1.) So tell the readers a little about yourself.
The first thing I usually tell people is that I'm incredibly goofy--I take my work very seriously and I absolutely love what I do, but I certainly allow my goofy side to influence a lot of my photography. I have many, many passions, but photography is definitely something I hold dear to my heart. I actually had a great deal of interest in it as a teenager, and I allowed life to get in the way for a long time and prevent me from following my heart. But now I pursue what I love relentlessly, and I have an amazing time while doing it. I am currently participating in my own 365 photo challenge; essentially I take, edit, and share a photo on Facebook every single day, for an entire year. Because of this, I find myself outdoors a lot, on my longboard, with my headphones and of course my camera. I find a lot of adventures, even in the most unexpected of places. I've still got more than 200 days to go, but I'm excited to see how much more my work will morph in that time.
2. ) I always wonder where a person gets the bug to pick up a camera. What was the first shot you took that changed your life forever?
This question is surprisingly easy for me to answer. I took a photo of my best friend when I was fourteen, with my old-school film camera. I had her lean way back and took a shot where her head was basically upside-down; I then went to my school's film lab and developed it into a black-and-white print. Something about that shot--the differing perspective and the intense emotion in it--completely shifted my perspective and was the first time I realized that this truly was an art form I wanted to explore.
3. )How long does it take you to set up for a shoot, or are most of you shots outdoors?
When I first started really getting into photography (for simplicity's sake we'll leave out the teen years) late last autumn, I was really interested in a studio setting. So I invested in a backdrop, and went to the hardware store and grabbed some ridiculously hot construction lights that served as my first lighting kit. It would take usually around 30 minutes to set it all up, and I found that my shots often felt they were just missing...something. Then I realized that my love for nature could be readily incorporated into my shots with models and even self-portraits. So now I am outside nearly every day, shooting something, whether it be myself or a model or even wildlife. It's absolutely invigorating, and natural light, when you come to understand it, can be your best friend (also your worst enemy at times).
4.) Did you go to college or get any type of training with your work?
I took one semester of basic photography my sophomore year of high school, but other than that, no formal training. I've really been learning as I go, and it's been a real challenge, but I also find the payoff to be pretty amazing at times. When there's something I want to learn how to do, and I *finally* get it right, it's a great sense of accomplishment. And while schooling can be great, I sometimes feel that as an artist it can teach you to build walls around your work, rather than teaching you to think on your own and really break out of the box. So in a way, I'm grateful that I've neglected to get formal training.
.I noticed your work through a friend of mine, Becki Watts, who does cosplay for many conventions. So when I was looking through some of her photos on Facebook, your photos stood out, and I must say
you are a very talented artist.
Well, thank you! I try to create a mood in my shot, and it varies from one photo to another. Cosplay is a great way to experiment with that, as each character has their own personality and therefore their own mood.
6.) How did you get into this form of art taking and setting up shots for cosplay designers?
I have a lot of friends who are into cosplay, and I also cosplay every so often. I've worked for a few years at Sakura-con as a volunteer, and since I have been really pursuing my photography lately, I decided to try my hand at some cosplay photography at the recent Sakura-con. Becki was in the cosplay group with me, so naturally I photographed her and the rest of our group.
7.) Do you choose the people you want to take photos for?
It really depends. Sometimes I'm approached for commissions, but if I am really compelled by someone's cosplay or look, I'll approach them. At Sakura-con, for example, I found a Zelda and Midna cosplay duo that was absolutely breathtaking. I approached them--well, more accurately, I RAN at them out of excitement--and they agreed to let me photograph them. We wandered outside to an awesome location, and I got some of the best cosplay shots I've ever taken, to date. Some of the shots from that set actually ended up on Kotaku and are now found on all sorts of sites on the Internet. It helped that their cosplays were amazing, of course! They made my job pretty easy.
8.) Do you go to a lot of conventions to take photos of different cosplays?
The only two conventions I attend are Sakura-con and PAX so far, though I’d like to expand my horizons. Dragon-con seems very interesting, not to mention San Diego Comic-con!
9.) I also notice that you do cosplay sessions, model portfolio building, portrait sessions, engagement sessions, family-portrait sessions, and weddings. Out of these, which do you consider the hardest, and which do you consider to be the most rewarding?
The most difficult type of commissioned shoot is absolutely weddings. You have to be the one to capture all the very brief, very key moments on that couples’ special day—it’s a TON of pressure, and it usually involves spending an entire eight hours or more of shooting. Not to mention the postprocessing, which, depending on how you process the photos can take even more than eight hours. But because of all the hard work that goes into weddings, I find it to also be the most rewarding.
10.) How long does the process for these types of photos take?
Probably a total of anywhere from 16-24 hours, if you include shooting time and time spent editing.
11.) I notice on your website at http://kin-tora.com that you also do photo editing? For some of are readers what is photo editing?
Basically taking an image and tweaking things like lighting, retouching a subjects’ face if necessary/wanted, and any other number of things! For surreal images, photo editing can become very involved, but I actually love editing the most out of the entire process from beginning to end.
12.) What type of equipment do you use?
Currently a shoot with a Nikon D40, which is nothing fancy by most professional photographer’s standards, but it gets the job done and done well! I have a few lenses for it, but I mainly shoot with my 35mm f1.8.
13.) Why the Nikon D40? Also how many lenses do you use?
I actually bought it used on a whim from an online seller, about a year ago. I didn’t know the first thing about DSLR’s, but a few friends said it was a good deal and that I should go for it. That purchase has truly changed my life and way of living. I technically have three--four if you count a zoom lens I’m borrowing.
14.) What inspiration do get you get when you’re setting up a shot?
It really varies on the situation—if I’m doing a self-portrait, I usually go out with a specific idea in mind. If I have a friend with me and I come across an area that inspires me, I may have them quickly model for me. But *most* of the time my inspiration comes from things I’ve experienced in life, books I’ve read, or just nature in general.
15.) Do you have team who helps you with your photo shoots?
I have a good friend who comes along to help sometimes, but usually I work solo. I’ve worked in tandem with makeup artists and some local designers, but when shooting, I prefer to be alone or just with the model and I. It is much less distracting and seems to work really well for the model or myself to get into character, which is usually what I’m looking for!
16.) Would you ever consider showing off you work in a museum or would you want to publish your work?
Absolutely. Those are actually some larger goals of mine already.
17.) Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
Wow, so hard to say! I try to just focus on my work and goals and not get too entrenched in thinking where I’ll be eventually, but with that said, I steadily move towards my goals with a lot of passion. So I’d hope that I can eventually have my work showing up in publications and maybe even teaching workshops eventually—that’d be a dream for me!
18.) If you could go back in time who would you like to take photos of or for?
H.P. Lovecraft or Edgar Allan Poe. Hard to pin down one or the other, and with a question as vast as this, I’m sure I could even find someone else I’d want to photograph. But they both have absolutely amazing minds and imaginations, not to mention incredibly expressive faces, so shooting them would be absolutely amazing!
19.) And one last question for readers out there: if you could be in one place in time to take the perfect shot of a lifetime, where would it be?
Another *massive* question—perhaps on another planet, or somewhere in outer space. Maybe not feasible at this point for me…but someday?
by D. Goines Aug 12.2013