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  • Beginner's Guide to Cosplay Photography - Part 1 - Basics

Beginner's Guide to Cosplay Photography - Part 1 - Basics

FIRST RULE IN COSPLAY PHOTOGRAPHY DO. NOT. BE. A. CREEP.

Hopefully I’m preaching to the choir when I emphasize this point, but cosplay photography is not possible without the cosplayer. How you interact with them and present yourself is key.

Tips on how to be a presentable photographer.

  • Be good with a camera - This is one huge rabbit hole to explore but if your pictures are terrible then not many people would want to shoot with you.  Having knowledgeable photographers guide you thro
    ugh proper exposure, composition, and posing a cosplayer goes a long way. If you don’t have that luxury then there’s always the University of Youtube.
  • Carry business cards - This has really helped me in the past with securing gigs and gaining the trust of cosplayers and photographers alike. It shows professionalism, and gives cosplayers piece of mind they can contact you for their pictures.
    • If you don’t have business cards, following each other on instagram, or having an album of previous work on your phone is good way to show your portfolio and have an open line of communication.
    • VistaPrint typically costs 7.99 for 100. In my experience with them,  they would do a sale on 500 cards during the holiday season, so keep an eye out for that.
  • Network with other photographers and cosplayers- A healthy network can get your foot in the door with shooting with different people.
    • Networking is just a business word for making good friends.
      • Face to face interaction is a great way to establish yourself and is a definitely stronger way to build a good working relationship with photographers and cosplayers.

Approaching cosplayers

  • Introduce yourself -
    • “Hi My name is -insert blank- your cosplay is awesome! Mind if we shoot?
  • No Means no - Typically cosplayers love taking pictures and would up for a shoot, but if they say no then move on. There’s three broad reasons why
    • They are busy
    • They are tired
    • They don’t trust you
  • If a cosplayer is sitting down generally leave them alone - A photographer can approach respectfully and ask for a photo, but some photographers see this as a red flag to not approach. Huge worbla suits, heels, or even all of the above can be taxing on anybody, so be mindful of that.
  • Be respectful of private shoots - the last thing a photographer and cosplayer want is a completely random person bum rushing a private shoot. Ask and be respectful

Second Rule of Cosplay Photography:

Do. Not. Be. A. Jerk

Be friendly and have fun! - You can be the most talented photographer, but if you’re a jerk not many people would want to work with you.

  • Avoid the “Gear Head” mentality - Gear Heads are people that take pride in their camera equipment.
    • Sure it’s fun to talk about gear with other enthusiasts, but when it becomes a point to judge other people solely on their equipment that’s when it becomes toxic.
      • Having high end camera equipment just makes the job of taking a good picture easier.
      • It shouldn’t be a measure of someone’s worth.
  • During a shoot

    • Communicate with your model - when ever I conduct a shoot I would give cosplayers an overview of the different types of commands I would be saying.
      • Example: “I have 3 simple commands for positioning your head: rotation or tilt left or right, and chin up or down. All the directions of left or right will be from your point of view. When I say to move your head it will be in very very small increments.”
    • Be positive and create a fun environment - if you have a particularly long shoot, telling your cosplayer to take a deep breath, or roll their shoulders would be good ways to cut tension. Having a portable speaker on hand to play music can be a good way to set the tone of the shoot.
      • Frustration of not getting the shot that’s wanted can happen. Being hard on yourself just creates tension because if not communicated properly the cosplayer will think it’s their fault your frustrated.

Ending Thoughts

It would be easy to solely talk about equipment and technique as an introduction. But in my experience with cosplay photography is that the real fun is the sense of community the scene provides. It’s a fun little ecosystem of cosplayers and photographers alike doing collaborative art; documenting fine crafting, pushing creative boundaries and while having a ton of fun nerding out to fandoms that have impacted their lives for the better. This is what keeps me going to produce quality content.

There are definitely creeps and jerks out there of any gender that shake up the scene and cause a negative impact. Real horror stories of alienation, not receiving pictures from a paid shoot, body shaming fellow cosplayers, to the real serious cases of stalking.  These are truly disgusting acts and have no place in the community.

In my humble opinion the best prevention for this is education, and if this guide has helped in preventing any of these horror stories from happening then I would be overjoyed.