A friend of mine recently got interested in shooting cosplay and at conventions and asked me for advice. :O I’m not sure why, since I really don’t know what I’m doing, lol. But since it took a bit of time to write this up for her and I don’t have any new albums going up this week, I figured I’d clean it up a bit and then mix it into a recap of 2013’s photoshoots! 😀
I initially took her to mean posing for photos herself, but she’s also a photographer, so there’s a mix of info here. ^^;
It’s natural to be a bit nervous when taking photos, but I think the most important thing is to just have fun!
I’d imagine that you must at least like the character to have spent the time and energy to make a cosplay, so you probably know the character pretty well.
I’d suggest that you practice a few of the character’s signature poses and expressions. Also, practice in the mirror and see what angles seem most flattering for you so you have an idea of how to position yourself for the camera.
You might also want to have a few ideas if you decide to do a private shoot with someone. Like, if you have any favorite fan art or something of your character, keep it on your phone (if you have a smartphone) or print it out. Sometimes the photographer might not know the character and will ask you how the character acts or what backgrounds/settings might be appropriate and you can show them.
I used to go to Cosplay Gatherings a lot when I first started going to cons and didn’t know anyone. It’s a great way to meet other people who love the same shows/franchises that you do. You can get tips on cosplay sweatshopping as well as poses and whatnot.
Gatherings are usually set up months in advance on the con’s forums or at Cosplay.com, so if you don’t see one for your series posted there you can always schedule one yourself. Many cons post information on Cosplay Gatherings at their info desks nowadays so always check to see if a Gathering has been moved or canceled!
If you have non-cosplaying friends going to con, you should already have what my cosplayer friends call a “bag bitch” — someone to carry your stuff for you when someone wants to take a picture or do a shoot. It’s really helpful to have one of those so you can be unencumbered and not have to worry about people walking off with your stuff while you pose.
For hallway shots, try not to block aisles or stairs. I’m guilty of this myself, but it’s really kind of rude, lol. When one person asks for a photo, a million others will also stop and snap while you’re posing, and a bottleneck will quickly form. So, suggest to the person asking that you go around the corner or find a less trafficky place.
I like to show the cosplayer the photo afterwards. It’s a small thing and most shooters don’t do it since it’s usually a one-off thing and, like I said, crowds usually gather whenever a cosplayer stops walking. But cosplayers do appreciate it; it serves as feedback in a way and it gives them a chance to ask you to retake it if they don’t like it.
You are never obligated to pose for photos so you should feel free to politely but firmly decline if you’re not feeling up to it. Sometimes people will ask you at the most inopportune times, like when you need to go potty or if you’re on the phone, lol. If they’re courteous, they’ll offer to wait or come back and you can choose how to respond. If they’re not courteous, they may nag you or try to take a picture anyway, and you should either walk away or have your bag bitch run interference.
If a photog wants to go somewhere off the con floor for a private photoshoot, you should always feel free to ask if you can bring your bag bitch along. If the photog says no, I would question their motives. You should never go off alone with some stranger, even if it’s “just over there”.
You should never do anything you’re uncomfortable doing. One, it’s just common sense, and two, it makes for lousy pictures (unless you’re cosplaying as Mikuru from Haruhi Suzumiya, lol). Being comfortable and having fun are my mantras! Even if my pictures aren’t the best, I hope that at least the fun we had shooting them reaches the viewer.
If the photog wants you to pose provocatively or wants to do upskirts/downshirts or other things that are uncomfortable for you, tell them so. If they continue to push for those kinds of shots, end the shoot and walk away. You can also report them to con staff so they can keep an eye on them or eject them as necessary.
Communication is always key! Feel free to ask questions. If a photog wants you to pose a certain way and you don’t understand what they’re getting at, then have them show you. They should never touch you without asking permission first. A courteous/”pro” shooter will generally show you the pose they want by doing it themselves, or they’ll ask if they can position your arm, fix your hair/wig, etc. before they touch you.
Don’t be afraid to ask to look at the photos as they shoot. You don’t have to ask after each shot, but it might help to see if you are both on the same page as to what you want the photos to look like. You might notice things that they don’t, or they might think something looks good but you find unflattering. If they won’t show you, then something is definitely up (eg, you don’t want to find out later that they’ve just been zoomed in on your crotch the entire time — this has actually happened to folks I know).
You should never have to pay for a shoot at con (unless it’s one of those dedicated, con-run photobooths, and even then it’s usually just for the print; the digital copy should be free for download).
Have some business cards made up if you have time/money for them; otherwise, be sure to get a card from the shooter so you can find your photos later. I resisted making a Facebook Page for the longest time, but it really is better in the long run to have one; you can use links to your Twitter, MFC, YouTube Channel, etc. in the meantime if you don’t have one yet.
Most photogs are amateurs who have other responsibilities, so feel free to ask when you might get the photos, but try not to hound too much. I know you’ll be excited and want to see how they came out, but post-processing takes time and your new friend might have literally thousands of photos to go through after con.
A couple of months is typical for me, but I know legit, non-creeper shooters (some of them are my photog-senpais) who have taken a full year to do theirs. xD; Of course, theirs are usually worth the wait, lol.
Cosplay.com is probably the best site for cosplay info. You can find pretty much anything there — tips on making costumes and props, where to buy materials and commissions, connect with other cosplayers and photographers, set up photoshoots and Gatherings, etc. Make an account there and just start posting to the forums!
On the photog side, things are pretty much the same — just be patient, and be respectful and courteous to others.
There are still times when I feel overwhelmed at con and kind of fold inward, but if you remember that everyone there is a geek and just wants to have fun, it helps, lol.
It’s really intimidating talking to all these beautiful and talented people who are surrounded by their friends and other folks, but the camera is really an ice-breaker. It gives you the excuse to approach people, and they’re usually happy to pose, especially if they’re from a lesser-known series. Then you can geek out about the character they’re cosplaying, ask them how long it took to make the costume, that sort of thing.
Anyway, hope you found at least some of this useful! Ultimately, just be comfortable and have fun. It’s a hobby; if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong! Be sure to check out the posts linked above for my photoshoots from 2013, and see full albums on my Facebook Page! I also just launched my new archive Facebook Page, where I’ll be posting all my photos from when I first started on my grand adventures. Be sure to Like that Page as well! 😀