Sunday, December 11, 2011

My 8 Most Memorable Photo Shoots of 2011

As a photographer, one of the most rewarding aspects of my hobby is doing a personal photo shoot. It requires the photographer and photo subject to work in concert with each other to create amazing photos. Over the course of a year, I do well over a hundred photo shoots inside and outside of anime conventions. In these photo shoots I have met some of the most interesting people who make the shoot experience interesting and rewarding. I have yet to do a photo shoot that was a bad experience. Each shoot presents a different dynamic due to the unique personalities of the people I am photographing, the unique environments they are in, and the type of story I want to craft using my photography. Of the many photo shoots I have done this year, here are my top eight most memorable shoots. They as varied, but they do showcase why I personally love doing photo shoots.

8. Maternity photo shoot at UCR Gardens

A maternity shoot is very special; it is to showcase the love of the mother and father as they are ready to bring a new life into the world. My friends Heather and Chris contacted me one day and they asked me to do a maternity photo shoot with them. Not knowing anything about it, I did heavy research into the shoot, from the angles to the poses. Doing a good maternity shoot is very different than the kind of photography that I am used to, so it definitely too me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to view things in different ways. The shoot we did was a very fun and memorable shoot during the Golden Hour at the UCR gardens. It was the great dynamic between them that I was able to bring the warmth and family love that they shared. It was a great shoot that emphasized the love of family and I hope to do more of these kinds of shoots in the future.

7. Fate/Zero photo shoot at Comikaze

I have done many shoots with my friend Joy, but the Comikaze one was special because there was a sense of fun that made the shoot great. Between all the serious shots, Joy and Stefani had a really fun dynamic between them. They played around and enjoyed the atmosphere, which made the shoot very memorable. From my perspective as a photographer, it makes me happy to see this because having photo shoots are all about having fun. If the cosplayer is not having fun during my shoots, then it is my responsibility to make sure they are having fun, so when a cosplayer is already having fun it makes my job a lot easier. If they are having fun then the experience will be an awesome and memorable experience.

6. Shuffle shoot at Little Tokyo

Jennifer is a great cosplayer, I first saw her in Anime Expo cosplaying as Shana. During the Cherry Blossom festival I had several shoots with her in her shuffle cosplay. It was quite a treat since she is really photogenic and works really well with the camera. The cosplay she did, Asa-sempai is one of the most memorable characters in the series and she portrayed her well. Jennifer had lots of fun in the multiple shoots we had that day and she brought it out perfectly in her cosplay photos from the shoot.

5. Richard photo shoot at the Riverside Lunar Festival

Richard, what can I say about my friend that hasn’t been said already? He is very funny guy who makes a great interview subject, writes a really funny blog, and he is also my amazing successor as the manager of Anime Expo’s Manga Lounge. He can add another bullet point to his list of talents; he also makes an amazing model for a photo shoot. Downtown Riverside is an amazing location for a photo shoot and during the Riverside Lunar Festival there was nary a cosplayer in sight, so I decided to do a photo shoot with one of my best friends. What became quickly apparent is that this guy knows how to work a camera better than almost anyone I know (remember, I have done quite a bit of photo shoots). He is very photogenic and is a great model; I had lots of fun doing a shoot with him.

4. Pirate of the Caribbean Shoot at Anime Expo 2011

Kat and I have a running joke that I have been deemed her “official cosplay photographer” since I have done more shoots with her than any other cosplayer. Of all the shoots I have done with her this year (and I have done A LOT of them), my personal favorite was a Pirates of the Caribbean shoot during Anime Expo 2011. Kat is so much fun to work with since she has quite an imagination and she just has so much fun working with the camera. The Los Angeles Convention Center was far from the ocean, but we improvised with trees and greenery that worked to great effect. I ended up getting some of my best Anime Expo pictures with her photo shoot.

3. Dragonball photo shoot at Comikaze

Comikaze had many great shoots, one of the most memorable of the shoots I had at Comikaze was my Dragonball shoot with Meg. She was a consummate professional, helping me choose great locales for backgrounds and different angles to get interesting shots. Over the course of the shoot she had a huge library of poses in her mind so that we could move from location to location really fast. She worked well with my camera and between the shoot it was so much fun to hear her interesting stories and adventures in the different conventions she has been to. She had the “golden hour” photo shoot, and it was an amazing shoot to say the least. Even if the weather was a little cold, the lighting was amazing and it worked really well to enhance the shoot.

2. Shinsen Doumei Cross photo shoot at PMX 2011

This photo shoot was special for a variety of reasons; it is the first shoot I have ever done on one of my favorite manga artists of all time Arina Tanemura. It was the most epic photo shoot I have ever done, clocking in at 64 minutes (for reference, my average shoot is around 23 minutes). It was also the first major shoot I have done with Christine, a cosplayer I have been taking photos of for quite a while. The shoot ran perfectly, and it helped that the series they were doing also happens to be one of my favorite series of all time. The 3 cosplayers in the shoot worked the camera and did an amazing job, and I had so much fun in this shoot. The only issue was that I was so wrapped up having fun in this shoot that I totally forgot about the time and missed my next shoot with joy by almost 20 minutes (I am so sorry Joy!!!).

1. Valkyria Chronicles photo shoot at Anime Expo 2011

Without a doubt, this was my most memorable photo shoot of this year. The cosplayer was so much fun to work with. Cosplaying as Alicia and Welkin from Valkyria Chronicles these two had an incredible dynamic that was like no other. The two outfits used in the shoots were outstanding and it was quite possibly one of the best iterations I have seen of the outfits. My strong familiarity with the source material helps when it comes to crafting this photo shoot. The shoot was a perfect combination of having a cosplayer who just had fun during the entire shoot, a perfect dynamic between her and her partner, and the sense of fun that emanated from all the pictures in the shoot. It was a great shoot that hit the right notes on all levels. I hope to do some more shoots with this person since she is so much fun to work with and she and her cosplaying partner are incredibly photogenic.

In conclusion….
There you go, here are my eight most memorable photo shoots of 2011. If anything, this list would be much longer since all the shoots I had were memorable in their own ways. These eight just tend to stick out to me as shining examples of great experiences. As I said, all the photo shoots I have done were good shoots, but these are shining examples of why I want to better myself as a photographer. I wonder what kind of awesome shoots will come next year, I can’t wait.

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