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Conversations with Cristobal Hernandez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cristobal Hernandez.

Hi Cristobal, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I want to say since 2016, I attended Comic Book Conventions and Anime Expos covering them through video for my YouTube channel, so my specialty was filmmaking. But in that sort of environment, I noticed there were a lot of photographers in addition to filmmakers. I was always curious about the process but kept my focus on video. Eventually, by the end of 2018, I started to hit a burnout with my work. I needed something to pull me out of my slump and I decided to give photography a shot. Little did I know I’d end up making photography my main focus in life as I turned filmmaking into a hobby. I fell in love with the process. With video, I was so used to telling a story through motion. With photography, I had one single frame to try and tell an entire story with. Setting up the shoots and working with the models was fun, but the part that I always enjoyed the most was sitting at my computer on lightroom editing the actual photos. Messing with the tones and colors allowed me to set a mood and develop my own aesthetic to my work. I started with Cosplay photography at various conventions in SoCal, but I eventually branched out into doing portraits, fashion, and neon photography. I even covered my first pro wrestling event in February of 2020 before the pandemic and lockdown began. It’s been a fun journey so far but due to the pandemic, it has come to a halt.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The start of my journey was amazing. It was an amazing learning process. Each shoot allowed me to learn and grow. I’d see things from a different angle, start to frame subjects in creative ways, and found ways to create my own style. In SoCal the various comic cons and anime expos are filled with a TON of photographers who do amazing work. The true challenge was being able to have my work stand out amongst the crowd. To give the various models a reason to work with me. It’s why I worked so hard to develop my own personal aesthetic for my work. It took a while but eventually, I had a decent amount of people wanting to work with me in that community, and that opened doors to opportunities to be able to work and photograph different styles outside of the comic con and anime expo environments. Honestly, the biggest struggle I’ve had is the one I’m currently going through. Due to the pandemic, I ended up taking a hiatus from my work. At the start of it back in 2020, I made the decision to not book any photoshoots for my own personal safety as well as the safety of the models I work with. It’s been a little over a year now and with things shifting and vaccinations rolling out, I’ll slowly begin booking again. I feel the next challenge for me will be finding models to work with again and building myself back up to where I once was.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
So my work is actually split between running a podcast on YouTube as well as being a photographer. When it comes to photography, my specialties are Cosplay, Fashion, and Neon. With Cosplay photos, I have a tendency to have my style blend well with the character that I’m working with. With something like Batman, I’d work with a lot of dark tones and shadows. With someone like Spider-Man, I’d work on lots of dynamic poses as well as action shots. With something like Cinderella, I’d focus on more bright colors and tones to give the shot life. Fashion I have a tendency to focus more on highlighting the model and what they’re wearing but I do enjoy playing a bit with shadows and moody tones. With neon, it’s all about playing with lights and bright colors. Honestly, what I’m most proud of is going against the grain and working on developing a style of my own.

A great example is cosplay photography. Lots of the photographers in that environment tend to shoot really bright pictures trying to highlight the model’s costume. I think this is great because a lot of the models put a lot of time and effort into their costumes. But for me, I want to make the model feel like the person they are cosplaying. As I mentioned if you’re dressed up as Spider-Man, I want to get you in those dynamic poses and action shots Spider-Man is known for. I want to use some gritty tones and take shots of you in an alley to make it look like a day out in New York fighting crime. If you’re Cinderella, I want to find a courtyard with a nice fountain and lots of trees and shrubbery. I want you to look and feel like a Disney Princess when I work with you. Outside of cosplay, I tend to work with a lot of moody tones and shadows with my work, or I do a lot of bright colors with neon involved. I rarely use a flash and prefer natural lighting, which for some photographers is considered a sin hah! I also prefer photoshoots at locations versus a studio setting because I love environments that feel “alive”. I don’t consider myself a typical photographer when it comes to how I do my work, and while it’s gotten me some funny looks from other photographers, I’m still so proud of doing it my way.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
When it comes to my work, I’ve actually never gone to school or have studied photography in a formal setting. Everything I’ve done to this day has been through YouTube tutorials and working closely with photographers that I admire and respect in the community. The story behind my brand name is also a great one. A friend gave me the nickname of “Tofu Waifu” because I’m vegan and I also am a huge fan of anime and have “crushes” on some of the women characters which anime geeks would call “waifus” which is a play on the word wife. My friend made a joke saying that I’m their “Tofu Waifu” and the name just stuck with me and became my entire brand, haha! As for random trivia about myself, I’m actually a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and have competed professionally twice in my life.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

All photos taken by me Cristobal Hernandez/Tofu Waifu Photography Photo One: Cupid Cosplay, Captain Dandy Andy (Instagram) Photo Two: Kenjinator (Instagram) Photo Three: Kenjinator (Instagram) Photo Four: Kenjinator, Jeffersawrusrex (Instagram) Photo Five: The_Petite_Geek (Instagram) Photo Six: MetalSlimer (Instagram)

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