Oscar C. is a photographer from California, who has a great eye for capturing beautiful photos!
How many years have you been into photography and what got you into cosplay photography?
There are three components to this story: How I got into photography, how I got into costume photography, and how I got into anime.
My dad was an avid photographer, and tried to get me interested as a kid. I played around with a film camera and B&W film development, but I never really got into it. My first experience with digital photography was an EyeModule — an early digital camera add-on for Palm PDAs – but the quality was even worse than early camera phones.
What finally hooked me on photography was a compact Canon digital camera I received as a wedding present nine years ago. It took really good photos for its time, and I had a lot of fun taking pictures during the honeymoon. Since this was before the advent of modern-day photo software and websites, I also spent a good part of my honeymoon writing my own photo processing tools and the first version of my photo website.
From there, I worked my way up the camera food chain, first to larger and more capable point & shoot cameras, and then to a mid-level SLR, and finally to the camera I have and adore today — a Canon 5D Mark II.
I’m somewhat rare in the cosplay photography world in that I’ve been going to conventions for a lot longer than I’ve been shooting at conventions. I went to my first convention, WisCon, about 18 years ago, and the first long-distance trip I ever took with my then-girlfriend (now wife) was to DragonCon in Atlanta 14 years ago.
When I got my EyeModule, I brought it to DragonCon to take pictures of the many beautiful costumes there. It didn’t work very well, but I was hooked on costume photography. After my honeymoon, the second trip I took the wedding-present camera on was to DragonCon, and got some not-too-bad photos. I showed them to my coworkers when I got home, who loved them and wanted to see more convention photos, so I started taking photos at other conventions.
The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when my then-girlfriend (now wife) introduced me to anime; we watched Tenchi, Outlaw Star, and Battle Athletes Victory! together, and decided to go to an anime convention (AOD) as a change from our usual conventions. By then I was taking my camera to every convention, so I took lots of photos. I loved the variety, colors, and energy of cosplay costumes, and have been shooting them ever since.
What regions do you usually cover, and do you charge for photoshoots? Also, how does one get in contact to shoot with you?
I mostly shoot in Northern California, with occasional trips to Southern California. I also have done shoots at DragonCon in Atlanta. Shoots with me are free, though I do ask for a full model release in exchange.
I can be reached by email at email@example.com, on Facebook (OscarC Photography), on dA (ocwajbaum), on cosplay.com (OscarC), and on Twitter (ocwajbaum).
What type of photoshoots do you prefer and why?
To get the best possible photos, I prefer well-planned on-location shoots, with pretty but uncluttered backgrounds and good lighting. Though I can shoot alone, I prefer shooting with an assistant as it makes the shoot go much quicker and makes it much easier to set up many types of shots.
Other than that, I like to shoot in a wide variety of situations — indoors and outdoors, individuals and group shots, artificial and natural lighting, etc.
What is some of your favorite equipment you work with and why?
I adore my Canon 5D Mark II; until the rumored 5D Mark III and/or 3D is released, I don’t think anyone will be able to pry that camera from my hands. Its full-frame sensor, excellent low-light capabilities, flexible controls, and solid auto-focus make it the ideal camera for portrait photography.
Until recently, I did my shoots with the Canon 24-105/f4 and 70-200/f4 lenses, but ever since I got my Canon 200/f2 lens, the other two have been shunted aside. The 200/f2 is heavy, conspicuous, and tricky to shoot with, but when used correctly, produces gorgeous photos with very soft backgrounds.
Lighting-wise, I prefer my AlienBee lights, but they’re heavy and not very portable, so I usually bring my Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe portable soft-box for on-location shoots. The Ezybox gives you a fairly soft light using a battery operated flash, making it very convenient to carry everywhere.
What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
This fall, nine cosplayers, another photographer, my family and I will take a four day trip to Calaveras County to shoot and have fun. Unlike conventions, where I have maybe 30 minutes to shoot, or a normal on-location shoot, where I have 2-3 hours to shoot, on this trip there will be a lot of time to pick out locations, set everything up just right, and take some top-notch photos. Many of my best 2010 photos were from a similar trip last year. I’m really looking forward to this one. In between shooting, there will be wine tasting, relaxing in the pool/hot tub, and hiking — what’s not to like?
What is some advice you could give people starting to get into photography?
Please don’t post every single photo you take. Pick a few of each cosplayer and post only those.
Auto/P mode is designed to take average-looking photos; if you want to take above-average photos, learn the various modes of your camera and how to use them.
Know your camera’s strong points and weak points. Shoot in ways that take advantage of your camera’s strong points, and avoid shots that expose your camera’s weak points.
When you look at other people’s photos, think about what you like and don’t like about each photo, and then use that knowledge when you’re shooting.
Most people are limited by their skills, not their camera gear, and so buying new camera gear probably won’t help them. Learn to use your existing gear to its maximum potential before buying new gear.
What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
DragonCon is far and away my favorite convention; it’s like a 4 day non-stop party, with every possible geek interest catered to, including anime, Star Trek, Star Wars, robotics, space science, SF/F TV & movies, film, costumes, and much, much more.
Anime LA is my favorite anime convention. It’s not too big, but not too small, and the staff are all very nice. I’ve gone the last two years and had a very fun time both years.