Featured Photographer: Ronald Ladao

Ronald Ladao

Summer’s come and gone, and it’s been a little while since our last featured member. Back in August we polled the We Are Cosplay community to tell us what their favorite event appearance was to date. From the many who responded, we randomly selected a member to feature. This time, it happened to be one of our non-cosplaying creatives, photographer and selfie enthusiast, Ronald Ladao. Here’s what he voted for…

My personal pick [has] to go to St. Patrick’s [Day] parade… just getting the pics that regular cosplay photographers couldn’t get made it worth noting for me. Yet, I wish I could say Adler After Dark, and Boomers… but I didn’t go to those.”

We caught up with Ron, aka “SoulCrash” while he had a little down time from hunting Oreo flavors like they were Pokemon.

On Location

Abandoned Warehouse shoot – Ramencon 2014; photo by Ang Espiritu

What type of work do you shoot? What’s your specialty?

“Almost anything. But [I] specialize in event, action, documentary, candid photos. Most of the time, it’s usually cosplay photoshoots that I get asked to do.”

Your must read comic/book, or videogame/tabletop, or show/film at the moment?

“Ummmmm, comic/book-wise… the last time I read a comic from start to finish was the Battle Royale Manga. Video Gaming, last thing I remember playing was Saints Row 4. But TV show-wise, totally hooked on Chicago P.D. as of right now.”

Who are your favorite artists/writers/publishers/game studio/whatever?

“Tough one, cause you said artists/writers/publishers/game studio, but since you said whatever, I’ll go pick a few cosplayers that I really respect. Not cause they make costumes and wear them, they take it to the next level and do good with it by doing community service and charity events. So I gotta make a shout out to Scott Whipple, Dustin Dorough, Ryan Green, and Paul Heid (I’m being honest!).”

What got you into photography/costuming/cosplay/propmaking/fx/etc.?

“What, more like ‘how’ I got into the convention/cosplay scene is ’cause of my sister. She attended Anime Central 1998, recorded their cosplay contest, and I watched the video she captured. It made me want to go the following year, and record the cosplay contest. Back then, we had AOL (America Online) message board, there was someone requesting a copy of the cosplay contest. I just replied back about that, and that’s the start of my convention rep.

As for the photography part, it was from various sources. Like, I got part of it when I joined my high school’s yearbook club, then from my cousin Jon, and from the anime side of cosplay community. It didn’t really kick in until I joined Scion Evolution Car Club. Since I was their media nerd, why not do photography as well? So I picked up a Nikon D60, and took pics with that camera with my car club. And the rest was history.

What do you think is an important issue in the pop culture-sphere today?

“I kind of flip between how conventions price out their badges and their additional content (like Wizard World cons), to the cosplay community, to the over sex-up in (non canon) cosplays and how unnecessary it can be. It’s hard for me to pick which one is more important, but those are the ones that stick out for me.”

What’s your typical process when taking on a new project?

“What I usually go through is, who’s asking me to do this for them. It’s usually people who I know. If the project has a lot of pressure in doing it, like a wedding with a couple that I don’t know, I won’t accept it. But if the wedding has some kind of a geek theme, or if it’s with someone I know, I’ll give them a quote, and take on their request.

I get some requests and just do a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ based on what they’re asking for. So there’s not much of a process that I go through.

Who would you like to work with regarding a shoot? This doesn’t have to be confined to model/subject, but can also include other photographers/artists.

“The people or cosplayers who I like to work with, are the kind of people who know how to have FUN, and be bad ass about it. I have a lot of confidence when a cosplayer has a prop weapon, or a fighting pose. So I can help them pose them, and make them feel uber bad ass about it.”

Do you feature your own brand or studio?

“Ummmm… does ‘Ronald Ladao, Freelance Photographer’ count as a brand? I don’t get why people want to cosplay as me, and like oreos and stuff like that. That’s kind of weird, but I’m cool with it. I just don’t promote it as much. I just mention myself in a third person perspective.”

Most interesting Con story?

“I was just thinking about this just now, and it’s a funny one. This happened a few years back at YoumaCon in Detroit, Michigan.

YoumaconI was just wandering the con floor, and I saw my friend Joe hanging with some dude. I said ‘Hi’ to Joe, and asked if that’s his dad. And Joe was like, ‘Nope, that’s Jon St. John’… the voice of Duke Nukem! I did a double take, and man I felt like an ass. We had a good laugh, and I took a selfie with him afterwards. One of my greatest con memories in my 15 years of convention going.

Do I really need to talk about DashCon here???????”

What Con are you most excited to one day attend, or return to?

“If I have to be honest, it’d be ScrewAttack Gaming Convention. That con back in 2010 REALLY hit the right notes in my standards of liking [a] con. Not much con drama, not much big lines, the BEST congoers EVER, best staff ever, awesome guest EVER! It was just all win across the board. I HOPE I can make a return to that con in 2015.”

What do you like to do when you’re not behind the lens… other hobbies?

“I’ll go exploring. From urban exploration, to nature walks. Looking for the next location to take photos in. When not exploring, I’ll just go on my computer, make a post on a topic to talk about some issues in the community that we can discuss about.”

Costume groups or solo; hallway, studio, or location- which do you prefer?

“Well it depends, like I prefer hallways to help generate the fan like count on my fanpage. But studio and location if I want to show my quality in my work. But costuming groups or solo… I think I prefer solo most of the time cause it’s simple to direct.”

What’s next? Dream project?

“My Dream Project… to have a full crew cosplay as the cast of Valkyria Chronicles, and get a photoshoot of the group in Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois. That park has a tank museum, which is perfect for this shoot!

Valkyria Chronicles

Aside from following your projects via We Are Cosplay, where can fans see your work and reach you to arrange a private shoot?

“You can check me out on my Ronald Ladao, Freelance Photographer page.

And You can contact me [on] my fanpage, or personal facebook page. Feel free to add me, cause I usually accept anyways.”

Also check out some of Ron’s work as a member of the We Are Cosplay Media Team in our Gallery.