Sample of Day 3 of my 19 days on the road, essentially revisiting the places that had a huge impact on me. Check out the full piece on Instagram @streetdog29 #transientframes

Day 3 - Taj Lands End, Bandra. 7:15am
I’m split in how I feel about spending a lot of time in hotels, sometimes I feel a disconnect from my schedule and routine but then there’s also the escape that it provides, in a hotel I’m just a number, just one of many passing through; a transient.
This morning I woke up with more of the latter, it’s definitely not a loneliness, more of a quiet solitude. Many of the images I make reflect this, it’s something at times I try to steer away from but always come back to; a person lost in their surroundings or a scene that implies being removed from the world outside. Edward Hopper is one of my favourite artists and I’ve borrowed a lot from him (or stolen, depending on ones point of view), the scenes of solitude and isolation are simple but pose so many questions. Here in my hotel room, on the 20th floor looking over Mumbai I felt a peace and tranquility, in the city but removed….a far cry from the way I used to be when in this place #transientframes

fortuned asked:

ok now, i was looking for a blog like yours for sooo long. you have no idea. i guess you like sci-fi so i want to ask you what's your fav sci-fi book or movie or whatever. i'd be glad to know. You are awesooooooooooooomeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

well gee thanks. i always find it hard to answer questions like that because I consume a lot of films and appreciate them for different reasons.

favorite scifi book would probably be Neil Stephenson’s Snowcrash. I’ve read it a dozen times and I just love the world he created. I’ve always loved Dune and over the last few years I’ve been reading a lot of Phillip K Dick who was one of the most amazing scifi writers in history. 

For movies, I have camp, so Flash Gordon is a favorite. I love hard-nosed science fiction, so I love Elysium for the ideas and visuals, although the story was flat. The same for Oblivion or Tron Legacy. Amazing visuals, flat or just bad screenwriting. Sunshine was great for the first ¾ quarters. I’ve always loved Pitch Black as an amazing example of low-budget filmmaking. Mad Max Fury Road was an instant new favorite. 

I have mention Alien and Blade Runner as examples of brilliant filmmaking that have heavily influenced me. Star Trek 2 Wrath of Khan is fantastic. Starcrash is a guilty pleasure. 

but my most faviorite film since I was a kid would have to be Tron. brilliant, ground breaking and a bad story. but I don’t care at all

Thinking Outside the Square: Support for Landscape and Portrait Formats on Instagram

Today, we’re excited to announce that — in addition to square posts — you can now share photos and videos in both portrait and landscape orientation on Instagram. Square format has been and always will be part of who we are. That said, the visual story you’re trying to tell should always come first, and we want to make it simple and fun for you to share moments just the way you want to. It turns out that nearly one in five photos or videos people post aren’t in the square format, and we know that it hasn’t been easy to share this type of content on Instagram: friends get cut out of group shots, the subject of your video feels cramped and you can’t capture the Golden Gate Bridge from end to end. Now, when choosing a photo or video, you can tap the format icon to adjust the orientation to portrait or landscape instead of square. Once you share the photo, the full-sized version of it will appear to all of your followers in feed in a beautiful, natural way. To keep the clean feel of your profile grid, your post will appear there as a center-cropped square.

We’re especially excited about what this update means for video on Instagram, which in widescreen can be more cinematic than ever. While we’ve historically had separate filters for photos and for videos, all filters will now work on all types of moments. You can also adjust the intensity of filters on videos, too.

We continue to be inspired by the creativity and diversity of the Instagram community, and we can’t wait to see what you create next.

To learn more about the changes in today’s update, check out the Instagram Help Center.

Instagram for iOS version 7.5 is available today in Apple’s App Store, and Instagram for Android version 7.5 is available today on Google Play.


FUHA Branding by Tomomi Maezawa

“FUHA – The expression of air was an exhibition of Fabrica for Daikin Italy to explore a more personal relationship with air. FU and HA are Japanese onomatopoeias of our breaths. FUrepresents blowing into a substance to cool it down and HA is about warming something up by opening our mouth widely.”

Tomomi Maezawa is a graphic designer, a futurist and a postmodernist born in Tochigi. She is focused on visual stories, identities and multilingual typographies through deconstructive and minimalistic design.

I’ve long struggled with dialog and narration. I’ve never considered myself very good at them. As a result, I’ve been constantly trying to improve my skills in this area, and learned a lot though mistakes. For the next few Friday blogs, I’ll be sharing some of my hard-won lessons with you, starting with one of the worst culprits for creating terrible dialog and narration: Exposition.

Exposition: The Ultimate Story Tar Pit

Exposition is a key component to establishing your Act One. Readers need to know the Who, What, Where, When, Why in order to have context for the events that will unfold. However, when employed poorly, exposition can bog down a story.  Don’t believe me?  Try reading THIS from a previous story of mine, Shades of Grey. I apologize in advance for making your eyes bleed. 

As you can see (once your eyes recover, that is) I’ve made my fair share of mistakes when it comes to dialog and narration. This page highlights on a tendency that I’ve seen many writers fall prey to, which is to excessively explain their world.

The history of oral hygiene, and other fascinating facts

I love world-building.  In fact, I compulsively create settings.  Why, in the back of my mind I’m working on one as I type this.  It’s a condition.  Or an addiction.  I’m sure I can quit anytime.  The REAL problem is it can be tempting, especially when I’ve put these countless hours into crafting a world, to explain every little detail to the reader.  Why are the shoulders covered at all times except at weddings?  Why are mirrors and jars of honey brought to funerals?  Why is the maple leaf considered a good-luck charm?

In the end, it doesn’t really matter WHY, just that those details are there in the visuals. Not in the dialog.  The attentive, detail-oriented reader will observe these elements and enjoy making their own theories.  The rest of the readers won’t particularly care — and they certainly don’t want me to tell them about it! 

The problem isn’t the world-building — that’s an important part of having a believable and consistent story — the issue is letting go of the need to explain the details instead of demonstrate them.  How many of us brush teeth before going to bed?  I’m going to assume, for the sake of my hygiene-conscious sensibilities, that the answer is most.  How many of you would turn to your friend, significant other, or apathetic cat, and explain to them not only WHY you brush, but HOW you brush and how LONG you’ve brushed and how your society has a HISTORY of brushing?  Unless you have small and remarkably inquisitive children, I’m guessing this is not a regular occurrence.  Such events should be equally rare in our stories! 

Even an outsider to a culture will often hesitate to ask why certain things are done.  Whether to avoid looking stupid or just simple shyness, most of us will hover in the background, observe, and then attempt to mimic what everyone else is doing.  As a writer, it’s important to trust readers to figure things out on their own and let them play the role of the attentive foreigner, not the precocious toddler.

Investment vs Invested

How often have you started reading a comic, particularly a fantasy comic, that began with a variation of this:

Often a very dry, text-heavy history lesson at that! How often did that history lesson have very little to do with the plot or characters that followed it? How long (if ever) did you have to wait before there was pay-off on that information? How could the writer have SHOWN you that information through the actions, mannerisms, and attitudes of the characters? Finally, how many of you were so bored by the dry lecture opening that you quit right then and there? I’ve heard more than a few readers tell me that they’ve given up on a large amount of comics because they couldn’t stand the lecture at the beginning. As writers, we put these kinds of pages in there because they feel very important to the story we’re writing, but often they’re useless to the story the reader is consuming.

The eye-bleeding page I shared with you at the start was put in because I realized that I’d forgotten to include all that exposition earlier. It felt critical to me that the reader understand this involved system I had constructed. When Cory was going through it years later, he said to me, “If you changed one line of dialog in the page that comes after this one, you could take out that exposition dump entirely and nobody would ever realize it was gone.” That’s how little all that information, that seemed SO IMPORTANT to me, mattered to him. Did it impact how the characters thought, felt, or behaved? No. Did it add dramatic irony for the reader, to heighten the tension? No. Did it even add crucial context, key to understanding future events? Nopeity, nopeity, Nooooooo.

The only person it mattered to was me, because I’d spent all that time and effort thinking about it. I assumed that writer work invested meant reader interest investment. It didn’t.

Where to put the details

Every time I feel the need to explain, I take a step back.  I brainstorm how I could show that exposition through behavior, surgically removing explanations unless it is the basis for a plot-point in the future.  Show it, don’t tell it. Assume less is more. My LeyLians let me know when my exposition levels are coming up short. That’s one of the incredible benefits to making a webcomic. Reader questions help us calibrate our stories in real-time. If I find the same kind of questions coming up, I can identify the weak spot and take action to give just enough information in future pages to address the problem. Having people interested enough to question me is a far better situation than readers that were too bored to read past my introduction.

Best of all, my world-building efforts don’t have to be in vain. Instead of trying to cram them into the story, I document those details in a note-book, preserving them for back-of-the-book extras later.  Now they’ve become exciting goodies for the readers that DO care about the effort I’ve put into the story, in a place where the information doesn’t disrupt the story I’m trying to tell. I’ve added depth to my story AND additional value to the readers.  Both the ones that love extra detail AND the ones that don’t. 

She was born in the heart of the Badlands, she grew up between skyscrapers and darkness, and corrupted minds that followed the rules of the streets. From afar, it all just looks like a rotting island, an abandoned metropolis left to its own luck, knowing it doesn’t have a chance. And as you get closer, you can see that you aren’t that wrong. In time, every single one of her acquaintances changed, and maybe she did too – she just didn’t realize. They grow up oblivious and sheltered and one day the evil realities of that place hit them square between the eyes like a perfectly aimed bullet. And when that day comes, they just accept their destiny and move on with it. But she wasn’t like everyone else. True, maybe she was part of a generation who was more aware of everything surrounding them, but no one had the guts to fight.

She escaped, she just couldn’t spend one more minute there, feeling like her life was being wasted. But after a few years being on the run, something changed: she had to go back. She didn’t know why, she couldn’t remember the moment she felt like it was a demand she had to fulfill, but there was something in her chest telling her she needed to return and make things different. She was going to stand against the ruler there and yes, that meant some sacrifices had to be made, but she just didn’t care, she was sure she was going to win.
She is going straight for the Castle now, walking directly into the biggest skyscraper in the city, but once she gets there all she sees is darkness and shadows, and pretty soon she can tell that the king is no fool, and it is not going to be that easy.

The voices inside her are trying to make her speak up, say why she’s there and what she wants, but she feels weak and the bravery that had lived deep within her is easily gone now she knows what she’s rebelling against. When she was younger and without her realizing, she sold her soul to the city just like everyone else, and now that power is Holding Her Down, so she becomes smaller by seconds, unable to fight the rottenness at the top. She wants mightiness; she’s out of bounds preventing her of danger anyway. She’s going for it all. But her momentary return of boldness leaves as fast as it came because the forces inside the palace are way stronger than she is. They beat her up in no time, and she gets sent back to the city she once escaped.

The familiar smell of fuel and desperation hits her once more. She remembers it quite well, but she didn’t think it was that strong: it practically mists the rest of her senses. The city looks like it hasn’t changed a bit, but when a few people walk by her side, she notices something different. Their faces, their eyes. They are not as swollen, it looks like they even have drops of hope and ambition inside of them. They walk proud and stand tall, with their minds somewhere else, somewhere better. But despite of that, they’re still too tangled up on their own issues to fight their oppressors. If the New Americana stood together, they could easily tear the system down.

She suddenly snaps out of herself, something calling her attention. A Cadillac, a car she hadn’t seen in years. Inside, a face blurred out is inviting her in and a strange connection’s telling her she knows that person, a bolt of fear raging her body. Once she gets in they leave as fast as they can, entering some kind of desert road, forgetting where they are supposed to be until the city limit pops up and they have to stop the engine and turn around. They can’t stay, they can’t runway, but at the moment, all they do is Drive which is somewhat relaxing, a vacation of the cold and sharp reality, which is shutting them down and keeping their emotions in for a while.

After returning to the city and getting her mind into the real matter, she walks down a long street emerging from inside the dark alleys of the Badlands. A place where a strange boy lives, a boy who calls her attention and who sees her as the young and innocent, willing-to-experiment girl she is. But he’s just lost in his own damaged and sick mind, he takes her for what he wants, nothing else. She’s destructive to herself and to others as well, so they fit like puzzle pieces. At some point everything becomes too toxic and dangerous and she understands that she doesn’t belong to anywhere, to anybody, she’s a Hurricane. So she leaves, because if there’s someone on Earth who’s going to destroy her, that’s going to be herself.

She gets away from the mud that could’ve been her death, and she’s back to the streets that saw her become a woman when she notices a certain light. The same kind of glow, reminiscing of fear and lust for what’s prohibited that she sees in her own eyes. Someone who gets the clouds of her breath stuck in her throat, making it painful to inhale and exhale, but certainly worth it. So they escape the city as much as they can while still being trapped inside of it and somehow, everything that’s wrong from the buildings that work as prison bars disappears, just like if they were on a Roman Holiday. But sooner or later everything crumbles, especially in the Badlands.

One night, insomnia creeps into her body when an idea is rambling her mind: the person laying next to her is slowly drifting away, she doesn’t know where, but she just doesn’t feel the same weight beside her in bed. And even though it’s a loss, it is also a lesson. She doesn’t like anything unless it has an expiring date. She doesn’t want romance and happiness, she wants lies and poison and she enjoys getting away from painful situations just as much as she enjoys being trapped inside of them. She’s self-destructive and somehow, her demolitions always end up tearing someone else apart. Those that love her are the ones that hurt her the most and those whom she loves are the ones she hurts the most. Even if it’s making her fall to pieces, she likes it when something that could’ve been beautiful is just a fading memory, a Ghost that sometimes chases her just to remind her of what could have been.

When she’s about to tell him that she’s leaving for good, something hits her: these boys she had been condemning for so long are not any less victims than she is, and all they deserve is her mercy and her understanding, because in the end, it’s their sad eyes that she craves. And when she looks around in a different way, she sees the Colors perfectly: the way they are vibing out of their bodies and roaming through the room. And she feels compassion and love, but also the need to go away, for herself. Because even though he changed her, maybe it wasn’t that bad after all. We are all like paintings, true masterpieces, and we grow and become more beautiful with every tonality that’s added to our canvas.

But once she leaves that cold and not-so-empty bed, the Colors she thought were gone start shining even brighter, and the thought that maybe she shouldn’t have left is stuck in her head.

That feeling is soon gone when the lights that blind her are no longer dripping colors of her past but flashes of those who want to know her story. Well, not hers, but the story of her Strange Love, the one that consumed her. But even if she has to deal with the pain telling only half of it to the world, she’s screaming at emptiness, so it is no one’s business who her heart belongs or belonged to.

Rain is pouring in the city when she gets in a car that seems familiar, the only shelter she could find from the gossip-seeker zombies chasing her. But this time, when she turns on the radio to evade herself, the face of the person sitting on the driver’s seat is clear as river water and beautiful like soft needles brushing her skin. Something inside her dies and comes alive just by looking at him: a god, the devil, a martyr and a savior that takes her to outer space while rolling beneath the sheets of a hotel room. What she once saw as heavenly is now Coming Down to lay beside her, and she feels everything as human and raw and sinful as her beating heart could get. She finds it very hard to leave this time, but at least and by now, she doesn’t have to.

She takes the boy out to the streets on a route she knows very well. She wants to remember because although she feels safe and warm with him, she doesn’t quite feel understood and there’s a voice that never stopped echoing, a beam of someone else that’s still Haunting her, and she wants it there, near, where she can feel it, that being the only way she can have a piece of what she tried to leave behind.

Wanting to get rid of that shadow, she seeks comprehension in the boy with inhuman eyes, just because perhaps he runs on Gasoline too and she’s not so alone, so she can forget finally. She needs someone who devastates his mind also, whose hands get cold even if it feels like they shouldn’t, someone who looks around and only sees faces of bewilderment and concern, and can only hear whispers when he gets on a train. Someone who understands her pain and her madness. But an emotion she can’t decode takes over him and he leaves her alone in the middle of nowhere, dawn breaking through the skyline at the end of the city.

Finding herself hopeless and heartbroken again, something clicks in her mind and she remembers: a transition, craziness, the reason she needed to go back to the Badlands and why she was so sure she could beat the neglected power taking up the only safe places there. She remembers crying in despair, knowing she couldn’t back off; it was her duty because there was a heat growing inside her, a deadly fire that could destroy everything she wanted. She wasn’t to be messed with. She was one in her generation, the one who had the power to overtake the throne. The energy that sprouts out of her may scare those watching, but now she is in Control. She can be bigger, colder, meaner than the demons she had grown familiar with, thanks to the villains she got to know in her bed. She is unstoppable and she is going to take everything she can.

It almost looks like she’s flying through the insane metropolis to get to the castle again, knowing that this time she will win. But the moment she walks through the doors, she sees something she wasn’t expecting: the boy who left her in the middle of the city is the one sitting on the throne, and he’s speaking with a voice she remembers from the first time she was there.

He tries to convince her to join him, to be the queen of his kingdom because after all, they’re both Young Gods, supernatural creatures above everyone else rotting in the Badlands. And as she ponders his offer, she almost gives in, falling in his trap. But before she does so she realizes that he’s evil, he took advantage out of everyone and will do the same with her, because he only covets one thing and he will never share his power. So she fights her urges and beats him up, that being the first time that destroying something that she loves turns out being good.

In the end, she gets to wear the crown and to sit on the throne. To look down a balcony and see a city that’s hers. She has a voice that’s heard and that’s why she never speaks too loud, and no one has any objections to make. She’s a ruler walking through a plain path where rocks are no longer a problem, and because everything is hers she’s faithful and true. Because everything is hers she’s aware, careful and respectful. She’s loyal, kind and devoted, and because everything is hers, She Walks The Line. Because no one really lives in the Badlands, unless you are the motherfucking queen.

Nerd For You ~ A.I

Part 1 of my peace offering.



You both knew it was love, and that’s all that mattered. Except for one and only one detail.

You both had to keep it a secret.

It all started when the both of you bumped into each at the grocery just a few months ago. You knew who he was and he knew who you were. Coincidence? I think so, but I don’t know. Anyway, when he accidentally bumped you, making you fall down to the ground you were fucking pissed off your ass that he kept apologising until you both made a deal that you’d forgive him if he took you out somewhere to eat.

And after that, you both just sparked up and became one. Only that, both your friends didn’t know. Why? For the fact that you were a normal good, innocent girl in school while he was the typical bad boy with his friends. If you shared the idea of you both dating that would just ruin both your reputations.

So you had to hide.

Every time you were invited by your friends to hangout, you declined them and went to Ashton’s house to just cuddle down with him and share little kisses here and there and giggle the fuck off each other. It made you both happy because you both shared your love and passion for each other, but behind closed doors.

But when you’re in school, the both of you would steal a couple glances off of each other and if lucky enough, you’d give a flying kiss or a wink at both your ways.

It was risky and you knew the consequences if someone knew. But somehow, you just broke out and said enough is enough. And that made you and Ashton cause a scene in school. For shouting and yelling and simply losing both yourselves in the middle of the hallway, every student stood on each side and watched the both of you argue, not even knowing what the topic is.

Then you walked away. Walked away like you felt like giving up, walked away like you’re so tired of hiding. Walked away because you were so fucking done of keeping everything down low.

It was now the month of halloween, and it’s been three weeks since you both had the argument and never once had the guts to talk to each other in those weeks. Fixing your Nerd costume, you pushed up the glasses from the bridge of your nose and pulled up the white knee socks you wore. Looking on your reflection on the mirror as you wore a red and black plaid button up which was tucked in your light-washed jean shorts. And then your chucked up converse. It was perfect.

Grabbing your phone and your backpack, you went down the stairs and out the door to take the bus to school. You don’t want to be late.

Opening your locker, you took your Math book and notebook as your first period was Math, which sucked so much. But then you heard loud screaming. Like freakishly loud screaming of girls. Oh great, you thought to yourself, they’re here. You sighed deeply and closed your locker door as you leaned your back on the locker and watched as the crowd of girls come closer and closer.

Having a glimpse of the bad boys, you were shocked to see it with your own eyes as you gasped, your hands automatically going up to cover your mouth.

You saw him, and he saw you. And he was wearing his costume . His nerd costume. Looking him up and down, he was wearing the exact same thing you were wearing, only that he wore ripped skinny jeans and pure black shoes. Gulping the huge lump in your throat, he came closer to you and when he was a few inches away he stopped and stared at you.

In his eyes, that’s when you saw everything. He missed you. “Can we please talk?” He asked, but in his voice you realised that he was begging. Keeping your tough act, you fixed your posture and crossed your arms over your chest.
“And why should I talk to you?” You remarked, wearing your signature bitch face. “Because you just have to let me explain.”
“Explain what?” You asked, your tone getting louder and louder.
“Explain about this!” He referred as he waved his hands in between  the both of us. “See this? This is me, showing to the world that I fell in love with a girl who’s my complete opposite. She’s not bad, she doesn’t have tattoos and she hates wearing black.” He stated as every word he said, he took small steps towards you.

“She’s the type of girl who giggles at my fucking jokes that my friends thought of as stupidity at its best. She’s the type wherein even though you’re different, she’ll still accept you for who you are. This is to the girl who I know loves me too and took the risk of hiding behind the walls and spent the rest of the day with a fucking douchebag!” He shouted in the middle of the crowd.

You haven’t noticed that you were crying when Ashton came so close to you and wiped your tears away. “This, this madness that I’m doing, I did this for you. To show you that what we had was real and it wasn’t a game for me. Okay, I told you to keep the both of us a secret. I did that because I was afraid that you’d go down from your hierarchy of reputation. You know everyone thinks of me so lowly that whenever I’m with you, I just get away from all of my problems and be on cloud nine with you.” He said softly, as he caressed your puffy cheeks.

“You know I love you so much and I would never ever plan of letting you go. And in those three weeks without contact made me realise that my life would be so boring without you. It gave me a meaning. You gave my life a meaning.”  He finished, losing breath. His chest heaved up and down as you stared deeply on his brown-hazel eyes.

You didn’t know what to say. You were just completely speechless. This, what he made, this served as a public service announcement to everyone that- “You are mine. And I am yours. I wouldn’t give a damn about the people around here thinking this is wrong. This is us, and for us, this is right.” He spoke as he swallowed all nervousness down his throat.

Deafening silence, you composed yourself quickly and spoke quietly so that he’d be the only one to hear you, “What do you want me to say then?”
“Please say that you love me. Please tell me. I need to hear it if this is the last time I’ll be with you.” He requested, his tears now freely falling down his face.

Shutting your eyes, you connected your forehead with his and spoke softly.
“I love you.” You sang in his ear. “Again.” He told you.
“I love you.” Opening your eyes, you see him close his as he hummed sweetly. Softly rubbing his cheeks, you spoke to him, not holding back.

“You, Ashton Irwin, never think of this as the last time I’ll be with you. Because I’ll stay with you as long as you want me to be here for you and only you. I love you so fucking much and I’d be devastated if ever we fell out of this daydream we have. Never ever think of yourself as shit. You are none of those. You are one bright person and no one will understand the way I feel about you and how you act around everyone so close to you. Never ever. I love you so fucking much. Remember that, ey?” You smiled widely at him as he nodded vigorously.

“Good.” You nodded as you kissed him with your all.

Visuals Stories of the Undocumented

Since I posted something on Limbo recently, I thought I’d go ahead and point to a number of recent and noteworthy immigration / undocumented people visual stories:

Jeffrey’s Difficult Move (NYTimes)

The Fighter (Joshua Davis)

Limbo (Eliot Rausch)

Inocente (Fine Films)

Only a Dream (Joshua Davis)

more at Reframing Mexico

Torn Apart (Dai Sugano)

If the embed doesn’t work, here’s a direct link to “Torn Apart.”

Sin País (Without Country)

More on Sin País. The Undocumented - Trailer

More on “The Undocumented." 

Not Your Baba’s Comics: Visual Stories in the Diaspora

I did not grow up with comic books.

I did not even consider comic books, or graphic novels for that matter, to be a serious literary genre until I was an adult reader. Sure, I read the occasional Batman or Superman issue, but I never saw myself in those stories. Those characters and their struggles were foreign to me. They were superhuman problems in a mythical setting, they had no basis in my reality.

Having said that, many people do see themselves in those stories. They are able to take life lessons from comic books and find deeper meanings in graphic novels. Spider-Man, The Walking Dead, and others line the shelves of the dedicated. As far as storytelling mediums go, graphic novels and comic books are able to provide an experience that is uniquely their own. Unlike “traditional” media, graphic novels and comic books allow for, and encourage, the nonlinear progression of ideas and plot points at a pace determined by the reader. A person can take their time with a story, they are able to linger on a page of art and probe for hidden meaning. With conventional books, one must read between the lines to connect ideas and themes. But with graphic novels and comic books, the reader has the opportunity to digest visual and narrative elements at their own pace, arguably creating a more personal bond with the characters and their struggles.

The first graphic novel I ever read was a gift. At the time, I was struggling with my identity as a biracial Arab. Having been born in the U.S. and spending my formative years in Egypt, I felt as if I was constantly at odds with myself. What would have been accepted in one culture was explicitly forbidden by the other. When I came back to the States for college, I did not have many Arab or Muslim friends, and for a long time I felt cut off from a part of my culture. The novel became a helping hand for me, as something that I could latch onto and use as a foundation to rebuild my sense of self.

Read the whole thing on

Ken's Cosplay & Convention Photography Tip #4: Directing The Shoot

You are walking around a convention and stop someone for a photo. The normal routine is that they give you a quick pose and they give you a quick photo. Starting out I thought a whole shoot works like that. I could not be anymore wrong.

For this tutorial I will be going over how you can provide direction to your photo shoots. This is actually a huge topic and I might make separate articles in the future to go more in depth on some aspects of this. For now I will just provide a basic over view.

Reeling back to an earlier tip, the first few photos during a shoot may be something straight on. This is fine and is sometimes all the cosplayer really wants. Although as a photographer during a shoot you should really challenge yourself to provide more. Being a cosplay photographer can become a way for you to become a visual story teller.

When setting up a shoot with somebody, I like to ask questions about their character. What do they do? What is their personality like? If somebody is with them, what is the relationship like between the characters.

I also like to ask if they can provide reference photos of the character. This sometimes gives me a blue print to work with.

If you are lucky they will have a prop. Ask questions about how the character uses it. If it’s a weapon, ask for a demonstration to show how the character attacks. Do they have any magic qualities to them? Try to have a photo that showcases the prop.

When you watch a movie, the characters normally don’t look directly at the camera. This is done to help build the illusion of a story to an audience. I apply this concept to a lot of my photos. It gives a sense that there is more beyond the frame or something is about to unfold. Having people interact with each other is also a huge plus.

Try to keep in the context of the character and source. Doing a few funny or out of character photos are fine, but don’t let it overshadow the shoot. Personally, I am not a fan of… lets just say for example Mario trying to look sexy. It’s funny, but it is something that can’t be taken seriously.

Even if you are working with a costume that could be perceived as sexy, try not to make that the focus by constantly giving suggestive poses or ideas. The only exception of course is if that is what suits the character.

Ask the cosplayer if they have any ideas and poses of their own. Assist them so it can look good for the camera.

A lot of my work is spontaneous. For some shoots I don’t always plan. Fortunately as you become more experienced you get an idea if what works and what does not. Also just think about logically. Say, somebody is from a fighting game.. have them fight. If they are from a sports show….

The most difficult part can be to get the cosplayer emotionally invested in the shoot. Try to get the cosplayer in the mood by telling a story or a joke. Try to get them comfortable and bring life into the character. Remember that emotion comes from the eyes and not so much the mouth.

Remember that as a cosplayer photographer you have two big priorities. The first is to make the cosplayer look as good as possible with the resources at hand. Secondly, finding ways to show off the costume in a way that is faithful to the source. This means just don’t stick to the front, but have shots of the back and sides.

In conclusion everybody is going to work with you differently. There will be people who will prefer to direct themselves the whole time and you’re just there to capture it. Then there are people who want to be directed 100% of the time. I think I recall a time starting out where I did a spontaneous 5 minute shoot with somebody and asked “What does your character do?”, to which they had no answer to and I later found out they passive aggressively took it out on me for even asking.

Just remember this is a collaboration and everybody needs to be cordial for it to turn out well. You need to be serious about taking good photos, the cosplayer needs to be serious about getting them and if you follow some of my advice you might wind up with a few serious good photos.

Thanks for checking this out. If you like it let me know. I am also on facebook under Ken AD Photography or my new Ken Austin Photography for non cosplay stuff.


Nancy Drew fans — we hear you loud and clear. Thanks to the more than 4,000 respondents who participated in our survey earlier this year, it’s clear to us that you would love to see some changes and updates to our Nancy Drew PC/MAC franchise. Your suggestions for more expansive environments, better visuals, more compelling story lines, longer game play, more characters and more dangerous situations with player consequences got us thinking, and we agree.

One of the major limiting factors that prevents us from implementing many of these changes is our current propriety game engine. Thus, we have made the exciting decision to move to a Unity-based platform for our games. However, this move will affect our development schedule resulting in a delay in the release of our next game, Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem. At this time, we can’t confirm an exact launch date, but we hope it will launch sometime in 2016. Even though we have started the process of adapting our games for this platform, it’s not something we can do overnight. Working on Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us at Her Interactive. We are creating something we are really proud of and we don’t want to compromise on quality. We promise it will be worth the wait.

In the meantime, we are expanding our offering by introducing a new Nancy Drew mobile app next spring on iOS and Android. More information to follow shortly, but we can’t wait to share this pioneering app with you!

Lastly, we want to thank you again for the exceptional ongoing support of Her Interactive and Nancy Drew Games. Our community is at the heart of what we are doing and we’re very much designing our games with you in mind. Your involvement means the world to us.


Team Her Interactive