London-based photographer Thurstan Redding’s debut book is an exploration of the world of cosplay like you’ve never seen it before. Extraordinary outfits are photographed in the most ordinary locations creating a series that blurs the lines between fiction and fashion. cosplay kids is the accumulation of three years of work, which all began with a chance encounter.
Cosplay is dressing up as a character from a book, movie, or video game. He’s hugely popular around the world, and every year comic (or “vs”) conventions attract hundreds, if not thousands, of fans, all eager to show off their detailed, often hand-crafted outfits. Popular cosplay characters include the Incredible Hulk, Stormtroopers, Deadpool, and Superwoman, but the list of those you might encounter is pretty much endless.
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Redding was first introduced to cosplay on the streets of Los Angeles, then a few months later on the DLR in London. Intrigued by the attention to detail and sense of community that surrounds cosplay, he attended London ComicCon in 2018 with casting director Finlay MacAulay.
Reddings recalls how difficult it was to get people involved cosplay kids in the beginning. “We would approach dozens of cosplayers for their contact information. We would contact them and only a handful would respond. And then another handful of them would show up for shoots. would also mention it to their friends, which helped them in the casting process.”
Wanting to set her cosplay photography apart from other photographers, Redding used everyday backgrounds such as urban wastelands, bedrooms, and a bus stop to photograph the project. He combined the extraordinary and the ordinary, the fantastic and the fictional with environments you wouldn’t normally associate with fantasy characters.
Cover of Kids of Cosplay
Redding’s background in fashion photography inspired the way the images cosplay kids images were staged and lit. Although he originally wanted to take a “purely documentary approach to the project”, he found a thoughtful approach from a more original fashion perspective. When asked if he had a favorite image from the project, he said, “I really like the image of Spider-Man in the kitchen, drinking milk from the fridge,” which shows the juxtaposition between the reality and fantasy.
The cosplay world was completely foreign to Redding before this project started and what surprised him the most about the cosplay community was how accepted everyone was. Going into the project he had an open heart and mind and few expectations of what to expect. “As cosplay is often a rather difficult subculture to break into – due to its very esoteric nature – I didn’t expect to be welcomed with open arms. The acceptance and tolerance that cosplayers also have towards each other was very inspiring to see.
Picking a favorite movie, color or book is never easy, but when asked about one particular costume that stood out to Redding, the answer was definite. “I absolutely loved Ursula, who is featured on the cover. She painted herself in the kitchen where we were filming, which took about three hours, and she came to the shoot with her mother, who is featured also in the book as the Wicked Witch of the West. There was something really moving about seeing Ursula do her own makeup, with such great results.”
Cosplaying is nothing new, but Redding’s alternate take on this much-loved form of costume is incredibly refreshing. He claims integrity and insight into a world that is often depicted with highly edited composites and wacky backgrounds.
Like all projects, cosplay kids had its challenges. “I went into the project hoping to complete the whole thing in a year, but it ended up taking three. I think as you move forward on a project, your opinion and point of view evolves. also, which means you often have to re-adjust to this.Having now learned more about the crucial stages of publishing progression, model release forms, and how rewarding the journey has been, Redding is already thinking about her neat photo book
cosplay kids will be available in a 144-page hardback book, housed in a beautiful pastel lilac clamshell case. The book is now available for pre-order in two different versions, a signed copy of the book alone will cost £60 (about $79 / AU$105) or for £95 ($125 / AU$166), you will also receive a signed copy of the Mystique print.
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