The following photo series was put together by New York–based photographer Corey Hayes. Hayes told BuzzFeed Geeky that he was inspired to put this project together because only through cosplay can normal people become something so much larger than themselves.
"The characters and the colors are just so outside of what you see in regular life," Hayes said. "Most of these cosplayers probably went unnoticed in their daily lives, but once they are dressed up at these conventions, they becomes rock stars."
1. Al Vasquez, 32, news video editor/producer
"I've come to realize, in spite of the time and energy and sweat that goes into suiting up, there's nothing more gratifying than the expression on the faces of my fellow fanboys and fangirls."
2. Colen P., 24, security guard
"I come from a theater background so naturally I have this growing hunger to learn more and more about whatever character I do. I'm also rather massive so I naturally have a growing hunger. I enjoy picking apart characters and finding out what makes them tick and why they do what they do. I don't dress up as the character. I try my hardest to become the character."
3. Gina Y., 16, high school student
"Favorite thing about cosplay: When you finish a costume and you can look back and be proud of what you made."
4. Dana Paige, 28, billing analyst
The moment when someone's eyes light up as they recognize the character you are cosplaying, especially when they appreciate the little details you've added to make your costume unique. Cosplaying takes a lot of time, effort, and funds, so it is always great feeling when a fan compliments your hard work and creativity."
5. Diana Lin, 32, illustrator and children's wear designer
I [had] forgotten how fun dressing up and creating can be ever since I graduated college. Due to working in the fashion industry for so long and facing reality of cost and production it had slowly effected the way I designed, but going to Comic Con and seeing the creativity, dedication, and passion people put into each piece really inspired me to continue to freely express myself."
6. Jack Farzan, 21, student/programmer/artist
"My favorite thing about cosplaying is becoming my favorite characters."
7. Jennifer Rose, 37, seamstress/administrative assistant
"My favorite thing about cosplaying is all the amazing connections that I have made with other people who share my passion for this hobby. I know that if it wasn't for cosplay, I would not have met some of the most dear people to me that I now count among my closest friends, my family."
8. Jenn Reddig, 26, grade school teacher
"I started out reading my dad's old comics when I was young, but the biggest turning point for me was when the movie The Dark Knight came out. But with my love for Batman comes a love for Andrea. She is basically the female Bruce Wayne after all! How could you not love a woman who could hold her own and even best the Dark Knight?"
9. Joseph B. B. Quinn, 26, art director
"Favorite thing about cosplay: All my answers are questionably inappropriate. What about 'it's fun'? 'It's fun' is appropriate, right? ... Right? (That whole sentence is my answer.)"
10. Kat Chagnon, 21, college student
"With cosplaying I can be whoever I want to be. There are no limitations to what a person can become if they put their heart into it. I love the dressing up aspect and seeing people's reactions to my outfit through smiles and laughter. It brings joy to me and drives me to push forward for more."
11. Kiara, 21, college student
"Favorite thing about cosplay: It is weird and fun. Weirdly fun."
12. Kyle Stark, 33, CNC machinist
"I've loved comics and superheroes my whole life so it's a lot of fun having a job/hobby that revolves around a medium I love while allowing me to have a great time with my friends, their friends and strangers I meet along the way. And it's pretty cool to be Iron Man haha."
13. Lindsay, 31, art and UX director for an event technology company
"Creatively expressing my love for my fandoms and connecting with other people who also love to do the same."
14. Morgan Herrmann, 17, student
"Favorite part of cosplaying: Being able to create and collaborate with a family built on such a unique interest."
15. Paul D'Amore, 29, teacher
"My favorite thing about cosplaying is the friendly and amazing environment it creates."
16. Ruby Rinekso, "Over 21" ("to quote Christopher Reeve's Superman"), graphic designer and musician
"Your favorite thing about cosplaying — it's the same reason as a child, when he/she wants to be a superhero, or a particular character of fiction. It's playtime and pretending. The reason is the same, the only difference is ... I'm better skilled at it, and my budget is better ... and parents can't tell me 'NO.'"
17. Samantha Traub, 24, receptionist for a directional drilling company
My favorite thing about Cosplaying is the community. How it doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, what you look like, what you do, how long it's been since you've gone to a convention or event we're all family. The support and love that the Cosplay community has for one another is something I've never experienced before in my entire life. You walk into a room and even people you don't know treat you like they've known you your entire life. It really is magical.
18. Sheena, 30, actor/freelancer/costumer
"What I enjoy most about cosplay is being able to recreate a character from scratch. I love the process of acquiring the materials and making it. The process is always daunting at first but the end result is so rewarding especially when the piece starts to take shape before it's done. And of course, getting to dress up!"