I AM COSPLAY PHOTOGRAPHER
Welcome to a guide on how to become a cosplay photographer. Yeah, it’s kind of a weird guide for me to be writing. But as I was researching for some cosplay photography stuff, Google actually suggested this search term. This means that people are actually interested in cosplay photography… It’s a good sign, that I am not alone in this. So here, let me share some thoughts, memes, and experience in this guide – Read on!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
GETTING INTO COSPLAY PHOTOGRAPHY
So how do we get started with cosplay photography? Some people may overthink too much, but it is actually as easy as going to take some cosplay photos. That’s it. There are plenty of anime and gaming conventions worldwide these days, that is the best place to get started. But if you want to dive in deeper, here’s how.
THE HEART OF COSPLAY PHOTOGRAPHY
Cosplay photography is not just about “taking photos of people in costume”. You need to understand that the root of cosplay comes from gaming, anime, and movies. In cosplay photography, it is all about bringing the stories and characters to life.
So if you don’t know the series or character, you will feel like an alien walking among cosplayers. So if you are not an avid gaming or anime fan, things are going to be difficult for you. But it is not too late to get started – No time to play the game or watch the entire series? There are always reviews and previews on YouTube. Welcome to the dark side.
The number one golden rule in cosplay photography – no body shaming or racism. Oh, this character is supposed to be white, why is she black? He is too fat to cosplay that character. The props are a joke. She is too ugly for a goddess. For the record, there are people who are:
- Wheelchair-bound but still do cosplay.
- XL sized but still do cosplay.
- Bring the traditional hijab into cosplay fashion.
- Over 60 years old and still love cosplaying.
That is exactly what makes cosplay interesting, and there is no shame in it. The mission of a good cosplay photographer is to bring out the best from cosplayers, not to shame them.
In many years of my journey, I have seen many people following the “wall of photographers” during events. I was one of those. No, it is not wrong in a sense, but after a couple of years of doing the same thing, getting the same shots as everyone else – It feels like I am one of those zombies in an apocalypse.
In cosplay photography, you are, after all, dealing with people. If you see a cosplayer that you like, be bold, and (ask nicely) for a shot. Maybe even for a short 5 minutes private shoot session. You will be surprised how different things are after you strike up a simple conversation.
DO WE NEED BIG GUNS AND ROSES?
Do we need to be a skilled photographer to be a cosplay photographer? No. Anyone who knows how to handle a camera well enough can become a casual photographer. Do we need expensive cameras and gear to be a cosplay photographer? No… But it sure is nice to have those on hand.
There are unwritten rules in conventions, and it kind of differs from country-to-country. Please do spend some time to observe how things work in various regions, and not become the number one public enemy.
- In Japan, photographers queue up to take photos of cosplayers. Cosplayers will also have their Twitter handle written on a card, so we can credit them properly.
- In Taiwan, the cosplayer will pose for a couple of minutes, then there will be a “countdown”. Once the countdown is over, people will leave and let the cosplayer rest.
- Finally, in Singapore and Malaysia, things are kind of “open”. But if you see a cosplayer engaged with a shoot in a photographer’s “mini portable studio”, you probably don’t want to cut in without asking.
In any case, just don’t sneak up cosplayers and take photos when they don’t want to. Also, respect the private space. Don’t get touchy with cosplayers, don’t even think of messing with their props… Unless you know them very well.
The most important thing – What’s the point of forcing yourself to do something you don’t like? In cosplay photography, it is about having fun together with like-minded people who love games and anime. It is about challenging yourself to bring fiction into reality… In crazy ways, if you must.
If you looking to move on as a serious cosplay photographer, you will have to work with cosplayers in private shoots. But when it comes to asking cosplayers for shoots, some photographers start to hyperventilate, pass out on the floor, and foam in their mouth. It is not easy at first, but here are a couple of tips to level up.
EVERYONE HAS TO START SOMEWHERE
Yes, I was one of those “cosplay photographer zombies” before. I started with not even a single flash and just a simple camera. What do you think? Everyone has to start from somewhere, and that somewhere is probably zero.
But moving forward is as simple as asking a cosplayer “can I take a photo” during a convention. Put in some guts, and you can then turn it into “it’s too busy here, mind if we shoot against a clean background such as a wall?”. Finally, you can start the fire and up the game into “your cosplay is very nice, mind if we exchange Facebook contact”.
HONOR YOUR TIME AND PHOTOS
Private shoots also mean that you have to release photos to the cosplayer, in one way or another. There have been way too many “dishonorable” photographers in the circle that has not released a single photo to the cosplayers after shoots and get flamed for it.
The best part of this game is that the cosplay circle remembers, and your face will be shared throughout the entire Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr, and even the dogs and cats will know. Once blacklisted, it will be hard for you to find any willing cosplayers.
COLLABORATING WITH OTHERS
Becoming serious and more professional means moving away from being a lone wolf within the cosplay circle. After all, it is all about collaborating with cosplayers and maybe working with friends – If you have friends who are already into cosplay photography, then stick with them. Working with the more experienced folks will kick-start your journey into cosplay photography.
But beware of who you work with though… The chemistry between each and every person is different. Just don’t end up in the “getting used as free helper” corner.
Now for the million-dollar question. Paid shoots. Yes, you can, if you have the skills to boot. So far, I have only seen a few “professional” cosplay photographers, and they are not making a full-time salary out of it. So yeah. Cosplay photography is still in the infant stage, and don’t depend on it too much.
RECOMMENDATIONS & EXTRAS
To do cosplay photography, you will need to have a camera, which I assume you already have. But if you intend to go deeper into cosplay photography, be prepared for a lighter wallet and have some learning to do. Here are some good recommendations for you to consider.
JOIN THE COMMUNITY
If you are into cosplay photography, then be a part of the community. Share your photos, ask for feedback, and just do some random chats. There are a few places to haunt online:
- Various cosplay groups on Facebook.
- cosplay.com – A more western community of cosplayers.
- worldcosplay.com – One of the larger International communities.
COSPLAY PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS
Need more actual tips on cosplay photography? Check out my other guide:
We have come to the end of this simple guide, but the beginning of a long journey. The important point? Pick up your camera, and start shooting. It’s really that simple. Don’t overthink too much, and cosplay photography is something meant to be enjoyed. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on becoming better.
If you have anything to add to this guide, please feel free to comments below. Good luck and happy shooting!