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Unread 05-01-2018, 06:37 PM   #1
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Japanese Cosplay Studios-does a market exist for these in America?

I've heard things about how cosplay is pretty different in Japan than in the US (and most of the West I guess). How you're only allowed to cosplay in certain areas at cons, you can't just walk around in public freely in costume, and how Japan also has these dedicated cosplay photography studios to sort of "make up" for those facts. The idea seems fascinating to me but as I've never even been to Japan I've never been to one myself. From what I've heard/seen they're pretty interesting with different themed rooms and lots of props so they can fit multiple fandoms' needs.

With cosplay seeming to get more and more mainstream every year, do you think there's a market for these sort of studios in the West? I'm of the thinking that a dedicated cosplay-only studio could likely only survive in certain major con-heavy cities (like Seattle or New York maybe). But I also wonder if maybe traditional photography studios (which I haven't been to since I was a kid getting family or school photos) could be starting to include this in their repertoire. After all, I have fond memories of going to a photography studio when I was young and entering a room with all sorts of fantastical objects and props for regular photos, so they could already be well-equipped to accommodate cosplay. I could see some push-back from old-school photographers maybe not wanting to work on what could be seen as a "childish" endeavor though, but I doubt that'd be a huge issue these days.

So what do you think, are those studios something you'd like to see in the West? Or are existing photography studios/the freedom to do photoshoots in public already good enough? And before someone asks no, I'm not looking to start a business, I'm just curious due to some recent photos that got uploaded here.
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Unread 05-01-2018, 07:13 PM   #2
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Because we have 35135214 more conventions in NA versus Japan, I don't think it would be marketable. Geography is definitely one major drawback, you're right, but there are other factors, and our frequent and permissive convention schedule is a big one.

People who make a fairly large portion of bank as cosplay-exclusive photographers (meaning they never go out to shoot for beauty, art, or other commercial prospects like weddings and pets and senior photos and stock photos) are easy to find. If you can't book one at an actual convention, you can at least grab their card and book them for later. They're thicker than dandelions in my lawn on Facebook. Obviously, some are better than others, some charge good prices and some are ridiculous, some are so good they don't take new bookings and some could be good if people just tried them out. But for the most part they congregate at and around all the conventions we have literally every weekend from January to December and reap the benefits of a ready-made market.

Honestly, I don't know why more people DON'T book "regular" photographers if they want some good studio time. They might not have dedicated set backgrounds or props and won't provide either the costume or the makeup for the model, but you at least have a safe space with a photographer with all the best equipment. For every one who might get weirded out by a cosplayer there's probably 10 who would love a change of pace from babies and weddings.
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Unread 05-01-2018, 09:45 PM   #3
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I think since we are free to cosplay everywhere at a convention, there's no need for those photo studios here. That and also all the cosplay gatherings that happen when there isn't a convention. I think cosplay gatherings are kinda like our version of cosplay photo studios in Japan. At most gatherings, they're held at really nice parks with lots of great scenery that's perfect for cosplayers, and one of the main reasons for these gatherings is to get great photos in our cosplays. I don't know how many cosplay gatherings there are in Japan, as I don't live there(perhaps someone who DOES live there can help us out here?? I know we have some cosplayers on here who are currently in Japan! ^^ Speak up!!! ) But I think since we have all these opportunities with getting good cosplay shoots, we don't really need these studios. That's just what I think, though!
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Unread 05-02-2018, 04:42 AM   #4
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I worked for a Sears photo studio a few years back, and we actually DID do some cosplay shoots from time to time. It wasn't very elaborate given we used our stock single-color backgrounds, but the customer wanted a cosplay shoot, so we did a cosplay shoot. We always tried to book those on the really "slow" days to give the cosplayer some extra time, too. In the year and change I worked there, I did...I want to say 20ish cosplay shoots. Conversely, I also know that my cousin-in-law who runs his own online studio in the Midwest went to a con last year and now has some extra bookings as well for on-location cosplay shoots.

But I think the biggest thing stopping it is most cosplayers don't want to try asking a normal photo studio "Can I bring in a cosplay and do a shoot?". Like CapsuleCorp said, nearly every photographer would probably say "Yes" if asked to do a shoot. It'd just be a matter of you finding the studio that's in your price range, and offers the kind of services you want. If you just want a set of high quality shots on a CD, that's one thing. If you want them to have the ability to do a set of framed prints, that's another.
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Unread 05-02-2018, 01:59 PM   #5
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The reason most cosplayers dont go to photographers cause, unlike conventions where rates go from as high as $100 to as low as free, Professional Studio-based sessions are at least $200 minimum per hour and for most cosplayers, that's almost a week's pay.

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