View Full Version : Managing Cosplay and Photography. A Balancing Act?

06-17-2005, 02:38 AM
In the world of cosplay, there seems to be two types: the photographers and the cosplayers. You seldom see many cosplaying photographers. Iím not talking about the cosplayer who takes a couple of snap shots of cosplayers at a con or the photographer who maybe wears a Naruto headband- Iím talking about someone who is serious about photography but is also serious about cosplay. Most people seem to be exclusively one or the other.

At conventions, Iím stuck with this constant dilemma: to be a photographer or to be a cosplayer, since itís really hard to do both at once. My camera equipment is not light- my SLR probably weighs a couple of pounds with the lens and flash on, and then I like to bring my camera bag around with me so I can change lenses or batteries as needed. However, carrying camera equipment around while wearing a costume is really, really annoying. Not only does it not ďcoordinateĒ with my outfit, but I canít easily carry props. Plus, if anyone asks for my picture, I usually end up passing my camera equipment off to one of my friends to hold, which gets rather annoying.

When I do one or the other exclusively, Iím not happy. I walked around for a couple of hours at Fanime without my camera, and I felt really empty-handed, and Iíd pass by cosplayers who I wish I could get pictures from. And then when I tried just going around with just my camera- I felt invisible, and really left out.

I suppose I could carry around my point and shoot, since itís much smaller, but my SLR is my baby, and I LOVE the way pictures turn out most of the time. My point and shoot only takes so-so pictures in comparison.

Anyone else face this dilemma? How do you manage it?

06-17-2005, 03:51 AM
I actually have that problem as well. It's not so bad during the convention. My camera, though big isn't as big as a full DSLR but takes decent enough photos.

For me it's what happens after the convention. I tend to go over each photo before posting it, fixing coloring whatnot. But if I have a costume to make then I don't have time to post the photos.

I swear, I still have a billion photos from various cons I haven't posted because I'm busy working on costumes.

So I guess my problem isn't at the con. It's the aftermath.

For me though, at the con, I have my camera bag that I carry with me everywhere. Where someone asks me for a photo, I put the camera and the bag out the of the way (still keeping an eye on it though) and pose for the picture. I don't think I'm ever without a camera or not in costume at a con. :)

06-17-2005, 10:01 AM
2 words: Pack mule (or alternatively, boyfriend)
Its a quandry. Maybe you could set aside a few hours and just hang out on a busy corner with your camera stuff? That way, you aren't burdened walking around with heavy equipment, and you can pull people out of the crowd for shots. If its visible enough, people will also see you and take photos.
Wish I had more suggestions.

06-17-2005, 11:36 AM
It can work...I've done it in other contexts! Study-tours in Japan and a geology class in France and Switzerland were as much photograhic trips as whatever the origonal intentions were. Hiking around volcanos in France all day with three cameras (Olympus IS-2 ZLR, Olympus OM-10, and a Lubitel 120 TLR) and all their STUFF can't be that far removed from stalking around a Mariott or Major City Convention Center for eight hours! If I can do it, so can you!

....but is it fun?

Maybe. Depends on if that's what you're going for. It was what *I* was going for, so I was willing to make the sacrifices and be loaded down with stuff. On the other hand, I probably would have done better in the class if I had been paying more attention to my field problems as field problems rather than photographic opportunities. :p The same can probably be said for cons. Photography is going to get in the way of cosplay, and vice-versa. Need to strike some sort of balance - which incidentally is what you're asking for in the first place - so without ado, on with the solution!

I don't know(1). You're right: going into photographer-mode for a while then cosplayer-mode wouldn't be fun. You could carry a smaller digital camera all the time, but WHY? Other than that:

* Deal. You made your choice!

* Settle on a minimum of kit. Pick one good all-around lens (probably fast rather than zoomy) for your favorite body, with a flash, maybe a temperature-correcting filter if you're into that, and a comfortable strap and just stick with that, with a reasonable supply of film and batteries. It shouldn't be that big a deal to carry, and while you'll still hand it off to somebody when you get your picture taken, at least it's not your entire bag, while at the same time being able to handle most of the situations you'll encounter. For some reason, I was never smart enough to do this.

* Work it into your costume. Your character must have had SOME kind of bag or stuff-carrying-device at some point. Make one!

* Go back in time and convince the creators of your series that your character owned whatever photographic gear you want to carry. These will be worked into an episode and thus become a reasonable part of the costume for any detail-oriented cosplayer. Should time travel be impossible for whatever reason, work really fast and get to the writers of a series in current production in time for your next con.


(1) Build them up then knock them down! That's the way to do it! Being anticlimactic rules!

06-17-2005, 02:58 PM
The solution might be to cosplay Saiga from Speed Grapher.

Rogue Marvel
06-17-2005, 03:33 PM
i would treat your photography as a costume....scedual a time will you will just walk around in street clothes and be a photographer and times to change back into costume. When you are in costume carry your smaller camera around so you don't miss a photo op. Then you can have the best of both worlds.

06-17-2005, 04:20 PM
I've been wanting to cosplay as a Shinsengumi but not if I have to sacrifice taking photos. Having someone to hold my gear will be pretty difficult. I don't have a gf *cough cough hint hint wink wink* :P and I normally wander around Fanime alone. Then it hit me. When someone asks me for a photo, I'll hide my camera and gear underneath my big skirt, or whatever you call those things. No peeking! :D

06-17-2005, 05:32 PM
I try to do both, but have problems doing so in some costumes (cough*Inu-Papa*cough). A lot of times I don't carry props, as they would get in the way of my photography. I feel a bit guilty sometimes if I am in a costume where I cann't take a lot of pictures, as I keep seeing people I want to get pictures off. Also, I am always way behind getting pictures online - as I am working on other costumes or doing convention or regular work.
I usually carry my extra batteries and memory sticks in my kitty bag, that is why it appears so much in pictures of me since only about 1/3 of the time am I with a group = most the time I am flying solo so have to be able to carry my camera stuff.

06-17-2005, 10:59 PM
At cons, I cosplay of course and take a lot of pictures, but I'm not as concerned with the "final results" of an image. Sometimes they're good, and sometimes there are little problems with the picture (my camera isn't so hot indoors).

But I love doing photoshoots. I just did one with Libera Mea for her Alexiel costume? God, I could spend all day taking pictures and experimenting with angles.

I think I'm better at photography overall, but I like to cosplay to dress-up.

Shiro MS08th
06-18-2005, 02:18 AM
I think it will be hard to balance both.

When you want to be a photographer and also cosplay, you will first be worried that whether your camera and equipments will be damaged anot walking around and taking pics with other cosplayers and people.

Then when you're in cosplay mode, it's hard to take photos too, when taking photos need to concentrate, good composition/frame, correct settings and all those.
I'm using A or Aperture mode most of the time, and sometimes M or Manual mode on my Nikon D70.

Furthermore it will be a heavy luggage, cosplay stuff and photography stuff, and you are not even sure your stuff will be safe anot, the fear of losing stuff at events are quite high too I think.

From the point of a photographer, and a 1 day stint cosplayer.

06-18-2005, 05:01 AM
Uhm, well I cosplay and take photos.

My equipment isn't that big I own a Minolta dynax and another lens for it and an unreliable Vivitar digicam *mumbles*. So I mostly take my Minolta to cons although it's a bit heavier and needs its own bag. Since my friends and I do our photoshoots at cons mostly I want to have a good camera with me. My digicam takes good pictures, too. It also is more lightweight, but being able to take about 15 - 20 pictures only before the camera states, the batteries aren't sufficient anymore is annoying.

At Conneko for example I was cosplaying as Kikyo and was carrying my camera bag, another bag with some food and something to drink on my right shoulder and my prop, one of her soulstealers, around my shoulders. The result was an aching right shoulder the next day but the fun, cosplaying and taking pictures was worth it. XD

If someone asks me to pose for a picture I pass my bags to one of my friends or I put them down on the floor next to the photographer where I can still see them. That works fine for me. Female cosplayers who wear a floor length dress with a hoop skirt beneath have a big advantage: They can hide their bags and equipment under their skirt. ^_^

The idea of changing clothes for a while sounds good, but is imho only possible if you wear a costume which allows quick changing.

07-13-2005, 09:20 PM
Yeah, I know the thread is a bit old but I found my solution to carrying a camera and cosplaying: I chose to carry just a 'ready to go' SLR on its camera strap over my shoulder: I picked my lens, attatched it and just carried it 'as is' the whole day. No regrets. When it was my turn to get my photo taken, I kept it over my right shoulder, and posed with my left shoulder to the camera... less visible but still in my control.

Random Thought when in "photographer mode" is a sign in the main cosplay gathering area you set up that says 'Cosplay Photographer! Please let me take your picture!" or something to that effect... Maybe you'll get a line ^^

07-13-2005, 09:40 PM
I was thinking of putting my camera on a tripod, so when someone asks for a picture, I don't have to freak out so much about putting it down, and worrying that someone will step on it. However I'm afraid the tripod will get rather cumbersome, and I'm not a big fan of tripods, since I feel like they restrict me too much.

Another problem I'll probably have to deal with in the future is that I'm considering getting a frame so I can get the flash off to the side instead of on top. Though I'm probably gonna hold off on that until I get a bit better with the flash, since I'm still having trouble with it.

I think I just need to get a non-cosplaying boyfriend who can hold the camera for me. XD

Ami Yuy
07-18-2005, 06:04 PM
This problem really hit me at AX this year. I was continually getting stopped for pictures (yay!) but then didn't pull my camera out often because of that. We did have a "pack mule" for the group (a nice guy friend who carried all of our bags o.o), but that made it hard to get my camera out...and then when I did I'd have to almost immediately hand it off to someone so a person could take a pic of me.

I still ended up taking more than last year, but still not as many as I would have expected.

Then there's also the dillemma of getting "good" pictures of your own costume. I love taking photos of my friends to get them nice costume shots, but it's hard for me to get shots that I really love of my own costumes because none of them really know how to take pictures. It's frustrating because I know what shots I want, but getting them to turn out the way I'd like is almost impossible when setting the camera in someone else's hands and trying to pose at the same time...

But yeah. If I'm in costume I find it hard to take pictures of other cosplayers and if I'm out of costume then I feel left out and ignored...This year at AX I compromised and just didn't take all of the pictures I would have liked. And at Comic Con I barely took any because my Eowyn costume is horribly not camera friendly.

The Lord XL
07-18-2005, 10:41 PM
Well, this is how I balance things out.

On fridays, to a convention, I cosplay something that can be "ghetto" pulled off. That way I can go between photographer to cosplayer in a flash (not really that great of a pun, but it was not intended) if I have my backpack with me.

On saturday I cosplay in the morning, the night, dance, and some popular pannels related to my cosplay. Thus leaving the afternoon open, which is when most people cosplay. Allowing me to take as many pictures of the different cosplayers as possible, on the day that they are all out in bloom.

Then on Sunday, I go to a cosplay all day. Not many people are in costume, because they are getting ready to leave. Allowing the cosplayer to become more noticed.

07-19-2005, 12:27 AM
So far I've only really been cosplaying, and not doing much photography since the construction of my costumes always seems to limit me from carrying a bag over my shoulder. Also I haven't had a good enough camera yet, and my current digital camera hates anywhere but the bright unhappy outdoors. I would really like to get into the photography part (mostly since I hate having my picture taken), but I'm waiting for my adorable Canon EOS Digital Rebel thingy that I can't afford yet.

The problem with scheduling different times to be cosplayer or photographer is that usually when you want to wear your costume (usually saturday of a con), so does everyone else. When you feel more like taking pictures and dressing lazily (sundays, for me), that's usually when everyone else is either wearing their lazy clothes or less impressive costumes.

The only solutions I've been thinking about (which have already been mentioned) are either:

A: Making the costume work around the photography. As in constructing the costume so that wearing a camera bag with it isn't a hassle, or making costumes that have some good place to hide camera stuff (inside armor?).

B: Tripod with some kind of bag attached for lenses/film and stuff? A bit of a pain to carry, but it stands up by itself and can carry your stuff, and is a little easier to set up for photos of your own stuff, and that eliminates the whole "digital camera photo taken in front of mirror" thing...... >_>

Okay, I really haven't thought about idea-B too much, but I also don't have a good camera yet. I'll have to see if I come up with a nice solution AFTER getting a nice (but heavier) camera.

08-04-2005, 10:50 AM
I know that if you are going to shoot with the larger cameras that you need to cosplay accordingly. If you are transporting around a battery for your flash and a large camera, odds are that your costume is going to hender you in some way. If you are going to pose for pictures it's to hard to hide and time consuming to get off of you. Not to mention, if you have seen me taking a picture you'd understand that I need mobility *LOL.

With that all said... Cosplaying Photographers do exist. EBK, ZiggyB, and myself all shoot pictures and cosplay.

I can't speak for the other two, but for myself I plan ahead as to which gatherings I am going to appear in and will wear the costume for only a short period of time. While at the gathering, most of my photog friends will snap a shot or two for me and we just work with it. As for performing... well that's where my assistants come in. They shoot the pics for me (as long as the disk isn't full and the batteries don't die *LOL this happened at Fanime 05).

I am a photographer, costumer, and cosplayer. In the end it is a hard thing to balance all three at the same time, but that's what's so fun about it. I love all three and I just can't get enough. I just try doing all three at the large conventions, most of the time I alternate at the small ones.

08-04-2005, 10:15 PM

08-05-2005, 01:23 AM
very very interesting hmmm

08-05-2005, 03:31 AM
Yah, so things have changed for me since my first post in this thread. I now do have a DSLR, but thankfully it's not as big as, say Admin's camera rig. :) Everything still fits in my camera bag.

But I am trying something now, at the next con I'm going to, I'm only taking pictures and even have a few private photo shoots set up.

It's been a long time since I've gone to a con and not cosplayed, so this should be interesting. And hopefully me and the cosplayers I'm photographing will come out with some awesome pictures. :)

08-06-2005, 02:56 AM
I started cosplaying a long time ago, but I did few costumes, and eventually I retired.
Then I started filming masquerades, and then cosplay photography, without cosplaying. After I got involved in a community website (which is now closed) I started to cosplay again, and now I cosplay AND take pictures. My camera was a small one at the time, but now I have a DSLR, which is a little heavier ^^;
My thing is to choose costumes with which I can move around easily and keep the minimal pack with me (camera + comfortable zoom lens, I haven't bought an external flash yet). When I'm tired, or can't move easily with my costume, I give the camera to my husband and he takes pictures in my place :P

08-17-2005, 06:27 AM
If you think taking pictures as a regular cosplayer, try doing it as a TRANSFORMER, which I do. But, I find I really don't have too much difficulty. The only real problem I have is that I can't wear gloves with my costume, because I can't feel the focusing ring.

Anyway, I have a Pentax SLR, 35mm. I usually take one lense, and keep my telescopic lense in my room, for the masquerade. I sometimes take my monopod or tripod with me. I also carry a canvas bag I got from LAConIII, which I carry my binders filled with artwork and other crap. I used to carry it around by hand until I got a travel carrier.

I usually go around in my Wizard of Speed and Time costume, so a camera is not out of character (Being a movie wizard...) But with my Metalhawk and Optimus Prime costume (And now Star Saber) it can be a bit tricky. But what is more tricky is focusing.

Over a year ago, I had gotten something called Bell's Palsey (WHich freezes the expressive muscles in your face.) Usually it only effects half your face at once. I was one of those rare cases which it effected both sides at once. So now I can't fully close my eyes, and for some reason I can't fully focus though my eyepeice.

I have taken to wearing a fanny pack with all my costumes (Since they're mostly robes, and my TF costumes have no pockets.) I store everything in it I immediately need. My wallet, my checkbook, my keys (Car and hotel) cash, and film. I can put nearly 6 rolls of 24 frame 35mm film in there. And I always keep a change of batteries in there. But, I have made it habbit of changing batteries for my flash every day. (I should get rechargable.) And I keep a second change in my pack, because I sometime forget to turn off the flash.

I also keep some extra rolls of film in my sack just incase.

I got a rolling travellers trolly which I strap my bag onto, and can quickly set it aside if anyone asks me to pose for them (Which rarely happens, even in my mecha costumes.) I am going to see about making amount to attach my tripod and monopod for quice use.

Also, there is something called an extended cable release I have gotten in the past (My last one broke because it got mangled in my bag.) It's a sueeze bulb on a 60ft, 1/8 in tube, and an attachment which goes on the shutter button. Squeeze the bulb and it presses the button and you have a picture yourself.

WHile my brother is saying "Everyone is going digital", film is still my medium. Mainly because I love the darkroom experience. The Durst enlargers, the chemicals and making the "happy mistakes".

But make no mistake, I still would like to go digital, but not that much.

I am probably saying too much without saying anything. But I hope that something out of this can help you a bit.

08-17-2005, 06:36 AM

08-17-2005, 05:33 PM
2 words: Pack mule (or alternatively, boyfriend)

As evil as this sounds, it's always been my mthod. Heh.

08-17-2005, 08:50 PM
i cosplay and take piccies cause im the one with the godly digital camera of doom!:3
~Ryu chan~

08-18-2005, 10:49 PM
its hard to do both like i do, but i do the best i can

08-19-2005, 01:06 PM
The solution might be to cosplay Saiga from Speed Grapher.

Sorry, but i just read this and broke up. That isn't a bad a idea, really, it's just undoable for me. XD.

08-24-2005, 03:01 PM
Lisa, I know exactly what you're talking about. I'm basically the photographer for my cosplay group with Jubei-chan. I do all of the photoshoots I'm not in, I'm the one who tries to get all the cosplayers and costumes we like, etc ... It is extremely hard balancing the duties of the photographer and a cosplayer. I remember being around you for a little bit at AX.

I especially freak out when I have other people hold my camera, and it's very hard being a cosplayer and when others take pictures of you in with your camera, they never come out the way you want them to! I don't have a heavy or large camera like yours since mine is only an Olympus C-60, 6.1 megapixel. It's always best to have somebody you trust around with you when your cosplaying and taking photographs, friends help out a whole bunch!

And it's sad to walk around in a cosplay with no camera or have a camera and not cosplay. I also feel empty and left out. It's best to just keep doing what you're doing. Especially since both your photography work and cosplays are amazing! ^_^

CardCaptor Will
08-24-2005, 09:56 PM
it's funny that you make this topic.

I've been under the belief that you can only be one or the other. I myself tried to take pictures, but between all the other stuff I want to do at conventions (and the fact that the majority of the time I am staffing) I really don't have time. I also don't like the thought of spending all of my free time repeatedly asking people for pictures. Call me self concious. I'm quite sure that if I was disciplined enough to do it, I could, but I usually get enough pictures to call it a collection. Any kind of cosplay gallery that is 100+ plus is a feat to pull off.

Plus, also think of it this way. There is no way that a single person can get every single cosplay that walks around a convention. Most people drive themselves nuts thinking that they have to cover a significant portion, but again, that requires a focus of being photographer only and prepared to do so. If you have any other focus, it will take away from that goal. Most people browisng galleries are happy just to see pictures of different things, and I don't feel bad that I have 30 pictures compared to someone elses gallery. I'm just one of many observers.

Lastly, what i also keep in mind is that the only reason you need large professional cameras are if A) you want wider shots B)you plan on submitting photos to print, etc. I have had many different cameras, and find that taking shots with a point and shoot camera for single photos and the occasional group works wonders. This alos helps because posting the full resolution shots on the web is expensive for bandwith and such. So while you keep your shots for archiving purposes, the people on the web will be happy with the shots in whatever size.

I also agree with Ziggy, trying to write reports and fixing pictures before they go up is also a huge pain. I usually post my pics raw online first then go back and restructure everything. The report comes later, i usually have to write footnotes somewhere @ the con in order to write an accurate report later after I don't remember what happened. I always wonder how journalists turn this stuff around soo quick.

08-24-2005, 10:36 PM
Actually I just saw this booted to the top of the photography heap and thought I'd offer my two cents... So far from what I've seen (if Otakon was any indication) that sometimes yes, cosplaying and photography is very much a balancing act. I actually felt at ease going around Friday taking photos since I wasn't able to change into costume for various reasons then. Come Saturday though, I was constantly barraged for photos, of course right when I wanted to take some of other cosplayers ^^. Although I'm very thankful if the photographer is patient enough for me to put the camera away and strike a pose, being in cosplay does make it much more difficult to take photos of others.

08-30-2005, 08:42 PM
I feel I know all these issues so well - wanting to cosplay and be a photographer, and be photographed, and have really great photos of yourself is quite difficult - not to mention your under a lot of pressure not to screw it up, since once the con is over, it's gone.

I love to cosplay - it is my absolute passion and obsession, and I refuse to give up any time in which I am able to do so. Passing things off to friends and pack-mules is a good idea in theory, but having done it for three cons I realize it is not without it's own annoyances. And I do not want to have things interfering with my costume - I never wear my badge around my neck and I don't care how many times I am asked to show it and put it in a more obvious place.

Which brought me to the Canon Elph. Takes great pictures for a point and shoot and small enough to carry around while cosplaying. Of course there is very little depth of field and compared to and SLR, sucks - but I'm not the kind of person who will ask a cosplayer to pose and position themselves the way I would want to take a really great picture - so it almost doesn't matter. I post the pictures on-line and they are happy to see themselves.

Getting good photos of my own costumes is also hard. I've tried to set up the shots, telling my friends, you stand here, point camera here, use these settings - but it's not the same.

08-31-2005, 03:13 AM
for me, i go in and just start pressing shutters like mad...
(well i zoom and focus too, while trying to do a little composition stuff)
and get out my laptops when one of my CF cards run out...

afterwards i review the photos manytimes
and sometimes u can get some good spontaneous shots which then can be derived with some meanings :)

heres my gallery for the finest of the finest of my photos (refined and polished, with detialed descriptions that i can think of)

08-31-2005, 03:15 AM
The solution might be to cosplay Saiga from Speed Grapher.
lol i guess not, you'd be blowing up people then
week later 'CIA's top wanted terrorist' wouldnt be bin laden then XD

09-24-2005, 09:39 AM
I intend to modify my DR DOOM costume to accomodate my D50
Sound crazy ain't it?
But it a challenge