique feeling and make them different?

ImMuze: I tend to use the watercolor filter quite often because I like the painting feeling.

Cosplay Photographers: What conventions do you usually attend?

ImMuze: I attend Anime Los Angeles, Fanime, Anime Expo, and sometimes Yaoi Con.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you do a lot of private shoots at conventions?

ImMuze: I only do private shoots at conventions, as doing both cosplay and photography is very time consuming. I do not have time to do event coverage type of photos.

Cosplay Photographers: How do you go about scheduling and setting up shoots?

ImMuze: Usually either friends contact me or I have an idea and pitch to friends. Than we judge the setting of the series and try to see if there are locations suitable for shooting and go from there.

Cosplay Photographers: Many photographers I interview refuse to do private shoots at conventions due to the lack of good backgrounds. How do you work with the limitation of good backgrounds at conventions?

ImMuze: While there is a limitation of good backgrounds at conventions, sometimes it can be avoided with pre-planning. I tend to limit the amount of photo shoots I do at conventions so that I can do some research at some of the possible nearby off-site locations that can be used. Of course there is also last min requests. Then I just have to hope for the best on what I can find at that moment. I suggest scouting a convention and compose what you want to shoot along the way before you do anything else.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you do any off-site (non convention) shoots?

ImMuze: 90% of my photos are off-site shoots.

Cosplay Photographers: How do you plan them?

ImMuze: It is either we pick the series first than try and find the location, or I found an exotic location and try to come up with a series to match it. Besides that there really isn’t anything special, we setup a meeting time and we shoot.

Cosplay Photographers: Tell us about your favorite photoshoot you’ve done to date.

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ImMuze: I would have to say the Miku – Deep Sea Girl shoot with Ming. It was a 10 hour event and also my first time doing underwater shoot. We started in the morning and spend about 2 hour in transport to reach the scheduled beach for first part of the shoot, after spending 2 hours at the winter’s cold beach, we relocated to swimming pool for the second part of the underwater shoot. Over all it was a fun trial and error shoot with a lot of breath holding.

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Cosplay Photographers: Can you name some of your favorite photographers?

ImMuze: Zemotion, Brian Lim, Nik Yan, and Eric Ng.

Cosplay Photographers: Taiwan has some amazing cosplayers. Have you ever gone back and worked with Taiwanese cosplayers, or would you want to?

ImMuze: I have worked with some Taiwanese cosplayers such as KingxMon. However because my visits tend to be short and last minute, I usually just help out friends shoot instead of shooting them myself.

Cosplay Photographers: What is the gear that you need for underwater photography? Do you have any advice for people who would like to try it?

ImMuze: The most important and only thing you need for underwater photography is a waterpoof camera or waterproof case, I used a low end case from DiCAPac.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you have any advice for people who would like to try it?

ImMuze: I would say for people that like to attempt underwater photography, focus more how you want to compose the photo before you go in. There is very little you can adjust once you’re in the water.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you have any words of advice to photographers who are just starting out with cosplay photography?

ImMuze: I always feel that while a good cosplay photo is a good photo, a good photo may not be a good cosplay photo. While technique is important, more focus should be given how to present the feeling of the series you are shooting. Is the pose something the character will do? Does the background fit with the series?  And does the color help give out the feeling?

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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."

2 Comments

  1. While I agree that convention photoshoots are a crapshoot sometimes, there are some really amazing cosplayers you’ll find there – photographers who complain about the lack of “backgrounds” lack the creativity and rely too much on “location” for a good shoot. Creativity is what makes the photographer.

  2. Another solution to background issues is proper use of bokeh. But that’s advanced stuff… 😉

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