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5th April 2015
A Discussion with Sara Croft, Joining Cosplay

When I'm away from The Sudden Stop, I run a small Tomb Raider blog called Guns and Grapple. It's a different community and a very different site. I've been running it since 2008, and over the years I've met some really cool people through it, including Sara. Sara is a pillar in the TR community and runs an official fansite dedicated to cosplay which hosts almost 6,800 photos for over 270 cosplayers.

Recently I've noticed on social media sites that there are quite a few fans planning a Remedy cosplay later this year, and a lot of them are new to the hobby. As Sara has experience working with cosplayers at different levels of experience, I thought she would be a great person to ask about advice for gamers who want to get into the hobby.

A huge thanks to Sara for doing this! You can read our discussion below:

Tell us a little about yourself!

Hi, I'm Sara, I live in the US, I am the admin of, I started it back in 2006 and have been a cosplayer since 2005. My interests include costuming, crafting, video gaming, maintaining my website, painting, drawing, reading, video editing and cooking.

 Photograph from Sara's cosplay page on Facebook.

It's no secret that I am a massive Tomb Raider fan, no matter what game, book or movie, I've loved every single incarnation, it's been my whole life and through this love, I've developed skills and made connections with some incredible people that I wouldn't have met otherwise.

Personal achievements include a mention on the Tomb Raider 2013 game credits, my site was made an official fansite, I've been featured on the official Tomb Raider blog, hosted a charity event that raised funds for McMillain Cancer Support and have written for the likes of the great Stella from Stella's Tomb Raider Site and now Guns and Grapple. It's my life mission to feature as many Tomb Raider cosplayers as possible on my site, maintain our loving community and provide a safe place for them to share their work.

Why do you cosplay?

I cosplay because I would imagine that there really isn't anything legal in this world that provides the same kind of happiness cosplay brings me. It has unleashed my creativity, I am able to do things I never thought possible. I love escaping my routine and being in my hero's shoes for a little while.

On top of all the personal benefits, I've been blessed with many friends that I met through the Tomb Raider Cosplay community. I'd like to think I've made family members of most of them. So most of what it comes from is wanting to be part of something bigger than myself, nurture it and watch it grow.

What was it like when you first began?

It was a lot different than what you see today, it was not as wide spread and as accepted. We were considered weirdos and freaks for for dressing up, especially because we would be sharing photos all year round and not just Halloween when you'd typically expect this sort of thing.

For me, It was never lonely though. If you were a cosplayer or what they called us back then "Look-a-likes" there was always a forum or a chat room where you could meet people. Myspace was where I met the very first ladies and gents of Tomb Raider Cosplay.

(I'd like to thank Lady Linny of for being the first web mistress to put my pictures up online, Julia for building a successful forum with me and Jenn Croft for the constant support back then and now.)

A variety of Lara Croft costumes that Sara has created.

Through your website, you've met hundreds of cosplayers, what's been the most common fear you've heard about when it comes to the hobby? Do you have any advice for overcoming that challenge?

The most common fear among them is negative feedback. They aren't afraid of constructive criticism but are worried about being mocked and harassed. I always tell them the same thing. Yes, you may find that you get insulted but there are a few things you can do to protect yourself and avoid it all together.

For one, share your photos within the community of cosplayers for that particular franchise whether it's anime, movies, video games or comics. There are communities for almost everything. Everyone there would be very accepting and supportive of you.

I tell my friends and cosplayers that contact me, not to get into arguments with internet "trolls" because there is no point. Even if you have the most perfect costume and picture, someone will always find something wrong with your photos. So what do you do? do you spend all your time trying to appease strangers who care nothing for you and are just projecting their own insecurities on you. Or, do you invest in your community members , the ones who supported and were by your side from the beginning. I personally always take option number two and so should you.

Do you have any tips for fans who want to get into the hobby but are worried about how much it would cost?

Don't break the bank looking for the perfect props or clothes. It can get really expensive. you really don't need to have the best costume when you're just starting out. Give yourself time to develop crafting skills that will save you money in the long run by learning from every available source there is, online or otherwise so do your research. Always be on the lookout for cheap alternatives, for example, if your character has large elements in their outfit that is leather. Don't go out and buy real leather, there is a good substitute called "pleather" which is totally different but looks almost identical and comes in many colors. Being froogle and searching for alternatives go hand in hand for your success in sticking to your budget.

Sara's website.

What could cosplayers do if they don't have access to the perfect location or are maybe nervous about doing a photoshoot in public.

There are a few options for this challenge, I myself have set up a home studio then used composites to transform my photos, I recently bought a white background and a few lights together it all cost me around 60 dollars, I took the photos then used photo editing software to add a relevant background, if you don't have the skills to use Photoshop, try asking for help from your community members.

Alternatively, use your home as a set, I had a photoshoot down in my basement, for Jessica Sherawat. It had an exposed boiler, and it looked perfect as an abandoned building or even as a submarine.

After a photoshoot, what's the next step for a new cosplayer to take to get their photos online?

When you have your photos, the best thing to do is seek out fan forums and communities that feature cosplay. Showing your photos to people who understand what they are looking at is best.

Always credit your photographer and if you are worried about your photos being used without your permission, put a watermark on them that can't be cropped, so people always know the real owner.

Most of all, have fun and try not to take it too seriously. Good luck!

You can follow Sara's adventures on her website, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr.


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