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Demonsun
07-11-2006, 03:17 AM
I'm a semi-professional photographer who is looking to get into taking pictures of cosplayers at cons. I was wondering how I should go about it, or if anybody has any suggestions about what portrait styles are popular.

I have about 5 years of photgraphic experience, mainly doing weddings, bar mitzfah's and several fashion shows. My style is mainly looking for spontaneous emotion and candid shots. I usually try to shoot pictures in a style which looks more natural, and doesn't look "fake".

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

PS. I will try to attend otakon this year.

Tekkie
07-11-2006, 03:57 AM
Perhaps go to one and take pictures? or are you talking about getting paid for taking photographs?

Ollie
07-11-2006, 07:23 AM
Good luck getting candid shots at a convention. Not only is it crowded, but cosplayers are all to willing to pose for photos. If they see you, you've lost your chance. Better bring a good telephoto lens. Also note (this is a bit of a debated topic) that many cosplayers don't like having candid shots taken of them at all, even if done in good taste.

Cosplay photography is something of a mix between portraiture, fashion, and glamor. As a hired professional, you'll probably have more control over the situation than you would at a convention. In fact, cosplay photography may be more like action photography than anything else, depending on how you look at it. You'll have to learn to be quick in some cases, though many cosplayers will be happy to take a minute to pose and get several shots taken.

I'm pretty sure there's still a thread on here about cosplay photography etiquette. Most of it really does just boil down to common sense, but if you're not familiar with cosplayers, it may be a good read anyways.

A lot of cosplayers will not know how to pose, and will end up with a death-stiff, deer-in-headlights pose. What usually works for me is to try to get cosplayers while they're doing something else. I do ask them to pose, but if they're resting against a chair or something, that gives them something to "do" instead of just stand there (even if posed) like most cosplay photos end up.

staereo
07-11-2006, 07:45 AM
Ollie has made some good points. I really dont know that I want to even touch this thread.

I am NOT a cosplay photographer. I am a photographer that does cosplay work amongst other things.

My natural photographic style leans heavily in the photojournalistic style. I naturally shoot candid and unposed by creative choice.

What I've found is cosplay doesnt work well with this style. Ollie brings up an important point with etiquette. Cosplayers want warning for photographs, so they can be ready (props, etc), and because those pictures are likely to fly across the internet like wildfire, and noone wants to look less than their intended best. My best output has been posed shots in cosplay shooting. And it works out all ways better.

If youre bound and deterimined to bring a candid style into cosplay, my best suggestion is to (in advance) find a cosplay group to follow for the weekend with pre authorization to do candid work with their group. That way you dont step on toes, and you actually get to experience those moments, that are VERY hard to come across without having a group to follow through their experience.

Bruce

jtnishi
07-11-2006, 10:14 AM
I'll just say one thing: you say you have fashion show experience. Use it. Cosplay photography, while being something like general portrait photography, is really more similar to model photography more than anything else. Model photography in fashion shows is about the combination of the dress and person. Cosplay photography is the same. Just keep in mind that you're probably not dealing with a runway, but use those same fashion photography skills, and I'm sure you'll crank out great pics.

Super No 1
07-11-2006, 12:07 PM
One of the most important things that you have to do is gain the trust of the cosplayers by shooting at some conventions and getting your work out there. The more successful photographers are the ones that have been around for awhile. They show their work and the cosplayers know who they are and they trust those photographers.

For your first convention, I wouldn't recommend the candid style of photography because when a lot of people see somebody doing those kind of shots will think that you're up to no good, especially if they've never seen you before. Even if you're on the level, the perception will be that you're a voyeur. Once people get used to you, then maybe you can do that style.

cosphotog
07-11-2006, 12:58 PM
first post. :) but reading all the replies here. I am a semi-prof. photog. cosplay is just a glamour style shoot. just like shooting models. You have the makeup/costume/model/poses/character. And im not sure candid's will really work at the conventions, none of the characters are in their own setting. You could get candids i suppose of the person dresed up, but none of the character as a whole.

Advice for starting to shoot cosplayers, go to the conventions, have alot of business cards, maybe some type of online portfolio, hand out cards, and see what type of contacts you get. cosplayers love the camera's. (all the work theyve done on the costumes).

Demonsun
07-11-2006, 01:08 PM
Thanks for all of the great info,
I wasn't intending on getting paid, at least not until I build up a decent amount of work and experience, I will probably have an artist/dealer table at connecticon and otakon next year, but for this year its just practice.

Ollie nice point, the main thing I like is for the people to be posed naturally, like something their character would be doing. I hate the endless "just standing there" photos, I like natural poses and such.

and thanks for the suggestions regarding candids, I wasn't quite sure about how many problems I would face with them.

Thanks...
Demon Sun

Eriol
07-11-2006, 07:10 PM
Hmm, considering some photographers seem to lament bad poses (i.e. just standing there) and there has been a previous post by a cosplayer about how to pose, maybe some of you photographers may want to have a discussion panel at a con about this very topic. There is no immediate financial payoff for this, but it would help you get the shots you want and tangentially promote your photography business.

staereo
07-11-2006, 07:40 PM
Brilliant idea, Eriol. I hope to see people do this in the future. Wow!

Ami Yuy
07-11-2006, 09:35 PM
Do's and Don'ts of Con Photography (http://forums.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=46382&highlight=etiquette) - This is a thread I put together a couple years ago with some basics about photographing at cons.

I think it covers most of the basics. You'll see that not taking candid shots is stressed a lot in it. Now, sometimes candid shots are OK, but that is generally only when they are actually flattering to the people in them. A LOT of people will just snap shots of cosplayers as they walk by and we HATE it. However, a well taken and thought-out candid can be received on a completely different level. I've taken some myself and some people absolutely adore them because of the naturalness of them, however, I was careful to take out the bad ones beforehand.

So yeah, what everyone else has said basically. ^^;;

cosphotog
07-11-2006, 10:03 PM
Do's and Don'ts of Con Photography (http://forums.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=46382&highlight=etiquette)

if your not following these rules to begin with, you are making all of us photogs look really bad. Good to post though, at least it is stated somewhere.

Ollie
07-12-2006, 09:38 AM
If you've already done professional photography, you probably know the importance of editing your photos, but this is doubly important for any kind of candid shots. A bad candid sitting somewhere on somebody's hard drive may not be so bad, but if it's out on the internet, it can cause trouble. At AX I was talking with somebody about how many photographers were there, many of whom had some really high-end equipment. For all the photographers, you'd think you'd find a lot more of the photos online. Except for the fact that a lot of them take photos just for their own use. I've always figured if you're doing shots at cons, it's something of a very informal TFP agreement. If anybody wants to know where their photo is going to end up, try to have a business card or something available.

Eriol
07-13-2006, 03:35 PM
I found this article mentioned in another photo forum, but it reinforces some points in Ami Yuy's FAQ:

http://www.prime-junta.net/pont/Pontification/n_Telephoto_Is_For_Wimps/a_Telephoto_Is_For_Cowards.html

Fighterspledge
07-19-2006, 12:21 AM
One of the most important things that you have to do is gain the trust of the cosplayers by shooting at some conventions and getting your work out there. The more successful photographers are the ones that have been around for awhile. They show their work and the cosplayers know who they are and they trust those photographers.

For your first convention, I wouldn't recommend the candid style of photography because when a lot of people see somebody doing those kind of shots will think that you're up to no good, especially if they've never seen you before. Even if you're on the level, the perception will be that you're a voyeur. Once people get used to you, then maybe you can do that style.


Ok, that brings up an interesting question. When you refer to successful photographers, you are talking about commissioned photograpghers, correct? And that reputation that photograpghers have with cosplayers is something that I want to build so how do you develop that presence? Better yet, how do I *not* look like a voyeur?

Super No 1
07-19-2006, 01:17 AM
Ok, that brings up an interesting question. When you refer to successful photographers, you are talking about commissioned photograpghers, correct? And that reputation that photograpghers have with cosplayers is something that I want to build so how do you develop that presence? Better yet, how do I *not* look like a voyeur?
Being "successful" can mean many things. It doesn't necessarily mean getting paid for photos. Being successful can simply mean that you run a website that people can count on to show good work. I think having a good working relationship with the cosplayers is important. It takes some time but basically, you just have to get out there and advertise yourself. Show your work and let people know who you are. Eventually, people get used to seeing you around at events.

If you don't want to look like a voyeur, always ask permission to take a photo especially if you're not shooting your subject from the front.

...and don't follow people around if you don't know them.

staereo
07-19-2006, 03:52 AM
1) Business Cards with a link to where they can view the images.
2) Asking before shooting.
3) A name for shooting quality images.

^^

Bruce

HotaruGFC
07-19-2006, 08:47 AM
My husband is looking to make a switch from paranormal photography to cosplay photography. Thanks for all of the advice, I'll be sure to point him to the links in this thread.

Eriol
07-19-2006, 10:11 AM
Better yet, how do I *not* look like a voyeur?

Introduce yourself, talk to them like any other person, and get permission (verbal or written).

Don't use telephoto lens from a distance unless the person knows this is being done. (i.e. No candid shots)

AgentSakur9
07-24-2006, 01:52 PM
Why on EARTH would a Professional* Photographer want to do Cosplay Photography?

1. There's NO MONEY to be made in it. Cosplayers are dedicated to their costumes and every penny they have tend to go towards their costumes. If they have money left over that usually for more important things like Hotel Room costs and Dealers Hall.

2. There are wayyyyy too many people like me who are "Passable" Photographers who offer services for free because of reason #1. Hell I release High Res Images all the time.

3. Unless you're already a fan of Anime, Japanese Culture or Video Games... you'll find yourself to be in a very comprising position. Cosplay exists as a pretty tighly knit community and outsiders who appear like they don't know ANYTHING about the fandoms they represent are often clowned.

Getting started in "Cosplay Photography" is pretty easy, unless you're out to make a buck, because you won't. At least a profitable buck. And there are people like me who enjoy just taking pictures who'll work for free. Like I said, you must have similar or like interests to really be known in the Cosplay World otherwise there is no common ground to start with.

Oh and lastly, this is just my opinion.. but saying you have a style says you lack originality and creativity. "Style" says you're doing something other people have done and pigeonholing yourself to a style leaves no room for improvement because you've settled.

I don't intend to be flammatory (or is it Inflammatory?) in any way, but it should be brought up that making a buck out of cosplayers isn't a very good idea and often fails horribly...and no one's brought that up.

*by Professional I mean "Photography affords me my lifestyle."

staereo
07-24-2006, 04:10 PM
I think you answered yourself with number 2. There is no money in it, but if you enjoy doing it on your own, covering costs is all you mean to do.

As far as style, a photographers style is what sets them apart from the rest of the field. Without your own style, you're just another person adjusting a camera's settings in order to create a proper exposure.

Artists, photographers included, rely on their own style to set them apart from their peers.

Thats how you can identify many of todays top photographers simply by a cross section of their work. :bigtu:


As far as making a profit from cosplayers, I absolutely agree. It isn't going to happen, at least not consistantly enough to make a good living from. Explaining a day rate of 750.00 to a cosplayer would serve only to shock and confuse.

Bruce

Godly
07-24-2006, 04:49 PM
Well since Demonsun is like 18 yrs old, I'm sure he's just scouting the possibility of cosplay photography as profitable work. It can be, of course, but it's hard to be worth the time and effort due to how the community works. Like others said already, most cosplayers do not look at paying for photos as an option unless it's very cheap of a fee and they know the photographer from their involvement at conventions and/or the community.

It really matters on where you're located as well. Out on the west coast there are countless people who take photos of cosplayers for free. For arguments sake, let's say your photos were better than any person at a California convention. That actually wouldn't be enough reason for people to want to pay a fee. I think people that get full bookings from paid photoshoots are usually people that have taken great photos at conventions and have developed a reputation and when they switch to paid shoots, people don't mind because they are also grateful for the photos they took for free in the past. I don't think a person without any ties in the community can see any sort of business happening since people thinking cosplayers will just pay for photos from some guy that looks professional are a dime a dozen.

Since you're on the east side there might be more demand for photos, I don't know. But with Maboroshi retiring it's definitely possible.

I think some people in this thread take a little offense (not so much in bitterness) when a photographer tries to cash in on the cosplay community (because it happens all the time at the conventions themselves) without actually being a part of the community itself. I personally don't care; they are free to try to feed themselves however they want to. I wouldn't recommend it though as it's just not profitable due to the nature of the community.

jtnishi
07-24-2006, 05:22 PM
There is perhaps one strong incentive to trying to work the cosplay photography angle as a professional, but it has little to do with making any real money off of cosplayers. Good work helps to build a portfolio.

There's really no way to make any worthwhile profit from doing cosplay photography for money. Last time I checked, most of the photographers who do charge some money for cosplay shoots charge just barely enough to cover equipment and consumable costs, plus a photographer's fee which probably barely amounts to little more than unskilled labor.

But think: there are only a few fields where a photographer can have a chance to work with skilled costumers and some models who willingly and excitedly work for only prints or a CD. As part of portfolio building, cosplay photography does have some potential.

staereo
07-24-2006, 09:16 PM
There is perhaps one strong incentive to trying to work the cosplay photography angle as a professional....................As part of portfolio building, cosplay photography does have some potential.

Cheers to that,
Bruce

Demonsun
07-25-2006, 07:39 AM
Wow, I've kind of been busy so I haven't had time to look here, I just want to clarify something here, I already freelance enough to support my equipment purchases, and supplies. and I really don't feel like "cashing in" on the cosplay community, as many of my friends ar involved in it and I understand how little money there is to be made. and if I charge for anything it's for prints or or CD with the images on it. nothing more than cost for me. I'm not interested in Cosplay photography for the money, never have been, as mentioned in an earlier post I'd seen this as a really good way to build my portfolio, without me having to hire models and so on.

Another thing for those who seem to have gotten the wron impression. I like anime, which is why I go to these Con's in the first place. I have friends who cosplay, and although I haven't really cosplayed myself aside from some small simple costumes, I do enjoy the cons and everything associated with them. and I know how everything is about building a reputation as the reason why I've gotten more jobs lately, mainly sports photography.

My goals coming in to this, are maily to improve my model skils and become known as a good photograher in the Congoing community. Oh and as a side note if anybody here wants to see other photo's that i've taken I'm probably gonna finish up my portfolio in a couple days or so. and I'll post a link here for everybody.

Godly
07-25-2006, 10:54 AM
Well it sounds like you're just like everyone else then; just taking photos for fun and practice. In that case, I think your questions were too specific and job-like. The general answer is just get your camera and go take photos. Cosplay photography isn't really the best place to do candid photography and such. Convention photography sure, but 'cosplay photography' is all about the costume so just do the basic "may I take your photo please?"-esque portraits or something and have fun. It's definitely not as difficult or detail oriented as you might think. Even if you have high standards, you're probably making it out to be harder than it really is. Of course, you can definitely bring your creative skills out when you're doing private shoots with people that are willing to be your models, like your friends or whatnot. But everyone else that is just knockin about in costume, you can't really do that.

I know you're just trying to be well prepared for Otakon or something, but just take it easy. More about being well equipped with memory and such. Good cosplay photos can be taken with any kind of camera.

Demonsun
07-25-2006, 02:22 PM
I am like everyone els, but I'm coming at it from a more perfectionist kind of way. I usually do weddings with my dad where screwing up gets you sued, and such. For now its for fun, but for most of my work my perfectionist way shows up, I do like spontaneous, but don't want it ruined by little things that shouldn't be there, or that don't work.


Oh, and another question, What are the most common types of lenses that you use if you have an SLR, and if you do any editing of the image later in photoshop, not counting color corr. sharpening, but stuff like compositing and cutting things out.

I usually use a 17-55 F2.8 Zoom, and a 80-200 f2.8 zoom, and not much else

Eriol
07-25-2006, 04:43 PM
I use a Nikon 18-55mm f3.5 zoom and a Nikon 70-300mm G f3.5. I've noticed f3.5 rating is not terribly good in the relatively "poor lighting" areas of some indoor spaces (flash notwithstanding). f2.8 should give you better chances at a correct exposure. I've heard some try a fixed prime lens, since they can go as low as f1.8.

At cons, since cosplayers expect you to ask permission before taking a photo, I don't think zoom lenses are quite as handy, unless space is really tight. I think "sneaker zoom" might be more handy in these environments if you can afford to do that.

Oklahoma
07-25-2006, 05:05 PM
I use a Canon 28-135 f3.5-5.6 IS. I also have a Sigma 28-70 f2.8-4 as a backup incase anything happens. Great walkaround lens. Although as Eriol stated being a f3.5 max you do need a flash indoors, but most spaces need one anyway. It also has the reach to do the masquerade as long as you aren't real far back.

As for editing I only do any if the cosplayer wants me to (beyond sharpening, contrast, exposure, croping, ...).

Demonsun
07-25-2006, 06:03 PM
a Sneaker zoom? Is that one where the lens doesn't extend? because almost all of mine are like that. my 80-200 is similar to the lens many photojournalists use, in fact my kit is set up just like a journalist kit. only I don't have the 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye. I also use one or two sb-800 flashes, but i'll only have one, and one body as well. i like the 80-200 on my d2x It is a great portrait, and sports action lens, being equivalent to a 120mm-100mm lens, and the 17-55 goes from around 24-28 to 80mm.

And I almost always shoot raw, but I Probably don't need to for this because most of the lighting will be the same, and my camera is really good at finding the proper white balance.
.

Ollie
07-25-2006, 06:41 PM
I always shoot in RAW. Since I have cards and a laptop to dump my photos after one or two hundred shots, space isn't a big concern. Most (80%) of my photos get processed automatically. But, you may end up with a particularly good shot you'd want to treat manually (or at least I sometimes do), and in that case RAW can let you pull more out of it and produce a better photo.

Demonsun
07-25-2006, 07:43 PM
that's what I usually do, but for Otakon I'm not sure if I will or not, So i will probably shoot Hig res Jpeg, with low compression

Cikgu101
07-25-2006, 09:14 PM
Recently I have started shooting RAW+JPeg. Reason ... RAW more control over my pictures especially those under extreme tungsten lighting effects.

The JPeg is used to share them with my close knit group of Cosplay buddies. :rockon:

So I'm currently using a D50, Basic Lens and SB-800 with Gary Fong Light Sphere II System. But now I'm planning to get a 18-200 VR for Conventions :bigtu:

Demonsun
07-25-2006, 10:56 PM
Nikon is loaning me one of the 17-200 VR's, the only problem is I have to return it at the end of this week, so far it's performed really well, only complaint is that it doesn't open up enough for sports photography, and you really need that sb-800 to compensate sometimes.

I didn't like how the raw files came out of the d50 compared to the d70. It's the compression that I don't like.

I also Have another Issue, I don't have enough memory cards, nor any that are big enough at the moment, At least for otakon, when my dad will have all of our 1Gb high speeds for a wedding. I do like raw though.


HAs anybody here used the Adobe Lightroom? I've been using it since they released the Windows beta, it works almost as well as aperature.

Ami Yuy
07-25-2006, 11:07 PM
Something that Admin recommended at one point was this portable storage drive (http://www.eastgear.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=17_66&products_id=444). I actually have one myself now and absolutely ADORE it. It's awesome to not have to worry about running out of space at a con.

As for editing, I probably do a lot more than most, but I do so because I want to give the cosplayers the best picture I possibly can. But I still only do the basics (crop, levels, curves, saturation, remove blemishes if necessary). ^^

Cost-wise, my charges for shoots are just because I am a poor college student and any and all money is very welcome, and my photo money goes towards supporting my con-going. It's not really enough to do much of anything else anyway.

Demonsun
07-25-2006, 11:20 PM
Hear Hear, That's what i am, except with better equipment than most

Cikgu101
07-26-2006, 01:35 AM
I went for a Motor Show quite sometime ago ...had at least three 1gb cards then but a friend of mine had only one but did have a notebook pc with him. Personally I prefer the PC than a portable storage thanks to its variety of functions.
However at a jam-packed convention, the portable storage might be more suitable. :bigtu:

Ami Yuy
07-26-2006, 03:07 AM
I went for a Motor Show quite sometime ago ...had at least three 1gb cards then but a friend of mine had only one but did have a notebook pc with him. Personally I prefer the PC than a portable storage thanks to its variety of functions.
However at a jam-packed convention, the portable storage might be more suitable. :bigtu:
There's no way I want to carry my laptop around a convention. XD a) Too heavy b) afraid it'll get hurt (yes yes, I know it's a laptop, but I don't trust mine at a con) and c) just plain cumbersome. The portable storage is really nice because it's just a bit shorter than a DS and only about twice as thick so it fits nicely in any bag. It's really nice option so that you can dump the card on the go and then transfer it to the comp when you get back to your room or home.

Hexlord
08-16-2006, 04:55 AM
One of the most important things that you have to do is gain the trust of the cosplayers by shooting at some conventions and getting your work out there. The more successful photographers are the ones that have been around for awhile. They show their work and the cosplayers know who they are and they trust those photographers.

For your first convention, I wouldn't recommend the candid style of photography because when a lot of people see somebody doing those kind of shots will think that you're up to no good, especially if they've never seen you before. Even if you're on the level, the perception will be that you're a voyeur. Once people get used to you, then maybe you can do that style.

I totally agree with what you said! When I first attended a cosplay event with a camera around 2 years ago, I started off by asking the cosplayers first before they began posing for me. After a few events most of them recognise me and trust me in regards to taking the best shots, although I can be wrong on many occasions. :lost:

Respect is a must especially when it comes to taking photographs of cosplayers. :bigtu: