Interview with Amaji Finnell of Unproducktive Photography

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Midwest BSFA recently talked to Amaji Finnell of Unproducktive Photography about her passion for photography and her love of cosplay. She’s currently booking photo sessions for the Cincinnati Comic Expo on Sept. 23 & 24! 

Midwest BSFA: How did you get into photography?
Finnell: I’ve loved taking photos since I was little. When I was younger, and would go on a trip my mom would give me those small disposable cameras. I was always ecstatic. I would take photos of everything. Everything, but myself. My mom would be so upset cause they wouldn’t have even one photo of me on the trip.

When I got older, before I studied abroad in Japan the second time, this camera store was going out of business, and the last two cameras were 90% off. I lost it; I needed that camera. After that, it was done. I took photos of everything while I was in Japan that year. Where I was my camera was. When I came home, it was the same, I took pictures at my friends and family’s parties, birthdays, weddings, etc. (My aunt’s real photographer at her wedding got a little irritated with me because i was also posing and taking photos after she was done. Oops.) That love just transferred over to cosplay. Unlike when I was a kid, I loved being in front of the camera and I also loved taking photos of others.

When my original camera broke, I ended be investing in my camera I have now. I wanted to take photography in school, too, and I will as soon as I get back to classes. I’m completely self taught — from editing to shooting — as of now, so I know classes will only enhance my abilities.

Midwest BSFA: How did you come up with your photography name?
Finnell: My name actually just came from my online usernames, Unproducktive. It’s pretty lame how I came up with it, though. My friends were trying to get me on Tumblr during exam week and instead of studying and writing papers, I went online to make one. I really sucked at making usernames and was looking around my room. Then unproductive popped into my head. I should have been working, after all. I ended up turning it into “duck” just to make it sound cuter, “original.” I transferred that to everything else, never thinking I was going to have to start giving it out to people. But it stuck and now people even call me “Ducky” when they can’t pronounce or know my real name.

The deeper, cooler-sounding background was one of my friends came up with:  Most people believe that cosplaying, art, stuff like that, is unproductive and a waste of time. Plus, I’m normally creating cosplay, doing photography, art and things when I should be doing more “important” things. The irony, though, I’m very productive even if I don’t think so. My friends make fun of my name all the time because I can’t sit still or down.

Midwest BFSA: Why do you enjoy photography? What’s the best part about photographing cosplayers?
Finnell: I really enjoy capturing the beauty or awesomeness of the cosplays and cosplayers. I feel like photos help you capture the characters you’re trying to portray and on top of that, all the work these cosplayers have put in. I love having fun with the cosplayers, taking photos and goofing around. Plus, I enjoy editing so much! I also love meeting new people. Since I’ve started photography I’ve photographed a bunch of people I would have never met otherwise. Pretty much the whole process is a lot of fun.

Midwest BSFA: How long have you been into cosplay?
Finnell: I have been into cosplay since I was 2009. Of course I was a little kid and couldn’t afford making super cool cosplays, but I would do with what I had. I wasn’t really intense with any of it until two or three years ago.

Midwest BFSA: What’s your favorite fandom and why?
Finnell: This is such a hard question. Fullmetal Alchemist hands down my top fave, but then there is also Steven Universe. Fullmetal Alchemist was my first anime that I knew was an anime. I fell in love, the drawing style, the writing, the depth of the story. I can watch it over and over and never get bored. My whole room is FMA, too.

Steven Universe I feel has that same amount of depth. It’s cute, funny, I cry, I laugh, and I love most of the characters. Steven and Connie are just my children, and I love their relationship. So of course, Stevonnie is my complete baby, even though they’re no one’s baby.

Midwest BSFA: Why did you decide to start doing paid photo sessions? 
Finnell: For a long time, I wanted to do photography for others besides my friends and family, but it didn’t actually happen until after I became sick and needed funds.

I’ve been sick for a few years now and sadly they still aren’t sure what’s going on. I’ve been having severe pain in stomach area and my body is always aching. I’ve been back and forth from Cleveland Clinic and I’ve been to countless doctors. At first, they thought I had gastroparesis but after some months they cancelled that out. They do know that I have nerve damage on my stomach but they aren’t sure why. Recently, they’ve been trying to give me medicines for fibromyalgia, but everything is a shot in the dark. I’m trying my best to get answers.

Cosplay and photography has been one of the things that has helped me get through this tough time. Sadly, I can’t make as many cosplays or cosplay as much as I use to, but being able to go to cons even just to sit and be with friends have been the highlight of all of this. The one good thing about all of this is that it did push me to finally start doing photography for others like I wanted. So many all of this is just a blessing in disguise.

Midwest BSFA: Where can people find you online?
Finnell: My cosplay accounts are Unproducktive on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr. I’m on Instagram. My photography accounts are duckey_photography on Instagram and Facebook. The Twitter and YouTube are new so I’m still trying to establish them. I’m mostly active on Instagram, but I’d love to add ducklings on any media you prefer.

Good luck, Amaji! 

Reach out to Amaji if you’re interested in booking a cosplay shoot with her at Cincinnati Comic Expo later this month! It’s $20 for 15 minutes, $30 for 30 minutes and $45 for an hour.  

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