Photographer Interview with Etaru

The next photographer interview is with Etaru, who is also a cosplayer as well!

Ifria as Kirin from Monster Hunter, photo by Etaru

How many years have you been into photography and what got you into cosplay photography?
I’ve been into it about 3-4 years, first as a cosplayer, then as an assistant to friends who did cosplay photoshoots. Being on the other end of a camera lens is a lot of fun, but you are essentially limited by not being able to see the entire shot, environment, pose, etc. as the model. I started wanting to help in photoshoots – and take photos – when I saw how much control of an environment a good photographer can have with lighting setup and cooperating with the model; going from the person photographed to the person taking the shots was a refreshing experience, especially learning to work with the cosplayer and trying to give photographic direction, it’s much more challenging than it looks! I also found out I very much enjoy photographing the outdoors and wildlife, since it presents a very different and beautiful subject.

Kazzu from Soul Eater, photo taken at Sakuracon 2009, editing by Etaru

What regions do you usually cover, and do you charge for photoshoots? Also, how does one get in contact to shoot with you?
I attend Fanime, Sakuracon, Nan Desu Kan, Katsucon, this year Anime Expo, and hope to expand to Dragoncon and/or San Diego Comic-con in the future. I don’t charge for shoots, but I am currently not in possession of a DSLR, hopefully that will change though when I finish my college studies so I can expand my photography skills further and start playing with external lighting setups, studios, and different editing techniques.

What type of photoshoots do you prefer and why?
Studio or highly controlled lighting environments are always preferable, but their downside is taking a long time to set up and take down, by which point the cosplayer may be tired, impatient, or simply does not have a schedule that allows for extended periods of wait to set up the shoot. My general liking is to have an outdoor environment because of how much variation it offers, but if it involves a flashes or reflectors or lightboxes, they need to be simple and easy to set up and move.

What is some of your favorite equipment you work with and why?
I enjoy working with a Canon 5D MkII or Canon 50D, but most of my shoots and photos I’m most proud of came from just a Canon Rebel XT. High end camera gear can get you only as far as your own skills and imagination go.

What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
Definitely more variety of beautiful and unique costumes that have sentimental value to the talented models who created them, versus just cosplayers who look good on camera.

What are some of the traits you like to see in other photographers and who do you think does them well?
I love seeing photographers who make their photos appear natural and largely untouched, even if a lot of work went into them in post-processing. I also really admire photographers who can do so much with natural light and limited use of lots of extra lighting gear, such as LJinto, Anna Fischer or Alain Camporiva.

NinjAttorney from Professor Layton, taken at Sakuracon 2009, editing by Etaru

What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
The cosplay scene is like…candy. It’s wonderful, sweet, and makes you happy, in moderation. But if you take it too seriously or your life starts revolving around it, that’s when people no longer enjoy it.

What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
Since there’s definitely a difference in the cosplay scene between how cosplayers and photographers view it and act in it, so I should address it in the context of photographers lol. Although cosplayers can be competitive and petty, unfortunately, the same does occur with the photographer side of things. I would prefer to see less competition, who can “one up” the other more, who gets to shoot whom exclusively, etc. Cosplayers are hardly a commodity, they’re people, and there’s more than plenty to go around. 🙂

What is some advice you could give people starting to get into photography?
Be passionate and don’t be afraid to experiment, because that’s what separates you from the crowd and helps to develop your unique style. But don’t ignore the basics either, learn your camera’s functions (exposure, ISO, F-stops, why use flash in daylight, how to capture a motion shot, what’s chromatic aberration, etc) and get to shooting in Manual!

What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
My favorite is still Fanime in San Jose, CA, simply because of the wonderful locations, amazing level of cosplays, and very carefree atmosphere. Katsucon is second to this only due to the time of year it falls on, but still has some of the most beautiful locations to shoot at, both indoor at outside on the marina.

Yunie as Armitage from Armitage III: Poly-matrix, photo by Etaru with editing by Darkain

Thanks for the interview, Etaru! Hope to shoot again with you at a convention sometime soon!

About Yunie

I am a cosplayer, a nerd, a geek. I am whatever you call me. However, I have a brain and tend to use it.
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