Like a lot of Photographers, cosplayers are a dream come true for me. What you will find with the Cosplay community is an amazing group of people so passionate about their hobby, so dedicated and so ready to strike a pose, that for me, it’s genuinely an exciting experience to photograph them. These people have taken months, and in some cases years, to develop a jaw dropping awesome costume, and better yet, they know all the poses that the character they’ve based their costume on does. I’ve only ever had positive experiences, but then having worked with bands and models, there are certain rules I stick by.
For most people, getting over the nerves to ask if you can take their picture is a biggie. After all, if you’re a photographer, you can only be up to no good, at least that’s what some of the public seem to think. I’m always blown away by the work of cosplayers so I try to ask a bit about their costume. I then simply ask:
“Would you mind if I take a few shots? If you need to be somewhere else not a problem, come find me later”.
I say something along these lines because it gives them a “get out”, or actually, they genuinely might have a talk they want to get to, or quite simply, really really need to go to the toilet! As a note, I try not to approach people when they’re eating their lunch etc, or if I do, it’s simply “Can I catch you later for a photo?”
I try to pose them with a clear background as possible, or with some feature that lends itself to the character. Of course it’s not always possible, and there’s the strong possibility of people getting in the way. On this particular point, don’t get pissy with people walking in front, just politely ask them to move, after all, this is a convention, not your private photo studio. Most people will oblige and actually be apologetic about it.
NO touchy touchy. I remember going to a certain motorbike show at the NEC, and there was a lovely model there. I got a cracking shot of this little boy being in awe of her and I was about to head over and these two guys were there well before me so I waited. One of the guys stood next to the model, the other had the camera. Just as the picture was taken, the prat next to model put his hand on her breasts. There was quite frankly, no need. The model laughed it off, I stepped in, had a quick “word”, and off they went. When they were far enough away the model got a bit teary and thanked me. You don’t abuse people’s personal space like that. If you want them to pose a certain way, show them, if they still don’t get it, then ask if you can move their arm etc.
After you’ve taken your shots, I prefer to show them to the cosplayer just to make sure they’re good with the shots. Think about it, they’ve spent the best part of the year possibly creating this thing, they’ve then practised in front of a mirror to make sure their poses are spot on. What they don’t want is a photo that makes them look like ass. In fact let’s be honest, NOBODY likes photos that make them look like ass.
Then, before you move on, get an email address or social media channel address from them. When I first started out, I didn’t always manage to do this, and I really could kick myself for that because I would have really liked to have sent some of those earlier images to the cosplayer themselves.
And finally, a note on copyright. As a photographer, you own the copyright on the images that you’ve taken. Generally speaking I don’t mind people using my images too much so long as I get a link, my watermark isn’t removed and so on.
It’s all pretty much good common sense and not being a douche about things! Most importantly though, have fun!