Photographer Interview with AZHP Photography

AZHP Photography is a newer photographer from California, who likes to capture images of everyone!

Sean Lee of AZHP Photography

Sean Lee of AZHP Photography

How many years have you been into photography and what got you into cosplay photography?
I started cosplay photography a few months ago, after Fanime 2012. My girlfriend worked really hard on a lot of her costumes and we were a little sad that we didn’t have awesome pictures of her costumes like other cosplayers we knew. I bought a Sony NEX-5N on the recommendation of a few cosplay photographers I know, and started taking pictures.

What regions do you usually cover, and do you charge for photoshoots? Also, how does one get in contact to shoot with you?
I typically cover the San Francisco Bay Area, though I go to whatever conventions my friends are going to. Since I only do photoshoots for my friends, I would never think of charging them for my pictures. Besides, I’d need to have a lot more confidence in my ability and pictures before I could think about charging people money. Besides, aren’t photographers traditionally supposed to PAY the models they take pictures of, and not the other way around? As for how people get in contact with me to schedule photoshoots, I have a photography page on facebook that people can use to contact me.

Crystal as Korra from The Legend of Korra, photo by AZHP Photography

Crystal as Korra from The Legend of Korra, photo by AZHP Photography

What type of photoshoots do you prefer and why?
I like photoshoots with two or three characters the most, because I feel like I can get a lot more energy and emotion out of people when they have other friends in costume they can interact with. Any more than that though, and I feel like cosplayers start to lose focus when they’re left out of certain shots for extended periods of time.

What is some of your favorite equipment you work with and why?
My favorite equipment to work with is Photoshop! It can do so many things, like change the entire feel of a picture just by changing how much light, color and contrast is on certain subjects, remove blemishes or things you might not have noticed when taking the picture or it can be used to transform the picture entirely. But as far as physical gear goes, I was lucky enough to borrow a Canon 5D mk II from a coworker at my day job for a few photoshoots, and I loved how much sheer information was captured in the RAW files. I felt like I could do anything with it.

What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
I’m lucky to have some beautiful and talented friends to work with, so I just want to take more pictures of them! I hope I can do justice to the amount of time and effort that gets put into the costumes they make.

What are some of the traits you like to see in other photographers and who do you think does them well?
As far as photography goes, I’d like to see quality over quantity. Not enough cosplay photographers take the time to look at their pictures and decide which ones they should show the world, and just end up putting a hundred different pictures up, often times with dozens of shots that look very similar. I feel like a lot of great pictures get overlooked because the photographer didn’t take the time to select fewer pictures to put online. Out of the people I know, Martin Wong and Richard Bui both take put a lot of time and effort into selecting their photos.

What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
The cosplay scene is full of tons of different types of people, who cosplay for tons of different reasons. As someone who didn’t have a whole lot of friends growing up, it’s amazing to make friends with all these different types of people who all have their own unique take on anime, cosplay, and life in general.

Peter as Portgas from One Piece, photo by AZHP Photography

Peter as Portgas from One Piece, photo by AZHP Photography

What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
People in the cosplay scene are sometimes very harsh and unreceptive of socially awkward people who just want to make friends, but don’t quite know the best way to go about it. A lot of cosplayers may have forgotten that they were once that way too… I don’t know too many cosplayers who would identify themselves as social butterflies before they started cosplaying.

What is some advice you could give people starting to get into photography?
The equipment you have doesn’t dictate the kind of photos you take. It’s too easy to blame your lousy camera for taking bad pictures. Focus on taking better pictures with the camera you have.
Don’t be afraid to throw away pictures that are good but you just don’t quite like. Having a few great pictures is more impressive and effective than having a hundred good pictures.
If you have a camera that takes RAW pictures, use that function! RAW pictures have so much versatility compared to JPG. I’ve taken pictures that look completely underexposed that were salvageable by manipulating the RAW data in Lightroom.
Speaking of which, get Lightroom (if not Photoshop, but Photoshop is expensive)! If you can afford a camera, you can probably afford Lightroom. It’s under $100 and is an invaluable asset for changing the tone of pictures.
I could go on, but those are some good starters.

What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
My favorite convention is the one my friends are at! Fanime is hands down my favorite convention. I went to Fanime in 2004 barely knowing anyone, and by the end of the 4 day weekend I had made a dozen new friends. Everyone is really friendly, and the fact that the hotel rooms are connected to the convention hall means that it’s easy to take a break (or a drink) from the hectic convention. Fanime is also a convention that a lot of my friends who are not super into conventions go to, so it’s basically a huge reunion for me and my friends. I often wish I could be in multiple places in once to spend time with all my different friends… whereas at other conventions, I could be sitting in my hotel room wondering when something interesting is going to happen.

Crystal as Kasumi from Dead or Alive 5, photo by AZHP Photography

Crystal as Kasumi from Dead or Alive 5, photo by AZHP Photography

Thanks for the interview, AZHP Photography! To check out his work and contact him for a shoot, you can check out his Facebook!

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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