This month we catch up with a traveler from Indonesia named Alify. He might be new to the Los Angeles area, but he’s no stranger to cosplay photography.
Cosplay Photographers: Hey Alify, why don’t you tell our readers about yourself.
Alify: Yoo! My name is Alify A. Nasution, but you can just call me Alf. I’m a cosplayer and a cosplay photographer from Jakarta, Indonesia. I was a graphic designer and I also worked as a documentation team in local convention such as AFA ID. But now I’m a student again hahaha
CP: Alright, “Alf” it is. So what brings you to Los Angeles?
Alf: Currently I’m studying Photography for a master degree in LA. This is my first time travelling outside Asia, everything looks so different. Especially the weather, it is both colder and hotter at the same time lol
CP: You’ve only been here a few months, but you’ve already been to a couple conventions around LA. What do you think of them?
Alf: So far I’ve been to 2 conventions and 1 gathering, my first convention was ALA 2015, then followed by Long Beach Comic Expo and recently I just went to Sakurami gathering. I had an amazing time during these conventions, meet lots and lots of new friends there. Boy it feels so good to see cosplayer again!
CP: How does it compare to home?
Alf: I think convention in LA feels almost the same like home, from cosplayer that being ‘kidnapped’ by photographers, walls of photographers wanted to take picture of cosplayer, to a random person that suddenly shoot cosplayer without his/her permission. The main difference is probably the type of character cosplayed by a cosplayer where it’s kind of rare thing to see western character being cosplayed by a cosplayer in Jakarta. I do notice something about cosplay during convention in my hometown where people can be so judgmental based on how you look or the type of character cosplayed.
CP: Do you miss anything about the conventions back in Indonesia?
Alf: If there something that I miss from a convention back in Indonesia, it’ll be the food and my friends. Hahaha to be honest, since 2012 I only go to a convention just to eat some good food and meet & have fun with my friends. I don’t really care about the convention itself anymore. For me, a convention is where I can hang out with friends in costume, sometimes even with friends outside Jakarta.
CP: Friends definitely make the con experience better! Is there any about LA conventions that Indonesia doesn’t have?
Alf: I know I haven’t experienced it yet, but I believe LA conventions have variety of panels, starting from Voice actor panels, youtuber panel, that kind of stuff. There’s not much panel in Jakarta yet, but we’re getting there!
CP: Are there any US conventions you’re looking forward to?
Alf: Ooh I’m looking forward for Wondercon, Fanime, AX, SDCC and Blizzcon! I really wanted to go to Katsucon but it’s quite far.. Maybe someday! I can’t wait to go to another convention and meet more friends! I was so excited that I didn’t dare to approach cosplayer to take his/her photo. I’m quite a shy kind of guy, so if I’m not speak at all during a convention or gathering, it is most likely because I’m too shy to speak or greet you. Orz…
CP: How did you get started in cosplay photography?
Alf: I’ve been shooting cosplayer since 2005 as an event goer. Back then I never knew anything about cosplay photoshoot, All I know was shooting cosplayer during conventions. It was until I saw my friend doing a Final Fantasy 7’s TURKS photoshoot. It blew my mind how photography can actually make the character real. Since that, I thought the costumes done by my fellow cosplayer friends would be a waste if their efforts were limited to be enjoyed only during the events. I felt that they deserve more appreciation because of their rich potential as artistic subjects, and I saw photography as the answer. Then I started to do a serious cosplay photohoot in 2009, my first photoshoot was Full Metal Alchemist.
CP: Your lighting is always amazing. Do you do much editing with your photos?
Alf: How much I edit will depend on the concept, some maybe need a little correction, some may need big changes. I usually divided my post-pro into 3 phases. RAW color and exposure correction in Lightroom, detailed editing and then finalizing the overall tone in Photoshop. For me, photo editing is essential. The purpose of post-production is like plating a food. If you already have a delicious food, you still have to serve/plate it properly to make sure and convince your audience that already delicious food is really delicious.
CP: Hmm, now I’m hungry… How did you learn your editing techniques?
Alf: I’m a self-taught learner. To be honest at this time I’m bored with my own editing style because I feel like using the similar style over and over again. I call it as a “Monochromatic Era”, where everything feels almost the same for me.
CP: Who are some photographers that you follow that inspire you?
Alf: My inspirations come from every photograph that I saw, even it’s good or bad you can always learn something from it. But if I have to choose my main inspirational photographer, it will be Mit (Japan) and Pugoffka (Ukraine). I really love how Mit able to tell us stories with her photography using gestures, movement, framing, and expressions, even though the subject itself doesn’t look at the camera. The same goes to Pugoffka. If mit has a more moody type of tone, Pugoffka has more color and life in her photographs. I really love how she manages all that soft beautiful colors in her works.
CP: Yeah! We’re big fans of Pugoffka too! How about anime and games? What are you watching/playing these days?
Alf: I’m not really following anime anymore these days. I think the last series that I watched was Kill la Kill. The only anime that I’m currently hyped is Kangoku Gakuen anime! My favorite anime of all time will be Elfen Lied, Trouble Chocolate, Beck and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
I WAS A HARDCORE GAMER! Sadly I only own a PC now. Some of the titles that I like are Contra, Double dragon, Mortal kombat series, Guilty Gear series, Megaman X series, World of Warcraft, Portal series, Terraria, One finger Death Punch and the list goes forever. Currently I’m hyped for Mortal Kombat X and Overwatch!
CP: Do you shoot any other genre besides cosplay?
Alf: Since I move to LA, I’m now interested in street photography. There’s so many thing I can learn from it, it improve my sense of capturing moments and making me to see the world differently. I really love when I manage to capture of people interacting and help each other, smiling to one another, it’s like I witness that this world still contains kindness and hope.
CP: /cry…that’s very touching. Do you feel there’s a lot of crossover between cosplay and other categories of photography?
Alf: To me, cosplay photography is complex yet at the same time unique, where within a piece the emphasis in make up, landscape and costume are factors within the variety of elements in photography (beauty, landscape, fashion, etc). The depth within a photo in cosplay photography reveals the character(s)/theme(s) of the cosplay where they all each contain their own unique stories.
CP: How important has formal education been to your photography?
Alf: I’m gonna say quite important. This is my first time having a formal education in photography and now I’m starting to learn about my ‘mistakes’ in the past. My weakness is always about creating an idea or concept and directing my subject. Now I can finally learn how the ‘professional’ do their work.
CP: So if you could go back in time to when you started photography, is there any advice you would tell yourself to do differently?
Alf: I’m gonna say something like, “Oi, don’t be shy, don’t be afraid! Be confident!“
CP: That’s great advice! And of course, we have to ask – what equipment do you shoot with?
With a camera of course lol I was starting my photography using Canon 450D with 18-55mm kit lens & 50mm f/1.8 since 2009-2011. Currently my latest line-up is:
- Canon 5D mkIII
- Canon 60D
- Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
- Canon 28mm f/1.8
- Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8
- Canon 50mm f/1.4
- Canon 85mm f/1.8
- Canon 135mm f/2
- 3x Yungnuo speedlites
For me, my gear is like my own companion cube but in a form of a camera gears. I name them The Mirror (Camera body), The Miracles (Lenses), and the Sleeper (strobes), and yes all those names are inspired from Dream Theater lol.
CP: Haha, that’s awesome! Thanks for your time, Alf. I hope we run into each other at a convention soon!
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