Shaun Simpson is an out photographer from Nova Scotia who has a keen eye for the male physique. However, since focusing his lens on men who cosplay (a.k.a costume play), Simpson's photos have become eye candy for geeks everywhere.
The Advocate sat down for a chat with this creative photog about his inspirations, love for men who dress up, and how being queer influences his work.
The Advocate: What inspires you to create? Simpson: That is a question I've been trying to answer for years. I think it has always been something my brain is just wired to do. I love the process, and I enjoy pushing my limits in, and out of, the studio. Creativity doesn't come naturally to me, so I love the challenge that comes with creating something fresh and new. I love shooting and editing, but I also love the reactions people have when they see their finished photos for the first time.
Does being queer influence your artwork? For sure! As a gay guy, I grew-up being told what society expected from 'real men.' I like to challenge that by showing everyone has the same desires, insecurities, and emotions. I love that moment in the studio when someone lets their guard down, and starts expressing themselves truthfully, without the pretension and pretense that society expects.
What was your gateway into the world of geek culture? I've always been pretty massive introverted geek. I started working in the computer industry while I was still in elementary school. However, it wasn't until Nathan DeLuca and I shot our first cosplay work together that I really started to connect photography and geekery. Cosplay shoots can be the most complicated to coordinate, shoot, and edit, but it is also some of the most enjoyable work I've done; a merging of two passions.
What geeky things are you currently obsessed with? Star Trek: The Next Generation will always be my biggest geek obsession. I'm also a big fan of the Avatar: The Last Airbender & The Legend of Korra series; loving the recent insurgence of superhero TV series, and movies too. I'm not a harsh critic, so if there is a nerdy element to it, I'll probably love watching it. Oh, and King of The Nerds is a must-watch series for me.
Do you cosplay as well or are you just a lover of those who dress up? Outside the photography and photoshop world my creative skills are pretty limited. I'll definitely try cosplaying someday, but I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so it'll only be when I have the time and money available to make it epic. Thankfully, most of the cosplayers I've photographed are folks I consider great friends, so I'm sure they'd lend a hand if needed. However, being in costume and standing next to international cosplay sensations like Nathan DeLuca and Michael Hamm? Daunting!
What is your favorite type of cosplay to shoot? There are definitely certain cosplay looks that are easier to shoot and edit, but anytime a cosplayer is passionate about their character, it makes the shoot more enjoyable. I love seeing the look on someone's face when they talk about a character or series they love; it makes me more interested in the character, and motivates me to bring my best to the work. That being said, anything sci-fi is a definite bonus.
For more of Shaun's work check out the collection of photos below and visit his website, https://shaunsimpson.ca/, follow him on Facebook, or catch him on Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: @ShaunTheShooter.
Robin and The Joker
Comic Book Guy
Winter Soldier and Captain America
Deathstroke and Robin
Bio Shock Infinite
Dan Morash as Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender
Fox Lindstone as Booker DeWitt from BioShock Infinite
Johnny Quick as Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite
James Neish as Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Joker
Matt Aucoin as Captain America and Superman
Michael Hamm as Aquaman, Ash, Casey Jones, Chris Redfield, Finn The Human, Ice Man, Comic Book Guy, Nightwing, and Robin https://www.facebook.com/MichaelHamm
Nathan DeLuca as Deathstroke, Kaiden Alenko from Mass Effect, Bucky Barns/Winter Soldier
"Jake" Illustrationon "Finn The Human Cosplay" by James Neish