Ever wonder what you could get after some 600+ hours of cosplay crafting, 2 weeks of planning, 9 hours of shooting, and 15+ hours of post-processing?
Guild Wars 2, that’s where this all began. Enayla is not only a cosplayer but she’s also a huge GW2 fan. With that combo, you just know she would somehow find a way to spend countless sleep-deprived hours fabric shopping, prop building, sewing, and a whole lot more. The goal is clear: transforming herself into a real life character from that which she so adores in the game world. With the rise of armor crafting using worbla in the cosplay scene, she decided that she would tackle her very first worbla project with a ridiculously intrinsic GW2 Orrian armor. “Do it well or don’t do it at all” is how I would describe Enayla and her dedication to cosplay making.
At one point I got wind of her coming home over the break and decided to hit her up for a shoot, only to learn her plan of beasting through her Orrian armor over that period of time so she could debut it at ArenaNet’s headquarters (ArenaNet is the developer of the Guild Wars series) before heading back to school. Since she planned to finish up the armor anyway, a simple photo shoot request suddenly developed into a full-on day-long adventure that involved 5 people, 2 locations, and hours of preparation.
Enayla and I maintained tight communication over the course of those two weeks to solidify the plan. I wanted to do basically two types of shoots: one to create movie poster style photographs which are mostly shot in a studio setting, and the other an on-location shoot at a setting similar to the Ruins of Orr. Figuring out the location was relatively easy since Washington state is known for its diverse landscape, so the majority of my time was spent on logistics planning and going through scenarios in case things didn’t go as planned.
The shoot date finally arrived. We started around 11am, which allowed Enayla to slightly catch up on her much needed sleep because she would need it for this day long adventure. It was action packed from then on until around 9pm; A solid 10 hour shoot. Enayla’s parents have always been extremely helpful and supportive of her cosplay endeavors and showed their support during this photo shoot by assisting her with all the intricacies of her costume. With the help of our videographer, my wife Mandy, we were able to produce this video taking you behind the scenes to have a brief look of our trip.
At the end of the day, everyone was exhausted, but we did successfully pull through this amazing shoot and I couldn’t have asked for a better team. It was amazing to see how a simple idea evolved into a photo shoot of this scale, and despite our exhaustion, I think everyone still very much enjoyed the experience, and our day-long adventure had finally come to an end.
Seeing as we were in Washington state, the weather was surprisingly nice despite the chill. I was also quite happy that our timing was perfect because the golden hour sunlight was simply beautiful. Due to the coldness, we had roughly 30-40 minutes of actual shooting time with Enayla warming up and readjusting armor during intermissions. Even with such a tight time frame, I was rather satisfied with our results, all things considered.
Back in studio (a.k.a. my living room), we focused more on the concept we had previously discussed, which were loosely based off of movie poster ideas from The Dark Knight Rises, Dredd, District 9, Expendables 2, and so on. Once again racing against the clock, we were still able to try different setups and looks.
The End…is the Beginning
Now months later, Enayla continues to refine her Orrian armor, and I have had the time to ponder the possibility of people taking cosplay photography to the next level en masse. I think our collaboration this time opened up a whole new chapter showing what is possible when photographers and cosplayers team-up. There are already countless examples of photographer – cosplayer teams creating amazing art everywhere around the world. Personally, I cannot wait to see more people join forces and take cosplay photography beyond conventions to create something timeless, something amazing, something that you can look back upon in 5-10 years and fondly remember why you got into cosplay in the first place.
- Lenses: Canon 35mm f/1.4; Canon 50mm f/1.4; Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro L
- Lighting: Ambient light only
- Gray backdrop
- Lens: Sigma 85mm f/1.4
- “Dredd” inspired lighting: PCB Einstein with 22″ beauty dish, center high
- Silhouette lighting: 2 x speedlights in stripboxes, left and right, pointed toward backdrop