THE KIND OF SENSITIVE ISSUE
Welcome to a guide on the cosplay photography prices. 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? As a quick answer, most cosplay photographers offer an average price of about $20 to $200 per hour. But there is a big pot of disputes behind, and this has kind of been a sensitive issue.
You see, some cosplay photographers do it as a hobby, and they offer to shoot for FREE. Whenever someone starts to charge for cosplay photography, that person becomes a “subject of debate” – His/her skill level is not good enough to be a professional, he/she is charging too much, cosplay photography should be free, etc..
Personally, I don’t think it is all bad to move cosplay photography to a more professional level. So let us take a look into professional cosplay photography further in this guide – Should it be chargeable? How much to charge? What should we expect? Read on to find out!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How much should one charge as a photographer? How much is considered fair? In this section, I searched the Internet, gathered the pricing strategies of some cosplay photographers, and present them to you in this section. But this is kept anonymous as pricing can be kind of a sensitive issue… Also because this is not a sponsored post. 😆
A FEW PRICING BENCHMARKS
Every cosplay photographer seems to have 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, I am personally not a fan of this. What if you took an entire day to just take one photo? This is unfair to both photographers and cosplayers.
- Hire for an entire day at about $800 to $2000, in a more wedding/outdoor shoot style. This excludes transport and maybe lodging, which you will have to pay for the photographer.
- 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 session on a basis of $100. Every hour extension is charged at $40, every extra headcount (exceeding 2) is also charged at $20.
- Photos are generally all provided in the JPG file format – No RAWs will be given. Hi-res BMP files at an extra for $10 per photo.
- 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 too “differentiate” yourself from the rest.
AS A COSPLAY PHOTOGRAPHER
If you are reading this section, then I am going to assume that you have an interest in picking up cosplay photography as a profession. Sadly, I don’t seem able to find a lot of professional cosplay photographers in the world. Thankfully, this only means that you will become one of the pioneers. But before you jump in and say “let’s do it”, here are a few of my own thoughts and a few things that I think one needs to be ready as a professional.
REPUTATION AND NEGATIVE COMMENTS
As one moves up to proclaim as a professional cosplay photographer, you can be sure that many pairs of eyes will be looking and judging – It does not matter if that is a rock star or unknown cosplay photographer.
There will definitely be haters talking bad things behind the scenes, keyboard warriors banging the keyboard, and trolls spitting out funky toxic stuff. Trust me, even as a blogger, I have to deal with all of these (ignore) on a regular basis.
A part of being professional is also becoming more politically involved – No more playing keyboard warrior. No more giving lame excuses. No more flaming. We have to learn to accept haters as a part of life and move away from being a negative human being. Reputation is important as a professional after all, and it is going to directly impact the 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 a few 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 your own photobook, you have to get the 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!
TO CHARGE OR NOT TO CHARGE?
Thank you for reading, and we have come to the end of this guide. I hope that this has given you an idea of how much to price your cosplay photography. Personally, I don’t think I will ever start charging money for cosplay photography, given how the current environment works.
But if there are opportunities for good collaborations, and if it is with cosplayers that I know well – Then why not? If you have an undying passion for cosplay photography and you are confident of your own works – Go for it! There are no rules, and it is an open industry.
If you wish to share your thoughts on pricing cosplay photography, please feel free to comment below. Also if you have done it professionally, do share your experience with us! Good luck and happy shooting!