MindFall is a talented photographer from Pennsylvania, who I have yet to meet, but admire his photography!
How many years have you been into photography and what got you into cosplay photography?
I’ve been doing photography on and off for the better part of 10 years. I became far more serious about it in 2008 (around the time I started doing cosplay photography). As for how I got into cosplay photography specifically, it actually started at Otakon 2008. In the weeks prior to the convention, I had several friends who were trying to find photographers for costumes they’d completed and wanted to have photos taken of. I offered to help out, and that got me started/hooked. I haven’t stopped yet (15 conventions since then and counting)!
What regions do you usually cover, and do you charge for photoshoots? Also, how does one get in contact to shoot with you?
In terms of regions, I guess I would say East Coast? I live there, so those are the conventions that are closest to me (AnimeNEXT, AnimeUSA, Katsucon, Otakon, NYCC/NYAF, etc). I have been out to Chicago for AnimeCentral, and I hope I get a chance to go back.
I don’t charge for photoshoots. And anyone interested in shooting with me at a convention, or even outside of one, can reach me through my DeviantArt page, my Facebook fanpage (MindFallMedia), as well as my email.
What type of photoshoots do you prefer and why?
Without a doubt in my mind, I’m biased towards doing private shoots. I vastly prefer working with an individual or small group. I studied film in college, and I’m very interested in getting interesting shots (using varying angles, contrasts, colors and what not), using different locations, and helping the cosplayer recreate some of the more iconic or memorable moments from their cosplays’ origin (be it movie, videogame, anime, etc) but putting our own spin on it. It allows me to build a rapport with the cosplayer(s) and hopefully that leads to future collaborations and good times for everyone!
What is some of your favorite equipment you work with and why?
I primarily work with my camera (a Nikon), and a few different lenses. I prefer minimal equipment because I love using a lot of existing lighting to create a mood or feel. This also allows me to roam around during a shoot, climbing up or jumping down to get the best shot. This, however, does mean I tend to do a LOT of scouting ahead of time to find the right places.
What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
I’ve actually got a lot on my proverbial plate coming up that has me excited. There are two films that I’m excited to be planning/producing for, as well as several photoshoots on the horizon! The photoshoots have me excited because the costumes are some that I’ve wanted to photograph, plus I’ll be shooting with my friends, which just adds a whole extra level of awesome.
What are some of the traits you like to see in other photographers and who do you think does them well?
Oh man, this is a crazy question, haha. I’m going to end up being lame and giving a generic answer because, in all honesty, I have a LOT of respect for way too many cosplay photographers to list them all here. Outside of cosplay photographers though, I draw a ton of inspiration from several of my favorite cinematographers. People like Andrzej Sekula, who worked alongside Quentin Tarantino for Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, David Boyd (worked on Firefly and The Walking Dead amongst other shows), and Stephen McNutt (Battlestar Galactica). In my opinion, you can see a lot of film angles and concepts in my work.
What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
Ahhhh, a loaded question. Honestly, I think that there are a lot of good things that go on. I’ve met so many amazing people, and a few who are most likely going to be life-long friends. I’ve forged connections that I never thought would be possible. It’s frankly an incredible thing to be a part of. I will say that, much like anything else, there is a downside to it as well. There are people who do crazy things for attention, and there is HUGE potential for drama. But, in my opinion, the good far outweighs the bad, and I really enjoy being a part of the “cosplay scene”.
What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
One thing that I would really like to see change about the scene pertains more towards the cosplay photography aspect. And that one thing is that I would love to see cosplay photography become more widely accepted. It’s not even about getting paid (as I stated earlier, I don’t charge money for my photoshoots), or being able to sell my work commercially. I understand the whole copyrighted character(s) issue, and the other slew of things that pop up. But when it comes right down to it, a lot of professional photographers who aren’t apart of the scene look at the work that comes from it, and reject it off hand (at least, in my experience). Sure, my subjects are in costume, but why does that make my photograph invalid as a portfolio piece? So, if there was one thing that I could make happen overnight, that would be it.
What is some advice you could give people starting to get into photography?
There are a couple of different things, honestly. First of all, get comfortable with your equipment. Nothing is worse for a model than watching their photographer fumble with their equipment. It kills confidence. Second, practice, practice, practice. Seriously. I’ve done over one hundred and fifty shoots at conventions alone, and that doesn’t include all the other work I’ve done. If you want to get better, do research, take angle and concepts you like, and go take hundreds of photos. In my opinion, I’m far better than I was when I began, and I credit part of that to the work that I’ve put in. Thousands of photos in all different conditions make a HUGE difference. Third and lastly, photoshoot etiquette. Learn it, live it, love it. Every one has their own interpretation of it, but there are basics you can look up on the internet. Things like being adaptable, understanding, personable, and accommodating. There’s so much to learn, I know, but taking time to look up the basics goes miles when it comes to working with models (and cosplayers).
What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
If you asked me this question last year, it would have been Otakon, hands down. That is the convention that I’ve been going to for 7 years straight. However, I attended Katsucon for the first time this year, and it surpassed Otakon. I love the location for photoshoots so much more, and the whole area surrounding it. It’s really gorgeous and for those who haven’t gone, definitely do so. It’s totally worth it.
Thanks for the interview, MindFall! To check out his work and contact him for a shoot, you can check out his Facebook, his Deviantart, his non-cosplay Deviantart, and his American Cosplay Snapshots account!