I like the dramatic. I love interesting costumes with crazy attention to detail. I love things that have a distinctive look and I like cool weapons. Two people opened my eyes to what can happen when you combine all of these elements in an artistic way is Thomas Willeford of Bruteforce Studios and Amy Wilder.

I first photographed Thomas several years ago at the Wild Wild West Con held every year at Old Tucson Studios in Tucson, Arizona. At the time, I  had no idea who he was. I just saw this guy with this long hair wearing this incredibly detailed mechanical arm. I was blown away.  I took a couple of pictures and that was that.

Over time as I learned more about this crazy steampunk genre, Thomas’s name would often come up. I always admired his work – his attention to detail and the costumes and concepts were always interesting to me. He’s well known within the community for making steampunk accessories and clothing and as a  judge on GSN’s TV series Steampunk’d. He’s the author of  Steampunk Gear, Gadgets, and Gizmos: A Maker’s Guide to Creating Modern Artifacts and The Steampunk Adventurer’s Guide: Contraptions, Creations, and Curiosities Anyone Can Make.

A couple of years later I met Amy Wilder and photographed her in passing at the Wild Wild West Steampunk con as well. I later discovered that Amy is not only an established model but an active cosplayer as well. She brings a a lot of experience with styling steampunk themed photo shoots which was very helpful in our time together.

The challenge is that they are always so busy at a con that it’s impossible to get enough time with them to do a meaningful photo shoot – and that’s as it should be. They are there for business purposes not for taking pictures with me.

This year I reached out to Thomas and Amy prior to the event and invited them to do a photo shoot after the Wild Wild Wild West Con this year.  They graciously made time out of their already busy schedule and spent part of the day with me in the studio. Hillary Solterbeck of  Strawberri Gashes Makeup stepped in to handle the hair and makeup responsibilities.

We spent the afternoon shooting various outfits and looks. As a photographer I was very impressed with both Amy and Thomas’s ability to get into character. We had a good time laughing most of the time but they were all about the work when the time came – Amy in particular was all business in front of the camera and it didn’t take long to get some amazing photos.

Thomas showed up with an unexpected surprise – he’d brought along a mechanical spider that he had made for another steampunk event and asked me if I was interested in photographing it. I said “yes” just because it was so cool but I had no idea at the time what I was going to do with it. Later it would become a key design element in the first poster I created for them.

The first poster was a movie poster concept entitled “Attack of the Arachnae Mechanica” which is attached. I’ve included a few BTS photos and the graphic showing the initial sketches I had sent to Thomas and Amy.

More photos coming soon.