A sinking feeling
There’s one scene I like from the third Nolan Batman film, where Blake accuses Gordon of lying and doing dirty things to keep the peace. He replies back and this is my favorite part
“… until you drag your hands through the mud.” or something equivalent.
I’ve been around a long long time. If you want to count, 2008. Here’s one of my first cosplay pictures.
I never expected to still be here, to be honest. I expected to be on the next stage of my life, or something like that. I could never leave this scene because I felt someone had to be around to push the evenlope, to do it justice. I realized this year, this already happened. I saw ‘amateurs’ with 50 instagram followers with better hall shots than me. I saw photographers who worked tirelessly to produce great images where I just took it in natural light because “it was too hard”, and people who had less experience book twice the number of paid cosplayer shoots than me(good for you guys! I’m proud of you guys). I saw myself being lazy and stretched so thin that the latter half my shoots Saturday were not my best performance in years. It was actually the worst. The kicker is I had a great cast of cosplayers to work with, yet I ended up with subpar pictures while I saw better photos from other photographers’ in the exact same location. I see people with better gear or faster workflows, with posing ideas I’d never thought of. Then I took a look at my social media and I realized I am among the dinosaurs. Half these people I knew already stopped going actively to cons and I barely know anyone in the community. I’m also aware Instagram is easy to reach people, but I find it exhausting to use on my phone.
When I started, it was a wild west of glomping and people charging for photoshoots on point and shoots (yes you read this correctly). Then a lot of things changed like facebook pages. Then a lot of things changed again like Patreon. Then it became so mainstream “cosplay” and “anime” was something everyone knew. I’m truly happy cosplay got to this point, where it’s happily accepted and artist are flourishing in its artistic creativity. Maybe I’ve been around too long, maybe no matter how hard I try I got caught into the drama, maybe how long I tried to think the art of cosplay photography was ‘pure’ it’s still corrupt with whatever people hated about modelmayhem or import modeling. I’m not innocent either – I’ve broken a cosplayer’s prop before by accident a long time ago(which is why I vowed to never touch someone’s prop ever again), been late or cancelled shoots, not every shot has turned out amazing, or probably made jokes around cons that made people feel uncomfortable. I too, am a flawed part of this con culture, in full honesty. I hate the word “retirement”. I hate the concept of giving up. I hate going back on my word. Maybe somewhere along the way, I let my own pride and bitterness affect my photos in some way too.
Yet I admittedly feel old. I feel tired. I feel I am producing the same quality of work for years, without improvement. I am not making a creatively worthy dent in this space, aside from bad photoshop experiments. I had a lot of muse shoots but I’m just feeling tired of producing. I felt this year’s Fanime photos were among the most average I’ve ever put out, no matter what my Instagram seems to indicate. I gave up this Fanime, and I can clearly see this in my photos. I’d rather not produce photos at all if I’m just going half-ass it again – it makes me feel like I failed myself and you guys.
If anything I’ll still be around with private shoots or roam around at cons, but I’ll leave the greater work of cosplay photography to others. You ‘new’ cosplayers and photographers are amazing – you remind me of the energy I once had as a teenager and I pass the baton to you guys. I’ll be applauding you guys from the shadows. There’s defintely some things I want to think through and see how I can do better =)
And in the end, maybe this isn’t about picture quality. Maybe it’s about how I can be a better human first so when I press that shutter, I know something amazing will come out.