Gaming as we know it back in the day has evolved so much that there is a whole new scene and industry revolved around it. Gone are the days of “you’ll never be able to make a living with that”, so much so that pro eSports players are raking in enormous sums of money through sponsorships and streaming. Apart from the players though, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes at events and tournaments, and oftentimes, although we see the product of the people backstage, we do not see the actual people themselves. This is also the case for our next Q&A guest, photographer Embersandroses.
Please tell us a little bit more about yourself, as all I think I know is that your name is Rose. Or is it?!
Rose is my nickname, and I currently work in the medical field. I realized later that it wasn’t what I wanted to do so now I am back at school and will graduate college in a month! Super excited to transition into a new work field. I’d love something gaming related!
How long have you been doing photography?
I have been doing gaming event photography for about 7 years off and on. After my first year of doing photography at every event I went to, I realized that I missed being a spectator. That’s why I took some time off to enjoy the environment and games. Prior to gaming, I use to do fashion and portrait photography. I would help aspiring Bay Area models and makeup artist build their portfolio. While I enjoyed doing that, I found myself happier doing gaming events!
What got you into photography? And gaming? And how did the combination of the two come up?
I think I’ve always been interested in art and once I got hold of my first Polaroid camera, I was hooked! Unlike photography which came later to me, I have been a gamer ever since I could remember. When I was younger, I was really into FPS and Fighting Games. I was addicted to DOOM, Tomb Raider and Tekken which then expanded further into new series and similar games. I think the combination came up when one day I was randomly at a local arcade in Northern California with my camera. I took a picture of an old high school friend, who is now known as Street Fighter player: Kelvin Jeon, playing at the SFIV cabinet. Little did I know, he would later refer me to John Choi to help shoot NCR 2011. The rest is history and I am truly thankful for every moment leading to now. Never forget those that helped or guided you.
Is photography just a hobby for you or also a job? If not, do you think you would like to have your hobby as your job? I mean, would you be afraid to get tired of photography because you end up doing a lot of it?
Photography for me is just a hobby which eventually became a side job at one point. As of now, I see it as a hobby that pays for itself. Most of the money I made from photography before went straight to camera equipment. Now these days, it’s making up for tuition or travel expenses, unless the company pays for that.
Is it only FGC (Fighting Game Community) events you shoot or are there other games? Or even something else apart from gaming?
I am open to shooting different games and fashion shoots again. I think I will always have a soft spot for the FGC because I had gained so much from it from friends, memories, confidence and even my partner.
What equipment do you use?
During the last couple events, I use a Nikon D7500 with multiple lenses but I always end up going back to my 24-70mm f/2.8. There’s actually a story behind this lens. A couple of FGC friends pitch in on my 21st birthday and bought this lens from Kineda. It’s actually a pretty extensive list of friends and players who helped contribute, so I won’t list everyone here but I till this day I am truly thankful!
Do you yourself play a fighting game competitively? Or just for fun?
I have competed in tournaments for fun, but I get way too nervous for some reason. I am fortunate to have a supportive local community, but I prefer to play casually. I love playing against others without the pressure of a score. For those who play often with me, they know we are usually laughing or talking smack the whole time! Thank you, NorCal FGC for being so fun to play with.
What is your favourite game?
This is such an open-ended question! Favorite FPS of all time probably would be between Halo 2-3 or CSGO. Current or last favorite RPG on top of my head would probably be Persona 5 but I am a fan of Persona 4, the Final Fantasy Series, Kingdom Heart series, and Tales Series. Favorite fighting game is definitely between Tekken 2, 3 or SFIV:AE (only cause I love Juri). Oh, I also play Overwatch with one of my other good girlfriends, also known in the Soul Calibur community as Chemie, whenever we want to blow off steam! Overall, I think I don’t have just one favorite game. Sorry, there’s too many to list here.
What is the favourite event you’ve ever been to?
Assuming we are talking about gaming events, I want to say Blizzcon, and in particular during the Pandaria release. However, FGC events are much more personal which tops other events for me. I love seeing friends compete, while I always root for all my NorCal friends, I am definitely biased towards my team: Pandorahouse.
This weekend you were at the NorCal Regionals Event. How many photos did you approximately take? And how many eventually
make the albums you upload?
I think I only took about 2500-3000 photos. However, I love emotional shots so I get trigger happy. It’s hard to get those shots sometimes so that’s why I have a lot of photos. If I were to say unique shots, maybe 1600? Then I filter those depending on the light and similarities. I think I usually end up with 250 photos or so. I also save similar photos for companies or news outlets to purchase.
I have spotted a Twitch.tv link in your Twitter bio. Do you actively stream? And what games do you stream?
I rarely stream. I think I am a bad streamer because I get sucked into the game and sometimes forget to talk to my audience. However, I got a better the more I streamed and less shy overall. I use to be nervous because there was a lot of stereotypes for “girl gamers” which I wanted to refrain from. However, a lot of my friends helped me overcome that fear. I plan on streaming more once I am done graduating and move to my new place.
What do you suggest to people who love photography and want to get into a career through it?
Do what you love. If you want to make a career, go out to events and network. Same thing if you enjoy running tournaments or streaming. However, I personally think that a passion is one of the hardest things to turn into a career because once money is involved, your perspective changes. Be ready for the transition, become a business person but also remember why you do what you do.
Do you think being a female in gaming has any negative impact on how others may consider you?
For years, I wanted to avoid this topic because I truly believe gender should not impact how others see you. However, truthfully, yes being a female has perks and cons. As a female, you are more noticed but the attention can either be negative or positive. However, I think it’s getting better especially with more female empowered groups such as Combo Queens and Smash Sisters for the FGC. One nice thing about photography is that I don’t feel much judgement about my gender. At the end of the day, I am simply a person behind the camera who aims to promote the event by showing off how awesome it is by capturing people’s emotions.
Anything you wanna plug? Twitter? Instagram? Facebook? Feel free!
Sure! All my social media links are under the same tag “embersandroses”.
Thanks for having me, Chris! It’s very nice to have someone reach out to people behind the scenes. Usually, people reach out to TOs, commentators, players but it’s nice for some spotlight for the photographers. I hope this interview will encourage others to pursue what they enjoy.
A very big thanks goes to Rose for being so kind to provide us with her experiences with gaming and photography. Be sure to check out all her albums on her Facebook page above, there are some masterpieces in there!