Over the years, I have learnt a lot of tips through mistaken actions, watching others, advice from fellow photographers and cosplayers. So, you have permission to take the cosplayer’s photos, you’ve picked your location and set the scene. Here are my tips when working with a cosplayer in most situations at either Comic Con or Location shoot.
1. Do your research
If you know what you are shooting, it really helps to do a bit research, of the characters poses or what the character is like. This will will help tell a “story” in the photo, and help you decide where you should be doing your photoshoots, if you’re doing a location shoot. Even if you don’t initially do the research, most of us have a internet enabled phone where we can do a quick google image search. The cosplayer should also have a basic idea of what expectation they would want from the photo.
Cosplayer, always have at least two or three poses you can get into very quickly when a photographer asks for your photo. Also, vary what poses you give to each photographer, try and not pose the same pose each time or your photos will look very generic and you’ll find it hard to post photos onto your social media wall if they all look the same.
2. Clear instructions
With your research or planned poses, what you want to do is to give clear instructions to your cosplayer about how to pose. One way I do it, is to do the pose myself so they can see what I want to achieve.
3. Don’t keep your cosplayer in any awkward position
Relating to the previous point. If you are going to act the pose to demonstrate the pose and it feels awkward to hold, relay that to your cosplayer. If you are going to need to setup the shot, don’t hold the cosplayer in that position. Any awkward position which may compromise the person, will need to be discussed first and agreed before proceeding.
4. Careful where you grab
We have all been there, when the cosplayer may not be in the position you want them to be in or the prop is not at the right angle. Even if you have agreed to shoot with your cosplayer, I would be cautious how and where you place your hands on the person. Everyone is different and may react differently from person to person. When I am about to reposition a person, I always disclaim with “I’m about to touch you, is that ok?”, I know this is an extreme measure but the control is up to the person to allow this or not. This advice also applies to props and armour as you don’t know how delicate the build is.
5. Keeping an eye out.
When you have taken the photo, do review the photo with the cosplayer. There may be something that goes out of place that as a photographer wouldn’t notice but the cosplayer might. Also look around the background of your cosplayer, you don’t want “poles”, trees or such things, sticking out of the cosplayers head or other body parts.
6. Bring a friend
When ever going to a shoot at either comic con or location shoot/studio, there is no harm to bring a friend. They can be there for support, keeping an eye out for stray items, help with posing, keep an eye out for passersby, look after bags/equipment. If you are shooting with the cosplayer for the first time, both parties should have the option to bring someone along.
7. Permission to be there
If you are on public property, you may still be asked to move from the area so if asked, either talk to security and see if you can strike up a compromise to stay or politely leave. Using an abandoned areas, you’ll need permission from the owner to be there, otherwise you’re trespassing. You’ll also need to make sure the area you are using is safe such as loose nails, floorboards, electricity, etc. If you are staging a fight scene, big weapons, etc, alert the surrounding area and if needs be inform the authority.
8. Using the Environment
When deciding your location, use as many angles as possible, try and not static yourself to one spot. You’ll be amazed how many different looks you can get from one area be moving around, shooting from above/below, shooting through gates and shrubs, shoot around walls, etc.
Don’t be afraid to use the natural sunlight in your photos to light your cosplayer for a more natural lighting. You don’t have to bring expensive lights, softbox to a shoot, where the sunlight is free of charge.
9. Take Breaks
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it, take as many breaks as you need. Bring drinks and food to keep energy levels up but also, all that posing and holding can get tiring. Taking breaks can help decide on the next shot you want to make and making sure you are not rushing too much, getting the most out of a shoot time.
10. When it’s all done
Once you have finished your shoot, at a comic con, don’t forget to tell the cosplayer, who you are, where they can find your work and more importantly where they can find there photos. Give an estimation when the photos will appears so they don’t send message asking when they’ll appear. If you have business card, hand them out to them, otherwise, load up you page on your phone (prove it’s your page) and allow then to either copy the details down or take a photo of it.
If you have any other points we should include, please comment or send us a message for us to include it.