Column by Alina Ghervase

Translation by Taisia Flyagina

Photos by Slava Grebenkin

Vitaly Sparoff

Years of Cosplay: 3+

Moscow / Russia


When did you first start cosplaying and what other characters have you impersonated?
I started working on my Captain Jack three years ago, in early 2011. Before that I was fond of Harry Potter, I collected all of the accessories and costumes. And once, I impersonated Charlie Chaplin. But I’ve never done a photo shoot like this, only test photos.

How did you decide on cosplaying Captain Jack Sparrow and how much of a trickster do you consider yourself to be?
It happened quite by accident! One day, I tried on a Captain Jack Sparrow costume; it was a cheap costume for Halloween. And when I looked in the mirror, I realized – I’m Captain Jack Sparrow! The pirate blood began to boil inside me!


How much do you find yourself in this fictional character? How many personality traits do you share with Jack Sparrow?
Myself as a person and Captain Jack Sparrow – we are completely different! That’s why I like to transform into Jack. When I put on the suit – I’m turning into another person, I turn into Captain Jack!

And yes, I think I probably add something of myself in this character, because I have to imagine how Jack would have acted in any given situation that is not represented in the film.

What can you tell us about the creative process behind this costume? Perhaps you can elaborate some of the most challenging parts?
I wanted to make the costume as accurate to the movie as possible. Shirt, pants, vest, gloves and hat – they were all handmade by me. It was an unusual experience for me because I never studied sewing. So, I had to redo everything several times. But the wig was the most challenging part! I did it on the third attempt and searched everywhere for all these beads, and these things that hang in his hair. I thought it would never end and I’ll go crazy!

However, there is still room for improvement! I’ll keep working on the costume and continue to improve it.


Your photos are indeed very artistic. Can you recount a bit of your photoshoot experience? Perhaps a funny story related to it?
Thank you. Yes, I had three years to collect every piece of the suit and all this time to rewatch the movie again and again, in order to absorb the spirit of Captain Jack Sparrow. Savvy?

My experience with the photoshoots is very insignificant. To be more precise – it was my first real photoshoot! And I was very worried because I did not know how it really happens! But when we started shooting – it was not so frightening, each of us just doing his job. And everyone laughed when I was smiling, gleaming with my golden teeth.

We got on very well with the photographer! Slava is a professional in his area, he quickly established a light apparatus, ably led by his assistant, constantly changing lenses and even the whole camera. Every time we changed the place and shooting conditions, he instantly set up his equipment!

Frankly, the result of this photoshoot came out so much better than I expected!


Slava Grebenkin

Years of photography: 7

Moscow / Russia

How did you become a cosplay photographer and what can you tell us about your approach on this matter?
I liked medieval mythology and historical battles since I was a child and I always watched movies like Braveheart, Spartacus, Troy and so on with great interest. One day, my friends gave me the tickets to the festival «Time and Age». The festival lasted only for a couple of days but it was an unforgettable experience. It’s like you can travel back in time and visit any era! Most of all I liked the jousts and medieval tournies, because people spend a lot of time, effort and patience to create chainmail armor, swords, and all the other things worn by our ancestors.

It was very fortunate that a couple of days before the festival I get accredited as photographer and so I could officially shoot at this event. My pictures spread all over the internet and were published in a few magazines.

I didn’t know about cosplay then, and cosplay photography wasn’t that popular in our country. However, after that festival I started to create film-based cosplay projects – “Kill Bill”, “The Mask”, “Harry Potter”. The models were my friends who most fit the images of the main characters.


What kind of equipment do you use and how much do you rely on the photo editing process?
I came to photography from cinema, so when shooting, instead of using flash, I use a movie light, which makes my photos look like they were shot on film. My team consists of me as a photographer, professional gaffer, assistant, as well as color corrector and retoucher. To create a quality product you can only do it if each crewman is the best in his work. The photographer shoots the photos, gaffers create the lighting and etc. The most post-processing that we do is color correction and retouching. We take a great shot initially so there’s less post-processing and cropping to do. I like natural shots, without any interference with Photoshop or collage!

What can you tell us about the photoshoot location and how did you find it?
This project was created in an abandoned movie town set, Piligrim Porto. In the summer of 2010, a movie was filmed here: “Notes of a secret office forwarder”.

We were very lucky with the location, because it displays the same era as the film Pirates of the Caribbean.

However, the houses and the ships had deteriorated due to snow and rain during the last three years. We needed to choose the most successful angles to shoot, but we had to remove cracks from the buildings in post-processing at any rate.

I want to say a huge thanks to actor and cosplayer Vitaly Sparoff who was perfect for the role of Captain Jack Sparrow! He is not just a cosplayer, he has a talent from God!


In your opinion as a cosplay photographer, how important do you think the surroundings/background are in complementing the costume and how can the trap of suppressing the impact of the latter can be avoided?
If you’re shooting a costume on a white or black background, you’re essentially making a clothes advertisement rather than a cosplay project, although it’s preferable that the background doesn’t distract from the costume too much.

I advise you to always look for a room with natural lighting or to shoot in the street. Also use an aperture optics with a diaphragm from 1.2 to.2.8 and no darker. Only then, the focus will be on our character instead of environment.

If you’re shooting a character from a movie, the best choice of lenses is fixes – 35, 50, 85 , 135, 200. Zoom lenses are only suitable if you shoot anime characters where the proportion and geometry are not as important as for movie cosplays.

What advice do you have for beginner photographers?
Above all make sure that you like it. And if this is really so – do it. Most importantly, believe in yourself and in your abilities! Work hard and improve!



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