October 2013 Featured Photographer of the Month: Majin Buchoy

October 1, 2013
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Cosplay Photographers: Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you’re from!

Majin Buchoy: Howdy, my name is Jay, currently living in the “sweat your armpits off” city of Houston, Texas. I work as a graphic designer by day and moonlight as a cosplay photographer, using the name Majin Buchoy, when I’m not feeling so lazy.

Cosplay Photographers: That’s an interesting name. Where does it come from, if I can ask?

Majin Buchoy: Buchoy was my nickname in the Philippines when I was a kid. It means “Fat Baby.” Majin comes from Majin Buu, a character from Dragonball Z, which I am a big fan of. I put the two together cause they sounded similar. Seeing as Majin could mean “evil” I guess my photography moniker translates to “Evil Fat Baby.” Hmm…sounds about right…

Cosplay Photographer Location URL
Majin Buchoy Houston, USA http://cosplayphotographers.net/profile/455/

Cosplay Photographers: Well, for an evil fat baby, you take excellent photos! How did you realize you wanted to do photography?

Majin Buchoy: I blame having to take photography 101 as a prerequisite for my major in college. After developing my first black and white film, I was hooked. Being in the dark room late at night till the next morning was exhausting but therapeutic at the same time. Another factor that had a role was The History for Photography class I also had to take where I learned about photographers like Cindy Sherman, Margaret Bourke-White, and my all time favorite, Diane Arbus.08 Magi

Cosplay Photographers: Interesting! A lot of photographers these days haven’t had the experience of using film. How long have you been shooting?

Majin Buchoy: I’ve been shooting off and on for maybe five years??? But not until last year did I really get into it, buying all sorts of gear and modifiers I really had no business in buying.

Cosplay Photographers: And how did you find out about cosplay?

Majin Buchoy: My very first convention was at comic con Austin about 2 years ago..I think. My memory is horrendous. I had a very vague idea of what cosplay was but didn’t know how epicosity until I started researching it online after the convention. I looked up my favorite anime characters to see if anyone had cosplayed them. When I saw all the Kenshin cosplays I was all, “Holy ****! How do I get in on this?”

Cosplay Photographers: What’s it like being a photographer in Texas?05 Black Phoenix

Majin Buchoy: I’m really excited being a photog from the South. I think we are on the verge of really putting ourselves on the map. A bunch of us has formed a facebook group to talk about upcoming cons, ask for photography advice, and share our latest work. There are a surprisingly good amount of photographers here from all different levels, from novice to professionals and everyone has been super helpful and inviting.

Cosplay Photographers: That’s cool! The majority of photographers I interview in the US are on the coasts, and the rest of the country is kind of like a black hole for us. Have you attended any cons outside of Texas?

Majin Buchoy: I haven’t yet, but will probably attend one or two next year. To be honest though, I don’t really feel the need to because there are so many great cosplayers here. The only real reason for me to go outside of Texas is to beat the heat.

Cosplay Photographers: Do you think being located in the South makes a difference in the kinds of cosplayers that you photograph?

Majin Buchoy: This is a question I’m still trying to find an answer for. All I know is the South, and since this year I only attended Texas cons, I don’t have anything else to compare it to. There are Southern cosplayers I owe a lot to because they helped me get started with this hobby, so a big thanks to Trang, Ruby [Access Cosplay], and Christina for being my first guinea pigs. I will forever be a fan of ya’lls work.

Cosplay Photographers: What’s in your gear bag?

Majin Buchoy: I shoot with a Nikon set up. D800, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, 85mm prime, 50mm prime, Pocket Wizards, SB910, SB600, and a 30″ Lastolite Ezybox. It’s a bit too much for me to carry cause I sweat A LOT so I’m thinking of really cutting it down..At the last convention I attended I did a couple of shoots with just a 50 prime and ambient light and I’m convinced that for me, that’s all I need. I suck with flash, and zoom lenses coupled with a D800 has turned me into a very lazy photographer…

06 Selene

Cosplay Photographers: You say you’re “lazy,” but it’s getting rarer and rarer to see photographer without huge light setups at conventions. How do you get the best photo possible with just a camera and a lens?

Majin Buchoy: Easy…I don’t go for it at all. I’m more focused on having a good time and making sure the cosplayer(s) are also. In the end its the cosplayer(s) that can make or break a good photo. I do try and do shoots in shaded areas or indoors because it is super duper hot down here which inadvertently makes for easier post processing. I love me some nice even lighting.

Cosplay Photographers: What’s your shooting philosophy?

Majin Buchoy: All of my photos are scheduled and scheduled way ahead of time in order for me to research the character. I do this for two reasons. One is to help with how to pose each cosplayer. I’ll save a bunch of images on my phone of the poses I’d like to try out and sometimes practice them myself to see how difficult they are. This really helps when a cosplayer is not very good at posing. The second reason I do research is so I don’t freak out during the actual shoot. I’m very much a worry wart and don’t like to waste anyone’s time. So basically, I trick every cosplayer into thinking I know what I’m doing in order to get them to relax and just have fun when really…I have absolutely no clue.

Cosplay Photographers: Good advice! Any favorite cosplayers you’ve worked with so far?

Majin Buchoy: I don’t have favorite cosplayers because I honestly have enjoyed every shoot I’ve done to date. I will say that the ones that I remember most are those where the cosplayers actually had ideas of their own that they wanted to try. For example I had a Bioshock shoot at AnimeFest in Dallas that went so much better than I had planned because of the conversation I had with the cosplayers while walking to the shoot location. Their knowledge and enthusiasm for the game and characters were so great I honestly couldn’t keep up. We ended up stopping at certain places to shoot some scenes they remembered from the game. All this was unplanned.

Cosplay Photographers: So do you prefer to do convention photoshoots, or to set up off site shoots?

Majin Buchoy: I definitely prefer off site shoots because I’m able to control time and location better. It’s not as hectic. My problem with convention shoots is that I feel like I’m always on the go and don’t have time to stop and enjoy the convention itself. I have started to put at least an hour in between shoots for naps. I love me some naps..

Cosplay Photographers: Tell us what goes into the planning of each shoot.

Majin Buchoy: For each shoot I like to research each character, mainly looking for images but sometimes I’ll dig a little deeper to learn their personalities as well. I usually ask for a reference photo of the cosplay itself just to familiarize myself with various things like color, finish, poseability, etc..I’ll narrow down the reference images for each cosplay to about 5 really good ones and save them on my phone. The first night I’m at the con, I’ll walk around the space looking for possible shoot locations, also noting backups in case the first is a no-go. Then an hour before the shoot, I’ll go into panic mode, where I pace around my hotel room a bajillion times trying to remember settings, poses, and all that good jazz. I eventually calm myself down.

01 Bane

Cosplay Photographers: Do you have any pet peeves about cosplay photography or photoshoots?

Majin Buchoy: Tardiness and no-shows without being contacted is my number one peeve. I’ve woken up super early for a shoot and waited hours for a cosplayer(s) to show up only to find that they are cancelling. I don’t mind cancellations as long as I’m told before-hand. I coulda been sleeping, dagnabit.

Cosplay Photographers: What software do you use for post-processing?

Majin Buchoy: Photoshop!! Can’t say enough about how much control this program gives you.

Cosplay Photographers: Any tips and tricks for first timers or beginners on post-processing?

Majin Buchoy: My number one tip is to not be afraid to experiment with color. Look at the games or shows these characters are found in. Do they live in a warm or cool world? Don’t stop just because you have a great pose and proper exposure. Take it one step further and try to recreate the world through the use of color.

Cosplay Photographers: How do you keep your own knowledge of photography fresh?

Majin Buchoy: I’m always watching videos on YouTube for new tutorials. I use to go buy photography related magazines, but Borders Bookstore closed down and I don’t even know if there is a Barnes&Noble near my place.

Cosplay Photographers: Who are some of your favorite photographers, cosplay or otherwise?

Majin Buchoy: My favorite cosplay photog is Jay Tablante and my favorite photographer in general is Diane Arbus. She passed away a while ago in 1971, so my favorite photographer still living is Kyle Thompson.

Cosplay Photographers: Are there any styles of photography besides cosplay that you do, or would like to try?

Majin Buchoy: I would love to do narrative photography like Kyle Thompson or portraits like Diane Arbus. The way they think and see things is freaking beautiful.

03 Robin

Cosplay Photographers: Describe your dream shoot.

Majin Buchoy: Lame as it is, I actually don’t have one for myself. I would, however, love to just sit in on one of Jay Tablante’s shoots someday.

Cosplay Photographers: Besides following Jay Tablante around, if you could go anywhere in the world to do a shoot, where would it be?

Majin Buchoy: I’d love to go back to Japan and do a shoot out in the country somewhere. Like maybe a Kenshin shoot. Or maybe I just want to eat good ramen again.

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."

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