comScore Cosplayers Out A Lecherous Photographer | The Mary Sue
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Cosplayers Speak Out About A Photographer Who Pressured Them To Send Nudes — Including Underage Models

bui

Several female cosplayers have recently come forward with screenshots of conversations they had with a professional photographer named Richard T. Bui, who according to these transcripts, would pressure models to send him nude photos. In several cases, such as in the text messages depicted above, Bui was soliciting an underage girl to provide him nude photos, which would be child pornography. The girl in the conversation above did eventually comply with his requests, according to a report by Nerd Reactor. That report also includes several other disturbing screenshots of conversations that female cosplayers exchanged with Bui. Although Nerd Reactor’s coverage makes it clear that they view Bui’s behavior as deplorable and inexcusable regardless of the age of the recipients of his messages, I think it’s also important to remember the youth of several of the models that he solicited — which makes this a particularly depressing story to discuss.

The world of cosplay can often be a jumping-off point for professional modeling and performance work (as an example, this lengthy interview with cosplayer “Shy Mintz” describes the intersections between cosplaying as a hobby vs. professional modeling). In the community, it’s very common for cosplayers to seek out photographers and pay them in order to build a portfolio of their work, whether just for fun, or to use as display photos to sell costume pieces and props, or to enter into cosplay contests and events, or even to pursue modeling and booth appearances. In short, there are any number of great reasons why cosplayers work with professional photographers. However, it’s also well known by anyone who’s attended a con lately that the cosplay community includes a lot of very young participants, many of whom attend conventions all alone or with other friends their own age.

Speaking as someone who cosplayed from a young age and made friends my age in that scene, I see this as a valuable part of growing up in a fandom, not something that I believe should change. I think it’s valuable for kids to strike out on their own and explore their hobbies with other people their age (I probably think that because I did it myself, but clearly I turned out great). Often discussions of this topic invariably result in victim-blaming language, even about very young cosplayers — as though they should “know better.” That is a morally wrong framing to use here. The people to blame are sexual predators who specifically seek out young people and groom them in the manner depicted in these texts.

Unfortunately, this photographer’s behavior is not the only example. The Cosplay Creepers tumblr documents everything from inappropriate comments left on cosplayers’ photos to examples of harassing photographers. From big to small, all of these stories should be encouraged and highlighted among the community. Cosplayers deserve to work with photographers that respect and care about their work. Networks like these allow cosplayers to share their stories and learn who’s worth hiring and who should be kicked to the curb (or arrested, if underage photography is involved).

(via Nerd Reactor)

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