I won’t beat about the bush here, Cat&Crown Artwork is probably my favourite photographer on the con scene at the moment, or at the very least in the top five. It’s with very good reason too, as you’ll see from the images below. Cat&Crown has his own distinctive style that he firmly stamps onto each and every image, branding it with a wonderful intensity that I hope to replicate in my own images one day.
Favourite food: Chinese
How long have you been doing photography? What first inspired you to start?
Technically speaking I’ve been taking photos since I was in my early teens, but then I took an A level course in it at college. In terms of inspiration, I’m primarily an illustrator and graphic designer, so adding a third medium into the creative mix was quite easy to do. I’ve always loved cosplay, pet and animal photography, especially photo manipulations, so I’ve always wanted to have a go at it, and it just sort of went from there. I lost the passion for photography whilst at my university foundation year, but it was re-sparked by a close friend that was a work colleague at the time. He used the same camera I do now and I took it up after seeing the results.
What was your first camera and how does it compare to what you have now? Do you have a dream camera or lens you’d like to have one day?
I still have my first camera! It’s a tiny little digital camera that was essentially a holiday-snap style piece. I now have a Fujifilm X-T1 and it’s been incredibly good to work with. The difference is night and day, really. It was a big investment and it’s certainly paid off. In terms of what I’d like now, there are quite a few lenses I’d like to try. I can get away with pretty much everything using my 55mm 1.2 lens with Fuji as it produces wonderful depth of field, but I got to test out the new Lumix S series a week or so ago and it was very, very exciting to see how far the technology has come. So who knows, maybe I’ll end up with one of those in the future!
What would you say has been your most complex or rewarding shoot to date? How did you achieve the results?
In terms of complexity, there are some that take a long time due to the amount of editing I have to do afterwards. I do a lot of composite shots and painting in my work, where the shoots themselves have been very easy. One of the hardest was painting three baby dragons onto a Daenerys cosplayer. The shoot itself was fine, but the painting took much longer than expected in order to match the lighting perfectly with the model. I do find that challenging shoots are usually at conventions though. It can be because of lack of time, places to work, weather, loads of things that are out of control. It’s hard to pinpoint which ones I’m most proud of, because I tend to be proud of different photographs for different reasons, the lighting control, the posing and framing, the overall effect, the editing afterwards. There’s too many aspects to make a solid decision!
Do you have a dream concept for a shoot you’d like to do one day?
It’s hard to say, because on one hand I’d like to do a shoot in a completely beautiful location and just have it work with the cosplayer, but then I’d also like to do a gigantic edit involving lots of digital painting. The two rarely gel together all that well if you do too much over the other. However, more location shoots are definitely on the cards for me, and if I could afford it/have the time to travel, then castles, museums, really large old buildings etc, would be so much fun to work with I know that at a recent convention based where I live we managed to get into an old hotel and take some photos there, and the payoff was great. It adds so much more atmosphere to a shoot when the character is there in a situation and location that suits them, as opposed to finding anywhere that isn’t blocked off at MCM London or Birmingham!
Do you have any advice for new photographers?
There’s a fair bit I would warn and advise new photographers with. Firstly, it’s expensive. It’s VERY expensive as a hobby, and chances are it won’t pay back for a fair while. I feel that’s a bit negative of me to say, but I get asked a lot if photography, particularly cosplay photography, pays well and if it does so quickly. Unless you land yourself a very lucrative job as a photographer for a large company, it’ll be an uphill struggle. So my advice is to enjoy what you’re doing as you do it, and to keep practicing. It can’t be about the likes, shares, comments and potential fame that comes with being recognized, because if it is, then every time you post something and it doesn’t get the recognition you would like, you’ll always consider it a failed piece. But if you enjoy what you’re doing, learn a little bit from every shoot or edit that you do, then the passion shows in the work you do. There’s a lot to be said about con etiquette, approaching people, managing shoots etc, that I could advise, but honestly I think enjoying your work has to be number one, because if you aren’t enjoying it then other people can tell and it shows in your work.