If you have ever attended a Charlotte Comicon show before, you’ve seen how much fun our cosplayers have. And with all of the goings-on at our events, there are plenty of opportunities to take some great photos. Hopefully, these tips will assist both the photographers and subjects!
- If you are a professional photographer, please bring business cards to hand to the people whose photo you have taken. You can tell them where to find the pictures online, but consider that it might be hard for them to remember so many names by the end of the day. The only way you will ever get your photography business (or hobby) off the ground is if people can actually see your work. Guide them to these places! Many times, if a cosplayer likes what you’ve done with a photo, he/she may book you for a private shoot.
- Whether you are a professional or a passerby with a smart-phone, please use the following hashtag when posting your pictures to your social media account (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumbr, Imgur, Flikr, etc) #charlottecomicon That way anyone who searches that hashtag can easily view everyone’s photos.
- The following ‘rules’ are an excerpt from a Boing Boing blog post. READ THIS!! :
The Dummies’ Guide To Cosplay Photography
- Make sure your camera or phone is turned on, set the way you want it, and ready to shoot before you approach the cosplayer. Fiddle with settings during your time, not theirs.
- Approach the cosplayer if he or she doesn’t seem otherwise busy.
- Make eye contact and ask “May I take your picture?” in a friendly way. Bonus points for addressing them by their character name (signifying that you recognize the costume) and for offering a sincere compliment on something you particularly like about the costume.
- Allow the cosplayer to take a moment to make any adjustments he or she deems necessary. They’ll probably want to put down the Diet Coke, move their con badge out of sight, and pick up the prop they worked so hard on. More importantly, they’ll probably want to make sure that parts of their costume haven’t come apart, or shifted in a way that will cause embarrassment. And they’ll want to settle into a pose that they like.
- When the cosplayer is ready, give them a 3-2-1 countdown, so that they know exactly how long they’re going to need to hold that pose or expression. Click.
- Say “Got it,” so that they know the shooting is over and that they can now relax. Or just, you know, blink.
- Resume eye contact, smile, and thank the cosplayer for their time.
- It’s perfectly fine to ask the cosplayer to move to another location (close by), if it won’t cause an inconvenience. A bare, light-colored wall nearby served as a much better background for Joker and Harley than the dark crowd-filled distracting mess of the convention aisle where I first spotted them. But: consider the possible inconvenience to the cosplayer.
- In fact, asking a cosplayer to move a nearby spot away from the main flow of con traffic is often just good courtesy. It avoids creating a bottleneck in the aisle. Your photo only took five seconds, but then a crowd gathered and the resulting traffic jam caused Gil Gerard to be late for his Buck Rogers spotlight panel.
- It’s also usually fine to ask (nicely) for a specific pose, so long as you’ve already visualized it and you can give them clear and quick direction. Try to make your intentions crystal-clear (“There’s this big overhead light behind you…I’d like to line it up behind your left hand so that it looks like you’re projecting energy”) so that they can make an informed decision about whether or not they’d like to pose that way. Plus, if they know what you have in mind, they can actively help you get the shot you want.
- It’s also OK to take more than one shot. If I’m unsure about the lighting, I’ll try to get one with fill-flash and one without. But I put up a mental five-second shot clock: that’s the maximum amount of the cosplayer’s time I’d like to consume. This underscores the need to have my camera and my creative eye set before I approach. If I screw something up and I don’t get the shot, hey, too bad for me.
- As always, consider the convenience and patience of the cosplayer. They like to show off their costume and they’re generally happy to pose. To make a costume and then keep it in a closet is like writing a play and never allowing it to be staged. But never forget that they’re posing for you as an act of kindness. Don’t take up too much of their time, or otherwise treat them like they’re working for you. That’s flat-out terrible. They shouldn’t even have to stand and wait for you to unlock your phone and launch the Camera app and wait for it to boot up and then for you to turn off the Panorama settings and then…etc. Even if I know I’ve blown the shot and I need ten more seconds to fix my camera, I’ll usually just thank the cosplayer and send him or her on their way to enjoy the rest of the con. Again: the cosplayer is being kind. They don’t work for me.
This is a short version of the procedures and guidelines I’ve developed over several years of shooting comic-cons.
But none of these items are nearly as important as the one simple rule that I never, ever knowingly break:
You must never do anything that makes the cosplayer wish you hadn’t taken that photo.
There are so many ways to violate this rule:
You think someone looks silly, and you wish to humiliate them in your Instagram? Shame on you and don’t take that photo.
Their costume has accumulated some damage or stains, and the overall effect is now far less than what the creator would like the world to see? Don’t take that photo.
You didn’t notice that while you were taking Wonder Woman’s photo, some idiot was behind her, making a lewd gesture? That wasn’t your fault but still: Delete that photo and don’t post it anywhere.
And here’s one that ought to be damned obvious: if Slave Leia is unaware that part of her gown has become caught in the beltline of her costume and that she’s showing off more of her backside than she probably intended, do not take that photo! Quietly point it out, in a way that won’t embarrass her.
Do not take pervy photos under any circumstances. Many costumes are intended to be revealing, yes, and this cosplayer is a grownup who made informed choices about their wardrobe as is their right. But there’s always a way to shoot Vampirella so that the overall theme of the photo isn’t turbo-creepy…and the cosplayer should always know what kind of photos you’re taking. They have a right to that kind of control.
The biggest take-away you should have from this is to be respectful. Be mindful of your surroundings, of the safety of your photo subject, especially if you are taking photos of minors (ours is a family-friendly show and many of our best cosplayers are under the age of 18…be responsible). Use our social media hashtag when sharing photos online. Whenever possible, let your subject know who you are and/or where they can see the photos. We at Charlotte Comicon love to celebrate creativity. This is why we highlight our artists, our writers, and our cosplayers. Photography is a creative art that we don’t get to celebrate until after the show ends and you begin sharing your photos. So please….share away!
Here is a link for cosplayers and photographers to help make your private photo sessions a success: Preparing for the Photoshoot and Posing in Cosplay Photography.
See you at the show!