This week we interview the talented photographer, David Love. We chat to him about his time in cosplay community, his books, how he gets into his projects and more.
How do you explain cosplay to friends/family member who don’t know this hobby?
I don’t think of it as photographing cosplayers as much as characters and everyone knows them so it’s not difficult to describe.
How long have you been involved with photography?
6 years. Graphic designer for 18 years.
Do you have anyone who inspires you within the cosplay photography community or elsewhere?
I used to be inspired by movie posters but now I don’t see them being done with the same creativity and artistic touch they used to be. I just try and come up with something I like and the people I work with.
I have followed you work for a few years now and I am always jealous how good it is. Why did you get involved in working with cosplayers?
I was shooting fashion and modeling and then bumped into someone that did cosplay. They showed me pics of people at conventions and in parking lots in costumes and I just thought it would be cool to show the characters in their own worlds using my design skills.
Looking through your instagram account, there are some stunning photos and composition Where do you start when you begin a new project?
Someone usually brings me an idea and then we expand from there.
Which project have you enjoyed most editing and why?
I wouldn’t say I’ve enjoyed editing as I get back and wrist pain from long hours at the computer but there are plenty that I’m proud of. I think a lot of people jump into photography because they think they will just be around attractive people and get to feel popular. Nobody thinks of the work it takes. I don’t get to socialize, party or go to many conventions because of the workload and trying to keep growing at what I do.
You have worked with such famous cosplayers in our community. Who has been the most fun to shoot with?
They are all different flavors and I have fun with everyone. I never want shoots making people nervous or not fun. Memories get attached to images and I like the idea of a good memory being attached to my images.
Is there anyone in the world of cosplay you’d love to shoot with and haven’t yet and why?
Most of the people I shoot with weren’t super popular when we started shooting together and I like that I’ve helped them grow into someone popular and successful. I don’t base my success on how successful the person I shoot is.
On your instagram account, you wrote a few “advice” posts about cosplay photography. What made you write these? Were any of these from personal experience?
Was mostly from hearing about bad experiences from cosplayers about photographers they’ve shot with or heard about. Cosplay is a small world and acting out of line or using shady business practices gets around and you could be over before you started. If you’re in this to get dates, you’re in the wrong field.
What advice would you give to any photographer, regardless of if they are a beginner or experienced?
Earn trust, don’t expect it. Cosplayers are hit on every day as they get more successful and have a lot of people trying to take advantage of them. Get good at what you do and let the work speak for you and people will want to work with you. Don’t stalk, pester or bother people to shoot with you if they say no. Also don’t fall into the trap of doing free photos for people that will turn around and make a profit off them without as much as a thought about you. Exposure means nothing.
You can team up with people in the beginning to build your portfolio up but just know when you’ve got enough. And never do a shoot where the cosplayer thinks it’s free and then try and charge them for the rights to sell the image. Discuss the use of the images before the shoot.
I received your book as a christmas present and it’s wonderful. Why did you decide to create this book and would you do it again?
I was planning to do one for myself every year as kind of a yearbook and then decided to add to it. Some people expected it to be a step by step book but anyone can learn technical stuff. It’s the thinking behind the lens that makes pictures what they are.
You do a lot of your photos indoors/home studio. Why do you do this and what advice would you give about setting up a home studio?
Without great locations, props or practical effects, cosplay photography can get limited. I didn’t want to be stuck at conventions shooting in parking garages with a colored gel. So doing compositions means we have no limit to what we can do. The light is how I set it, not dependent on the time of day and the cosplayer can be in a relaxed environment and not tired from walking a convention all day. We can take the time to get it the way we want it and they have a place to do their makeup or relax.
My advice to anything photography is to invest in yourself. If you buy cheap, it will fail or break and you will have to buy more cheap. In the end you could’ve just gotten the better equipment. But also buying a ton of stuff won’t make you better, it will only give you more tools to work with. Just cause I buy a race car it doesn’t make me a race car driver. Just a guy that owns a fast car.
Money is no object, what cosplay and location you love to shoot at?
I would just travel more, shoot more video since I don’t have the skills to create 3d graphics and build worlds to add green screen footage too. Video is less forgiving and a lot more work but I’d love to get my video skills up to my photography skills. Danica Rockwood and I run a Patreon together and we’re planning to travel more. I travel when I can even if it’s just to take stock pics that I can use in my composites.