You’ve seen his photos everywhere, but you’ve probably never heard of him before. Now meet the man behind the gorgeous photos of the professional cosplay team Spiral Cats, Sinme!
Cosplay Photographers: Welcome! Thanks for your time, Mr. Sinme. We’re very excited to feature you on CosplayPhotographers.com. I’m sure many people would recognize your photos, but they probably don’t know that it’s you behind the camera. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sinme: Thank you for your interest. Hello everyone, my nickname is Sinme and I’m in charge of management, photography, videography and editing within the Spiral Cats team. Tasha and I used to work at the same company where I was a project director and Tasha was a background designer.
One day Tasha suggested organizing a professional cosplay team and that’s when we became business partners and started the Spiral Cats. Coming from the gaming industry helped us with marketing when the team was just starting and though we never dreamed of this level of success, we were very lucky. My photography career started only recently when I bought my first digital camera in 2010. Defining myself as a paid professional photographer was not until 2012.
Having our own studio and the support of the Spiral Cats models has allowed me to gain a lot of experience in a short time. My previous work experience as a designer and director also helped as well. I’ve been using Photoshop since 5.0 and post processing has always been one of my strengths.
CP: Is your photography your primary job or do you have another role?
Sinme: My primary role as CEO is general management of the team. My daily tasks are meeting with clients and reporters, negotiating contracts, schedules and so on. If we get to hire a good photographer in the future, I plan to keep my photography to a hobbyist level.
CP: I’m sure many people will be applying for the photographer job soon! Do you enjoy photographing other subjects outside of cosplay?
Sinme: I rarely take photos apart from cosplay photos. Of course I want to try different stuff if I get the chance.
CP: Do you have advice for new photographers who might like to work with Spiral Cats?
Sinme: Beautiful people are sensitive and difficult. (LOL) While doing commercial work, creating satisfactory results requires a lot of raw shots and patience. When the shoot is over the models can take a rest and I proceed onto the next stage of post processing alone. If you have stamina and responsibility, you are a photographer who has what it takes.
CP: How can people apply to join Spiral Cats?
Sinme: Our mailboxes are always open and we regularly announce a call for applications. Since modelling is an important part of being a member, looks would be important. But the essential quality I think is passion. Anyone with enough passion is welcome, regardless of nationality or age.
CP: Do you help recruit new members for SpCats?
Sinme: The process of recruiting new members is all up to Tasha. All I do is praying every day for her to pick beautiful models. (LOL)
CP: Have you worked with many other cosplayers besides spcats members?
Sinme: I’ve never really received any requests from other cosplayers. This may be because I rarely took photos of or communicated with other cosplayers as a hobby. When there is an opportunity, of course I would like to.
CP: It looks like many of your photos are taken in a studio. Do you prefer working in a studio or shooting on location?
Sinme: I’m not very good at shooting on location. Some people are surprised by this, but since starting the Spiral Cats I’ve only taken photos almost exclusively in a studio. When I suggest we shoot on location other members all refuse because they know how bad I am on location. Also, I don’t have a driver’s license or a car. (LOL)
CP: In California, it’s difficult to shoot at outside locations because you need legal permits and insurance and permission from the location owner. Is it difficult to shoot in locations around South Korea?
Sinme: In Korea it depends on whether it’s a commercial shoot or not. Shooting as a hobby is usually overlooked but once it becomes commercial the situation is similar unless it’s a large park or an open place.
CP: What camera equipment do you use?
Sinme: My main equipment is a 5D Mark 2 and EF 50mm f/1.4. The lights and reflectors in our studio are stuff that I’ve gathered as cheaply as possible. I don’t typically prefer expensive equipment because I feel what I use is more than enough for me. I have no plans on upgrading until I feel I’m bringing out 100% of their potential or something breaks
CP: How much of the shoot is planned by yourself and how much is thought up by Tasha?
Sinme: General preparation and planning is done by me. Tasha usually has her hands full making the costumes and coming up with poses that would match the character.
CP: When we shot with them, they were great models. Do you have to give them much direction or do they already know the best pose for the character?
Sinme: As people who are in love with cosplay, we all do our best to study what the character is about. However, commercial work sometimes involves characters or games that aren’t that popular or don’t have much background or stories to them.
When planning the shoot I mostly come up with instructions for the concept or necessary poses, and our models usually practice a lot to perform the concepts and poses I request.
CP: Oh yes, commercial work can be very different. Do you find that it’s very easy to work with them now and you can get a good picture easily? Or do you still try a lot of different things to get a picture you like?
Sinme: A lot of people remark that my photos are all the same. They say they can identify my work just be looking at its thumbnail. While I am somewhat glad those people recognize my work, it also stresses me because that can also mean I am not satisfying those people with quality content.
Recently I try a lot of stuff to change the feeling of my photos. But even if I put more effort and time into it, it seems that not many people recognize the difference, and that makes me sad. (LOL) The process of trying different tools and methods is always fun though.
CP: In Japan, many cosplayers do not wear costumes outside of the event. They bring their costumes and change at the location. While in the US, people wear costumes everywhere. What is it like in South Korea?
Sinme: In South Korea as well, it has become customary to only wear costumes at the location of an event. But I really liked the festive atmosphere of people cosplaying on the streets at AX 2014. I do wish one day South Korea would have events on a large regional scale so everyone could enjoy it.
CP: Is cosplay well-accepted in S. Korea? Or is it considered a negative or immature?
Sinme: Most people in South Korea used to associate cosplay only with Japanese anime in a negative light. I think its perception is changing though. Recently, cosplay has been gradually introduced to the masses through game advertisements and more. Blizzard games and League of Legends would be good examples of such influential medium. League of Legends especially held its world championship finals in South Korea, allowing cosplay to be shown to everyone through the media,
CP: Do you plan to come back to the US soon?
Sinme: The US is such a beautiful country! I sometimes even wish I could go and live there in the future. So yes, as soon as we have the opportunity, we will!
CP: Are there any events around the world that you would like to go to?
Sinme: There are so many events we’re interested in professionally and personally: E3, PAX, ESL, IEM, just to name a few, but if we had to choose just one I’d say I want to go to San Diego Comic-Con.
CP: Thank you for your time! Do you have any last comments for our readers on CosplayPhotographers.com?
Sinme: Thank you for reading this long interview!
I hope to meet everyone in the US in the near future, and we will make sure to be properly prepared to meet your expectations. This summer our overseas plans are all on hiatus due to MERS and other situations, but we will do our best to visit you all as soon as everything has passed and we are ready. We also wish to keep you updated on what we’re up to through CosplayPhotographers.com.
We hope you accept our love for you all.Finally, thank you to those who have shown their support for my work and me as a photographer.
Again, thank you~
CP: Special thanks to Yong-jin Kim for translating questions and answers from Sinme.
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