Hey folks! It’s been ages since I put up a post, that much I know. To say that life has been hectic is no joke. I have been working on a number of different projects that have kept me away from taking pictures. Sometimes life gets distracting from what you love doing. But last night, I got a chance to get back to one of my favorite things in the world during the launch of the new Bioware MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic.
While waiting on line for my own copy (I plan on rolling up a Bounty Hunter) some members of the 501st plus some avid cosplayers came by and I got some great shots. One of the folks involved was Bree Smith, an NYC Cosplayer who I’ve run into a few times at different events. Her Sith costume was, to quote someone smart once, off the hook. So check out the great costume by Bree and some of the others and enjoy some Star Wars goodness.
With the rise of cosplay as a more popular fan art form in recent years, there’s been a lot of mainstream coverage for cosplayers at major events like New York Comic Con. I personally saw CNN talking to cosplayers at a comic book release earlier this year, and all in the name of trying to get their finger on why fans do these things. They want to put it out there for the mainstream to get a better understanding of cosplay and to share the gorgeous work that a lot of fans are doing in their fan fashion.
And then, there’s articles like these.
In case you want to save your brain cells, I’ll give you the highlights. One Jordon Burchette of Men’s Fitness decided to go to New York Comic Con and write an article about cosplayers who are dressing up as their favorite super heroes. Only the spin on this article is how these are folk who don’t have the best body tone. In other words, folks, it’s an article making fun of larger people who decide to cosplay, entitled “New York Comic Con: Flabby Versions of Your Favorite Super Heroes!” And, there are photos!
This classy piece of garbage article decides that its okay to not only poke fun at how people are cosplaying their particular costume, but to then poke fun at their bodies too. One of my favorites (hence the dripping sarcasm) is when the article refers to someone as Blob O’Fett. Or wait, when they called a woman dressed as Dagger ‘Dumpy’. My favorite.
Listen, Men’s Fitness, I get that you want to be all funny. Really. I mean, your magazine’s taken seriously by guys who want to get into shape and people who want to stare at the beefcake on your covers. But aren’t you supposed to be about… y’know, health? Tell guys how to get six pack abs and what to eat so you can get a permanent erection or something? I don’t know, I’m not a guy. What I am is thoroughly disgusted with your Perez Hilton-style knocking of folks just going out to have a good time. Why didn’t you just make stupid little drawings on the photos indicating to their fat pockets too? Go ahead, that’s classy as hell as well.
As someone who is a plus-sized geek, I’ll say that this was probably one of the most personally infuriating articles I’ve ever read. As a blogger, I find it repulsive that it was put on a reputable website. Moreover, I feel badly for those folk who were just out to have a good time and instead got their photos taken to basically just be called fat on the internet. Is that really what Men’s Fitness applied to Comic Con to go do? Did they run out of spin for their articles that this Buchette just decided “I know what would be great? Let’s take photos of people and then insult them about their weight because, y’know, that didn’t go out of style in grade school.” Then again, the internet is full of infuriating, hurtful things. Yet I’m actually surprised at Men’s Fitness for considering this an okay direction to go in and I wonder what exactly the editors were thinking.
Moreover, it just proves that the writer just doesn’t get it. Cosplay, from my experience so far photographing the fandom, is about people getting together and having fun doing something they love. It’s inclusive. It’s interesting. And people might look at one another and give comment about costumes every once in a while, but in my experience I haven’t seen much of it. People have been, for the most part, encouraging and supportive and kind. And accepting of everyone. It’s why I’ve actually even considered cosplaying, even though I’m of a larger size myself — because of the encouragement I’ve gotten from people within the cosplay community. To see then people on the outside taking pot-shots shows that they don’t get that some places, unlike their little corner of the six-pack abs universe, accepts folks for who they are and doesn’t deride them with fourth grade punchlines. And that’s the saddest part of this whole thing.
So, in short, Men’s Fitness and especially Jordon Burchette? The whole article and incident is disappointing and pretty horrified. Stick with your shirtless front cover pictures and fat burning articles and stay away from events you don’t get. All you’ve done is prove that you’re that guy right now, the one who pokes fun at others to look superior and only comes out looking like the jerk who never grew up. I encourage folk to voice their displeasure with this nonsense and I hope that in the future, some editors will vet the hell out of their content a little better.
It’s become a tradition every year for me and mine to attend the various haunted houses in the New York City area. It’s not just for the sake of getting the pants scared off of us – though that’s certainly a part of it! No, part of my interest in the various haunted attractions around Halloween time is the level of showmanship each venue puts into their costumes and sets. One of the premiere attractions in the city is Nightmare Haunted House, developed by Timothy Haskel and Jonathan Harlacher.
This was the fourth Nightmare haunted house I’ve attended. My favorite was first year’s Bad Dreams, which set the bar quite high for every subsequent year. The draw in all of the performance haunted houses that Nightmare puts together has always been the costumes and set design, and this year does not disappoint. Anyone can scare you, true, but does everyone bring together the savage beauty of old school fairy tales like Snow White and Rapunzel with the horror of the dark, confined spaces of a spook house? The costume design is very reminiscent of harlequin masquerade costuming with a decided eye towards old world European inspiration, very appropriate to the Grimm fairy tales. Also much appreciated is the homage to the original fairy tales and legends – this isn’t your typical disney! Here, old witches get tortured with hot shoes to their feet and huntsmen are in the woods out to get you… along with the wolves.
There’s a great deal less physically interactive parts to the experience than I remember from older Nightmare’s past, which was a little bit of a let down. There are some blindfolding parts, which is great, and I won’t give away any secrets but walking around in the dark is key. The cast does engage you while you’re in the house, though, and you are asked beforehand a little about what scares you, all to get played on later. Yet for all the interactivity, there is a lot less of the physical demands I missed from old nightmare’s past. Where in past experiences we had to sometimes climb and crawl over and through things, this had more of a traditional haunted house feel — you walk through the experience, things jump out. That was a strike against. Another was the quick nature of the trip. Maybe me and my crew were moving too fast, but the entire experience felt shorter than a few years ago, and that was another strike.
Yet for those strikes, the sets and costumes were fabulous. I sight the wolves as perhaps the best part, harrowing attendees through the woods as we went from story to story. A particularly beautiful wolf puppet really caught my eye near to a bridge — but then, I won’t give anything away. The masks give an otherworldly feeling to the cast that keeps you off guard from the very beginning, and the idea of Rapunzel, leading you into the dark by her ratty hair is fantastic. A special shout out goes to Rumplestilskin, whose presence and performance were both unnerving and intense. Having gotten face to face with him, I’ll say he was one of the highlights of the entire event.
When you’re out of the theater, there is an additional event attached to Nightmare that I seriously suggest. Upstairs is an additional little tidbit called ‘The Experiment’ which will push your level of comfort. Enjoy that one as an added bonus, it was well worth it. My night culminated with a free gift from the Nightmare folks, a copy of the new Guillermo del Toro book in The Strain series, which I had been waiting to read for ages! Nightmare’s give aways and special event nights are legendary, so check their calendar for what is going on. Or afterwards, hang out in the bar and play some pool. The CSV Center on 107 Suffolk is a great theater space in general, and Nightmare sure uses it to the fullest.
All in all, I recommend checking out Nightmare Fairy Tales for the costumes, the set, and the action. Will it chill and thrill? If you like a good scream and like to get scared, I think so. If you’re an old hat like me, I spent a lot more time staring at the great creations and marveling at the costumes than jumping, but that still works. Afterwards, stay for the drinks and the atmosphere as CSV Center is just a great place and the crowd’s cool. Just look out for the guy in the stocking mask, he’s out to make you scream.
Soon, I venture forth to check out their second NYC installment up in the Bronx, Nightmare Z-Day – that’s right, it’s zombie time. So stay tuned!
I don’t think it’s possible to describe how amazing New York Comic Con was this year. Four days of non-stop panels, pictures and people! I had the pleasure of meeting some of my favorite people from the geek world like Felicia Day, Rebecca Guay, Robert Kirkman and the legendary Stan Lee. I watched as my friends at Dystopia Rising launched their tabletop book to amazing success. And I hit more panels and did more blog posts than I thought humanly possible. But mostly, I took tons of photos.
If I said it’d be impossible to take shots of everyone, that’s the truth. Every second person is in costume. I could have spent the entire convention JUST taking photos and still not gotten everyone. However, I did manage to hit up the NYCC Cosplay Gathering on Saturday afternoon, which was brilliant. Some of the best costumed folk got together in the lower lobby to pose together and look amazing! The rest of the time it was just hunting down people and blocking traffic in the crowded hallways, trying to get a good photo. But these guys got together, posed, and made life for photographers so much easier.
Enclosed in this post are some of my favorite shots of the convention. There were a lot more taken and I may do a separate post just for the Cosplay gathering because, well, they were phenomenal. But in the meantime, enjoy these!
Some of my photos are also going to be featured in a Tor.com post but the bulk of photos are here. Next year, more time for photos maybe? I’ll try. Until next time!
One of the major reasons I began this blog in the first place was to showcase the talented folks that go out and put together stunning costume creations for gaming. While I’ve forayed into steampunk, cosplay, burlesque, and even renn faire gear, it’s time I get down to my roots and show off one of the hobbies that keep me busy: LARPing.
For those unaware, LARP stands for Live Action Role-Play. And before that sounds weird to anyone, imagine table-top roleplay games like Dungeons and Dragons crossed with a murder mystery dinner. You dress up and act out your characters, experiencing the story through real-time acting experiences along with your fellow players. LARP comes in all shapes and sizes, from small groups in theater settings to large live combat events with hundreds of players. The game I’m going to be showcasing today is one of the latter.
Knight Realms is a self-described “live acting experience” game held at Camp Sacajawea in Sparta, New Jersey that has been running for over ten years. Its players dress to the nines to play adventurers in the fantasy border town of Travance, in the Kingdom of Kormyre. This town sits on the very edge of a rift in space from which demons and other nasties pour out on regular occasion. The characters who flock to this town are the type seeking adventure and an interesting life – and life can certainly become interesting in Knight Realms! The weekend I rolled into town, playing a human healer (with no weapon at all to defend myself with!) there was no less than a near civil war with noble fighting noble over charges of treason and dark magic, not to mention demons kidnapping children! Humans fought alongside elves, sylphs, satyrs and assorted other stuff to make sure we all survived what was coming to get us. And they did it in high fantasy LARP gear style.
Speaking from experience with other games and by comparison, Knight Realms players as a whole costume hard. Depending on the setting, sometimes all you need to do is pull an old beaten jacket out of your closet, or something that’s survived your wardrobe purges from the 80′s and BAM, there’s a costume. Those kinds of costumes usually work for modern games, set in everyday world settings. (See my upcoming article on costuming for the Post-Apocalypse, coming soon!) Yet when playing in a fantasy or medieval game, a player has to get a little more picky about their clothing. Zippers are a little out of period and T-shirts are so very not what you want to be styling. Your costume might even entail prosthetic ears, body paint, furry legs and hooves or a tail, depending on what kind of creature you’re going to play. Humans have it easier, but if you really want to sell what you’re playing, you have to go detailed. Is your character a nobleman or a pirate? A gypsy or an alchemist? If you want to contribute to building a game’s atmosphere and really sell the fantasy world for your immersive experience, a player will bring all-out gear for their characters.
Knight Realms is no exception. The players have some of the most intricate costumes I have ever seen in a fantasy LARP. I was exceptionally impressed at the level of detail put into the gear, from the decked out fantasy weaponry (called boffer or latex weapons – more on those later as well) to the intricate do-dads and accouterment added to each character. Even those playing monsters were usually decked out in latex masks to help bring the players into the feeling of each encounter. When the players gathered for feast on Saturday evening and all sat together, eating out of traditional feast gear and listening to pirate songs sung, I certainly felt immersed by the collection of motley creatures around me. It was easy to forget, then, that just outside the building and beyond the hedge line were a row of player vehicles parked just off a road leading into Sparta. It is that dedication to detail that helps build great LARP experiences.
Below are only a few of the stellar costumes I found at Knight Realms. Trying to keep out of everyone’s way with something so anachronistic and out of place as a camera was difficult, and I felt there were so very many beautiful costumes that I missed. However to those that I did not get, I still say bravo – and to those I did photograph, I hope that my work does your hard work justice. So until I stop by Travance again, and to all the folks staying in Caledonia who kept this little healer alive for the weekend, I say thanks for an experience. I raise a foam sword to you – you put together a hell of a world.
It takes more than one weekend to see everything there is to see at a Renn Faire. As the summer drew to a close, me and mine brought ourselves out to the New York Renn Faire once again to see the sights, drink the mead, and enjoy some meat on the bone! And of course, I got a chance to see some more amazing costumes.
The best thing about that weekend (besides the company) was getting a chance to catch the joust just when we arrived. Now, it isn’t the jousts of the medieval era. Jousting used to like two guys in the dark ages equivalent of mechs smashing into each other with long sticks for weapons. They make it a lot safer and just josut for rings (catching them on the end of their lances) instead of trying to bash and crash each other to the ground. Still, it’s impressive to watch men cantering up and down the field.
So without further ado, more photos from the NY Renn Faire in Tuxedo, NY. Enjoy!
As promised its time to Speak Out With My Geek Out and stand up proud for all things Geek in my life.
Hi, my name is Shoshana and I’m a huge costume photo nerd.
There is nothing I enjoy taking photos of more than people in costumes. Sure, some photographers enjoy a nice sunset or a puppy or two, and I have been known to indulge in some canine photography for the sheer cuteness factor. But there is nothing that interests me more than seeing folk slapping on some cool looking armor, getting decked out like zombies, and cosplaying their favorite comic book characters so I can photograph them. I believe it’s a perfect symbiotic relationship for a photographer like me, honestly – they enjoy the costuming and I enjoy taking photos of them.
Why, you might ask? Why take photographs of people in costume. Because, my fellow costume nerds and geeks, real life clothing is usually really BORING. Fashion, for the most part, looks everyday and humdrum to me, even when people are trying to look put together and trendy. A pair of skinny jeans here, a scarf tossed there, an ever popular hobo bag there, some glasses that should look nerdy but are now in fashion – everyone wears the same damn things! It’s hard to find someone whose clothing catch my eye and make me sit up and take notice to say ‘now that is nice, that is original’.
Costuming, on the other hand, is a little piece of the unreal and imaginative parading around in our often boring, everyday lives. Someone slaps on a celtic headband to add to a cloak to go to a Renn Faire and we’re reminded of all the whimsical wonder that can come from stories of the mythical, mythological and fantastic. A woman shambles out of a bar after a zombie crawl with blood and gore all over her, and we’re reminded of the fragility of life and the fear a good zombie movie gives us about our own mortality. We see a cosplayer decked out as Wonder Woman or Supergirl and we’re given a good smile over memories of amazing stories read and the dedication of fans to stories that are part of our common cultural lexicon. In short, costuming sparks the eye and the mind in a way that most fashion doesn’t. It is walking art and I, as a photographer, love to capture it before gone.
I got into this shindig because of live-action roleplay. I started out as an online gamer who went over to LARP due to a college friend introducing me to a Changeling: the Dreaming game. I would go to games and watch my friends put together stellar costumes and think “isn’t is sad that we’re the only ones to see this?” People would spend hours collecting just the right pieces to bring their characters to moving, breathing, artistic life and then shove all that hard work into a closet, never to be seen outside of their gaming circle! So I started bringing my camera and taking character portraits. Someone had to document the beauty of the work put in and the intricacy of the detail folks put into the costumes. This, in itself, was art just like roleplaying can be art. And why not get it down for posterity? And so, for me, it began.
Photography itself is more than just documenting is its own art form. Costume photography is the art of capturing the imagined given a human canvas. And it’s my favorite kind of art and geek these days aside from writing. So what if my photography portfolio looks kind of strange sometimes? I have photos of girls dressed as internet meme characterizations doing burlesque shows along with rock bands dressed as Jedi and Sith. I have zombies shambling and fairies in the forest out to get you, folks with latex swords and armor and vampires on the prowl. I’ve even expanded into costuming and fashion in the real world, like traditional historical dress and pow wow dance costumes. In the end, that’s what intrigues me. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than kittens or architecture or a nice sunset. Give me cosplay or steampunk any day!
Enclosed are some of my favorite shots, especially some of my earlier work, to highlight why I got into this gig. Enjoy and if you like, speak out yourself! There’s one more day left!