It’s a tough decision I’ve had to make each and every Comic Con and looking back over the few years and I realise, I’m still trying to work out which I prefer. I’ve tried both methods in the past and I have to say they each have their pros and cons (like everything I do!).
Meaning I get to wonder around the entire convention at my leisure without commitment for three days.
Now, I say “no commitment” but there’s always a large group I’ll pin down to a time as it makes life easier when there’s ten or so people to organise. But other than that I’ll generally put a message up on either Facebook or Instagram along the lines of “I’m at con! Come at find me!” that’s as much organisation I’ve done for the entire weekend and honestly it’s quiet freeing.
On one hand I’m able to come and go as I please and don’t have to worry about the time. I can pop inside into the convention at any point or back to the hotel whenever etc; and I also feel it’s a lot nicer for people that I’m hanging around with (my partner being the main victim of my usual, scheduled, style). It’s a lot less stressful, plus if I see an amazing cosplay I just have to shoot I can just go! I don’t have to wait until I have a free moment to find them, I just go and it’s great!
However, on the other hand, people have their own schedules at Con and may not be thinking “oh I have to shoot with this photographer!” or “I need to find them!” (It’s a shame, but it’s true). It’s more of a “If I happen to see them then great, if not then…oh well maybe next time.” and it’s this waiting for cosplayers to emerge that makes you wonder if your photographs are actually any good? Or if you’re that easily replaced by another photographer? It can bring a lot of self doubt about your own work that I don’t appreciate (thanks brain!).
I have specific time slots for each cosplayer for each day of con, which has been organised ahead of time.
Welcome to the land of “helpful stress”. I say that because I find scheduling both chaotic yet horrendously useful. I know where I am, who I’m meeting, what they’re cospIaying, and I even know when I can take a break! This, by the way, also can help in post-production of knowing who’s who and saving time in having to find them online afterwards!
On an average Saturday of MCM Comic Con, for example, I can have 20 half-hour slots available for cosplayers, including groups, therefore there is an average estimate of at least 25 different people I’ll shoot that day, and anyone else is just a bonus! As both a blessing and curse this also does mean that my workload post Con grows bigger and bigger with each slot, each person, each shutter… I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing or not.
Scheduling cosplayers can also mean you get to work with a lot of new faces as well as familiar ones, it’s a great way to network and get to know more people in the community both as “clients” and as friends. Plus you find people who want to work with you because of your work, not because you just happen to have a camera around your neck (it’s true) and that’s always amazing to have cosplayers excited to work with you! It gives the 30 minutes you have together flow so much easier! Not to mention, if you know ahead of time what they’re cosplaying you can think about using different locations! (NOT THE GREY WALL!)
And the Verdict
So, free roam photography versus scheduling photoshoots at conventions, both have their ups and downs and in my opinion depends on the photographers shooting style to which they would prefer. As for me? Whilst I like the idea of the freedom to go wherever, whenever and shooting anyone who’s cosplay takes my fancy and giving my friends and partner a break from the chaos that is SHILLphotography’s schedule, I need that schedule. I prefer to know who, what, where and when and try and meet as many lovely people as possible and create some great photographs in the process! Even if it means I’m snapping about 2,000 RAW photos a day…
Written by Siobhan Hill of SHILLphotography.
Links to all the cosplayers involved