I’ve literally been planning this shoot on and off for the last nine months or so, I’m ecstatic to finally make it happen! It doesn’t show in the photos so much, but this is by far one of the more considered and planned shoots that I’ve done.
The brief I wrote for myself was along the lines of “Elena loves singing and music, convey that through photos”. Nothing crazy-ambitious, just a simple and straightforward goal.
Now it pains me to say it, but a lot of the time when shooting cosplay there’s not a lot of personality or expression being conveyed. And when there is, it’s not real expression, it’s acting of sorts.
As photographers we’re great at setting up a mood for a scene. We use focal lengths, framing, locations and backdrops, and lighting to tell a story. Handily, this reduces the dramatic load on the cosplayer. I mean no insult in saying this; I’m a cosplayer too, and this is not a bad thing.
The question then is not whether I can convey emotion and expression in photos, but whether I can photograph Elena’s emotions and expressions.
You can see I’m on a bit of a black-and-white streak at the moment. I’m in love with the look and I also find it makes shooting easier. Of course I’d be working in colour for cosplay, but I can judge the composition and shapes better without that distraction.
Ultimately I didn’t push the musical theme very far, but it did inform my ideas for the outfit, hair, and makeup. I wanted something a bit dressed-up – an outfit you look and feel great in, without being over the top, with one or two little flair details. Something a little bit fancy – that was really the catchword for the shoot, which I wanted to get a nice portrait or two from. Something you could use for a CD album cover.
There are an infinite number of ways to shoot an album cover, but I like this one, it’s undemanding and honest: gimme a nice portrait of the artist, show them to me. Try and make it interesting. It’s kinda the photographic equivalent of blank verse.
So, fancy. Elena already had the nice little dress, the fancy sequinned collar adds some literal sparkle to a simple little number. You can’t always see them in the photos, but her nails have these fancy little gold arcs on the tips, those are cool. We enlisted the help of a friend to make Elena’s hair a bit fancy.
Oh yeah, and we did this. Lightning being an LV brand ambassador happened about a week before the shoot, and when I saw it I knew that Elena would be perfect for this.
You can’t really replicate the SHAFT head-tilt like that but I’m pleased with how it came together. Elena did some touch-up work herself for the facial lighting, top work.
Many thanks to Anita for providing her hair and styling skills, and Yas for shooting and assisting especially once we hit the streets – couldn’t have done it without the help.