Photographer Spotlight – Orla Rose Photography

Cosplayer: Keelah Monster Cosplay | Cosplay: Tali'zorah - Mass Effect


Word of the Nerd is pleased to present to you a new spotlight feature, our Photographer Spotlight, where we highlight photographers in the cosplay and nerd community. We’ll be featuring both well known and up and coming photographers from all over, so check it out and you may find some new talent in your area, or maybe just a new favorite to follow.


About Orla Rose Photography

I’m a cosplayer, graphic designer, and photographer. I am obsessed with the creation of art. If I’m not creating cosplay and photography, I’m pinteresting cosplay and photography, or scouting out areas for cosplay and photography. I’ve done a lot of practice shoots at DragonCon, Katsucon, and a few other local events, and I do cosplay and fantasy photography for Timeless Trends Corsets. I usually schedule shoots outside of con so we’re not on a strict timeline, and we can travel to cool locations.

Orla Rose Photography
Cosplayer: Fraulein Ninja Cosplay | Cosplay: Kaiju Dress – Pacific Rim

How did you first get into cosplay photography?

By being a cosplay model! It was something I always wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t have the knowledge or skill. So as a model I watched how photographers worked. I watched where they would stand to get the best light, how they set up their lighting equipment, and I was also able to compare the setting with the final product to see what went into capturing everything and how they edited their photos.

Are you self-taught or did you go to school for photography?

Both. I studied photography and photo editing in college, back before digital, when you had to develop your own film. At that time I gave up photography because it was too expensive and focused on design and editing. I picked up photography again once digital became the best way to capture and edit photos.

Do you shoot cosplay for fun or is it a paying job?

Usually, it’s paid. Occasionally I’ll ask friends to model when I need to practice lighting or editing techniques, but those shoots don’t always amount to anything since it’s just practice. For my professional best, I have a range of prices that fit each shoot according to how much work goes into it.

What equipment do you use? 

Believe it or not, I still use a Nikon D90 and Photoshop CS3! It’s old but what I can afford right now. You don’t necessarily need the newest most expensive equipment to create beautiful work. I also have a simple 3 point lighting set up by Square Perfect, and of course Lightroom. Lightroom has DRASTICALLY improved my photography skill because of how much control you have over exposure and color. It’s fantastic!

Do you shoot “on site” or do you only shoot at conventions?

I don’t shoot at cons often because of a number of elements you can’t control: people, background, light, time, etc. I shoot on site whenever possible. Natural light is my favorite. I occasionally use studio lighting, but it’s a lot of work to setup and control, so I avoid it whenever possible.

Is there one photo that defines you as a photographer, or a photo you took that felt like the defining moment in your growth?

My first “Aha! I can actually do this!” moment was in a “meet and greet” practice workshop. There was an entire wall of windows, but it was cloudy so light was limited. I grabbed a white poster board and some aluminum foil as a makeshift reflector had the model stand against a blank wall and propped the “reflector” against the chair. I took the photo and everything clicked. I finally realized what my strength and weaknesses were and how I could use natural lighting to my advantage. (http://www.orlarose.net/Maleficent.jpg)

Do you have a defined style? If so, describe.

I really like high contrast, both black and white and color. I’m not good at that soft wistful lighting technique, so I stick with my strengths. I love giving photos a movie poster quality feel to it, it’s my favorite thing to do.

Are there any photographers who inspire you/you look up to?

So many! I’m going to leave so many people out, but my top favorites are Saffels Photography,

JL7 Photography, Athel Cosplay Photography, Martin Wong, Phosphorescence, and Beethy photography. Someday I hope to have enough money and cosplay skill to throw their way to be in front of their cameras!

What are your photography goals? 

My goal is to get skilled enough that I can get paid shoots at conventions. I love capturing all that creativity, but I’m still learning how to shoot in limited areas.

What are your favorite/least favorite things about the cosplay community? The photography community?

There are a lot of problems in the community. Whenever you have a group of people that large, you can’t avoid problems. The most important thing is to ignore negativity, stand up for what you believe in, do your best to avoid drama, and pursue what you love!

Do you have a dream shoot you would like to do?

I’ve always wanted to shoot with wolves. Definitely a Red Riding Hood concept. I’ve also wanted to photograph a Chiara Bautista concept: her illustrations of a bunny goddess and cosmic galaxy wolf are my favorite.

What about cosplay inspires you the most?

The fun people just being themselves. Cosplay really allows people to express themselves, be someone they admire or even be a hated villain just for fun.

What is your biggest obstacle in cosplay photography?

My limited budget. Lol! I think it’s my biggest challenge to get good photos in tight spaces with terrible lighting. It’s never my best work, but the people I photograph still really appreciate having a photo of themselves that’s better than what they could capture on their phone.

Have you learned any life lessons from being a cosplay photographer?

Consent is mandatory. This goes for everyone, not just photographers. And consent applies to everything, not just photography. Never do anything to someone without asking.

Do you have any golden rules you’d like to share with photographers who are just starting out?

#1 Always ask before shooting someone. They may not be comfortable modeling at a specific time, or they may be in the middle of something that you’re interrupting, including a shoot they have paid for. As a model, I’ve had to stop shoots to reprimand people with cameras who just jumped in front of my photographer. That’s extremely rude. Don’t be rude.

#2 Do not touch a cosplayer without asking. Sometimes a cosplay is barely holding together for this one shoot and will fall apart at the slightest touch. And sometimes people just don’t want to be touched.

What is the worst thing a cosplayer can do when dealing with a photographer?

Not show up on time, interrupt another shoot to ask a photographer to shoot you, or leave a current shoot to ask another photographer to shoot you. I’ve actually witnessed this happen, and it is extremely rude and disruptive. Be respectful of photographers, whether you’re paying them or not. They have time schedules they have to adhere to, so show up at the time you agreed to! They are also working professionals, so don’t interrupt their work or waste their time.

Is there anything that would make you stop shooting cosplay?

Not that I can think of. There will always be rude models and bad experiences, but I love photography so I can’t let that keep me from what I love.

Disclaimer from Photographer: I am not affiliated with these models or cosplayers, nor am I endorsing them or their work apart from my own. The views, expressions, and conduct of these individuals are their own and do not necessarily reflect me or my work. I am not responsible for the opinions or conduct of these individuals at other photo shoots.

You can follow and view more of Orla Rose Photography here

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About the author

Riley Sinclair

Riley is a New Jersey based cosplayer of 5 years with more than 25 characters under her belt, including Axton the Commando, Catwoman, Tony Stark, Kanji Tatsumi and Badou Nails. She cosplays from all forms of media and is looking for new and more challenging cosplays for the future. Riley is an avid gamer and a new fan of comics. She is an interviewer for the site and also provides Word of the Nerd with cosplay related content and articles.

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