As an average white male in his 20s I never really had any interest in fashion but as a photographer I have learned over the years not only how powerful and thought provoking fashion can be but how much impact it can have on a photo. As a photographer my model and I decide what look we want to convey before a shoot and choose wardrobe accordingly. Whether you're going for sexy, playful, vintage, gothic, fierce, professional, or regal, there's a fashion designer out there for everyone. We all know the big names in fashion design like Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Coco Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs, Valentino Garavani, and of course Donatella Versace, but in this article I'd like to feature 15 fashion designers you may not know. I would categorize each of these designers as gothic Couture, dark, and regal.
Squirrel Vs Coyote & Squirrel Vs Coyote Jewelry are by an amazing designer out of Seattle Washington. Think Gorgeous Armor with a twist of Couture. It's unlike anything else you'll see on the market. I also love how high quality and durable her designs are. Most elaborate designs like theses are so delicate you're afraid to touch them but I've found from experience Squirrel Vs Coyotes designs are just as durable as they are beautiful. Check her website to see what's new.
Royal Black Couture & Corsetry is a brilliant Corset & Costume Designer out of Vienna / Austria. Barbara is known for her gorgeous tops and corset vests made in her signature style. If you love couture, costumes, corsetry and the craftsmanship behind it, chances are you already have seen some of her creations floating around Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram. Look for Royal Black on Patreon for more!
Lory Sun is a self taught artist out of Romania who is best known for her Avant Garde headpieces and corsets. Her luxury styled pieces have been featured on numerous A-list celebrities & in numerous magazines including Vogue and Elle. She has been interviewed by Cosmopolitan, Vice, and Cabinet Art Magazine, and also mentioned by Narcity in the article "30 Women With Badass Jobs In Boston". Her signature metal gloves are internationally adored and published by multiple magazines and fashion blogs such as Brilistyle, Actitud, Nuus, Doniso Punk, De Ulima, Biba and many more. Checkout her website to see what's available now.
Feral Decay is a Headdress Designer out of Seattle. Nicole specializes in horns, crowns, tiara's, fascinators, jewelry, and accessories. She's an amazing designer and even better friend. I'm honored to add her to this list. Don't miss her Etsy shop for more.
Alisa Perova is the Designer behind the Dark Couture Gothic Brand: Alice Corsets out of Kiev, Ukraine. She specializes in: Couture corsets, Alternative wedding gowns, Gothic, Wiccan, & Pagan wedding dresses, Dark Fairytale fashion, Haute Gothic, High Fashion Goth & Costumes for WGT, Masquerade Balls and Vampire Balls, etc. Her Gothic Victorian bustle dresses are epic. Don't miss her website for more.
Chris Serrano is the brilliant designer behind @christinaserranodesigns. She specializes in Handmade edgy designs and one of a kind accessories. Don't miss her Etsy Shop for more.
Memoria Obscura based out of Basel, Switzerland Specializes in Macabre & Fantasy Luxury Couture. This extremely talented designer has a big penchant for dark art. Memoria is not only a photographer, but a model, designer, metal head, & mother of cats. Don't miss her website and Etsy for more :)
Jolien Rosanne is the Uber Talented Designer behind Fairytas. Jolien takes international commissions for complete costumes, individual accessories and bridal. She does not replicate existing designs by other artists or costumes from shows/anime/etc. but she will create a unique Fairytas design inspired by a character or costume of your choice! Her work is some of the best you'll find.
Nigel Crow is a very gifted Crown, Headdress, & Wearable Art Designer out of Vegas. His work can be found in multiple large publications and on numerous A-list celebrities. Nigel is amazing and we've been talking about doing a Queen of the Damned concept with his designs but I still need to get him to Portland.
Linda Friesen is the legendary designer behind @lindafriesen.couture out of the Netherlands. She specializes in creating stunning custom designed gowns and dresses for private clients. If you'd like to have your fairytale gown brought to life contact her on her website.
Audrey Le Guyader is the remarkable Gothic Fashion Designer behind Wonderlandmc out of Paris France. I have used her designs on multiple shoots and will continue to use her crowns and jewelry in the future. Her work is dark yet elegant. I love it. If you're looking for afordable handmade goth Jewlery look no further than her very popular Etsy shop.
Hysteria Machine is an amazing Gothic Designer out of the UK.
Videnoir Couture just might be the hottest handmade Vampire Couture and Gothic Lingerie you will find in Italy, or perhaps the world. This Husband and Wife team of fashion designers creates the coolest Gothic Lingerie Iv'e ever seen. Check out their website for more.
IVY-Design is the brilliant work of design student Janina from Germany. In 2011 she founded the label, which is known worldwide for its special creations. As a professionally trained seamstress, she loves to design entire costumes, in particular she loves to make claws and headpieces from filigree metal parts.
IVY-Design tells fairytale stories through every creation and its creator Janina never ceases to dream of future pieces. Mostly inspired by nature and Chinese Hanfu crowns, the headpieces are reminiscent of spring-like walks in the forest, blooming meadows or enchanted castles. In addition to the creations that you can buy on her shop, Janina is always open to custom-made items. If you are looking for a very special piece, please do not hesitate to contact her on her website.
Miss G Designs is one of my favorite headdress companies based in California. Caley is the sole designer and maker of her one-of-a-kind creations. Miss G Designs came to life in San Francisco in 2010. Caley fell in love with the process of creating headdresses, excited by the idea that anyone could wear her designs no matter their age, sex, body type or style. She draws inspiration from nature, history, art, festival culture, fairytales and the creative humans in her life.
Her headdresses reflect the beauty and diversity of humanity, covering a huge range of styles to ensure there is something for everyone! Headdresses by Miss G Designs have been featured in numerous publications, music videos, short films, art galleries and museum exhibits.
Hope you enjoyed 15 of my favoite fashion designers on Instagram. If you like this article you might enoy my 8 Horror Photographers to Follow on Instagram or 10 of the Best Makeup Artists on Instagram. Have a Designer I need to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.
As a photographer, makeup plays an absolutely crucial role in how a photo turns out. Makeup can make or break a good photo. Luckily for me I work with some of the best makeup artists in the world. I work with MUA's who specialize in glamour, beauty, lifestyle, fashion, theater, and film but the focus of today's article will be on special effects makeup. Below are 10 of the best special effects makeup artists on Instagram you need to follow for mind blowing inspiration.
@taelorfx is my go to SFX makeup artist here in Portland for all my horror and heavy prosthetic concepts. Taelor should be doing makeup for Hollywood movies but currently does makeup for me, the local Portland haunted houses, random gigs and her killer TikTok feed under @taelorfxx. Follow her to see behind the scenes and watch her journey to Hollywood because I guarantee that's where she will end up.
@artbybmazz does amazing work. Not only is she an amazing makeup artist but she does it all on herself and takes her own photos. She creates something new and exciting almost every day like and it's always creative, fun, and beautiful. She does a great job at recreating a lot of well known characters you will be sure to love. Don't miss her amazing before and after transitions.
@phonyghost is not only an amazing makeup artist but an amazing model. I've worked with her here in Portland numerous times and she always blows my mind with not only her makeup ability but the costumes she makes from scratch. She is as talented and creative as they come.
@kosmickatie does beautiful, vibrant, colorful work. I love her use of neon colors. Most of her work is more body paint and less prosthetic but stunning none the less. She's also a stunning model and does all of her looks on herself. Check her out.
@ry_fx is an extremely talented self taught SFX makeup artist and Body Painter. Not to mention one of the best makeup accounts on Instagram. Nothing but raw talent and creativity. If you're looking for badass makeup inspiration look no further.
@khaleesiisaa is a magician with a makeup brush. Her work is as beautiful as it is terrifying. Her SFX work is some of the best I've seen on Instagram and TikTok. I literally can't get enough.
At only 21 @fx_freak is already one of the best special effects makeup artists you'll find on Instagram. She's one badass Monster Creator, Face/Body Painter, and Halloween enthusiast. She has a perfect blend of scary and pretty concepts on her page.
@ellie35x out of Scotland has over 356K followers on Instagram and you can see why. I mean her talent is undeniable. Notice the difference just a crown and jewels make in addition to the makeup. I love how she uses backdrops and jewelry to match her looks. All these elements combined make a beautiful piece of art. You will not find better makeup inspiration than this.
@zorinblitzz does some of the coolest makeup you will find on Instagram out of the UK. It's Gothic, it's beautiful, it's dark, it's twisted, it's inspiring, and it's down right kickass! Don't skip over this page if you're looking for inspiration.
@shaulrivas is a legendary makeup artist outside of the US. This page is a MUST follow for all your makeup inspiration needs.
I hope you enjoyed these amazingly talented artists and find the inspiration you're looking for. Make sure to check them all out on Instagram and connect with me there as well. @kickassdesigns
And checkout 8 Horror Photographers you need to follow.
What exactly is Horror photography? I view it as a sub genre of fantasy photography and surreal photography. It's art you want to see, but at the same time, wish you didn't. We have all experienced nightmares that feel real enough to leave us in a cold sweat. That's what a good horror photo should do. Most horror photography I've seen looks amateur, cheesy, and over the top gory but these artists I've listed below are as talented and creative as they come. Besides film, these artists are my biggest inspiration when it comes to horror & cosplay photography. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. If you like these don't miss The 10 best SFX makeup artists on Instagram.
1. Rick Jones @horrifymeuk
Rick Jones is not only an award winning horror makeup and portrait photographer based in the UK but also my biggest inspiration in horror photography. This dude is a legend in this niche. If it's fear, shock, disgust, or simply sheer bloody delight you're after look no further. Also don't miss his amazing Horrify Me Art Book. It will take your breath away.
2. Lance Reis @kickassDesigns
Oh he it's me :) I couldn't not put myself on this list, I mean it is my blog after all. But seriously, if you love horror photography I would love to connect with you on Instagram. Only about half my work is horror, the rest is Fashion, lifestyle, boudoir, and cosplay. I am blessed to work with some of the best special effects makeup artists in the US. My work isn't quite as gory as Ricks work so if you're looking for something slightly more PG13 My work might be for you.
3. jannike @jannikeviveka
What I love about Jannike is she takes her own photos, styles her own photos, and edits her own photos. I love her dark Gothic style. Check her out on Instagram and don't miss her gorgeous prints on Etsy.
4. Joshua Hoffine @joshuahoffine
Joshua Hoffine is one of my favorite horror photographers just from a creative standpoint. He's also one of the most recognized photographers in the world. He is a pioneer in Horror photography niche. Joshua stages his photo-shoots like small movies, with sets, costumes, elaborate props, fog machines, and SPFX make-up. Everything is acted out live in front of the camera. Beyond his amazing skills behind the camera I appreciate the time and effort that goes into his elaborate sets and costumes. Don't miss his best work on his website.
5. Ashley Nicole @ashleyvonhelsing
Ashley Nicole is a Director, Photographer, & Designer out of Los Angeles. Most of her work is less horror and more dark & Gothic but deserves to be on this list all the same. Her Photoshop work is inspiring. Check her out on Instagram and find even more on her website. You wont be sorry.
6. Jeff @seventh.voyage
Jeff is more of a Digital artist than a photographer but does both. He's a Photoshop and Blender wizard. He just might be my favorite digital artist and not all of his work is horror. A lot of his work is beautiful with brilliant use of famous Hollywood characters we know and love. Don't miss his Prints & Photoshop Course on his website.
7. Stefan Koidl @stefankoidl
Okay so what if Stefan isn't a photographer and this is a list for photography. He's an amazing artist in the horror space out of AT, Salzburg and a lot of his work actually looks like photos. Most importantly though he's a huge inspiration to myself and other horror photographers. His work is terrifying without being creepy. Don't miss out on his beautiful Prints.
eyesoflamia is another one of my favorite digital artists that's both horrifying and beautiful.
Comic Con is a great place to see and take photos of some of your favorite super heroes and villains. It's chalk full of great photo opportunities. Search Comic Con on google and you will find thousands of photos of the most amazing costumes you've ever seen. You will also find thousands of very poorly executed photos. My goal with this article is to make sure you don't fall into that category. Elevate your game at the next Con with these 8 tips. If you like the photos below make sure and check out more of my work on Instagram HERE
Tip 1. Always Ask for Permission
This is the biggest mistake photographers make at conventions. If you’re shooting at a convention or any other event where there are cosplayers, it’s always best to ask for the cosplayers permission before taking pictures of them. Your shots are guaranteed to be better if your model is fully aware of your camera pointed at them. They’ll be much more willing to strike different poses and maybe even allow you to direct the shot so you can have more control over the final image. The cosplayers I know hate it when someone gets a candid photo of them when they weren't ready. They don't want photos on the internet shoving food in their face while on a break half dressed and not in character. So do them and yourself a favor and ask for permission before you take their photo.
Tip 2. Cosplay is Not Consent
Okay this tip wont really help you take better photos but it needs to be said. Let's face it many costumes for female leads in Hollywood are revealing so you are bound to see many ladies of all ages in revealing outfits. This in no way gives you permission to touch them. Maybe just assume every cosplayer you meet doesn't want to be touched in any shape or form. That goes for males and females. If you need to touch the cosplayer to help with posing always ask first but usually this can be done verbally or visually. Having your photo taken with a cosplayer still isn't an excuse to touch them. Odds are you don't know this person so just go the Keanu Reeves route and hover a hand behind them or to the side.
Tip 3. Allow them to Get Ready before you take the photo.
Look, I get it, Comic Con is very exciting. As a photographer you want to take as many photos of your favorite characters as you can. However, just like photography in general, it helps to take the time to compose your shot and wait until your subject is ready before taking the photo. Allow them a few seconds to put on their masks, take off their hoodie, fix their costumes, touch up their makeup, and get into character for your shot. This also shows respect for the craft and for their hard work in putting their costumes together. They will appreciate it.
Tip 4. Create a Scene for the Character.
When you can, choose a background that complements your character. You probably wont have much time or freedom to move your subject around, but there are always better options than capturing them exactly where and how you found them. Unless you're really good at composites try to avoid shooting in the convention center at all costs. Your best option will always be to give the cosplayer your card and plan a shoot at a future date at a studio or on location.
If that's not an option familiarize yourself with your subject, and then quickly think of how you can make them connect with the available space. You should have done your research before hand and should know the area around the convention center well before you go. For example, if you’re shooting a Spider-Man cosplayer as seen above, you can simply ask them to pose like they are climbing the nearest wall out side or pose like they just landed from a high vantage point. In this case we used a dumpster in the alley behind the convention center. I dig the industrial urban feel of this photo.
Tip 5. Use Natural Lighting when you can.
For the love of god Avoid using your camera’s pop-up flash at all costs and stick to natural lighting. If shooting inside during the day shoot near doorways or windows that allow sunlight in to make your subjects look as natural as possible. For the Joker photo above we went outside the Convention center at sunset and shot in the alley. As you can see the natural light from above and the light from the building lit the subject perfectly. If it was dark I would have him stand in the door way and just use the available light from the building above the door for a more dramatic photo. Your subject doesn't always need to be lit perfectly. There is no need to bring anything more than one camera and lens to get banger photos at Con.
Tip 6. Shoot from Different Angles
Always experiment with different orientations and angles. I hate it when photographers only shoot straight on. Don’t be afraid to shoot up from below, especially for villains and other mysterious characters. This type of shot will work well for a character like the Darth Maul, as this perspective can highlight the makeup and the distorted angle will give viewers an unsettling feeling that matches his presence on screen. Shoot straight on, shoot downward, shoot from below, shoot close up, shoot from far away. Change it up and see what works.
Tip 7. Communication is key.
Don’t just snap away. Take time to communicate with your model and ask them about how they want their photos to be interpreted and shot. Depending on your skills and experience, this can open you up to more options that you previously may not have thought of. You can also help the cosplayer achieve their goals and attract their target viewers. Communication goes a long way. If you think a pose could be better with a minor adjustment make sure to speak up. The model can't see themselves.
Tip 8. Posing, Use Pinterest.
Now most of the time the cosplayer will know the popular poses of the character they are portraying but if they don't you should have the pinterest App. on your phone ready to go. Just type in the characters name and Boom! Tons of great ideas for posing. I can't stress this one enough.
and Don't forget!!
7 Tips for a viral Cosplay photo.
I wanted to put together a short list of what I find to be the most important elements in making a viral photo. This might surprise you but it's not an expensive camera, nor is it bulky expensive lighting equipment. Do you need access to a studio or years of experience with Photoshop? Nope. The 7 elements below are all you need for a viral photo. However going viral is never guaranteed, but if you hit all these points and a little bit of luck your odds will go WAY up. As seen below I've had multiple photo shoots go viral and my work has been featured on both local and international news outlets more than once. If you like what you see below find more of my work on Instagram HERE
I'm a huge advocate of shooting on location rather than doing composites. (cutting out the background and replacing it with something else in Photoshop) The more you can get in camera the less work you have to do in post. Just my personal preference. This will require location scouting. My favorite tool for this is hashtags on Instagram or searching by location. Choosing a location that fits the theme is crucial. As an example above I knew I'd be shooting a fairy theme so I knew a forest made more traditional sense than urban. So when location scouting for the perfect forest scene I found a park close by that had a huge mushroom big enough to walk inside. I knew this would save me a ton of Photoshop and with the right perspective would make my model seem smaller which is what you want for a fairy theme. Model: @Lexylovestruck
Obviously when shooting Cosplay the outfit will be the biggest factor in making a banger photo. When searching for cosplayers to collaborate with I always look for screen accurate costumes. You probably don't have the money to go buy an outfit for thousands of dollars for the right model to wear. So search Instagram & local cosplay groups on Facebook to find the perfect cosplayers in your area that already have the outfits. They put in a lot of money and time to make beautiful costumes for Comic-con. They just need YOU to help bring that costume to life. Model: @hoptownspidey
When it comes to cosplay, especially horror cosplay nothing can ruin a good photo faster than bad makeup. If you don't use a professional makeup artist especially when using prosthetics a terrifying horror cosplay can turn cheesy as hell real quick. The difference between Hollywood quality horror and a family friendly haunted house is the makeup so choose a cosplayer who is a skilled MUA or find a local SFX MUA to team up with. My MUA for the photo above is the very talented @taelorfx Model: @starbar_1
Props are a key element to any great cosplay. Usually the cosplayer will have props they've made to go with their costume but in the case they haven't you can search Instagram for a prop maker and have one made. That's what I did for the axe and helmet seen above. I was lucky enough to find a very talented local prop maker @dragonbornjedi and as you can see above if you took away the axe and helmet the photo wouldn't be as compelling. Makeup by @taelorfx Model: @ThePDXViking
If you want a photo to go viral cosplay or not there needs to be a compelling story. The story doesn't need to be obvious but there needs to be enough emotion and information in the photo for the viewer to make up their own story. In the photo above I have a beautiful mermaid who's conveying so much emotion in her face, that alone makes the viewer ask why. Why is she so sad? Now add some wind, rain, sparks, and a pirate ship in the distance and you've got a story. What's the story? That's up to the viewer. Whether it's sadness, happiness, or straight up horror make sure your viewer feels something. Model: @LittyLeRouge
6. Most importantly: Casting!
This is the most underrated key to a successful cosplay photo. If I'm searching for a model for a particular character I put out a casting call on social media and try to find a person that looks most like the character. When I wanted to recreate the Pulp Fiction movie poster I knew I wanted someone with the same build and facial structure as Uma Thurman. So look for certain characteristics in the character you'd like to shoot and find someone who matches for the best success. Model: @1wonderbug
7. Engage with your Audience
No matter how good the photo is you can't just post it and hope for the best. You need to actively engage with your audience. It's as simple as thanking everyone who comments and or shares your post. Not only does this show appreciation to your fans but also keeps your post at the top of the feed. I see photographers with smaller followings fail miserably at this and they wonder why they don't see engagement or growth. Not engaging with your fans shows them you only care about yourself. TAKE THE TIME to show them you appreciate them!
Clark County ScareGrounds was nice enough to invite me to their haunted house in Ridgefield Washington to take some promo photos of Beetlejuice & Lydia. As a huge Tim Burton fan I couldn’t resist. Trevor does the best Beetlejuice cosplay I’ve ever seen and in person his impersonation is even better. Make sure to see him live in preson every weekend in October.
Trevor is a man of many faces. I’ve photographed him as Beetlejuice, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers. All of which you can find on my Instagram.
If you enjoy this set make sure to check out my Instagram & facebook where I’m posting 31 days of Halloween Cosplay photos.
Models: Sam York & Trevor Heineman-Overton /// Shot on my SonyA7iii at the one and only Clark County ScareGrounds. The ScareGrounds is conveniently located at the Clark County Event Center, 17402 NE Delfel Rd, Ridgefield, WA 98642. Parking is FREE!
More info: Facebook | Instagram
WARNING ⚠️ Some images in this post may be distressing to some. They depict The realities of war. Viewer discretion is advised.
I became a photographer to tell stories. Some beautiful & some sad. As a story teller I want you to feel emotion when you see my photos. I want to share the beautiful side of life but that’s too easy & everyone is doing it. Fact is life is pain. We all experience tragedy & I think it’s just as important to show that side of life. Few things are as tragic as war. I wanted to do a concept in honor of fallen soldiers but I don’t sugar coat things. War is hell and I hope we conveyed that here.
I flew to Texas to shoot this with my brothers and I am extremely honored they agreed to be a part of this and I am forever grateful for their many years of service and dedication to make an impact.
If you or someone you know is experiencing PTSD call 1-800-273-8255 then press 1.
Professionally trained clinical staff can help with substance abuse treatment, marital counseling, treatment for depression and PTSD. Run by the VA. Since 2007. Over 18,000 life-saving interventions. Answered 500,000 calls.
Vets: Ryan O & Brendan D. | Midland Texas | Shot on my SonyA6000 | Smoke from my good friends at Oregon Airsoft Arena
Horror Cosplay - Nightmare on Elm Street
Huge thanks to my Models: @goblin_teeth & @alyxandriamodel for helping me bring Freddy to life. Smoke purchased from: @oregonairsoftarena by @smokegrenades All shot on my SonyA6000 in Portland Oregon. See more concepts like this one on my Instagram below.
Horror Cosplay - Halloween
Huge thanks to my Models: @andrewgcalleri & @missmerandalynn & @goblin_teeth for helping me bring this Halloween concept to life. It was a blast! And yes we did sacrifice a guitar for this concept. Also the face on the pumpkin wasn't planned but I find it hilarious :) No one was hurt in the making of this series. All shot on my SonyA6000 in Portland Oregon. See more concepts like this one on my Instagram below.
Oh boy.... Wedding photography. My style of wedding photography is more like street photography in that my focus is candid moments NOT posed moments. The thing I hate about traditional wedding photography is all the fake posing that goes into it. I mean, as much as I’d love to stand around for hours lining people up, ordering them around and taking photographs of every combination of family member & guest, I’d rather focus on all the small truly meaningful moments that seem to go unnoticed. To me those moments are what matter.
Things happen at a Wedding, things that make your wedding yours, unique to you, and if Your photographer is busy ordering people around They’re going to miss those things. Your feet will be tired from standing and your face will hurt from fake smiling so much and you’ll have missed those things too. It’d be like those things never happened and all you’ve really got to look back at are groups of people, annoyed people, with forced smiles.
Uniqueness doesn't have a template, it doesn't have a formula and it certainly can’t be pigeon holed.
If a photographer comes to your wedding with any idea about how it should be, should look or should not look, then that’s not your wedding, or at least it’s not how your wedding should be documented.
Breathtaking locations, emotion and gesture and dancing and wine and door knobs and fancy lights and funny faces and shoes should all be treated the same.
Those things are yours on your day, and it all means something to you.
I don't offer packages and there is no set amount of time that I’ll be there. I can’t tell you exactly how many photographs you’ll get, but I can tell you that you’ll get all the moments that matter. They're yours, I make them for you. If you or someone you know is looking for a non traditional wedding photographer contact me HERE
Author Lance A Reis
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