PDA

View Full Version : Tips and Tricks for shooting at a convention


Elemental
02-12-2010, 02:55 AM
As a lot of photogs here have learned (or already knew), shooting at a convention is one of the toughest things to do. The lighting is bad, the location is crowded, and usually the space is pretty ugly. Here’s a list of things I’ve found that make it easier to get better photos at a con. Please add in your own tips and tricks as well!

1: Get to know the hotel/con centre and scout out locations beforehand.
I love arriving at cons on Thursday when possible, but even early Friday can be a huge help figuring out the layout of the con and where most of the traffic is likely to be. This is the time I find any neat nooks and crannies, staircases, green spaces and everywhere that isn’t a hallway to take photos in. The earlier I can have a mental list of places to go, the sooner I can start shooting in them. (And as the con gets more crowded, I want to take photos of the cosplayers, not look around at the architecture.)

2: Anywhere people aren’t is a potential location.
I usually don’t want random con-goers in my photos if I’m doing a specific shoot, which means moving out of the main halls. If I’m using portrait lenses I usually need space to step back from my model too, so positioning them up against a wall and shooting close isn’t always an option (or a good photo).
I love shooting in parking garages (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1895481/),
emergency staircases (http://elemental-photography.net/gallery/albums/youma09/Axel/Elemental-7156.jpg) (if the door doesn’t say ‘alarm will sound’ you’re good to go),
staff access corridors (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1926546/),
bathrooms (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1951513/),
indoor pools (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2387086/),
outdoor pools (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1951514/),
giant piles of dirt at the outdoor construction site outside the con (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1545414/),
silly tiny green areas (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1624322/),
storage rooms (http://elemental-photography.net/gallery/albums/Kawakon09/Kawa%20and%20Sushi/Dick%20Magnum/elemental2009-2819.jpg),
banquet halls (http://elemental-photography.net/gallery/albums/Ohayocon09/Slayers/Elemental2009--9514.jpg),
hotel restaurant (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2390637/) and bars (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2093320/).
These shots come from cons that range in attendance from 1000 to 25000 people, so it doesn’t matter how crowded the con is – you can find dead space.

3: When all else fails, go for a blank wall.
Sometimes (often) at a con, I’ll be shooting a costume that really just doesn’t fit the location. A blank backdrop can showcase the costume, without being too incongruous. ‘Blank’ backdrops don’t have to be a plain white walls either – hotel paintings (http://elemental-photography.net/gallery/albums/Ohayo2010/FFIX/Elemental2010-1516.jpg), floors (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2423749/), metallic walls (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2436149/), grass (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2379346/), strange sculptures (http://elemental-photography.net/gallery/albums/otakuthon/Hall/Elemental-3166.jpg) and when the con has ‘installation’ things they’re useful too (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2113725/).
I also adore concrete (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1956326/) and textured walls. (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1856387/) A lot (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2118808/). One of my convention staples are simple concrete-backed portraits. (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1620289/)

4: Look up, look down.
Some of my best photos have come from looking at the floor I was walking on (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2441135/), or the ceiling (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2436164/) above us (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2114449/). The trick is to make sure I watch the angle the cosplayers are at, to prevent things looking awkward.

5: Learn your flash, Learn your camera.
When you have an additional (swivel-head) flash, practice bouncing it of walls and ceilings to get more flattering light on your cosplayers (and using a diffuser helps). If you’re using on-camera flash, learn how to adjust your flash, or compensate for lack of light. Know how to adjust your ISO, your Aperture and your Focus if possible, so you can use your camera best in any situation/location.

6: Carry a flashlight or a bright cellphone.
Often places not quite a part of the con are too dark for my camera to focus in. I often put a cellphone next to my model’s face (or use a flashlight) and then lock the focus to that while they hide the phone. It works wonders (and lets me get shots (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2396687/) in areas otherwise way too dark to be usable. (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2030977/))

7: Blotting sheets save Photoshop hours.
Seriously. A small pack of these (http://beauty.about.com/od/makeuptrickstips/qt/blottingsheets.htm) are always in my camera case, and anytime I start to notice shine I ask if the cosplayer has powder to touch up their makeup. If not, I’ll hand them a few of these sheets. They remove a lot of shine without messing up makeup and help save me the time in PS fixing the problem.

8: BE NICE
I can’t stress enough how important it is to be super, obnoxiously polite (but firm) at a convention. I’ve been allowed to continue shooting in more spaces, been shown how to get to places that are off limits, and have even had security block off a hallway so I could finish a shoot simply because I’ve presented myself as willing to compromise and being unwilling to cause any harm. When shooting in a space that people need to walk through I always keep an eye out for traffic (or have spotters to warn me when people want to walk through). Now that I use a ‘professional looking’ camera, I find people are more likely to wait for me to finish before passing though. This can be a problem if I plan to use a walkway for the next 20 minutes. I take the shot if it’s set up – but then thank the people waiting and assure them they can go on through. When they apologize, I assure them I’m in their way, not the other way around, and when they’re clear I go back to shooting. (This means any con staff who are considering kicking me out because I’m causing problems can overhear that I’m not, and often leave me be.)

If security starts hanging around, I snag a few photos but then go talk to them – I ask if it’s all right that I snag some photos here, and promise not to cause any trouble/mess/issue. I make sure I’m not shy about it, just firm and friendly. Often I get security who’re extras hired for the con who aren’t sure of the rules and like to default to ‘no’. If they hesitate, I stress I’m just taking a few photos and won’t be any trouble at all. Pair that with a smile and nod and 9 times out of 10 I find I’ve been allowed to continue what I’m doing without being kicked out of spaces I should not have been in. That said, if security comes yelling or screaming, or are already in a foul mood for us sneaking where we shouldn’t be – I just take it in stride and leave. I always have backup places to shoot in (re #2).

(There was the time at ACEN security thought they had a suicide jumper because we were doing shots on a ledge. (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2162820/).. or the time a hotel security guard told us how to get around the pool lock so we could shoot at the pool area (http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1951505/)we didn't have access to otherwise. You'll always get both sorts.)

Hope this helps give you some ideas for shooting at cons – and I hope the other photogs will add their input too.

Tenchi Fan
02-12-2010, 03:04 AM
:bigtu:

Hexlord
02-12-2010, 03:59 AM
I love your tips! Mainly because you took the trouble to compile all the information into one easy to understand post. ^^

ivondudley
02-12-2010, 04:48 AM
You've linked to some of your pictures there, they're really good

Sorge
02-12-2010, 12:16 PM
Thanks for the tips!

TykeJack
02-12-2010, 12:40 PM
I think you've covered everything very well. I will add that it is also worthwhile to be patient for a cosplayer to get the shots you want. If I find someone I want to shoot at a con and they are currently posing for the bazillion photographers near the area, I'll stand next to the photographers and wait until they are all finished. Afterward, I'll ask if the cosplayer will be willing to take a few pictures with me and ask if they don't mind moving to another location. I have easily waited over 20 minutes but it is worth it to get the photos you want.

Usually I just take them to an area within 30 feet or so because I don't feel like I want to impose on them. My question to you, Elemental, is if you meet someone at a con do you arrange an appointment to shoot at a hotel or do you convince them to follow you back there? I'm just not certain how people will respond if I ask them to walk half a mile, especially since I'm just one out of hundreds of photographers.

Also, be sure to bring extra batteries and an extra memory card.

Elemental
02-12-2010, 01:29 PM
...I'll ask if the cosplayer will be willing to take a few pictures with me and ask if they don't mind moving to another location. I have easily waited over 20 minutes but it is worth it to get the photos you want.

Usually I just take them to an area within 30 feet or so because I don't feel like I want to impose on them. My question to you, Elemental, is if you meet someone at a con do you arrange an appointment to shoot at a hotel or do you convince them to follow you back there? I'm just not certain how people will respond if I ask them to walk half a mile, especially since I'm just one out of hundreds of photographers.


What I usually do is approach and ask if they'll do photos with me, and then ask if they won't mind moving over 'here' (a small distance away to a blank space). We do a few shots, and I show them the photos. If they seem interested in the photos, I'll introduce myself and ask if they'd be interested in maybe moving to a nicer location. Having a photo of the space in mind on my camera is always helpful too.
The trick is to be reasonable - I always work in the hotel the con is attached to or inside, and only suggest outdoor locations if it's on the hotel/convention property (when it's a cosplayer I don't know). So, "Lets go to the hotel lobby and shoot by the piano, your friends can come too' is usually better received than "Let's hit this creepy alley two blocks away, your friends can wait here".

If they don't have time right now, I often give them my cell # (not the other way around) and say that they can text me when they are free and we can schedule a shoot then. This is a lot less 'creepy' than asking for their number off the bat too.

Since I often attend cons and see the same cosplayers, I can do a 'safe' piano shoot the first time we work together, but maybe next time I see them they know who I am (and have seen the published photos) and are more willing to go further for cooler photos.

(It helps that I have such a big body of work on coscom these days and do my best to get my name out on dA and other venues - because word of mouth means I can sometimes just tell someone who I am, and they already know they can trust me because I've shot their friends. I'll admit being a girl helps too.)

mrgetalife
02-12-2010, 03:08 PM
6: Carry a flashlight or a bright cellphone.

7: Blotting sheets save Photoshop hours.


I carry a flashlight usually myself but more to look for things I drop. But I think all DSLR's have a AF-Assist light built in the body these days and I rarely shoot in a range where that doesn't reach.

And Blotting sheets. Had to be a girl that brings it up :toothy: J/K I have a pack in the bag after i kept seeing a coworker constantly using them and found out what they were used for.

Ginny
02-12-2010, 03:18 PM
What I usually do is approach and ask if they'll do photos with me, and then ask if they won't mind moving over 'here' (a small distance away to a blank space). We do a few shots, and I show them the photos. If they seem interested in the photos, I'll introduce myself and ask if they'd be interested in maybe moving to a nicer location. Having a photo of the space in mind on my camera is always helpful too.
The trick is to be reasonable - I always work in the hotel the con is attached to or inside, and only suggest outdoor locations if it's on the hotel/convention property (when it's a cosplayer I don't know). So, "Lets go to the hotel lobby and shoot by the piano, your friends can come too' is usually better received than "Let's hit this creepy alley two blocks away, your friends can wait here".

If they don't have time right now, I often give them my cell # (not the other way around) and say that they can text me when they are free and we can schedule a shoot then. This is a lot less 'creepy' than asking for their number off the bat too.

Since I often attend cons and see the same cosplayers, I can do a 'safe' piano shoot the first time we work together, but maybe next time I see them they know who I am (and have seen the published photos) and are more willing to go further for cooler photos.

(It helps that I have such a big body of work on coscom these days and do my best to get my name out on dA and other venues - because word of mouth means I can sometimes just tell someone who I am, and they already know they can trust me because I've shot their friends. I'll admit being a girl helps too.)

This is also where the being polite is essential. One photographer last AX asked my friend and I if he could take some photos. We said sure and he asked if we'd follow him to a good spot. We agreed. We trailed across the entire main part of the convention, up two stories, trailing my fiance and friend with us. But the photographer kept spotting people he knew and making us stop and wait while he talked to random people. It became pretty rude. Then when we finally got to where we were shooting, he kept answering his cell phone. Double rude.

If you ask someone for photos, let them be your priority until you are done. Find a place, take your shots, done. Don't assume other people have time to waste because you do.

TykeJack
02-12-2010, 04:35 PM
Elemental, I never thought about asking a cosplayer to do more photos at another time. That's great advice and probably the first time I ever pulled anything useful from these threads, WHICH IS AWESOME.

I agree Ginny. I don't cosplay, but I would have told him that he clearly has better things to do and then walk away. Cons have a superfluous number of photographers so when I get a chance to take a photo I really want, I make it my priority.

andyRak
02-12-2010, 04:54 PM
Wow very well written. Really appreciate your afford in putting together this article of tips! I'm sure it's gonna be very helpful for cosplay photographers and cosplayers everywhere :) :)

ByeByeBeautiful
02-12-2010, 08:20 PM
Happy to have a handy bullet-point outlay of your convention talks, Elemental!

Not really ground-shaking tips to follow, but they're useful (mostly to do with care and feeding of subjects. ^_^) -
* Know where the closest water supply is
* Carry granola bars
* Don't bother cosplayers when they are eating. If it's a good costume, you can wait ten minutes.


8: BE NICE
a-MEN!

Sometimes u get a group of people where a few really stand out to you. and the others don't. And you don't want to be rude or anything.

I remeber last year at the az it was like that for me. I just asked the one girl if i could get her pic. She was polite and said yes. So i got a few of her. THanked her and walked off. Her friend was cosplaying as well but i just didn't like the over all look of her outfit. So i didn't take her photo. But she got snappy with me and said "excuse me" so instead of being rude. I just politely took a pic of her and said. Of i must of missed you I'm sorry. How do u guys keep fron that?

Memory is cheap and abundant. If I'm photographing someone who's got friends, I snag a picture of them too. Doesn't hurt, and keeps everybody happy! Who knows - it may be the only time they've been asked for a picture all day!

tfcreate
02-12-2010, 10:11 PM
Happy to have a handy bullet-point outlay of your convention talks, Elemental!


Memory is cheap and abundant. If I'm photographing someone who's got friends, I snag a picture of them too. Doesn't hurt, and keeps everybody happy! Who knows - it may be the only time they've been asked for a picture all day!

There is almost always something good in these photos that you didn't expect.
Every time you get the chance to snap a photo, TAKE IT.

Often you will be pleasantly surprised.
TFC

peiqinglong
02-14-2010, 02:21 AM
A lot of great and useful tips! Excellent work!

Av4rice
02-14-2010, 01:13 PM
1) Don't forget to eat--you'll need the fuel.
2) Eat when everyone else is eating. You're going to be missing part of your floor time no matter what, so you might as well make it the time when the crowd is thinnest anyway.

brucer007
02-14-2010, 04:57 PM
Setting up Impromtu Photo Shoots
I know it can be awkward to set up spontanious photo shoots with people we just met. I have found it very beneficial to bring a portfolio with samples of past cosplay photography that I have done. This has been from past events, and even some shots from previous days of the same event. It shows them the level of quality I can do and the directions my photos tend to go in. I have found cosplayers to take me more seriously and be more willing to work harder with me to achieve better results.

Lighting
I can often find decent lighting at most venues. Sometimes, I have to look a bit harder for it, by looking around, and observing where light looks best on people.http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1920770/

I do a lot of bouncing my flash off walls, ceilings, nearby pillars, or a hand-held reflector (Flex-Fill type, foldable reflectors are most conveniant).
Even more versatile, I use an off camera flash on a light stand, combined with a radio tranmitter and reciever system. Then I can place soft light from many possible angles. Some venues might hassle you for using this system ( San Diego Convention Center was not too kind). Just do you best to keep your equipment out of people's way. It is wise to put a tennis ball, or similar at the bottom stem of the umbrella, so nobody walks into it eye first. Just cut a slit in the ball and put it on the protruding end. I also bring a few battery powered slave flashes to add rim lighting on the cosplayer, or create more depth on the structures behind them.

Here is an example of using my umbrella strobe, combined with a slave flash to add a little rim light to the cosplayers, held by a friend of their's. http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2133670/

There are some cool, battery powered LED lights that can add some illumination to an otherwise dark environment. I use, and have seen other use lights made by Sima. They have 36 LEDS, which throw a good amount of light in small area.

Unwanted Crowds
Part of avoiding cosplayers walking behind the person you are photographing is timing. Just look beyond your frame and take the photo when people are not there. If people are just standing there, I sometimes, very politely ask they wouldn't mind moving for a moment.

Mostly, I get close to the floor with my camera, and go for a low angle. Getting further back and using a telephoto lens will help limit how many people are seen. I often like this composition, if the ceilng or upper walls are nice looking. I find that low angles look best when the cosplayer is looking above or past the lens, rather than down at it. This avoids multiple chins and bags under the eyes.http://www.cosplay.com/photo/2130486/

Even with my lower angles, sometimes I could not avoid framing all of the people in the background, so I end up cloning it in photoshop to erase them.

Yui
07-29-2010, 09:15 PM
Yo, Elemental, this thread has been moved to the new Photo Tutorial section. Thank you for taking the time to write up this guide. :heart:

Blasteh
07-30-2010, 07:10 PM
Great thread, very good tips in here!

Speener
08-03-2010, 09:09 PM
Wow, I am definitely going to use this at my next con. I'm more of a cosplayer than a photographer, but either way I will take pictures.

Yume Nezumi
08-05-2010, 06:06 AM
So, couple of random questions. I know most cosplay/con photographers go to cons JUST to take photos, but how do you balance that with other things? I like cosplaying myself, and I usually go to at least the main events of most cons if not a couple panels. But I still don't want to come away from the con with nothing but snapshots.

Also, how do you keep up with names/internet handles/characters/anime/video game names? Do you write them all down, and if so, how do you know which one goes to whom? I'm assuming you don't only take photos of the characters you know?

I've been trying to get better at my photography, and though I'm not at a level to have separate equipment/setups and such (I don't even have an SLR), and I'm not yet comfortable asking people to leave the convention center with me, I have a feeling a lot of these tips will come in handy for me at the next con I go to.

Gingersweet
08-26-2010, 01:19 AM
Just wanted to put a huge thank you out there, for all the tips that have been left in this thread.

I'm just getting started with cosplay photography, and really hope that I can go somewhere with it. The tips were so helpful! <3

tfcreate
08-26-2010, 03:53 AM
So, couple of random questions. I know most cosplay/con photographers go to cons JUST to take photos, but how do you balance that with other things? I like cosplaying myself, and I usually go to at least the main events of most cons if not a couple panels. But I still don't want to come away from the con with nothing but snapshots.

Also, how do you keep up with names/internet handles/characters/anime/video game names? Do you write them all down, and if so, how do you know which one goes to whom? I'm assuming you don't only take photos of the characters you know?

I've been trying to get better at my photography, and though I'm not at a level to have separate equipment/setups and such (I don't even have an SLR), and I'm not yet comfortable asking people to leave the convention center with me, I have a feeling a lot of these tips will come in handy for me at the next con I go to.

Personally, I try to schedule my shooting around the events I want to attend. I like the industry forums and one or two of the "how to" forums, (I couldn't care less about getting autographs and stuff like that.) If there is too much of a pain in the rear to get into, I pass on the fashion/talent and even the cosplay competition. (I'm not a big fan of watching skits.)

As to knowing who is what? It's impossible to know all of the characters; there are thousands. This is why I seldom respond to the "did you take my picture," threads. A lot of the cosplayers have taken to asking where they can find their pictures while at the con, but if they ask did I take a picture of the *insert character here*, I don't know... no one can know. Most of us take hundreds, even thousands of photos at a con.

The only cosplayers and characters or series that I track are from the photo sessions that I do. I carry a note pad to keep track of direct inquiries. I'm really bad with names and faces and since I don't seek out individual cosplayers or cosplays, notes are an important tool.
TFC

StrawberrySiren
08-27-2010, 02:11 AM
As to knowing who is what? It's impossible to know all of the characters; there are thousands. This is why I seldom respond to the "did you take my picture," threads. A lot of the cosplayers have taken to asking where they can find their pictures while at the con, but if they ask did I take a picture of the *insert character here*, I don't know... no one can know. Most of us take hundreds, even thousands of photos at a con.

The only cosplayers and characters or series that I track are from the photo sessions that I do. I carry a note pad to keep track of direct inquiries. I'm really bad with names and faces and since I don't seek out individual cosplayers or cosplays, notes are an important tool.
TFC

As a cosplayer, and not a photographer, I understand that you don't know every single character out there. But maybe for those who are too forgetful to ask at the con (i.e. people like me), you can post your gallery or website where we can find the pictures on those "Did you take my picture" threads. It really helps if we don't have any pictures ourselves. I know several people got pictures of me at Otakon and other than the ones at the photoshoot I went to, I've come up with nothing.

I could care less if you remember my name, haha. I'd just like nice pictures.

tfcreate
08-28-2010, 04:05 AM
As a cosplayer, and not a photographer, I understand that you don't know every single character out there. But maybe for those who are too forgetful to ask at the con (i.e. people like me), you can post your gallery or website where we can find the pictures on those "Did you take my picture" threads. It really helps if we don't have any pictures ourselves. I know several people got pictures of me at Otakon and other than the ones at the photoshoot I went to, I've come up with nothing.

I could care less if you remember my name, haha. I'd just like nice pictures.

Most of us do post links to our galleries, (often in their signatures) so finding pictures is fairly easy. Part of the problems arise when the cosplayers simply don't want to even bother to go to the sites to see if their pictures are there. :lost:

mrgetalife
08-30-2010, 03:07 PM
But maybe for those who are too forgetful to ask at the con (i.e. people like me), you can post your gallery or website where we can find the pictures on those "Did you take my picture" threads. It really helps if we don't have any pictures ourselves. I know several people got pictures of me at Otakon and other than the ones at the photoshoot I went to, I've come up with nothing.

While people do post galleries up. I can see the frustration at finding your own photos. Photographers that concentrate on hall shots can have a few hundred different people you have to sift through that aren't you. Especially with a con like Otakon or any of the other larger ones where there are 20-30 active photographers. Without knowing the photographer it gets difficult to find the ones that did take your photo. With smaller cons though the photographer pool shrinks to your local market and sometimes you get to recognize your area's photographers.

What does help though is before any con take a reference photo of whatever costume you're wearing. It doesn't matter if its good or not. Put that on your profile and when you start asking you point to your photo and someone might recognize you.

Which brings up the Tip most of us do already. Have a business/contact cards made up to give out. Make sure its on some kind of cardstock and not plain paper. I know people who gave out plain paper and cosplayer friends lost them. They ended up bugging me to find out who the person was.

And another little tip that can help. Get to know your fellow area photographers or at least who they are. I sometimes try and help out when I see they are having some problems during a shoot. Like holding a reflector for a few shots. Not everyone has a crew. I've even lent out memory cards out I have yet to get back.. but I know the guy so its ok!

kalasnacks
11-15-2010, 06:29 PM
Love it! thanks! <3

glitter bomb
11-15-2010, 07:10 PM
great tips, thanks so much for taking the time to share them. :)

ByeByeBeautiful
11-16-2010, 05:28 PM
So, couple of random questions. I know most cosplay/con photographers go to cons JUST to take photos, but how do you balance that with other things? I like cosplaying myself, and I usually go to at least the main events of most cons if not a couple panels. But I still don't want to come away from the con with nothing but snapshots.

It's possible to shoot good photos AND cosplay, but requires preparation. Pick an outfit you can move easily in. Keep your hands and eyes free, have a way to carry the camera, and wear good shoes. Try not to carry props, they just give you too much to worry about. And, to quote the fabulous Edna Mode, "No capes." You will trip. Trust me.

Phew! Small wonder most of us just give up and go for the civilian wear at cons. :D

tfcreate
11-16-2010, 06:31 PM
One thing I have begun to notice among photographers who cosplay is the use of holsters/cases that blend in with their cosplays.

http://www.amazon.com/Caselogic-SLRC-201-Zoom-Holster-Black/dp/B001TZUS98/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1289950134&sr=8-4

is one that I saw recently on a Jedi.

Attorney_at_LOL
12-02-2010, 06:38 PM
Amazing tips!

MermaidRizu
12-31-2010, 05:29 PM
I'm not a photographer, but I wanted to share an instance where I thought a photographer at a con really knew what he was doing:

I was sitting in front of a window at Anime Boston around sunset, so the light was different than usual, and a photographer came up to me and said "Oh, wow...the way the light is hitting you right now is perfect, could I have a picture please?"

I said sure, and stood up to pose for him, and he proceeded to tell me exactly how to pose so that the light would hit me in the best way possible. (No, he wasn't trying to get a panty shot, I was in a big poofy dress anyway XD) He really knew what he was doing, and the picture looked beautiful when he showed it to me! ^^ Which is a rare thing, I'm not very photogenic. XD Looking back, I wish I had asked him to send it to me, it was a really nice picture...

Anyway, it made me happy that this guy really cared about making me look the best that I possibly could, instead of just snapping a picture and leaving like everyone else had that day. Even though I'm not a photographer myself, my tip would be to research how to do what you are doing to the best of your ability. Make sure you research lighting, what poses flatter most people, and whatever you need to make sure that your subject looks the best that he or she possibly can. Most of the time, they will be happy that you took the time to make them look good, and will thank you for it. ^^

tfcreate
01-12-2011, 11:54 PM
I'm not a photographer, but I wanted to share an instance where I thought a photographer at a con really knew what he was doing:

I was sitting in front of a window at Anime Boston around sunset, so the light was different than usual, and a photographer came up to me and said "Oh, wow...the way the light is hitting you right now is perfect, could I have a picture please?"

I said sure, and stood up to pose for him, and he proceeded to tell me exactly how to pose so that the light would hit me in the best way possible. (No, he wasn't trying to get a panty shot, I was in a big poofy dress anyway XD) He really knew what he was doing, and the picture looked beautiful when he showed it to me! ^^ Which is a rare thing, I'm not very photogenic. XD Looking back, I wish I had asked him to send it to me, it was a really nice picture...

Anyway, it made me happy that this guy really cared about making me look the best that I possibly could, instead of just snapping a picture and leaving like everyone else had that day. Even though I'm not a photographer myself, my tip would be to research how to do what you are doing to the best of your ability. Make sure you research lighting, what poses flatter most people, and whatever you need to make sure that your subject looks the best that he or she possibly can. Most of the time, they will be happy that you took the time to make them look good, and will thank you for it. ^^


There are some poses that simply beg to be taken. Often we aren't open to them because we are "looking too hard" for them. Some of the best shots are made not because we look for them, but because they just "happen."

http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2010/202/f/4/Chibitalia_by_MinakoMikiKM.jpg

cabusi
03-15-2011, 07:06 PM
nicely written. I like the "Be Nice" part.

and if all else fails; bring a low light lens and bokeh the background to hell >:D

fallenone121
03-31-2011, 02:05 PM
1) Don't forget to eat--you'll need the fuel.
2) Eat when everyone else is eating. You're going to be missing part of your floor time no matter what, so you might as well make it the time when the crowd is thinnest anyway.

I wish I had thought of that when I went to Fanime 09. I ate prior to the convention the night before and then didnt eat again until day two when I felt sluggish and starving. And the best I did - Pocky!

Day three I joined a group of people who went to Arbys and was so nervous about it being my first con that I didnt eat more than the fries and a few bites of the sandwich.

I didnt eat real food again until the day after con.

Food is important!

levelsixtyseven
04-05-2011, 09:15 PM
I wish I had thought of that when I went to Fanime 09. I ate prior to the convention the night before and then didnt eat again until day two when I felt sluggish and starving. And the best I did - Pocky!

Day three I joined a group of people who went to Arbys and was so nervous about it being my first con that I didnt eat more than the fries and a few bites of the sandwich.

I didnt eat real food again until the day after con.

Food is important!
I remember forgetting to eat. Horrible mistake. I ran on 3 energy drinks a day I was shooting some cosplayers.

Note to self: Eat food and bring energy drinks!

Energy drinks I find save me in situations. They get me alert and I'm able to work with clients a lot better. (because I'm awake!)

RickyFromVegas
04-28-2011, 11:24 PM
Don't be intimidated by professional photographers.

At big conventions such as AX, there are plethora of Professional Photographers.
They bring many expensive tools and equipments to achieve the best picture possible.
Most of us aren't like that. We just have our cameras and hoping to get a shot where it isn't blurry.

To amateur photographers such as myself, we often find ourselves intimidated and avoid taking time to stop and take good photos. Especially if the Cosplayer is popular, you find yourself only taking a shot or two before other "professional photographers" occupy model's time with their expensive lenses and blah blah.
Don't be shy and ask the Cosplayer if you can take some of their time and take a photo.

Order business cards with your name, phone number and e-mail address on it prior to the convention.

Hand them out to your models after the shoot. Talk to them about their characters, time spent on the costume and such.

Be memorable.

Oh, if you are using flash, avoid aiming directly at the model
Not only it can ruin your photo, it'll mess with the model's eyes, making it unpleasant to be photographed.
Get a bounce flash, and bounce light off the ceiling, walls, and even people.

Scorpion89
04-30-2011, 11:47 AM
Business cards are one of the items I also make sure i order a new box before Otakon one thing I can stress folks been shooting for close to 35 Years of shooting is to make sure you give the model a way for them to contact you so they can see the shot.

One other item I would like to pass along for all concern and this happen last year at Otakon is to have some sort of a back up plan if the photoshot goes wrong IE Fire Alarm which basically killed all of the afternoon photo session at Otakon last year. Also another item from Otakon last year if you decide to do photo's down near the Waterfalls please don't get into the pools the Police don't like that and it's posted also last year I saw a few folks get ticket because they didn't follow the rules.

doukana
07-08-2011, 03:08 PM
Blotting papers - brilliant. Nothing is harder for me to remove in post than that nose shine.

letfightinglove
07-20-2011, 06:06 AM
Thank you for the useful tips! I plan on using them at next years con.

Blotting papers - brilliant. Nothing is harder for me to remove in post than that nose shine.
Oh boy, the dreaded nose shine. Don't get me started... D:

Ashurachan
07-20-2011, 07:44 AM
At big conventions such as AX, there are plethora of Professional Photographers.
They bring many expensive tools and equipments to achieve the best picture possible.
Most of us aren't like that. We just have our cameras and hoping to get a shot where it isn't blurry.

Don't mistake "person with a lot of equipment" and "professionnal photographer". Someone who has good photography equipment does not necessarily earn money with it.
Actually, most cosplay photographers with a big DSLR, flashes and the like, are amateurs who are passionnate enough to buy this expensive equipment for their hobby.

Eriol
07-20-2011, 10:50 AM
Don't mistake "person with a lot of equipment" and "professionnal photographer". Someone who has good photography equipment does not necessarily earn money with it. Actually, most cosplay photographers with a big DSLR, flashes and the like, are amateurs who are passionate enough to buy this expensive equipment for their hobby.

+9000

With DSLR cameras becoming more affordable and more people jumping on the Strobist (tm) bandwagon, there are going to be a lot of hobbyists with good equipment running around at conventions.

brucer007
07-20-2011, 02:10 PM
Be selective about your angles. If you want your photo to be more catching to the eye, think about what you want and don't want in your photo. Choose a more telephoto lens to concentrate on one, two, or three cosplayers. This will help you crop out distracting background elements, like other cosplayers in the background. Get down, low if the ceilings are interesting, but usually avoid your subjects to look down at you (This can create double chins and bags under the eyes). Let them look off camera, or over your lens. That can make a pose look more heroic, or have a dominant, evil effect.

indienate
09-05-2011, 07:47 PM
I'm probably in the minority with this but when it comes to photoshoots I don't use any sort of flash based equipment. I just find it more interesting to hunt down spots with interesting lighting or scenery than stand around configuring lights trying to get that one perfect shot. It forces you to be creative and work with what you got. Keep in mind this is just me.

401flightcranks
10-18-2011, 08:46 AM
Lots of usefult itps here.

suiseiusagi
12-30-2011, 01:33 AM
Oooh those are wonderful tips! Even for someone like me, who really just cosplays. :D

I've always felt much better about getting my picture taken if the photographer-
1) Has a pose/ location in mind
2) Gives me their card
3) Offers to show me the picture they just took
4) Tells me if something in the pose I did isn't working and can be improved

Maybe it's just me, but these things always made me view the photographer as friendly and interactive (instead of a stop-shoot-run kind of thing lol), with a real interest in getting a good picture with me.

radish-growing
01-06-2012, 05:51 PM
All of these tips in an easy to read format are so incredibly helpful! :sunny:

I have been most worried about photographing at a con venue, and finding a good location for photo shoots. This helps a lot! ;)

aMURica
01-07-2012, 03:20 AM
This whole thread has been an incredible help already! I'm always struggling to get nice shots in the dim hallways at conventions.

Zerelixon
01-20-2012, 03:10 AM
I love this thread :D There are so many great tips and tricks here! Usually I'm just the kind to bring a small pocket camera and take a picture of costumes I find impressive, but since I cosplay myself and is a bit to shy to make too much out of it, I just ask if I can have a picture, shoot one, and leave it at that.
But over the last year I have become much more interested in photographing and I practice a lot, so perhaps I will follow some of these tips and try to make more out of the con photos for Desucon this year. I will be wearing a dreadfully comfy cosplay then anyway (tracksuit and trainers :D), so it will be easy to move around at least.

MrParadox
02-02-2012, 11:14 PM
Thanks for the tips. I was debating for a while and finally decided to take serious photoshoots at conventions this year.

For me, I use flash but I often try to take it both flash and nonflash. I will admit that it works sometimes but flash photography is not something you should rely on, often lighting is better than using flash as it sometimes distorts the background, especially at a big place. I also agree that being nice does make a big difference. You don't want to act rude when you ask someone for your picture and even if they agree to do it, sometimes the emotion would kill the picture in the end.

To fellow photographers, how long does it take for you to adjust to the right angle before taking the picture? One thing I'm afraid of is wasting too much time on getting the right pose for the cosplayer as well as the background before they get upset.

Sammyzilla
02-03-2012, 03:57 PM
Excellent tips! :) Thank you!

Yume Nezumi
02-04-2012, 12:56 PM
MrParadox: in answer to the time question - My girlfriend and I have different styles when doing con photography, especially in the hallways. I take mostly simple pictures, aiming at capturing the person's cosplay in a decent setting. I usually get a full-body and a bust or waist-up shot. My girlfriend, on the other hand, will take time to find just the right dynamic angle to get a real artistic shot out of it. She'll also occasionally ask the person to pose a certain way, especially if they're unsure how to pose themselves. Sometimes people seem a bit awkward with this, but mostly people seem happy with the outcome either way.

Now, I have a question myself. The two of us are working on becoming better known for our con photography, notably by doing things like holding a panel where people can come and get their pictures taken in a neutral setting (aka an empty panel room). We're both using digital point-and-shoots, and we don't really have the money for any fancy lighting equipment. But I hate the look of photos with on-board flash. If I were to just get a spot-light-style lamp and aim it at the photo area, would that work as a good make-shift lighting in a decently-lit room?

Ashurachan
02-06-2012, 08:33 AM
Problem is, different light sources don't mix well.
So adding your own light to a somewhat well lit place is actually worse than just having your own light, because color temperature generally won't be the same. Typically, fluorescent lights and daylight don't mix well ; since flashes mimic daylight, if you want to use them under fluorescent lights you have two choices :
- either use flashes at high power in order to overpower existing fluorescent lights
- or gel flashes in order to match fluorescent lights in color temperature.

Before buying lights however, I would buy a real camera (as in, a DSLR).

To fellow photographers, how long does it take for you to adjust to the right angle before taking the picture? One thing I'm afraid of is wasting too much time on getting the right pose for the cosplayer as well as the background before they get upset.

Cosplayers will only lose patience if you stop communicating. If a pose is comfortable enough, if you keep speaking while shooting, make them change expression or correct their pose, they'll be okay. Most cosplayers I've met are very patient in order to get good pictures of their costume.

NaughtsApproach
03-26-2012, 07:50 PM
I've got a question about getting into the cosplay photography area...
I do not have a DSLR...would love one..but as a cliche starving art collage student, money is tight, and i will not be able to afford one for a long time. I do have a pocket camera that takes very good pictures though.

So i am wondering...how do i get people to take me seriously as a photographer, when i have this little camera, but i am surrounded by photographers with professional DSLRs. How do i get people to opt for me taking their pictures in a small photo shoot over Mr. awesome camera next to me?

Ashurachan
03-27-2012, 04:15 AM
I think the best approach at first is just to ask cosplayers for pictures during cons and get to know them... If you don't have fancy equipment, networking is the best way to get people to shoot with you, and if they like what they see when you give them the photos, they'll gladly pose for you next time.
I do have a DSLR, but compared to the guys next to me, it can look very modest (I often only have my camera body with a small prime on it, when others have a big zoom, lightstands and the like). However, cosplayers know and trust me to take good pictures of them, so I get plenty people to shoot with me :)

NaughtsApproach
03-27-2012, 12:52 PM
That is good to know. Thank you. I suppose i will have to start taking pictures of my sis in her cosplays to get some material to show people.

Foques
03-27-2012, 03:22 PM
Here is what I am curious about..

in the sample images, I see the OC lighting.. What kind of OC mounting solutions is OP using?
Obviously, I dragging alien bees to a con is not an option, so i'd be sticking with SB's.. but.. what about mounting? I guess i'm just lazy and not wanting to drag the flash stands with me.. :D