Kids of Cosplay: Thurstan Redding depicts community and sensitivity at the heart of a growing subculture

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All images © Thurstan Redding.

In his debut photobook, the fashion photographer turns his zoom lens on the cosplay community with all the planning and detail with which one would approach a style editorial

Thurstan Redding developed an interest in photography while studying politics, psychology and sociology at University associated with Cambridge, but he certainly not considered it a career. He or she planned to go into finance, until one day – on a whim – he short of money into an Alexander McQueen show and shot several photographs backstage. Now, the 29-year-old boasts an impressive customer list, including JW Anderson, Gucci, Miu plus Chanel.

In his debut photobook, Redding turns his zoom lens to the cosplay community, but with the planning and detail with which one would approach a style editorial. Like the world of high fashion, cosplay is a mainly inaccessible realm. Despite to the outside perceptions of the subculture since “playing dress-up”, cosplay is not really for the voyeur. Members of the cosplay community dress for themselves. This is reflected in the intimacy of the clothing design, much of which is done personally. Cosplayers labour over their own outfits with care; it is a good artistic, and deeply personal endeavour.  

Redding found a cosplayer for the first time in the streets of Los Angeles. “I was so intrigued, ” he says. Then, back in London he spotted Rick from the cartoon Rick and Morty , for the city’s DLR. “I was transfixed by it, and desperate to find out more. I then did some research and realised Comic-Con was coming up, so I purchased a ticket, ” he says. “I was blown away by it. ”

“The action of putting on clothes will be inherently a form of cosplay. We have been always building characters: cosplayers just happen to build imaginary characters we all know, and with a little more commitment”

While cosplay exists as a ground designed for experimentation, it’s also a safe place that helps people deal with identity struggles and stress. One individual shared how he or she identified as transgender through cosplaying a male character, for example. Another individual that Redding fulfilled said she had been cosplaying as Star Wars figures since her transition. The films reminded her associated with her father, who ended speaking to her following the changeover. “It’s a way to still feel connected to him, ” says Redding.  

Redding’s photography captures, with stark sentimentality, an assortment of open and significant faces. Set against well known backdrops, they ground cosplay in everyday life – the particular intimacy of suburban landscapes, childhood bedrooms and hallways lined with family pictures. There’s a juxtaposition right here, but one that feels instant and honest: Harley Quinn’s longing glance out of the kitchen area window is natural plus genuine. Whatever she is considering is hers.  

“If anything it made me realise that the act of putting on clothes – even simply to dress up in the morning – is inherently a form of cosplay. We are always building heroes: cosplayers just happen to construct fictional characters we all know, and with a bit more commitment. “

Kids of Cosplay by Thurstan Redding is currently available to pre-order via Volume , an imprint of Thames & Hudson.  

Jacob Negus-Hill

Jacob Negus-Hill is the older writer at Sabukaru On the internet. He studied Philosophy in the University of Leeds and achieved an MSc within Environmental Policy from the College or university of Bristol. He specialises in ethical and environmental topics within art plus fashion. His words have appeared in The Face, Proper Magazine, and BAB Mag among others.

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