Eric Ng / Bigwhitebazooka
Glendale, CA, USA
Bigwhitebazooka, an already experienced American cosplay photographer, shared with us some of his opinions and views on cosplay photography. The interview below, also available in the printed version of Cosplay GEN #03, reveals a little something about the type of lenses he uses, about his view on how the relationship between cosplayer and photographer should look like, or about how he organizes his photoshoots, and also some advice for those who want to pursue cosplay photography.
as Raiden (Metal Gear Solid: Rising)
Cosplay Gen: Your portfolio also includes photos from different sorts of events involving music, vehicles, sports etc. How do you think anime conventions and cosplay in general differentiate from the others?
Eric Ng: The uniqueness of an anime convention is that it’s a really welcoming and supportive network of people who really enjoy themselves at their craft and hobby. Those people have a passion for that they do, so when I take their pictures, they’re much more able to manifest the idea of cosplay and costume design, which in turn yields a much better picture at the end. I appreciate all the relationships and friendships that I have run across in the last few years. Shooting photos of cars or sports don’t allow me to have direct interaction with people, which I really enjoy. As photography is evolving for me, I try to bring different techniques or styles of cosplay photography into other venues, such as music or even fashion photography.
Kay as Aeon (Castlevania Judgement)
Cosplay Gen: What camera do you use to shoot with and what lenses?
Eric Ng: I’m shooting with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EOS 30D body. Lenses include: 70-200 mm 2.8 L, 24-70 mm 2.8 L, 50 mm 1.8, 85mm 1.2 L, 10-17 mm.
I like playing around with different lenses, in order to create different depths and focus on different aspects for the shot. As of late, I enjoy using the wider lens (24-70) for location integration as well as the 85 prime lens to capture shots that highlight the emotions of a cosplayer.
as Shinjuro (Zone-00) and shx0
as Ruiko (Zone-00)
as Ciel Phantomhive, Takaaa
as Dagger, Bobby
as William T. Spears, Ivy as Beast, Pho3nix
as Doll, Tasu
as Dagger (Kuroshitsuji)
Cosplay Gen: Since cosplayers aren’t most of the times professional models and they do what they do as a hobby, do you think it’s important to exist a certain relation between the photographer and the cosplayer? How do you communicate with them?
Eric Ng: My type of cosplay photography is based on character as opposed to convention coverage. I think the relationship between cosplayer and photographer is very important. Personally, I’m very vocal during shoots. A powerful tool for a photographer to have is verbal direction. Communication comes through practice. You don’t want to be too pushy or too shy. Being polite and cordial will stop you from being a creepy photographer. I don’t agree with photographers who are touchy; show by example or learn to verbally explain better.
as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Synchronicity version)
Cosplay Gen: What can you tell us about the preparations you go through before a photoshoot? Do you make a plan yourself or leave it more to the cosplayers and their ideas?
Eric Ng: With a more involved location, I try to explore and find places that will be checkpoints during the shoot to hit. However, I like the challenge of coming up with different ways to best showcase the costume on the spot. Working with locations at convention centers and hotels have taught me to be creative in the worst of environments. I like a cosplayer’s input for characteristics of their cosplay, but I like to give it my own spin. Generally, cosplayers have 2-3 poses that they’ve seen from the series which they do for every photographer at a convention, so I like to change it up a bit to get a unique shot. I ask for how the character acts and come up with ways to show that. If you have a person whose character is brave or scary, imagine how to act it out and try to emphasize that through body posture, facial expression, and hand placement. With closer friends and more seasoned cosplayers, it becomes very fun to work with, as they are very dedicated.
as Ingway (Odin’s Sphere)
Cosplay Gen: What special advice can you give to novice photographers who want to pursue cosplay photography?
Eric Ng: Good photos come from good relationships. Your models are more like to have a better experience with you if you establish some form of friendship with them. The connection between photographers/models helps the photoshoot as a whole. Because there’s a sense of trust and comfort, the models are more relaxed and willing to take shots that can be outside their comfort zone, which as result can produce some amazing shots. Also, take more photos and have a sense to edit out some of the more unflattering parts. Cosplayers will appreciate and would want to shoot with you again if you share with everyone the prize winners rather than everything that’s in your camera, remember its “quality over quantity“. Always keep in mind how to take an image that is better than what you can see in real life. Don’t be afraid to crawl, squat, or climb to get the photo with that special eye level that will be magical. And in some cases, don’t be scared to get some dirt on hands and knees. I have so many weird ideas and demonstrations of poses, there is usually laughter. So above all, have fun. // Interview by Cristian Botea
as Axl (Mega Man X)