So how much should you charge if you are planning to become a professional cosplay photographer? Or as a cosplayer, how much should you be paying a photographer?
Personally, I think it is a good trend that cosplay photography is moving towards a professional level. But when it comes to “paid assignments”, there has always been some kind of a stigma among the community. The skill level of the photography is not good enough, cosplay photography should be free, copyright issues, etc…
So let us take a glance into professional cosplay photography further in this guide – Should it be chargeable? How much to charge? What should we expect? Read on!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|How Much To Charge?||Becoming Professional||The End|
HOW MUCH TO CHARGE?
How much should one charge as a photographer? How much is considered fair? In this section, I will share some pricing strategies of cosplay photographers all over the world… But since pricing is kind of a sensitive issue, the photographers will be kept anonymous. 😆
A FEW PRICING BENCHMARKS
Every cosplay photographer has a different pricing strategy and package. So, I am just going to compile them as a list here with an average price range.
- Charged at a basic hourly rate of about $20-$100, sometimes with a minimum of 2 hours per session.
- At the rate of $40-$100 per photo.
- Following the style of wedding and event photographers – Available for hire for about $800 to $2000 a day. There may be additional charges for lodging and transport.
- About $500 to $1000 for covering a convention for a day, giving a number of guaranteed photos.
- Charged by group size and session. For example, up to 2 cosplayers 2 hours sessions on a basis of $100. Every hour extension is charged at $40, every extra headcount (exceeding 2) is also charged at $20.
- Photos are provided in the JPG file format only, no RAW files will be given.
- Photos are generally retouched only. Adding “effects” and “Photoshop” at an additional $20-$100 per photo.
WHICH IS THE BEST PRICING STRATEGY?
Personally, I don’t think that there is a “perfect price plan”. But if I were to come up with a price plan, it has to be fair to both photographer and cosplayer. For example:
- Basic package: $100 for a 2 hours shoot session. At least 10 photos guaranteed, touched up.
- Time-based: $40 per hour extension rate.
- Head-count based: The more people, the more likely the shoot will be extended. I am not really concerned about adding extra charges for this.
- Retouching: First 10 photos are included in the package. $2 extra for retouching every photo beyond that.
- Editing: Photoshop effects and crazy stuff. At $30 per photo.
- Extras: 200% charge on rush retouching. Additional charges for shoots during public holidays. Additional transportation and lodging charges may apply.
This, of course, is my own definition of a better pricing plan. Feel free to disagree and come up with your own.
HOW MUCH SHOULD ONE CHARGE?
This is a tough and open-ended question. There are no fixed rules, but there are benchmarks you can compare against. I guess it will be fair as long as you charge reasonably, about the same as the rest of the folks. Of course, if you are some rock star photographer and have crazy ninja skills, please feel free to “differentiate” yourself from the rest.
BECOMING A COSPLAY PHOTOGRAPHER
If you are reading this, you must be interested in professional cosplay photography. Sadly, there are not a lot of professional cosplay photographers in the world. Thankfully, this means you are a pioneer. But before jumping in, here are some of my thoughts and a few things to watch out for.
ACCEPTING HATE & NEGATIVITY
As one proclaims “I am a professional cosplay photographer”, you can be sure that many pairs of eyes will be looking and judging. It does not matter if you are a rock star or an unknown cosplay photographer.
Haters will definitely talk bad, highly skilled warriors will bang on the keyboard, and trolls spit out some kind of funky toxic stuff. Trust me, I have to deal with all of these (ignore) on a regular basis, even as a small unknown content creator.
A part of being professional is also about learning how to accept all these haters, move away from being a demented troll yourself. Reputation is important for a professional after all, and it is going to directly impact your career path.
SKILLS & EQUIPMENT
The good part of photography is that we do not need expensive equipment to take good photos. But as a professional, people will expect a certain level of standard. You do not call yourself a professional when you cannot deliver and meet the expectations of your clients.
Everyone has to start somewhere, but if you still struggling with “which settings should I use”, “I cannot find a good angle”, or “I don’t know how to shoot this”… Then it is best to stay as a hobbyist and gain some experience first. Because as a professional, you are expected to deliver and you must deliver.
LEGAL ISSUES & BUSINESS TALK
I think this is one of the biggest pitfalls of professional wannabes. You don’t have to be a lawyer, but you have to know your own rights, the rights of your clients, and some legal stuff to protect yourself. In particular, you don’t just agree on a paid shoot verbally.
You have to formalize things like drafting quotations and invoices. You have to learn how to deal with clients that don’t pay. If you are planning to release photobooks, you have to get cosplayers to sign a model release form. Apart from all those, you should not use the photos/art of other people in your own publications. You need to know what is copyright, copyleft, and public domain.
EXPECTATIONS VS REALITY
With these few points, I hope I have made my concerns clear – Being professional is a whole different ballgame. But please take note that I am not discouraging anyone from becoming a professional cosplay photographer.
It is just that I have seen a few wet-behind-the-ears beginners charge for cosplay photography, get knocked around like rag dolls in a cyclone, then disappear without a trace. There are no “perfect jobs” in this world, and being a cosplay photographer is not an exception.
MARKETING & INCOME OPPORTUNITIES
Sadly, from what I heard, cosplay photography is not going to make you a full-time income. Simply because the market is not that mature yet. But there is still good money to be made here:
- Applying as an official photographer for cosplay conventions.
- Accepting paid private shoots.
- Shoot for magazines, newspapers, and websites.
- Collaborate with cosplayers to sell prints and photobooks.
If all else fails, you can still jump into the other fields, supplement your income as an event photographer and/or wedding photographer.
WHEN TO START CHARGING FOR PAID SHOOTS?
This is another tough question to answer. As much as I personally love to see the cosplay circle move forward, I guess it is more of how cosplayers and the general public accept the idea of paid cosplay shoots.
This will directly affect how much business you get, and how well you can survive. I guess that if you are comfortable with your current skill level, love cosplay photography, and have a burning passion to learn, then go for it!
Thank you for reading, and we have come to the end of this guide. I hope this has helped you to decide how to price your cosplay photography. Personally, I don’t think I will ever start charging money for cosplay photography, given how most of the cosplay community is unwilling to pay.
But if there are good opportunities, then why not? If you have an undying passion for cosplay photography and you are confident with your skills – Go for it! There are no rules on when you can start, and it is an open industry.
If you wish to share your thoughts on pricing cosplay photography, please feel free to comment below. If you have done it professionally, do share your experience with us! Good luck and happy shooting!