My name is Lance Reis and I am a portrait and creative art photographer based in Portland, Oregon. For my shoots, I bring my subjects to life with a mixture of natural light and creative cinematic concepts. For me, the most important elements of my shoots are the connection I make with my subjects and the ability to make anyone feel comfortable in front of the lens.

My friend Andrea came to me because her son, Race, who is eight years old, was being bullied in school and is having a hard time right now. She follows my work and knows I shoot a lot of cosplay photography so she said getting a photo with the Joker would mean the world to him because he is his favorite comic-book character to which I replied, “of course we could do that BUT what if we took it a step further and made HIM the Joker instead.” So with my extremely talented makeup and hair stylists, we did just that.

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My friend asked me if I could photograph her son with the Joker so we took it one step further and transformed him

Race was ecstatic throughout the whole shoot. We have actually been planning this shoot for over a year but had to keep pushing it off due to scheduling conflicts so he’s been excited about this for a long time. The day his mom showed him the photos I took on Instagram of Batman and Joker he was determined to meet the local superhero and villain. He does a really good job at hiding it in these photos but he was all smiles between takes.

I know many cosplayers. And I will tell you their confidence goes through the roof when they put on that costume. It’s actually beautiful to see someone so shy come out of their shell and feel The freedom to be themselves. I think it’s something we can all relate to as we’ve all been children during Halloween and put on that costume of our favorite superhero or a villain. I think my favorite thing about people my age who cosplay is the fact they haven’t lost their imagination. I wish more people were willing to dress up and feel like a kid again.

Seeing the pain in his eyes completely took me back to when I was his age and relentlessly bullied. That was the roughest time of my life and I’m devoted to impacting children who are bullied. I would certainly say by the end of the photo shoot he walked a little taller smiled a bit bigger and held his head a little bit higher. I could see a shift in confidence from beginning to end. And that’s exactly what photography is all about isn’t it?

According to his mom, following the shoot Race wouldn’t stop talking about the photo shoot and plans on blowing up the photos and hanging them in his room. And after the big reaction from the shoot, he’s already talking about wanting to model or get into acting. And judging by his performance considering it was his first photo shoot I would absolutely encourage that.

If I can give these kids even just a fraction of their confidence back and empower them through my photography I’ve done my job. As I told him and every child I’ve worked with, we can get past it and grow up to do great things. Look, now he easily has the coolest photos of anyone in his school, so suck it bullies.

I’ve done a few other empowering shoots with children, including Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty. I also have a passion for bringing awareness to hard-hitting topics like addiction, depression, homelessness, racial discrimination, and domestic abuse.

Model: Race | MUA: Jordan D  | Hair: Kaylee S  | Batman: Collin J