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View Full Version : Professional Pictures vs. Amateur


UzerLain
05-22-2006, 09:30 AM
Ok, I know a lot of cosplayers are really big on details, and not only with costumes. I had a friend trying to encourage me to get photos taken at a studio, but I just couldn't convince myself to spend the money on something that I could do myself. I guess my question is do amateur pictures take away from your cosplaying when you post them on the forum, and if so is there some way that I can get professional pictures done for cheap?

Eriol
05-22-2006, 10:20 AM
The only real difference between "amateurs" and "professionals" is how much they get paid. There are some amateurs out there that take pictures just as good as the professionals.

Also, a studio photographer may not "get" your costume and may not be able to figure out how to best compose the shot. Studio photography generally means you stand or sit against a uniform background with decent lighting in some enclosed space, but I think that kind of photo for a costume is generally "soulless." Such photos would be missing context.

I recommend that you save the money and find some local amateur photographer (maybe another cosplayer) looking to improve his or her skill. Eventually, you'll get good photos out of the deal.

staereo
05-22-2006, 12:11 PM
Ultimately, my advice is the same as Eriols. Find an aspiring photographer or amateur that is looking for this sort of shoot.

Establishing that my final advice mirror's Eriols, I would like to make it clear that my motives are a little different.

There are amazing amateurs that can outperform professionals. But realize a few different points.

First of all, a studio will almost always out perform a camera with a flashgun.

A good photographer can give a studio photograph emotion, just as they could outside of the studio.

A good photographer means neither an amateur or a pro. A pro makes a living at it, an amateur does not.

You want a good photographer. They may have a studio, and that is a great thing. Studio lights are smart.

When choosing a photographer, you need to check out their work, and figure out if you think their work is good. Remember, they usually display the work they think was good. So understand that the pictures in a portfolio represent good work from that photographer, not average work from that photographer.

You can almost certainly find a photographer somewhere interested in doiong TFP/TFCD work. This is Time For Prints / Time For C.D. That means they will do your image captures with the understanding that you will use them in your portfolio, and they may use the picture in their portfolio, but neither of you may profit from the pictures.

Amateurs arent defined as being worse than pros, and pros arent defined as being worse than amateurs. It's just a matter of whether a given photographer makes their primary income with a camera.

http://www.onemodelplace.com/ is a website that allows you to search for photographers. Or, if you see a photographer on this site that is in your area, you should PM them to see if theres something you can work out.

Bruce

Ollie
05-22-2006, 01:13 PM
Before you look for a photographer, think about what you want. If you want something with atmosphere, you'll need to find a photographer that's willing to go to whereever you want to take the photos. Do you want somebody to show of your sewing and construction skills? You'd probably want somebody with a studio to get good lighting and properly showcase closeups. Or do you want somebody who will focus more on the person than the costume? (Going off on a tangent, I often get the feeling that Japanese photographers focus more on the person than the costume, while western ones do it the other way around.) Are you looking for portraits, semi-candid shots, environmental shots?

Have a clear idea of what you want before you find a photographer. Any decent photographer will be able to work with you, but they may have different ideas about what looks good and what deserves focus than you do. This is one (of the few) differences between pro and amateur photographers; the pro, probably making a living off of it, will have more experince working with unknowledgeable subjects. But, at the same time, a fellow cosplayer or amateur fan photographer will probably know more about cosplay and such. Having a good idea of what you want and what you should expect will make things go along smoothly.

staereo
05-22-2006, 01:29 PM
Before you look for a photographer......................Having a good idea of what you want and what you should expect will make things go along smoothly.

Great advice. It's important to be able to communicate to the photographer what you want to get out of your shoot. Do you want to be flattered. Your work flattered. etc, etc... Ollie's advice is fantastic, as a photographer I'd want my client to know what they want. His post is excellent at expressing that.

Bruce

Ashurachan
05-22-2006, 03:22 PM
I think that one of the things that make good photography (be it cosplay or more general portrait) is the complicity between photographer and model. Sure, paying a professionnal gives technically good pictures, but cosplay photography has to be lively and expressive, and the most memorable pictures are not necessarily the best ones technically speaking. So my first piece of advice would be : better have an amateur friend with some skills and a decent camera than a professionnal, because you'll feel more comfortable and confident, and it will show :)

Another point : the setting. The problem with having pictures taken in a studio is that it's pretty boring after a couple of minutes. On the other hand, having an environment to interact with brings a lot of fun to a photoshoot - for both the model and the photographer. Be it a natural or more urban setting, when you wonder what to do next, you just have to turn around to find inspiration - ho, and what about going to seat on these stairs ? or go hide behind that tree ? ;you just both try things, it's fun and in the end you will get a big number of very different pictures without thinking about it much.

deleriumx
05-23-2006, 05:28 PM
all this hatred for studio backdrops.. hahha

studio backdrops are not boring if used correctly. sure, those ones you see where all the pictures are the same angle, distance, composition picture after picture and all that is happening is the cosplayer changing poses.. yeah. those are boring. But the purpose of studio backdrops is to keep from distracting the viewer from the subject. That's what Bokeh (thats the blurry background technique) is so popular. you dont want to be distracted by the scenery in some cases. Single portraits are really great with these techniques.

this is not to say i am opposed to awesome scenery and outdoor photographt. i think its great. i just think a lot of photographers are scared to get outside the realm of shooting outdoors in the woods or an abandoned building. Studio photography is difficult to pull off, which is why some people dont ever attempt it. But just as any artform, its just a different style and can be used in multiple ways.

ahem.. i went on a bit. :) i guess i will be the forum's official studio photography advocate!

staereo
05-23-2006, 06:46 PM
all this hatred for studio backdrops.. hahha

studio backdrops are not boring if used correctly. sure, those ones you see where all the pictures are the same angle, distance, composition picture after picture and all that is happening is the cosplayer changing poses.. yeah. those are boring. But the purpose of studio backdrops is to keep from distracting the viewer from the subject. That's what Bokeh (thats the blurry background technique) is so popular. you dont want to be distracted by the scenery in some cases. Single portraits are really great with these techniques.

this is not to say i am opposed to awesome scenery and outdoor photographt. i think its great. i just think a lot of photographers are scared to get outside the realm of shooting outdoors in the woods or an abandoned building. Studio photography is difficult to pull off, which is why some people dont ever attempt it. But just as any artform, its just a different style and can be used in multiple ways.

ahem.. i went on a bit. :) i guess i will be the forum's official studio photography advocate!

Hey, check my post, i advocated studio setups too >.>

Eriol
05-23-2006, 10:15 PM
It's hard to find a good, experienced photographer who has a creative eye for using a studio setup. Usually, I find those photographers with a packed schedule.

Let's put it this way. I have little faith in the studio photographers at the local mall.

staereo
05-23-2006, 10:21 PM
I have little faith in the studio photographers at the local mall.

I can agree with this. Without a doubt. :bigtu:

Ashurachan
05-24-2006, 01:25 AM
all this hatred for studio backdrops.. hahha

I don't hate them.
I just think it's harder to be creative in a studio than in a less controlled setting.

natsukoarts
05-24-2006, 03:12 AM
having lived in NYC, i have met many good amateurs and professionals. And having been a model, you know...

definitely - check their work, make sure it "fits with your vision" - check the lights and shop around for fees, if they charge more than theose around them be suspicious and then find someone else...

a good amateur who is serious, or find your nearest art school with a phtoography major -- and you can find some good artists willing to take a photo, and understand cosplay and let you "guide the shoot/set the mood" and then they will just guide the camera - amateurs are in it for exposure and portfolio, depending on the level of amateur you are working with -- professionals, as weas said before, can be in it for money...

also, depends on where you live -- you can find a lot of awesome amateurs in the major cities or in mainline europe, i have no experience in the midwest USA or smaller towns EU - so i'd defer to someone else if you live there...

DragonKeeper
05-24-2006, 03:59 AM
hey buddy, i understand EXACTLY how you feel. before you go looking for professionals, try to find one thats already in the cosplaying field, a cosplay photographer. easier said then done huh?

then may I suggest BSaphire on cosplay.com. She has a website http://www.bluesaphireproductions.com/ if you want to check out her work from a more personal view then an regulard cosplay.com account.

And I'm not suggesting this because shes a good friend of mine, her work attracted my eyes before I even knew who she was. I first met her at JTAF 2004 when i was actually first cosplaying. when i saw the pics she took of our trigun group i thought they were great. and the more pics she took of different cosplays the more i loved her work. Of course not every single shot a photographer takes is great, but 90% of her work i think trully deserves some recognition.

seek her out, talk to her, meet her at conventions, she'll be at Fanime as a press person this coming weekend.

If you get to know her and get some shots from her and are not satisfied at the first time, give it some time and let her work with you. She's good with atmosphere and really getting the shot you need. Just trust me on this one and try her out. :D

Efecss
05-25-2006, 07:58 AM
I like this. I had a kind of discussion like this in two of my four photography classes I took back in the early 90's.

Depending on how dynamic one wants to get with the "art" of the photograph, it would be ideal to get as many location/backdrops as possible. Meaning studio an outdoors.

I am a proponent of both. Sometimes you want that ONE picture that needs precise controle of light and colors, that is where the studio comes in. But if you want something dynamic, with a busy background behind you, to give it more life, outdoors is great.

I did some pictures a long time ago, at a covered bridge, and some in an apartment. Had a great time.

It would help to give whomever you have in mind, any reference materials (Pictures, notes, video) of the character, and have atleast a half hour talk with them about what you want, and what they want to do.

Always reccommended.

DragonKeeper
05-25-2006, 09:54 AM
It would help to give whomever you have in mind, any reference materials (Pictures, notes, video) of the character, and have atleast a half hour talk with them about what you want, and what they want to do.

Always reccommended.

i so totally agree. i mean if someone asked me to take a photoshoot of their character, i would SPECIFICALLY ask them about the character, its personality, its home setting of its world, all that little detail to get a better picture you want.

for instance, when BSaphire was doing my Vash the Stampede photoshoot, she took me to a desert area by her home. it was perfect because Vash's planet home is a complete desert. so yeah, youll want to add details like that to whatever photographer your talking to.

but i tell yah, it helps to talk to someone thats already in this field of work cuz they're more experienced with what cosplayers want compared to what people from a prom would want. and im telling yah, talk to BSaphire ;)