View Full Version : Composition Techniques

Captaine Kit
07-19-2006, 03:11 PM
Wow, there's such a range of good suggestions for photography, especially for the budding fotografer. I've tried some of these, and I'll definitely try more because they are surely the marks of good skill. This is my first post to the forums.

I know there are professional, famous cosplay photographers out there, so conrats on all your hard work. However, the rest of us amateurs should take pride in taking good photos by making a conscious effort not to post bad photos online. I have to say that many cosplay photos are a joke. They're a vain assault on my design sensibilities.

However, I want to pose a question that affects the other side of the lense: the composition of the subject her/himself specifically, instead or the whole composition. Many times the cosplayer doesn't know what to do as a subject of the camera. How do you get people to look their very best? First I'll divulge my ideas. Then I wish to get replies on all your fantastic techniques too!

Issues where cosplayer tends to fail:
makeup & hair--does it look tacky or camera friendly?
pose & gesture--cheesy? elegant? dynamic? realistic? in character?
location--complimentary colors, shapes, lighting composition?

Captaine Kit
07-19-2006, 03:14 PM
For the first item, my buddy and I have got into some training from makeup school and from consultants for the mall and for stage. We can only work on that kind of thing if it is a controlled studio setup. Cosplay tends to be "come as you are" so he last two items are the ones where we have the most direct control.

Poses? Gestures? I'm pleased to see that there is a growing number of good poses on the part of the cosplayers, but like I said, many cosplayers seem to be uninformed and do something awkward. I look to respected Western style graphic novels because the gestures are extremely bold, dynamic, and obviously flattering to the desired mood of the photo. Also do some research on famous photographers and illustrators.

The best advice for martial arts techniques is work with the subject cosplayer and with someone who has had training in martial arts (if you haven't already). Many times the technique can range from easy to medium for the subject if it's a still, and maybe difficult to medium for both subject and photographer if it's an action shot.

Location? Composition? Just because it's cosplay doesn't mean you leave it all up to happenstance location. Cheap cameras, expensive cameras, manual or digital: you're spending your time on it, so there's no incentive to take bad photos. Find a well lit area, with some colors and shapes that define your image. Most of the advice on composition is somewhere in these forums. The technique I find most comfortable for me is making sure there is no "convention" in the background. No passersby, no tails of soemone else's costume, etc. and you'll have a truly presentable piece.

EJ Shin
07-19-2006, 09:34 PM
Well, a lot of the cosplay pictures you see are taken at cons, which mostly means photographers are run and gun. I mean, in ideal situations, you'd have some sort of light control(lights, gobos, reflectors, silks, etc, etc) as well as a light meter to meter your contrast ratios and exposure and, of course, a model that is willing to stay for a couple shots.

07-25-2006, 02:23 AM
I agree that alot of convention shots are not that 'artistic.' But it is hard just like EJ Shin has stated before. A lot of photographers are not going for capturing the mood of the characters and such. They are more trying to get full body shots because it’s about the cosplayer and their costume not the character and there’s nothing wrong about that just makes some of the pictures uninteresting.

I would like to see more thought in the composition of many photos that I see from conventions. (I think my biggest pet peeve is a straight on central shot of a costume.) Now, I am in no way an amazing photographer. I am still learning and have SOOOO much more too learn. But, How do you get people to look their very best?

-Angles... It’s all about the extreme angles with me.
-Reviewing the concepts of the principles and elements of design before I go to a con.
-I have also started to carry around with me a pocket book of sketches of pose ideas just incase someone seems a bit lost.

And the biggest thing I think that ppl need to be aware of when it comes to composition is…
Know ppls body types and then work with their shapes. If someone is a bit more rounder then you need to think about not doing a up shot because its not going to make their body look very flattering. Raise your camera for some ppl lower it for others. Your trying to make ppl look their best. Many times I find a lot of photographers ignore the Cosplayers shapes and body types.

But yeah just some thoughts I have. They are kinda basic but I think that they are still small things that can sometimes can get over looked.

07-25-2006, 04:48 PM
I agree with Kioko. Con photos are primarily "get the shot of a nice costume" and go on to the next person. To get more interesting compositions requires cooperation of the model for an extended period of time.

07-25-2006, 05:51 PM
It's not a composition technique, but as a cosplayer, having my picture taken and then shown to me by the photographer is such a delight. It gives cosplayers a chance to see what they've been looking like on camera and it's also nice so that if they want to repose A) You're getting a better picture B) They can now adjust themselves for later photo ops.

In all honesty, it doesn't take too long and if you're trying to break into the world of CosPhotog, you're giving yourself a good name with cosplayers.

07-27-2006, 12:11 AM
Just a helpful suggestion, use the largest aperature you can, so that you can blow the busy background out of focus, but still have the person in focus.

I've found it helps in crowded situations such as a party, or for when the background is to busy. Suuch as when a subject is infront of a window that overlooks a landfill or something like that.

I usually Shoot Aperature Priority but when I have to I'll Go full manual.

Captaine Kit
07-28-2006, 04:56 AM
Know ppls body types and then work with their shapes. If someone is a bit more rounder then you need to think about not doing a up shot because its not going to make their body look very flattering.

Totally sweet! I hear often that people are afraid of the camera because they're afraid of what their looks do to the picture. But with an understanding photographer (sweet like you!) the photo comes out and it makes everybody happy.

07-31-2006, 05:54 AM
One thing I like to do, when not in one of my TRANSFORMER costumes. is to get on like a chair, a bench, or on some stairs, and take a picture at a 60 degree angle from on high. (Some of you may have seen me doing this at cons.) But basically that all depends on the costume. It works especially great for EGL and lolita costumes, if they are sitting on the ground with their skirts pooled out from them.

And you might get lucky with some lighting. Like having some extra sunlight hitting from outside window.

But, I have to agree with everyone. Sometimes, you just don't have the time to do more than point and shoot.