Photographer Sinme (Spiral Cats) Interview
Spiral Cats is arguably one of the most recognizable and popular professional cosplay group. Hailing from Korea, they have made various appearances around the world including ones sponsored by Blizzard Entertainment (Diablo, Starcraft, Warcraft), and Riot Games (League of Legends). In July 2014, Spiral Cats' core members, Tasha and Doremi made their first appearance in the United States at Anime Expo in downtown Los Angeles. While most of the attention is focused on the feminine duo's amazing crafting and cosplay abilities, we cannot forget about the photographer who took them.
Join us as we sit down with Spiral Cats' photographer and now producer, Sinme, as we discuss in a quick interview about his amazing photography work and process, as well as a little history of the team and current cosplay scene in Korea.
T-ONO: What is it like photographing one of the most popular cosplay group currently in the world?
Sinme: It's a very joyful experience. The models are beautiful and I love photography.
You might not know, but in Korea there aren't that many pro cosplay teams. Spiral Cats has been able to stand out from the crowd since there aren't that many competitors. Although our competitors won't like us saying that, but that's how it is right now. Sometimes we think that we need more people to compete with us or to communicate with. For that reason, we are also looking forward to communicating with other cosplay groups all around the world. We think that's the only way to go forward.
T-ONO: Are there any particular cosplay groups or individuals that you feel are at the same level?
Sinme: We actually look at a lot of photos of various cosplay groups and cosplayers, but since our search is limited, we don't have any specific groups or teams that we know of. We do know that there are a lot of great cosplayers and groups around the world. In Korea, I cosplayed a long time ago as some people might know. Even before that, I was friends with a lot of people who cosplayed. Some of those friends made a pro cosplay team called C.S.L. (Cosplay Stage Laboratory) in Korea. There are a few differences, C.S.L. is mainly a male cosplay group whereas Spiral Cats is a female cosplay group. In Korea, that's the group I respect and think of as a rival of Spiral Cats.
T-ONO: How did you transition from photographer to producer of Spiral Cats?
Sinme: I was originally a game developer and worked at a game company. Tasha was also a member of that company and wanted to make a pro cosplay team. There wasn't a name at that time, but I wanted to help her. The name Spiral Cats was actually my idea. [Haha] The center of Spiral Cats is the team leader, Tasha, and I would help her in various aspect such as the cosplay, marketing, communication with other groups, etc. Photography, producing, marketing was all part of my job.
To explain a little bit more how Spiral Cats started. When Tasha first wanted to start a pro cosplay team, I was skeptical of a pro cosplay team. Eventually, I was persuaded by her passion and dream. I became a fan of her and wanted to help her so I started out as half partner and half fan. At that time, Tasha only knew about cosplay so I had to let people know that Spiral Cats is a pro cosplay team not an amateur group. That was my role from the start, so everything started from that.
Sinme: My specialty is post-editing. I need very high resolution photos for editing. I use a high-resolution camera with a prime lens to capture the highest quality photo. A lot of photographers use Lightroom for simple edits and managing photos, but I only use Photoshop. My workflow depends on my eye at that moment. I would look through the results and if I see one that pops out, I would take that photo into Photoshop for editing. My photoshoots are related to strong backlights behind the models. I use strong backlights to make the models pop out. I emphasize that feature using a lot of techniques in Photoshop. Many people might look at my photos and see various differences in one photoshoot. Some are warm and some are cold. I feel that the result is the right one for that specific photo. Every photo might be different depending on how I feel.
T-ONO: Now for the age old question, which camera brand do you prefer?
Sinme: I might be a little biased on Nikon because I am a Canon user. My photography is mostly cosplays, so I use a studio environment a lot and rely on post-editing. I prefer Canon because of the wide range of colors that are available. The ease of fixing these colors are superior on a Canon compared to Nikon. Since my main area is studio photography, I use Canon, but if I were to go outside and take a lot of photos of events or landscapes I might use Nikon. For my current situation, I think Canon is the best choice for studio photography especially cosplay.
T-ONO: As a group have you considered releasing a photobook?
Sinme: We thought about it, but we haven't had a chance to make one yet. If we had the chance, we'll definitely release one.
T-ONO: We look forward to it. Thank you very much.
Sinme: Thank you.