Zim Killgore Photography has been hiding out, but we caught up with him for this month’s Featured Photographer interview!
Cosplay Photographers: Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from?
Zim Killgore: Some say I was forged from the rocks and clay of Atlantis. But My birth certificate states I was born in Fortworth TX. Lived in Texas for a brief amount of time, then moved to Colorado, then to California and have been here since. 🙂
CP: Zim Killgore is an interesting name. Are you named after someone/something? Is it a nickname?
ZK: Killgore is my family last name, Zim is actually a nick name. But I have been going as Zim for around 15 years now.
CP: Invader Zim fan? I can see it in the haircut!
ZK: haha I’ve always been an Invader Zim fan, but it’s not where the nickname came from. I don’t really like to go into how it came about or what it actually means.
CP: Alright, maybe after a few drinks. So how did you get started in photography?
ZK: While I was working in Texas, I had a pretty decent job at the time and I was traveling often for that job. I didn’t know anything about cameras but I wanted one to document the places I was going. My friend showed me DSLR cameras and the benefit of owning one. Naturally I was terrible at it. So my instincts kicked in and wanted to figure this puzzle out and become relatively ok at it. My girlfriend at the time became a test subject for me to practice with and since then I haven’t stopped.
CP: And how did you get into cosplay photography specifically?
ZK: *The Daily Double!* *jeopardy music* It’s kind of funny because I had no idea what cosplay was at the time. So the first photo I took of someone in cosplay was a close friend who wasn’t a cosplayer. I thought she would look good as the cat woman from the second batman film and I just so happened to know someone with that suit. Next thing you know we are shooting a photo. A year goes by and all of the sudden I have a few people asking to shoot more cosplay photos.
CP: What other genre’s of photography do you enjoy?
ZK: I am a sucker for super clean black and white, emotional photos. Oh and architectural photos.. Yum.
CP: How would you describe your style?
ZK: I honestly can never describe it. I feel it’s always changing. I just describe how to find my photos online and tell people to take a gander and let me know what style they think I am. Haha
CP: How do you feel it’s changed/evolved/refined over the years?
ZK: Like with anything in life, it changes, evolves, matures. I think since art is an expression of your emotions, that whatever is going on in your life, affects the outcome. Doing the same type of style, eventually makes you lose passion. You gotta keep things fresh.
CP: How much pre-planning do you do for a shoot?
ZK: It really depends on the outcome I want. If it’s just for fun, then I don’t do any planning at all. Most of the time I forget to bring something. If it’s for a shoot that more people are involved and everyone has an idea of the outcome, then I’ll location scout, get make up and all that. Storyboards are mostly only needed for me when I am personally making something from scratch that I need to build something.
CP: How important do you feel pre-planning is to the shoot? Or do you prefer to just show up and wing it?
ZK: I feel both are important. Having the skill of each will definitely define you as an artist. Being able to just wing a shoot with no pressure is an art in its own. Being able to get a shot with out the crutches of lights or a valuable item is something people need to practice. Sometimes life happens and all of the sudden you are missing one of those items or your alien bee decides to fall in the pool… On the other hand, trying new things and planning it out is also conducive to bettering yourself. Have a cool red film you wanna throw over that light because it might look cool? Try it!
CP: That seems like a fun story we’ll have to dig out of you some time. You don’t really seem to shoot at conventions much. How do you meet cosplayers and find cosplays to shoot?
ZK: The past year was my first for going to conventions, I didn’t want to have to worry about my gear and trying to shoot. I just wanted to enjoy it. I either just ask someone or they ask me on social media or in person when I am at conventions. Typically the conversations take place on social media sites.
CP: So how would a cosplayer arrange a shoot with you?
ZK: If someone wants to create an idea with me, I’m all ears! They can email me or send a carrier pigeon to my castle. My adviser would send forth the message.
CP: What’s been your most memorable shoot so far?
ZK: I would have to say the shoot I did with my friend Jason Justice (Vash the Stampede) we woke up at 3am and went to get donuts, then proceeded to drive all the way to the Salton Sea, which took about 3 hours. When we arrived it was just about to break the morning sun and his costume was perfectly glowing while the wind swept nicely under the cape. Haha. We were laughing all day, having all kinds of fun, listening to the music he just finished producing. It was totally cool. Then he made dinner, which was fantastic, while I was editing the photo.
CP: Of course, we have to ask…what’s in your bag?
ZK: Canon 5D MK II, AlienBee B800, some receipts, a pen, a laser pointer (good for night shots) a random thing of Chapstick? Not sure why.
CP: Any favorites?
ZK: Canon 24-70 L and 16-35 L
CP: How about a travel kit?
ZK: Same as above, but I also take my MacBook Pro. Minus the Chapstick because I threw it away.
CP: You should’ve kept the Chapstick; you never know when you might need it! What’s your favorite part of the process: shooting or editing?
ZK: I’m gonna get flak for this one. Editing. The whole photo taking process to me doesn’t seem as fun as editing can be. There are a million different ways you can edit a photo. Each way will give you a completely different result. I like making stuff for the shoots, then editing, then lighting, then location scouting, then shooting. In that order.
CP: So of the million ways to edit a photo, how do you go about choosing yours? What do you look for or try to achieve when it comes to a cosplay photo?
ZK: I just try to aim for what I saw in my head while I was making the shoot happen or if its a specific idea, (especially with cosplay) there’s a style already pre-determined that I’m going for. When trying to get a cosplayer’s character to be as close to the real thing as possible, I tend to stick with the style or flow of the character they are playing as.
CP: Do you do your own retouching/editing or outsource?
ZK: I’m self taught and have edited every photo I took.
CP: Do you do many composites?
ZK: I feel like I don’t do anything really consistently. I can and have done composites in the past, I teach people how to do them. I just don’t do them all the time. If it’s part of the process to compose a photo because of restrictions, then I’ll totally composite things into a photo.
CP: Do you prefer shooting in the studio where you have a lot of control? Or being out on location?
ZK: Like my previous answer, depending on what I’m doing, it will call for a studio or location. I personally like shooting outdoors on a bad ass location, but sometimes the weather or time of year or what it may be, will force me to shoot in studio under controlled lighting.
CP: Any dream cosplay shoots you’ve always wanted to do?
ZK: I personally want to do a really cool Batman photoshoot, but I don’t think it would happen anytime soon unless I can get my hands on the tumbler tank. That would be super amazing.
CP: What anime/comic/game are you into these days?
ZK: I’ve been watching all of Space Dandy lately. Super awesome anime if you havent seen it yet. And I’m still been playing Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls as well.
CP: So what photographers inspire you?
ZK: I know this sounds kind of cliche, but all artists inspire me. I just like looking at other peoples work and I try to think about what they are showing, or what went into a photo. From the lightning, the posing and style of editing. Its all fun to look at and wonder.
CP: It seems like you’ve been on a bit of a break; what have you been working on?
ZK: I’ve been practicing other types of mediums! Mostly video and editing. Painting and I’ve been shooting, I just haven’t made anything public. I needed to step away and kind of look at what I really wanted to dedicate my free time to. I don’t care about being popular, I just want to work on things that make me happy. 🙂
CP: Then what’s next for Zim Killgore Photography?
ZK: Anything is possible, let’s find out together!
CP: Any parting tips for new photographers?
ZK: Don’t forget to take the lens cap off. No, but seriously. Make mistakes, don’t worry about being perfect, learn every technique, try things you never try. Don’t create your own box that you get trapped in, never listen to what others think is right or wrong. There is no standard. There’s only what you think is right in your mind.
CP: Wise words! Thanks for your time, Zim!
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!
Notice a problem with this article? Let us know.