Welcome to Crystal Lake

Confessions of a Photographer: Jason Bradford

Welcome to another installment of “Confessions of a Cosplayer”. Each week I will feature a cosplayer in the Friday franchise who I either know personally or through social media. As time moves on, I will also be focusing on other iconic horror characters from other franchises then I will feature horror inspired cosplayers.
If you are a horror cosplayer or know someone who is and would like to be in a future spotlight, please reach out to me on Facebook, Instagram or send me an email at SouthJerseyJason@gmail.com

I am really excited for this week’s spotlight. When Jason sent me the first couple of photo’s I was immediately blown away by the detail and recreation of famous scenes from the movies. Jason is not so much a cosplayer as he is a photographer and does amazing edits! That is why this week’s spotlight has been appropriately re-titled ” Confessions of a Photographer”

Jason Bradford in front of the camera as Chuck

What is your first memory of watching a Friday the 13th movie?
When I was ten my mother sat me down in front of the television so she and my aunt Bonnie could paint my sister’s bedroom without me getting in the way.  When I turned on the TV, Friday the 13th part 2 was showing.  It was the most horrifying experience.  So terrifying that the smell of paint to this day, triggers that memory.  It was the best movie viewing experience and literally affected my life even today;  not just in film watching but in many other physical and real life aspects and activities.

What is your favorite Friday the 13th movie?
Part 3.  I love it so much! I pre-ordered the Shout! Factory Blu-ray box set collection that is coming out this October just because part 3 will be featured in Real 3-D for the first time.

What is your background in photography?  Did you start out doing horror themed photoshoots?
I remember when I was about six years old, my aunt Carol would chase me around her yard with her camera taking pictures of every angle.  Her passion rubbed off on me and when my daughter Cortney was born, I would eventually would do the same once she was running about.  I fell in love with photography and graduated as a professional photographer from New York Institute of Photography.  I had a prop axe left over from Halloween about a decade ago and thought, “hmmm, wouldn’t it be fun to do something creative?”  I called Cortney and said, “Hey, I have an axe.  Let’s do a Marcie recreation from the original Friday the 13th.”  It was gratifying as a photographer and as someone who loves to Photoshop that I have since recreated over fifty death scenes from the franchise with friends and family.   I have also recreated Evil Dead, Carrie, The Exorcist, The Shining, The Conjuring and the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz.  I’ve also recreated famous scenes from several iconic non-horror films but Marcie was my first.

You like to recreate iconic scenes from each movie.  How do you find the models for each photoshoot? 
I’ll be watching a movie and there will be an actor in a scene and it’ll just click in my head, “wow, that person looks a lot like my friend or family member so and so.”  I’ll give that person a call and ask them if I can put a hot fire poker in their gut or a party horn in their eye.  No one ever seems to say no.   The last person I contacted was my old neighbor from a decade ago.  She sat in costume as Mona Lisa for me. 

With your photoshoots, how much is practical vs editing.  For any practical effects do you create them yourself or do you have someone that helps you.
I try to do practical as much as possible.  I’ll collect and gather everything needed myself.   However there are just some cases that I can’t avoid it and the background will have to be added in post edit.  An example would be the castle from the Wicked Witch or the fire at the prom with Carrie.

You do the majority of the photography, who helps you when you are in front of the camera?
I have friends and family that help out.  On the occasion when I recreated Harold from Friday the 13th part 3, I had the remote in my hand and did that one alone.  Other than that, I keep the projects as a way to spend time with others. 

What made you get into the art of cosplaying (how old were you? Where did you first show off your cosplay, do you design your own clothing, hood, hockey mask etc.?  If not, who do you use to help with your costume?)
When I take the photos for reenactments, I put everything together; from the masks that I make and the clothes to the blood and fog (yes, I have a fog machine in my living room for some of the photos).  I didn’t realize when I started this hobby that it was a form of cosplay.  Someone on Facebook in one of the horror groups commented on one of my photos and complimented the cosplay aspect of it.  Since then, I embrace that compliment and now in conversation I more so say I take cosplay photos, rather than recreation. 

How many versions of Jason costumes do you have?  Do you have plans to showcase more costumes?
I have a life size Jason Voorhees prominently displayed in my living room.  Since part 3 is my favorite and Brooker is my first choice for best Jason, I honor Richard with his likeness of Jason.  I also have the complete set up for Roy Burns including the mask I made.  I consider myself a master mask maker and making them relaxes me.  I’m currently working on obtaining everything for the Jason Lives costume.  I definitely need to buy more mannequins… and a bigger house to display them in.

Do you attend conventions?  If so which ones do you attend?  Are there any you recommend for someone who has never attended?  Have you attended conventions as a cosplayer? If so, what advice would you give to someone who has never attended a convention as a cosplayer?
I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I didn’t attend my first official cosplay event until I was 47 years old just this past year.  It was a mini reunion of the 13 Fanboy cast and crew.  Nora Hewitt was there and other cast members such as C.J. Graham, both the Production Assistants and the Key Grip.  Back in July of last year, I was lucky enough to film a convention scene in New Mexico for the feature- if that counts.  Corey Feldman was on set so I was excited to work with him. 
A couple years ago I drove to Ohio and met Adrienne King.  I spent the night with her and we had wine, watched the original masterpiece and I bought a boat from her before I left the following morning.  (It sounds more exciting that way.  It was actually a theater filled with fans.  The group viewing and Q & A ended at nearly 6 o’clock in the morning.)  That was the first time I met any cast or crew from the franchise in person. 

Do you offer services to cosplayers by enhancing their photos?
Other than Scott from part 2, I haven’t really been asked to create that kind of photo but I have had some filmmakers approach me and I’ve done some graphic designing for some feature length films.  That’s always exciting and a great compliment to be asked.  Every time I see someone wearing a
tshirt that I designed or a poster, it gives me a little bit of excitement and explainable satisfaction.

What advice would you give to a first time cosplayer or someone who is looking into doing horror photoshoots?
Be passionate about your project and the source of your inspiration.  Plan it out and love every moment and aspect of the process.  It can be for therapeutic or for financial reasons but whatever the reason, embrace it and just run with it.  The biggest challenges are normally the most rewarding in the end, so don’t get discouraged.  If you think you can’t do something; find a way to make it work. Those are the times you find you favorite final product or even your own personal masterpiece.

Who are some of your favorite cosplayers or horror themed photographers that you follow on social media or personally know?
I’m not familiar with certain horror themed photographers or cosplayers but I do look forward to meeting them as I get out there more and get involved.  The pandemic we are facing right now has kept all of this year’s fright fests from happening.  I planned on going to Detroit and Chicago earlier this year to meet Ron Sloan and Carol Locatell but those events were cancelled sadly but understandably.  As far as photographers go, there are a couple that are not horror themed but are horror icons from the Friday the 13th franchise that take photography to a beautiful level.  Tiffany Helm takes stunning photos and so does Darcy DeMoss.  Richard Brooker had a passion for capturing breathtaking sunset photos.  Those are some of the horror world photographers I am inspired by.

Do you have any social media accounts for your cosplay/photography that you would like to promote? 
I basically just post on Deborah Voorhees’s Shear Horror Facebook Group.  That’s my favorite because there are thousands and thousands of amazing horror fans that have become family to me.  I have Twitter and Instagram but I rarely use them. 

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