There’s never a dull moment when you’re running a cosplay photography studio. When you’re dealing with passionate anime fans, colourful costumes and whimsical props on a daily basis, you’ll hardly be bored on the job.
Just ask Wayne Low, the co-founder of Cupcat Images, which he claims is the country’s first ever cosplay photography studio.
His studio is located in an industrial area in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, right next to a mamak stall, which sometimes results in amusing incidents.
“Most of the time, cosplayers come and visit us and then do their preparations. But some of them, they come already in full makeup and costume. One cosplayer visited us at night, dressed like a witch, and caused a shock among all the people here,” recalls Low with a chuckle.
“But I think the mamak has gotten used to it already. Nowadays, whenever they see any ‘weird’ characters in the area, they know to point them over here!” he adds.
Cupcat Images will be presenting a workshop at Star Supa Comic, which will take place at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre, Kuala Lumpur, on Dec 29 and 30.
Cupcat Images was set up in 2014 by Low and his wife Isabella Ching.
Low, a commercial photographer by trade, needed somewhere to practise his art. At the time, he happened to have a vacant office space in Taman Pertama in Cheras. His wife’s sister, a cosplayer, suggested that his business cater to the cosplaying crowd, and the couple agreed.
Cupcat Images opened with four themes for photo shoots: Japanese, European, Checkered, and Stage.
Today, they have expanded to 20 photo themes, which include Steampunk, Secret Garden and Victorian.
“A cosplay photo studio is just like a regular one. You walk in and choose your preferred themes. However, for a cosplay thematic studio, we need to know the market and content well. We need to find themes that suit a lot of anime and manga well. For example, if it’s a school-related manga or anime, we need a classroom setting or something similar,” explains Keith Song, manager at Cupcat Images.
“From time to time, maybe once or twice a year, we review the themes we have, and the rate of rental. We have to consider the themes that are fading away and the popular ones which are rising. And we have to consider which themes we want to keep or amend, according to the latest trends and clients. We also want to consider the commercial potential of the themes. We can’t just cater to cosplayers, that would be a waste!” adds Song.
At the studio, cosplayers longing to climb the corporate ladder can take photos in the Office theme room, while those with more dystopian tastes can visit the Abandoned theme.
The studio also prepares seasonal themes, such as Christmas and Halloween. There’s even a Pool theme, where the room can be filled with water!
Low reveals the most popular themes in Cupcat are the simpler ones, such as the Black and White themes, which can be used for a variety of purposes. Also in demand are the Japanese, Sakura and Classroom themes.
What are the owners’ favourite themes?
Potions, a small room that looks like it was summoned off the set of Harry Potter, gets the vote. This is because it is decorated with various books and knick-knacks that Low and Ching got for themselves while travelling.
The studio usually manages between 70 and 80 photoshoots a month, although it could go up to over 100 during peak season (like the school holidays or anime convention season).
Most clients are high school and college students, although the studio has welcomed customers from all age groups and walks of life.
“Our goal is not to make Cupcat a photography studio, but also a platform for cosplayers. We hope it can be a hub for them to come and feel comfortable and enjoy themselves, and feel secure when shooting their photos,” says Song.
Cupcat Images will be on hand to share some tips on cosplay photography at the Star Supa Comic event later this month.
“For good cosplay photos, the cosplayer must really love the character they cosplay as. They need to study the character’s posture, emotion, story. A lot of people want to start cosplay photography, but don’t know how to start, so we hope can share our experiences,” says Low.
“The photographer also needs to have the necessary skills and know specific angles. The cosplayer needs to be able to communicate with the photographer. Most important, as a cosplayer, you have to be safe, be aware and have loads of fun!”
Star Supa Comic will take place at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre, Kuala Lumpur, on Dec 29 and 30. It is organised by i.Star Events (a subsidiary of Star Media Group) with event partner AniManGaki and media partners DimSum, 988 and Suria FM. For more information and to register, call i.Star Events at 03-7967 1388 ext 1097 / 1505 / 1541 or visit: bit.ly/starsupacomic.