Tomb Raider – The Photoshoot

As mentioned in the previous post, in May 2013, I teamed up with Dim Horizon Studios to do a photoshoot of my Tomb Raider costume. But being the oddball sort I am, I couldn’t just do a standard shoot. Oh no, I had to make it like a mini film project, complete with location scouting and script.

The story is basically a one-day diary entry (which I came up with from one of the early videos of the new game where Lara is writing in a journal). It takes place a few days after the initial shipwreck as I wanted to keep it early on in the game. I didn’t want to go too far into the game to avoid spoilers (well, that, and less props to deal with it. Had to make it easy on myself somehow!). In the spirit of the game, the story is basic survival (with a little dash of humour thrown in as my little rebellion against the game being so dark. That’s my only personal gripe with the new Tomb Raider is the shift to more survivalist horror than Indiana Jones/Bond-style adventure. But that’s just my own personal preference.). Without further adieu, here is the photoshoot!

It happened so fast…My ship, the Endurance, is gone, torn in half like a broken toy.

20130413-IMG_7032-Edit-Edit1As I climbed up the river bank, I laughed because I survived, and laughed until I cried. I wanted adventure, but this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

20130413-IMG_7157-Edit-EditThey don’t ever tell you how cold the nights are, how…sticky blood is, or that no matter how many times you throw your clothes in a river, the dirt never really comes out.

20130413-IMG_7432-Edit-EditWhen I first crawled up the bank and into the woods, I left a trail of blood behind me.

20130413-IMG_7390-Edit-EditMy wounds had long since gone numb, but that hadn’t stopped the blood from dripping out. I put a stop to it in the only way I could: bandages, as tight as I could make them, and then some.

20130413-IMG_7641-Edit-EditI remember screaming with pain, but the hoarse shouts sounded like someone else’s voice.

20130413-IMG_8035-Edit-EditIf I didn’t find fresh water soon, I knew I wouldn’t live to scream again.

20130413-IMG_8089-Edit-Edit-4When you’re truly alone, all you can think about is the next step. Your mind screams for home, for a safe place, but in a place like this, the next step is all you have.

20130413-IMG_7374-Edit-EditPutting one foot in front of the other, I began to explore my surroundings, determined to find any source of water this god-forsaken island could offer.

20130413-IMG_7912-Edit-Edit1At first I thought I was imagining the roaring sound in my ears….

20130413-IMG_7616-Edit-Edit…but when I came across a waterfall, it was as if my prayers had been answered.

20130413-IMG_8152-Edit-Edit1What a beautiful sight that water was to behold.

20130413-IMG_8179-Edit-EditI drank all I could manage and more, trying in vain to fill a vast emptiness inside me. It was the sweetest water I’ve ever tasted; I think I’ll carry the memory of that taste for the rest of my life. I had no bottle though, so I couldn’t take any with me. Note to self: Look for a thermos tomorrow at the wreckage site.

20130413-IMG_8285-Edit-EditAs I rested, basking in the cool refreshment, I became lost in the dark thoughts plaguing my mind since the wreck. A noise in the forest brought me back to reality.

20130413-IMG_8367-Edit-EditFor a moment, all I could hear was my heartbeat, when sudden movement nearby had me up on my feet, bow in hand.

20130413-IMG_8460-Edit-EditThat’s when I heard it, a terrible, echoing howl….I didn’t stay to find out what manner of creature that unnatural sound belonged to.

20130413-IMG_8552-Edit-Edit20130413-IMG_7849-Edit-Edit-4I ran as fast as I could back to the safety of camp. It took me a long time to catch my breath afterwards, but I left the howling far behind.

20130413-IMG_8537-Edit-EditNow I use the last bits of sun to write in my journal, one of the few things that miraculously survived the wreck. Alone, hurt, but unbroken, I will survive on this island no matter what. I dare not venture back into the jungle in the dark; one wrong step could break a leg, or a neck. I have no food or water left, and I’m so very, very hungry…

20130413-IMG_8703-Edit-Edit…but I know I have to be strong. I can do this. This island will not defeat me.

Photograph: Dim Horizon Studio
Makeup: Matt Silva
Costume and props by: Me, Meredith Placko, Austin Sirkin (holster), Adam Greene, Carter Eastis, Kristen Anne
Hair: Gregory Dobrasz
Script: Me, Austin Sirkin, Philip Maddox

Tomb Raider 2013

TombRaider_hero_SurvivorIn April of 2013, there was a reboot of one of my favourite video games of all time – Tomb Raider. I grew up with the games, first playing the games at a friend’s house, then becoming obsessed with the movie versions (In middle school I ran around in black tees and shorts with my hair in a French braid. I was meticulous about getting those two bangs in place). I had a great love of adventure stories and games, so here was this seemingly perfect combination of a female Indiana Jones and James Bond, yet still a character in her own right. I couldn’t help but like her and for lack of a better phrase, BE her.

I grew up with a very devil-may-care attitude that I cultivated from Tomb Raider, watching too many adventure/sci-fi movies, and being in paramilitary programs (CAP, JROTC). So I had a habit of running off to do things like four-wheeling, gun ranges, multiple forms of martial arts, fencing, almost getting my pilot’s license at 15, search and rescue exercises, survival training, and obstacle courses.

Fast forward to adulthood, whereupon I discovered both cosplay. I was so excited that as soon as concept artwork was released, I went to town to begin my costume. Truth be told, I wasn’t confident that I could pull off classic Lara Croft with her sexy, grown-up woman face (I feel like I tend to look more like a kid). So when I saw her new look, I just about jumped out of my skin. Now here was a version I could pull off! There was no question. I had to do it.

I poured my all my years of yearning to do a Tomb Raider costume into it. I researched for 2 years on the screen-accurate materials, colours, and props. Friends taught me how to distress, make the props, and basic archery form to take it to the best level of realism.

Tomb Raider The Lady NerdTwo years later, I had the costume finished despite eBay mishaps and it being one of the first major costumes I had done. I was so proud of the work that had done that I was chomping at the bit to photograph it. But I didn’t want to do just the same ol’ cosplay portraiture. I wanted to do something different. Being a storyboard artist, my brain naturally went to creating a story. I decided to run with this idea of narrative and wrote up a script. Then it was time to figure out who would be crazy enough to shoot it…

Enter Dim Horizon Studios.

Dim Horizon BioshockI had stumbled across Dim Horizon Studios while searching Dragoncon photos the year before. I saw their iconic Bioshock photograph was blown away. So I immediately found their Facebook page and started following them. When I put up the casting call for a photographer, they shot me a message to throw his name in the ring. I was giddy to oblige as I had been wanting to work with them quite badly. In addition to photographic talent, Matthew and Nicole Nicholson are some of the loveliest folks you’ll ever meet. Add in Matt Silva of Black Tie FX for special effects makeup (of Face-off and insanely good hair fame) and Adam Greene of Pixelbash Props for various assisting duties (he made the necklace I’m wearing out of real jade!). Hard-working, easy going, loveable geeks, the lot of them. They listened to my harebrained scheme, put up with my desire to trek all the way down to the pools of Cloudland Canyon, Georgia to shoot (bless you, Nicole), and even fed me afterwards.

Hungry Lara Croft(Lara was a bit hungry after surviving that island….)

20130413-IMG_7546-Edit Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post of the photoshoot (complete with script!)
20130413-IMG_7550-Edit 20130413-IMG_8641-Edit(Seriously, can I have his hair?)