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Elena Dorfman: Fandomania

2.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1597110358
ISBN-10: 1597110353
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"In a convention center somewhere, teenagers are lacing up shiny boots and squeezing into tight skirts to mimic their favorite anime or videogame characters. This is 'cosplay,' a sanctuary of Skittle-colored wigs, prosthetic ears and curious sexual subtexts... Dorfman's book of crisp, highly saturated portraits lets these costumed outcasts be who they are, which serves both her audience and her subjects." -- Daryl Lang --Photo District News

"Dorfman explores identity through portraiture, with the blurred lines between fantasy and reality a continuing theme. In this series, her pitch-black backgrounds allow each individual a spotlight in which to enact their fantasy. The book itself is a fetish object with its foam cover and PVC-like pages. Reason enough to buy it." --HotShoe

"As Diane Arbus did with her band of outsiders, Dorfman casts her subjects in regal, almost poetic light." -- Maura Egan --The New York Times Style Magazine

"Explore this exciting subculture with Dorfman and you might find yourself inspired to join the crowd." -- C.A. Boylan --Shutterbug
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Aperture (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597110353
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597110358
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,606,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Shimei on May 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
As many before me have stated, the reason for the "dull" looking models is because they were told to behave that way. This is a quote from someone photographed by Dorfman at the con in which this book features photography from:

"My picture is not in the book, but I was photographed by Elena Dorfman at Yaoi-con in 2005. She spent about ten to fifteen minutes photographing my costume. She was not interested in emotion- I got a lot of "relax your face." I expect a lot of people got the same thing. She was clearly pushing an agenda to show cosplayers as sad and lonely people, obsessed with escaping reality. If you emoted, your picture wouldn't be chosen for the book. (Oh, unless your expression was creepy and child-molestery. That was GOLD.) If you were with a group, you got separated, because god forbid you look like you had friends. If your costume wasn't great, that was excellent. Bad posture made it even better!"

She was "selecting" bad subjects to showcase in this book, and from the previews available on her site, it's obvious to anyone who wants to look. For a real look at the cosplay culture, get yourself to a anime/comic/sci-fi convention, as this book shows nothing but that bad about it.
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Format: Paperback
This no-smiles, no-retouching approach to documentary photography works well with serious people and subjects. As in, "let me show you this Important Person or Thing in its completely natural state unlike all those other photographers who tart it up". It's for making something that usually looks pretty and impressive look homely and unremarkable for contrast.

Why Dorfman thought she needed to make a bunch of normal people in badly handmade clothes look MORE homely and unremarkable...I have no idea. Honestly that seems unnecessarily cruel.

She didn't even photograph them looking like they're having FUN, which is the whole point. It's doubly the point for people who are new to the hobby, and judging by the level of skill represented here, a truly disproportionate number of the photos are of the rankest of rank beginners. If photographed realistically, most of these people would be running around screaming and hugging people and freaking out with joy at the chance to eat overpriced Japanese snacks with their friends. Instead...they all look like they need an antidepressant and a few kind words. Most cosplayers do not look like this. None of them look this miserable.

If Dorfman had honestly wanted to find examples of people -enjoying- their costumes at all levels of skill on people of all shapes and sizes, she could have done so with no trouble at the same places she found these. Instead, she chose to make these people look ugly, weird, and sad. Deliberately. This is poor documentary and bad photography.

Ultimately it boils down to just another "look at the freaks!" gallery. A thin veneer of artsiness fails to conceal Dorfman's stale perspective.
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Format: Paperback
As an avid cosplayer, I find this book highly offensive. It seems as though the photographer choose highly mediocre costumes, had them look as dull as possible, and took a few photos that would be considered amateur at best. And this is what she used to represent the cosplay community? If I didn't know any better, I would say she was just making fun of the whole cosplay scene by publishing a few average looking pictures in hopes that someone, not knowing anything about cosplay, might be interested. Save your $35 for a tank of gas or something, because this book definitely isn't worth the cover price.
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Format: Paperback
The cover photo seems like a good representation of the excitement within. It's as if all the cosplayers were told their dog died before their pictures were taken. It's all so depressing! Were these photoshoots all done on the evening of September 11, 2001? It comes off looking more sad and depressing than dramatic. Aside from the sadness, the photographs look good...but are good enough to reveal the weak points of some of the costumes (like random threads hanging down) or certain features of some the cosplayers themselves that probably should have been covered up, cropped out, or otherwise not in view of the camera lens.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend this book and can't help but feel that those that praise it are friends of the author, people in the book, or people who would praise anything cosplay-related just because it's cosplay-related.
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Format: Paperback
I went to 3 used book stores today looking for some decent CosPlay photography since it looks like a group of cosplayers will be having me photograph them in an upcoming gig.

Once you get past the weird foam cover of this book and look through it you begin to wonder whether the photographer was trying to demonstrate the Cosplay culture or make a personal commentary about it. I hope my images are more flattering.

I do think the book was well printed. The images look as good and accurate here as I would expect them to be anywhere.
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Format: Paperback
Dorfman has a vision to expose a growing subculture in the United State transferred over from Japan. After reading the book and looking through the photographs, I question her intent. The images are disturbing in the depiction of a culture I have experienced, and one that she clearly doesn't understand. There are many ways to photograph someone in costume and she has gone out of her way to expose them in a unflattering light. It is the purpose of cosplaying to enact a role that you cannot fulfill, and her images show a pathetic view from an outside perspective.

I can only hope that she revisits this body of work after fulling understanding what a cosplayer represents. Her writing purpose do not match her visual work here. This book is poorly considered and judgmental should not have been published without further research.
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