Melbourne cosplay photographer Regan Lau is our third interviewee. His dA profile is AlchemyAllStars, and his photography was featured last December: melcospho.deviantart.com/journ…
Q: How did you get into cosplay photography?
Regan: I first I heard about Manifest from my high school anime club. The club first started that year as well, and I think it was the first high school club. I saw a few fantastic cosplays and photos and thought I would like to do something like that.
Gradually I spent more and more time with cosplay as more and more meetups and conventions were organised and became mainstream. I recall going to the first Madman National Cosplay Comp held at Sebel Albert Park in 2009, trying to take photos in low light with my old compact and realising that it wouldn't cut it, and I think that was one of the driving forces for me to upgrade. I had previously used a Konica Minolta film P&S, a Sony Cyber-shot U30 with a whopping 2 megapixels, and lastly a Canon IXUS75 for my Manifest photos.
Q: Does experience with figure photography help you with your cosplay photography?
Regan: No, not really. I never thought about it that way. I suppose I can get a few ideas on composition and poses, but it's not something I go out of my way to experiment.
Q: Have you ever considered cosplaying?
Regan: Yes, but photography, cosplaying, and figure collecting are all very very very expensive hobbies, so I can only afford two. I have lined up a character I would like to do with a group of cosplayers, but they have other projects as well and it's low on their priorities.
Q: You and elias-lopez are equally decorated for MelCosPho photography competition wins, having both won two main competitions and having alternately placed second and fifth in the two MelCosPhoPro meta competitions. Does that create rivalry?
Regan: Absolutely not. I don't think that anyone sees it at as competition or that any photographers see other photographers as rivals. I think we're all flattered by the recognition from the popular vote. It's funny because, of everyone in the cosplay community, Elias and I work closely together as our offices are practically neighbours but we haven't collaborated much at all. I think Elias is an amazing photographer, and I still need to return those filters I borrowed from him.
Q: What equipment and software do you use, and what would you most like to upgrade?
Regan: I've done the majority of my photos with a Canon 500D, last year I picked up a Fujifilm X100, and just a few months ago I picked up a Canon 5DIII. My reasons for upgrading have always been for more flexibility and freedom. For instance, I picked up the X100 for my street photography because it's nice and small and meant I could take it everywhere, and also served as nice backup camera to have around at cons. Photography is an extremely expensive hobby, so I also ask myself whether it's something I really want and whether I can make use of it or whether it's just gear lust. I use Photoshop CS5 and Adobe Bridge. I don't use Lightroom, and that is to my own detriment—sifting and organising my photos would be a lot of easier in LR but I'm stuck in my ways.
A 50mm f1.2? I don't have much of a wish list. I'm quite satisfied with what I have currently.
Q: Whose work inspires you?
Regan: I'm a big fan of the street photography that Tokyo Times do; I've found myself copying their style without even thinking about it. For cosplay, GundamFamiglia, who I was lucky enough to meet and fanboy over at SMASH this year, they do amazing cosplay and they do amazing photography. I'm also a big fan of the cosplayer Yun Kousaka, I absolutely adore her, but she's just one of many many cosplayers that I like.
Q: Are you watching any airing anime right now?
Regan: Sword Art Online. I really enjoyed the first half, but the second half is a bit tropey and disappointing. I'm watching a lot less anime than I used to—and that I would like to—mainly due to lack of time and also because I've started watching J-dramas again.
Q: Does any anime, manga, or game hold a special place in your heart?
Regan: Honey and Clover, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy XII, and To Heart—and by that I mean the anime not the H-Game. I love my slice-of-life/dramas, and I love games that have a world that seems to really be alive.
Q: How have cosplay meets and conventions changed since 2001?
Regan: I went to Manifest 2001! There's been incredible change to conventions in the ten or so years; there was definitely much much more of a community feel to the earlier conventions that I very much miss. Somehow it feels like everyone is less personable and approachable now. On the other hand the skill, time and effort that everyone puts into conventions—their costumes, stores, photography—these days is incredible.
The meets have evolved quite significantly as well. Many of the early meets were quite small, but now the numbers that we get are quite massive: like the large conventions now you don't really get to know all the people that go. There's also a large number of private shoots that are organised as well between cosplayers and photographers.
Q: What photography tip have you personally found most useful?
Don't just look at other photos for inspiration, watch lots of movies, especially the classical directors, and check out the work of brilliant cinematographers. Self-critique and be honest with yourself.