Cosplay photoshoot: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

Cosplay photoshoot: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

Having quite enjoyed Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun myself, I jumped at the opportunity to do a shoot for Karen and zimiel who were portraying Shizuku Mizutani and Haru Yoshida (respectively). This would be the first of three shoots for that one day, so we started fairly early.


It used to be my limit for shoots per day was two. But then in the 2012 SMASH! period, I pushed it to three, so now that’s a pretty status-quo thing which I see as less of a “oh wow, challenge accepted” kind of thing, and more a “well, if it’s necessary, let’s make it possible” affair.

I’ve figured out three main keys to being able to multiple shoots in a day:

  • Keep the shoots short
  • Keep your energy up
  • Plan everything

Short and sweet

Over the years, I’ve seen my average shooting hours drop from an average of 4 or 5 hours to 2 hours. It’s still possible to push 4 or 5 hours out of a shoot, if I’m working particularly slow on that day, or the environment is difficult to work in.

The key for me personally is to be constantly solving problems. I don’t take shots, and then if they don’t work, keep trying to take them in the hopes that something clicks. So it’s always a conscious effort to identify what is not working in the initial shots, and solving them as quickly as possible.

You might find me taking a shot, looking at it for a bit, then taking five minutes or so to change a few things around or reposition myself or change poses, and then taking two more shots, before moving on.

It’s not about the amount of photos you can take with your massive memory card. Instead, it’s about about getting to your final result via the shortest and most direct route, and not getting bogged down with stuff that doesn’t work. And of course, some shots are just not possible to get right in a reasonable amount of time. If that is the case, admit it to yourself (not to the cosplayer – voicing negativity in a shoot, even for the sake of being honest, can seriously disrupt confidence and flow) and move on.

Keep your energy up

I don’t eat breakfast. I just rush out of the house most days, whether it’s work, or it’s for a shoot. But if you are going to execute three shoots in the day, be conscious that even if you don’t feel the hunger, the effects of insufficient energy input will have an impact on your performance, especially later on in the day.

It might not even be physical tiredness, but rather weariness in the mind, which will have a direct impact on your creativity, on the effort you put into getting the shots right, and your agility to get stuff done.

So even if I’m not hungry, if I have a bit of down time, or a bit of a wait, I’ll get something to eat and drink, so the energy reserves are there. Simple system maintenance.

Plan everything

If you are doing three shoots then yes, you need to plan that stuff out. In this case, I was able to choose the three shoots I’d do on this day. Each shoot has different location, and timing requirements, which need to fit in with your overall plan.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, for example needed nice park, with stairs for the envisioned key shot. A morning/afternoon shooting period was also needed to get a bright and vibrant look.

Decide on the locations and check if you can optimise them to reduce distance and travel times. For example, can you utilise different aspects of the same location for two different shoots?

Once you have decided on the order of things, then get into the nitty gritty of planning transport, travel times, etc. It used to be we would have to use various travel websites to plan all the logistics, but Google Maps, with its public transport planning integration, now makes it a fairly simple affair.

The final thing I’d plan would be the types of equipment needed to get the kind of look I want. If you are aiming for very different looks for the shoots, be aware that unless you can go back home and switch equipment, you’ll need to start the day with everything you need. As it is, I had a locker in the city which I could use to switch equipment sets as needed, so I didn’t have to carry more than I needed.

Equipment planning is a massive topic on its own, so I’ll maybe talk about it another time.

The shoot

I knew roughly in my head the types of shots I wanted, which would embody the push-pull type relationship between Shizuku and Haru. Certainly, there was a narrative thread running through the photographic series (roughly tsun –> dere, though not strictly).

Lighting was fairly standard: we weren’t looking for dramatic shadows or subject isolation via lighting. In the shade, I used my two umbrella softboxes as standard. Later on when we went out into the sun, I got zimiel and Karen to have their back to the sun, and used the softbox surfaces as very effective reflectors, allowing me to retain a fairly large aperture by speeding up my shutter.

Overall, I quite liked the results we got from this shoot!

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