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Inoli - Love at First Exposure! A Look Behind Cosplay Photography

Inoli as Kurogane from Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles
I absolutely love the fusion of the photographer and cosplayer in this picture.
Photo by Leanne Longacre of ShutterCrazyPhoto

Sometimes the world forgets about who is behind the camera of the amazing pictures of cosplayers. For the May Cosplayer Feature I asked on Facebook, Deviantart, and here for suggestions about your favorite cosplay photographers. There were so many to choose from! The one that stood out the most was Inoli Images from Denver, Colorado."She is so talented and shoots a variety of cosplayers, which is amazing! I usually get shy with photographers but she has always made me feel really comfortable and she is really easy to work with," says Julie (PasNRaine) who suggested Inoli on Deviantart.

Inoli is from Denver, Colorado but does her best to escape to the snowy mountains with her friends on school breaks. She has a college degree in photography and has been inspired to take pictures since she was very young. Inoli also loves to cosplay, as you can see from her wonderful Kurogane cosplay above. She always finds a way to incorporate or hide her camera on herself for that sudden cosplay photo moment! 

"I started learning about the darkroom and analogue
photography back in my high school days and
it was love at first exposure!" - Inoli
Photo by Oscar Cwajbaum

The thing that stands out the most with Inoli is her willingness to help cosplayers shine! She loves to get them out of their shells and enjoy the character they are dressed as, as well as themselves! Inoli will go to many lengths and feats to create the perfect cosplay photo and have fun the entire time.

If you like Inoli's work and want to see more check her out here at these links!
Interview with Inoli

If you could travel anywhere for a photo shoot where would you go?

Do I have to choose just one location? Well if that is the case, I would give my left arm for a chance to shoot comfortably in the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, Japan! It is absolutely stunning and the stories I've heard, well it sounds like all around the whole shrine would be wonderful to visit for some photo sessions, if that was actually possible without interfering. A secondary place would have to be Hawaii with the versatility of the environment and heck, can't go wrong in the tropics!

What got you into photography and what do you love about it?

When I was just a kid at the age of nine my dad handed me his camera. It was an Olympus OM 10 film camera. [Dad] told me, "A picture is worth more than a thousand words; it is a window into people's souls." I found it was a window you can see both ways through, into your own as well as others. It was a great way to express myself and I found a wonderful way to allow others to speak.
Shauna in Kirin armor: Monster Hunters
Location: Ice Castles in Steamboat Springs,
Fun Fact: This photo came from a shoot with
over 30 cosplayers and two days of work in
freezing temperatures! Inoli was quite proud of
how far her photo talents had improved when she
saw this finished picture.

Why cosplay photography over others?

It is not hard to slip back into other photography mediums but with cosplay photography you have the freedom of imagination. Instead of being bound down by traditionalism, like portrait photography, you can chat, geek out even, with your cosplayer and try to come up with new and imaginative (sometimes absolutely crazy) solutions to recreate a scene from an anime or a manga!
[Cosplay Photography is] really like cosplay itself. It call for a lot of different mediums; night photography, sports/action, experimenting with stop time and sometimes just making things up as you go.
Cosplay came at a difficult time in my life and helped me survive it. The friends I gained from the new found hobby, the fun I had doing photo shoots, recreating different scenes or getting that perfect in-character shot helped my passion grow. My dearest friend Kimu gave me my first Canon and from there it became a terrible addiction and the more incredible photos I was able to get of cosplayers, the more I craved! Cosplay photography quickly blossomed into an artistic creation made by two people with a love and passion for a similar medium - Cosplay!

What are some fun tips for aspiring photographers?

Practice really makes perfect. that and reading amazing articles and hints from other photographers who have "been there, done that." I read at least two to five articles a month on photography on photography. that helps me sharpen my skills and knowledge that I already have. I do my best to keep a "beginner's mind" so I can learn new things and adjust the rules as they come and apply them to the situation. I keep trying and fail quite a bit, but in those failures I learn more than I do with my success!
If you can, study with another photographer you admire. Look at their work and try to recreate it. Ask for pointers or why the photographer did what they did. Like any artist, all photographers have their own style and ways about doing things. there is never a wrong way to do photos or go about getting a shot so even if someone corrects you, listen and thank them for their input. You never know when that advice may come in handy.

Katie Huber as Katara: Avatar the Last Airbender
Fun Fact: "This was one of those sudden impromptu photo shoots. I grabbed a bucket, my reflector and off we ran! I had Katie standing on an embankment over looking a small sand bed by a stream. What you can't see is my friend Kimu tossing water at me and my camera all in the desperate, but successful, attempt to make her look as if she were water bending! As there was only three of us I had to balance my reflector on some sticks buried in the sand." - Inoli

What do you love most about about doing cosplay photography?

There are two things I love the most about cosplay photography. the first is helping people see just how epic they can be. the second is the amount of creativity it can take to get THAT shot that is so perfect.

Photo by Kimu
"That would be me, blinded by light as I'm trying to even out the
light and not completely drench my camera in the oncoming water.
My friend Kimu likes to grab behind the scenes shots which
 shows the extent of how far I'll go to set up a shot." - Inoli

The most common thing I hear when I ask to take photos with someone is along the lines of "well I don't really look good in pictures." I picked up the camera to capture the light and beauty inside of someone. to be able to take their cosplay, even if it is just a dull background, and help them capture the spirit of the character as well as some of [the cosplayer's] own beauty. It is the greatest feeling of all. You have just successfully shown someone that they are just as epic as the character they are cosplaying. Being able to get those shots that make everyone smile or say "wow" is a rewarding accomplishment.

People should be both worried and excited when I ask, "You want to try something?" I will climb, contort, or go to the oddest measures to get a great shot and if you are willing, I will make you do it too! Sometimes the most astounding pictures come from playing, running, and leaping out there with eyes wide open. the possibilities are endless as long you are willing to trust.

You are truly inspiring! What do you love least?

The space and the storage as well as the time on the computer! I started this year out with a terabyte computer and I have already filled half of the drive.
The time on the computer can be difficult [with] my daily job and well, I am not good at sitting still for long periods of time. I do not do a lot of photoshop on my photos because it is more fun to produce the effects right there and then! I will, however, go back and post processes, like lighten parts of someone's cosplay or take out the colors on a convention's horrible hotel floor.

"This session was for Oscar Cwajbaum of Oscar CPhotography.
This amazing man loaned me some of his old lighting
equipment to take photos for him and cosplayer Tenkage
 in their Slayers. It was a photo shoot that started at about 1 am
and ended by 4! We were all exhausted but I fell madly in love
with the lighting set up he had! Because of all his advice
I have learned quite a bit about my Canon T3i. I felt I grew as a
photographer from this session so I always look back at
these shots with a bit of healthy pride." - Inoli

I admit, I have a very old computer held up by a wish, bubble gum, and duct tape so post processing can be a slow process, even if there is not much to be done aside from adding a watermark. I am just as excited to show the cosplayers how awesome they look in their photos as they are to see them, so a slow computer can be frustrating.

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