SMC Behind the Lens with CandidJohnKim

This entry in our ongoing “Behind the Lens” series features up and coming cosplay photographer CandidJohnKim. If it’s one thing we like it’s great cosplay photography, as it certainly makes our job easier. If you spend anytime on Instagram, sooner our later your bound to come across the awesome work of @CandidJohnKim. See what he says about his time in the cosplay community below, then when you’re done make sure you give him a follow.

Name: John Kim
Location:  Wilmington, Delaware
Links:  | Instagram |

SMC: What interested you in photography?
CandidJohnKim: I took a lot of photos for my high school year book and continued to take photos after graduation.  This was during the days when we loaded actual film into our cameras.  My first semi-pro camera with film was a Canon Rebel SLR.  I was always interested to see what the results were after the film was developed.  Fast forward and I dropped the hobby for over a decade until I started attending various comic cons and decided to invest in a starter camera.  I bought a Canon Rebel T4i and started taking evening photography courses.  Then I studied under a wedding photographer to get a better perspective with composition and a better appreciation for the art.

SMC: What interested you in photographing cosplayers?
CandidJohnKim: I find the amount of work, design, effort and confidence cosplayers put into their craft just absolutely fascinating.  Many want to be able to show what they have accomplished and as a photographer, I hope I can help them with the process.   Before making this a hobby, I attended comic cons mainly to collect rare comics and meet different celebrities.  Along the way, I started making friends with cosplayers.  I tried to cosplay, but realized it was not my regular cup of tea.  Picking up the camera again felt natural and I decided to stick with it.  Occasionally I will cosplay, but a very casual cosplay.

SMC: Do you have a preference shooting between studios, outside or conventions?
I prefer the outdoors despite that I lost quite a few light stands and umbrellas here and there to the wind.  Location shoots that make sense with the character is really fun.  I enjoy the research and calling ahead of time to secure the location.  It helps make the cosplayer really stand out in the shot.

I do want to experiment more with a studio, especially with gels and strobe lighting.  My dream is to have a large studio that can be set up for multiple themes.

Jessica Nigri

SMC: Any upcoming cosplay events you will be shooting (2017 Schedule)?
CandidJohnKim: My planned events for some of the bigger scenes are:

  •             Harrisburg Comic Con in May
  •             Wizard World Philadelphia in June
  •             Awesome Con in June
  •             Garden State Con New Jersey in July
  •             San Diego Comic Con in July
  •             Boston Comic Con in August
  •             Dragoncon in August
  •             Colossal East in September
  •             New York Comic Con in October

I’m sure there will be a few more here and there.

SMC: What photographers inspire you?
CandidJohnKim: Some of my favorite non-cosplay photographers are Peter Lik for landscape and Jason Lanier when it comes to equipment, business and relations with people.

Another favorite for style and editing is Brandon Woelfel.  Not only just the wow factor as his pictures pop, but also his willingness to share the behind the scenes of what it took to get the shot and what he did to edit the photo.

There are quite a few cosplay photographers who inspire me, but Jon York stands out for his positivity.  When I first met him last year, I inadvertently interrupted his shoot at SDCC when I asked a cosplayer if I could take a photo of her.  Once he was done, he found me, tapped me on the shoulder and said she was free for photos.  It really stuck with me about how nice he was and I got to finally talk to him the following year at Katsucon as we shared both ideas.  Other photographers I like to work with and help out are @futurephotographybym3, @marlondavid_photography, and @bquezadapd.  All are really nice photographers to work with and have fun with.


SMC: Any favorite cosplayers you have liked working with in the past?
CandidJohnKim: I work with @joecoltoncosplay quite often.  I met her a year ago and we became really good friends.  We are both open to critical feedback from posing to edits.  It’s actually cool to see the progress of our work through our IG feeds.


Also, I met @romanovarose over a year ago and she was one of the first cosplayers I started to work with regularly.   It meant a lot since I mainly took hallway shots when I first started and since she lived nearby, we would set up mini-shoots.  She moved to a large city many states away, but we occasionally meet up throughout each year and stay in contact via text / phone call regularly.

Recently, I’ve been working with @ally.blaze.  She’s new to the cosplay community and we worked on a few projects so far.  I’m hoping she will get to work with other photographers in the community as well.  She’s fun to work with and has a lot of new ideas in the works.



SMC: Any cosplayers you hope to work with in the near future?
CandidJohnKim: There are so many cosplayers I would love to work with.  I really don’t have anyone in particular.  Usually when I see a pictures from a convention online where I have never been and I see absolutely wonderful cosplays, I will write it down in my list of potential conventions to go to the following year.

The next big con I’ll be at will be SDCC.  I’m sure that I will see many cosplayers who I’ve never worked with before who I would want to take photos of.

SMC: Any cosplay shots you’re best known for?
CandidJohnKim: There are a few shots I’ve had people come up to and ask if I took the photo, but probably the three shots that come into mind are:

  1. @joecolton as classic Wonder Woman at SDCC overlooking the bay where her back is towards me and she has her head looking at me.

    Joe Colton Cosplay

  2. @banzai_wolf_burger as Deadshot at Amazicon where he is sitting on an upscale couch giving me the “are you kidding” serious look. This picture helped him win the contest for the Suicide Squad SDCC cosplay cast contest.

    Banzai wolf Burger

  3. @laneyfeni as Aqua Woman at ACBC where she is leaning against the boardwalk pier and looking off in the distance.

    Laney Feni

SMC: Do you have a geeky side? What’s your favorite way to pass the time? (Comic books, video games, movies, anime, etc…)
CandidJohnKim: I am a geek down to the core.  When I’m not editing, I’m usually on my Xbox or watching a sci-fi movie.   But I do have a non-geek side in me with home improvement projects.  I just need to start incorporating some of the nerd side into those projects.  I still have tons of CGC rated comics that I need to display and I need to hang up more comic prints throughout my place.

SMC: Any upcoming / ongoing cosplay related projects?
CandidJohnKim: I’m working with some people to do more comic blended fashion shoots.  I love seeing the poses of different fashion pages, especially shoots that are taking place in major cities like NYC.  I have one weekend shoot lined up in NYC in May and looking forward to making more connections with cosplayers who are interested in it.  It can range anywhere from wearing a comic shirt with the latest fashion trend, or wearing an outfit that sort of resembles the comic book character’s uniform.

Sharonrose Cosplay

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