This Is The City We Swore To Protect
A few months ago we were bouncing around ideas for shoots to do during the month of March. Allybelle, Mermaid, and Taco's Treasures were primarily working on competition pieces for some upcoming cons. So some of the original ideas we were floating were centered around more casual themes as to not take too much time away from the competition projects.
But then we found out that season three of My Hero Academia was to premier on April 7th. So started the crazy idea of this shoot.
Everyone involved loves the anime series (well, except for Luis since he has to be a hipster shithead and read the manga only). Usually I'm not a fan of shonen shows since a lot of them tend to do things that bug me... namely run way too long and take forever to resolve plot points. I started watching after a friend of mine described the initial idea behind the story and the main thing I come to appreciate about it was how it was a shonen show that did not play to the typical shonen tropes. That and I loved a good chunk of the characters.
So we were all on board... but no one in the initial group had costumes. When that discussion started Mermaid Child immediately wanted to be Midnight because "she's a creeper". Which was an amusing departure from her being Honoka from Love Live or Sailor Moon. Taco's Treasures wanted to be Froppy, and Allybelle chose Mount Lady. And we also decided to do something different to ride along the hype wave of season three: have this set be a complete surprise. We kept this project a secret.
Sonia Blade also joined us as female Todoroki. This was the first time I had a chance to work with her... she's really cool and a lot of fun to be around.
When we were discussing exactly how we wanted to shoot this we knew we wanted two things: A) a big city skyline, and B) a bit more contrast heavy look to this set compared to things we've shot before. For the second part I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted to do this. I wanted a pretty controlled amount of light that would give some specularity to the images. We used a Godox AD200 strobe paired with a Interfit 11" x 59" strip box for single person shots and a Phottix 2' x 3' softbox for group shots.
As for the skyline... since a good chunk of us live in the Austin area we had one readily available. It was just a matter of chosing where exactly to shoot. I knew right away that we should stay the hell away from Sixth Street. Given Mount Lady and Midnight's outfits I sure didn't want them to fend off drunken dude bros. A few years ago I had actually worked downtown in an area called the Second Street District not far from the Austonian. So I was a bit familiar with what was around there and figured some spots could make for good pics. I did some walk arounds both during the day and at night to figure out if they would work and found even a few more places that had potential.
The fun part was we couldn't fully determine where we could shoot and where we couldn't. While there were resources for filming there was positively fuck all with regards to photography. With this I figured equipping for a run-and-gun approach was probably the best way to go about things.
And then the weather decided to mess with us. A cold front came through the day before with rain... and the lower temperatures decided to stick around the day after. We were planning in either being in open areas, between buildings that could serve as wind tunnels, or on top off a nine story parking garage.
Did you know it's harder to think through a photo shoot when every other thought in your head is "Fuck, it's cold"? That was true for everyone that was involved that evening.
With regards to the pics... I'd say we got 80% of the vision we had in our heads for this set. I was hoping to be able to pull more of the skyline in these pics. But since I was already shooting at ISO 3200 with a one strobe setup I knew there wasn't going to be much latitude available in post before the image noise became really present. So cranking uo the shadows to 100 in Photoshop I didn't feel like was a desirable option.
In spite of that we got some good photos. Taco's Treasures did an amazing job on Froppy and Midnight. Though I'm pretty sure Mermaid Child is now getting some pretty odd Amazon recommendations due to the props she had to order.
Thanks to Sonia Blade for making the trek out to Austin to join us. Also thanks to Matt Hood for coming out to help assist.