An Ulterior Ego | Oni Con Hawaii 2013

Despite its nearly-monolithic reputation as a surf mecca and vacationer’s paradise, Hawaii has a large and vibrant community of geeks with a wide variety of passions and interests…they’re my people. I always take great joy in any opportunities I have to see them indulge in their interests (some of which involve dressing up as their favorite characters), and there are only a few big ones where they can really enjoy critical mass-levels of geekdom such as that you’d see at San Diego Comic Con. At Kawaii Kon earlier this year, I decided I’d do a photo project that would celebrate local cosplayers by taking candid photos of them being themselves, as opposed to the posed character snapshots I usually see taken of them. At Oni Con Hawaii (a new geek convention, rising from the ashes of HEXXP), I decided to take a different approach: Using my photography skills, and the model coaching skills I’ve picked up while helping Dallas with her fashion photography, I’d help local cosplayers achieve a fuller embodiment of their characters in dramatic portraits. These are my results:

One of my first subjects of the day was a young lady I took photos of at Kawaii Kon. She had caught my eye with a well-done costume months ago, and she did it again with a well-done cosplay of the main character in Portal. I chose to cover her face with her hair and crop part of her face out to preserve the feeling of anonymity inherent in the character you only ever catch glimpses of during the game.

She looks a little like how I’d imagine the main character, though, so I chose to get a photo with her face, as well.

My actual first subject was Jayson Seymetara, one of the Hawaii cosplay community’s mainstays, and a friend I knew would have the patience to stick around while I got my lights set up and tested them on him. A holla to him for helping make this project look good. I won’t say who he is, because I can’t imagine anyone reading this blog not to recognize the character.

One of my last subjects was from the same universe, but gonna put him up here for consistency’s sake.

I didn’t know it at at the time, but this guy stalking about…

Apparently brought about a reunion of our local Kamen Rider cosplayers (who were very well known for quite some time, even if their identities remain secret!)

After a little warmup, I called over friend and Abstract Magazine editor James Charisma, whose wild hair (not just on his head) helps him pull off a very convincing wolverine. He was a great sport while I directed his claw placements just so.

James then brought over his friend, who was playing the part of Ken from Street Fighter, golden locks and all.

Unlike most people claiming to “Hadouken” on the internet, this one actually delivers.

Of course, that didn’t impress this girl (!) much.

Speaking of girls, this one approached me and seemed to want her picture taken. I asked and she was enthused for a chance in front of the camera, even though she admitted to not dressing like anyone in particular…just a Japanese school girl in the background of any anime. I decided to try giving her the wide-eyed wonder you see so often in that character. And hey, if you ever see me out, I’m super-friendly, so don’t be afraid to say hi or ask for a picture if that’s what I’m up to. I promise I won’t blow you off, or be mean about it if I’m tied up!

After a while, my friend Gabriel Yanagihara came out in the Halo Spartan armor he borrowed for the weekend from a local costumer. Dallas and I have always been curious about the idea that humans are behind these super-solider visors…many of them barely adult, and all torn by war, or equally damaging training. As a former infantryman, that aspect hold particular interest for me, so Gabe indulged me with some moody spartan shots.

Of course, Gabe wanted some shots of him looking strong and epic, so I snapped a few of him not bowed by the weight of war.

His girlfriend came out shortly after. I forgot to ask what she was, but I strongly suspect either witch of some sort, or a blood-elf.

Okay, so I have to admit I forgot what anime this cosplay came from, but it’s definitely a thing. My attention was caught more by the red eyes, which I thought would look cool under the strobe! I’d be happy to have someone enlighten me in the comments, though.

Her husband, dressed as someone from the same Mad Max-like story universe. I think the headscarves are significant somehow. I’m also told they’re not vampires.

Later on in the evening, a fantastic Connor from Assassin’s Creed crossed my path. Dallas is a huge AC fan, so I figured she’d enjoy the cosplay…this guy was also ridiculously easy to shoot. To make it even better, I later learned he’s into parkour, so I’m starting to wonder whether we’ll see some epic AC parkour videos starting to come out of Hawaii before long!

For those of you who aren’t into geekdom, thanks for putting up with my reverie. For those of you who are, I hope to see you out at these conventions, and at the various geeky events that are happening in Honolulu and Hawaii in general. There are more and more events, and more and more geeks every year, and I love it. Make sure to say hi, if you see me.

If I took your photos, shoot me an email at ew[at]spyhi[dot]com and I’ll send you something big enough to print, along with a license so local shops will allow you to print them! As always, I love to hear from you, so let me know what you thought in the comments section!