Thurstan Redding – Kids of Cosplay

Review by Gerhard Clausing

Cosplay is a fun activity. You take your innermost thoughts out to be seen in public, as you embody, through your costume and makeup, a fictional character you admire, showing yourself as your personal hero or heroine to everyone out there. These personalized and externalized emotions can be seen at shows like Comic-Con or at a special party, and even have transitioned into commercialized appearances on Hollywood Boulevard. The figures displayed reflect our contemporary culture, as well as moments from our collective treasury of recollections, such as beloved figures from folklore, child and youth literature, and other shared stories from the media. Each fantasy figure adds color to a world that is sometimes marked by a lot of dreary sameness, as fantasy meets reality. Haven’t we all at times dreamed about being someone else, even for a short time?

Thurstan Redding, being primarily a fashion photographer, knows his way around these kinds of extraordinary performance moments that reflect our times.  We are fortunate that he took a great deal of time to delve into the worlds of the special individuals that make cosplay interesting to behold, and that he put a great deal of thought and time into displaying these special individuals through a series of interesting situational and environmental photographs.

We see many characters we know: Batman, 3-CPO, Captain America, Spider-Man, Alice in Wonderland, Bo Peep,  as well as characters from popular motion pictures such as Indiana Jones and Ursula from The Little Mermaid.  Naturally, there are also many lesser-known figures which are only familiar to certain age or interest groups. That’s where the captions and explanations come in very handy. In all cases, we admire the meticulous work that has gone into costume and makeup design and execution, and we also get the idea that some of what the individual impersonators believe in is translated and visualized through the figures they portray.

Redding’s work is beautifully printed on large pages, and the layouts are varied to keep our attention throughout. The dedication and enthusiasm of the participants literally jump off the pages to be shared by the readers/viewers. The several essays and the interview also contribute greatly to our understanding and enjoyment of the project. I especially appreciated seeing Redding’s planning pages (excerpts shown in the last two images below) that give us insights into the whole process.

A colorful presentation of an equally colorful activity makes for a most enjoyable photobook indeed!


Gerhard Clausing, PBJ Associate Editor, is an author, photographer, and synthographer from Southern California.


Thurstan Redding – Kids of Cosplay

Photographer:  Thurstan Redding (born in Hong Kong and based in London); IG: @thurstanredding

Publisher:   Thames & Hudson, London and New York City; © 2023

Essays and Texts:  Katie Grand, Tom Rasmussen, Thurstan Redding; Interview with Thurstan Redding by Sara McAlpine

Language:  English

Illustrated hardback, sewn; 144 pages, paginated; 25.5 x 28.5 cm (10 x 11.25 inches); printed  in China by Shenzhen Reliance Printing Co. Ltd; ISBN 978-0-500-02617-5


Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s). All images, texts, and designs are under copyright by the authors and publishers.

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