2019 Katsucon Wrap Up

I have delivered all photos from Katsucon 2019, so it is now time for the annual wrap up post.   This year was a little different, because they made the convention a closed convention.  Making it closed meant that you needed a badge or room key to be in the hotel and convention space, and they were checking badges.  I think this significantly cut down on lobby-conning and somewhat reduced the crowds, but since they got rid of the tables to sit at, it increased the number of people sitting in hallways.  Also, by checking badges right at the beginning of the area of gazebo level it hindered flow of traffic and I think reduced the number of people who usually stand up there to show off their cosplays.  Now onto the actual photography.

I had 21 sessions booked and I took 1,837 shots across two days.  (Due to living in Ohio, I no longer shoot on Sundays due to an 8-hour drive home.) The most prevalent focal length used was 18mm, which was used on 53-percent of the shots.  The most prevalent shutter speed used was 1/200s which was used on 17-percent of the shots. The most prevalent aperture used was F4 which was used on 34-percent of the images. Finally, the most prevalent ISO used was ISO200 which was used on 80-percent of the shots.  Of the 1837 shots, I edited 1,384 images which is about 75-percent of the total shots taken.  Of the edited shots, only 77 images were hall shots this is reasonable considering most of my time is spent in one-on-one sessions. 

This year I got to work several amazing cosplayers, who obviously put a lot of work into their cosplays. I can’t cover every single one, so I’m only going to talk about a few of my favorite images.  

Focal Length 28mm, Aperture F5, Shutter 1/1600s
I’m going to start with an image from my session with Moonie Warrior Cosplay (left).  She put together an amazing Elphaba from the musical “Wicked.”  Her cosplay looked Broadway stage ready and her make-up was spot on.  My favorite image from the session was taken near the end of the session. To accomplish this low-key image, my assistant held the flash slightly off parallel to the models face, and I set my camera to eliminate ambient light.  When I brought it into Lightroom to edit, I enhanced the lights and shadows on the dress and the hat, then darkened the background a bit more, and finally added a strong black vignette to ensure the proper mood.  

The next images I'm going to discuss came from my session with Escape Cosplay. Working with Escape Cosplay was an absolute pleasure. Her cosplay of Yasha Nydoorin from “Critical Role” was very good, but what really makes her cosplay standout is how she embodies the character.  I was concerned at first when she told me, due to meet ups during the convention, that both sessions she booked with me were going to end up being of same cosplay because I might not be able to do a wide variety of shots.  I didn’t have to worry after the first session with her, I knew we be able to make the second session different even if it was the same cosplay.  Since I had two sessions with her, I’m going to discuss three of my favorite images.  This first image (below left) is thoughtful and introspective. I set my camera to be able capture the sky and compensated with the flash to light the model. My assistant held the flash to my left off perpendicular to the model.  I only did light edits on the image to ensure proper light balance and added slight vignette to the image to draw your attention to her face.  The next two images are very low key and show anguish and were both shot in the same location with similar edits.  For the middle image (below middle), I went for a low-key approach and had my assistant hold the light to the model’s right while I removed ambient light.  When editing I kept the background very dark, and focused on how the hit the model’s face and faded into the background.  For the last image (below right) my assistant went to the level above my model and aimed the flash down through an opening to the lower level.  My model then looked up to the light and gave a might cry out in anguish/rage pose.  I also used the flash mounted on my camera to add a bit of fill to the image. When editing I balanced out the image and made sure the light was fading appropriately down the model’s body and her face was well lit. I also added a bit of a vignette to darken the edges to make it look more like a ray of light was hitting her.

Focal Length 50mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/640s
Focal Length 40mm, Aperture F4.5, Shutter 1/320s
Focal Length 18mm, Aperture F4, Shutter 1/250s

I enjoy working with couples that cosplay together, and this couple was extremely fun to work with. Paradox Cosplay did Lara Croft from “Tomb Raider” and Nathan Drake from Uncharted, which was a great combo.  When working with couples I like to start with a few individual shots before moving on to the couple shots because it gives me a chance to capture individual personalities first and get a feel for each individual character especially if the shoot is a mash-up. The first image is of Drake standing in tall grass, to me it gives off that self-assured rugged male adventure vibe (left).  When editing this image, I made sure to up the clarity to give the image a more gritty appeal and enhance the brown undertones in the image.  The second image is of Laura trying to climb up a hill (right).  I like this image because you can see raw determination in her eyes.  For this image I was kneeling on the ground above her and my assistant was holding the flash pointing straight at her above me. When editing the image, I used a very high clarity ratio to make it a little more gritty and added the vignette to draw your attention her face. The final picture is a group shot of them climbing rocks (lower right). Due to the focal length of the lens and the angle I was shooting at above them it makes the ground appear slightly further below them then it is. I like this image because it is a good action shot, and gives a decent portrayal of the characters. When editing this image, I had to balance the light between the two models and again I kept it gritty by upping the clarity of the image.

Focal Length 32mm, Aperture F7.1, Shutter 1/800s
Focal Length 60mm, Aperture F7.1, Shutter 1/800s
Focal Length 18mm, Aperture F7.1, Shutter 1/1000s

Focal Length 28mm, Aperture F4, Shutter 1/400s

Finally, I’m going to discuss an image from my session with Brown and Curvy Cosplay.  I was excited to work with her, because the concept drawing, she sent of her version of Cruella De Ville was going to be fun to work with. She asked for a more noir style shoot, which I was happy to do since I like noir. I’m also very impressed with how she handled herself, considering her luggage, with her cosplay in it, didn’t show up till about 90-minutes before the shoot.  She was calm and dropped right into character. One of my favorite images from the session is a full length by a mirror, her expression and body language nails the shot (right).  For this image my assistant held the flash to my left and slightly flagged it using his hand. I set my camera to limit the ambient light to give it a more noir feel.  When editing I 
used some gradient filters to darken a bit of the image in front and behind the model to eliminate some more of the ambient light. I then added a vignette, while brightening the light on her face slightly to account for the brightness of the wrap.  I did not add smoke to the cigarette holder, because it looked odd without a cigarette in the holder.  

Overall this was a very good Katsucon, and I’m happy I got to work with some amazing cosplayers this year. Though based on my experience this year I will be updating a few things for next year to include the number of sessions I book and pricing.  Overall 21 sessions is a lot, and it means I cannot wander around the con and see all the amazing cosplays and do some hall shots. I do like doing some hall shots and would like to see the fashion show.  Also due to how the hallways were getting crowded at night leaving very few areas to shoot in, I may not open sessions after dinner next year.  Also, I am considering revamping my pricing, currently I am on the low side which was fine when I was living in DC and did not have to travel to the convention. Now that I have an eight-hour drive, I may be upping my pricing a little bit to account for the fact I no longer shoot on Sundays and have further to travel.  I enjoy the convention, the cosplayers, and am looking forward to next year.


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