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Unread 11-18-2012, 10:06 AM   #1
Jordan0012
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What's a good price for cosplay photos?

What's a good price to hire professional photographer for cosplay photos? I'm ready to bring my cosplay to a new level with professional photos but I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for it.

Thanks
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Unread 11-18-2012, 01:04 PM   #2
nathancarter
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Tough call, and it can really be all over the place.

At the bottom end, you've got a simple TFP/TFCD shoot, where no money changes hands. The acronym is Time For Prints, or Time For CD, meaning that both the photographer and the model benefit by having additional photos for building their portfolio. Many inexperienced photographers and models do this for practice and/or fun. The risk is that you may be working with an inexperienced photographer, and the photos may not turn out as well as you expect. Still, the photographer should be able to show you at least a small portfolio so you can get an idea of their style and skill level.

At the top end, ... well, the sky's the limit, really - especially if you've got an experienced professional photographer who is traveling to you specifically for this shoot.

If you're doing it at a convention, where the photographer who is already going to be there with their gear, and already in the mindset of taking cosplay photos, the rate seems to be around $15 to 30 for a session, resulting in a finished set of six to twelve photos*.

Outside of a convention setting, where the photographer is making a special effort just for you, I'd expect probably $50-200, depending on the photographer's professional experience and skill level, and hoa many different cosplay or variants you want to do in the session.

* the number of finished photos can vary widely. Most experienced photographers and pros will not deliver every shot they take - they'll pick the best shot from each look/pose to process, finish, and deliver. Six to twelve per session is generally enough to cover most of the looks of a particular cosplay, unless you have a lot of props and armor that warrant many detail shots.

As a final thought, I would advise you to practice your poses and facial expressions in a mirror before the shoot, and maybe even bring some reference character images on your phone (or print). Dramatic pose and facial expressions make for interesting photos. An experienced portrait photographer will be able to help you with posing, but they might not know the character.
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Unread 11-18-2012, 07:07 PM   #3
Access
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordan0012 View Post
What's a good price to hire professional photographer for cosplay photos? I'm ready to bring my cosplay to a new level with professional photos but I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for it.
Ask around, it's down to word of mouth and who you already know.
If you don't know anyone, check meetup and see if there are any photo clubs in your area. Go to one of their meetings and ask. If you just know where and how to ask, you can likely find plenty of portrait photographers who will work with you just for the experience.

I honestly don't know any cosplayer who has paid for a photoshoot from anyone. Maybe it's just regional but the best cosplay photographers I know of (in my area) don't charge for shoots.
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Unread 11-19-2012, 03:25 AM   #4
Ashurachan
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Just like Access suggested, quite a lot of good photographers do not charge, it's just a matter of getting to know them (I don't live in the US, and where I live, no cosplay photographer ever charges).
I think the most important is not to have an experienced photographer ; the most important is to have a photographer you're comfortable with. If you're not used to pose, it's a lot easier to relax (and thus look natural) when the photographer is someone you know and trust.
I've done shoots with strangers before, and I while I learnt a lot doing them, I don't think the photos were as good as the ones I do with friends. With strangers, a lot of my energy goes into communication, in order to build the necessary trust as the shoot goes ; with friends, I can use all said energy for creativity.
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Unread 11-19-2012, 09:18 AM   #5
Jordan0012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathancarter View Post
Tough call, and it can really be all over the place.

At the bottom end, you've got a simple TFP/TFCD shoot, where no money changes hands. The acronym is Time For Prints, or Time For CD, meaning that both the photographer and the model benefit by having additional photos for building their portfolio. Many inexperienced photographers and models do this for practice and/or fun. The risk is that you may be working with an inexperienced photographer, and the photos may not turn out as well as you expect. Still, the photographer should be able to show you at least a small portfolio so you can get an idea of their style and skill level.

At the top end, ... well, the sky's the limit, really - especially if you've got an experienced professional photographer who is traveling to you specifically for this shoot.

If you're doing it at a convention, where the photographer who is already going to be there with their gear, and already in the mindset of taking cosplay photos, the rate seems to be around $15 to 30 for a session, resulting in a finished set of six to twelve photos*.

Outside of a convention setting, where the photographer is making a special effort just for you, I'd expect probably $50-200, depending on the photographer's professional experience and skill level, and hoa many different cosplay or variants you want to do in the session.

* the number of finished photos can vary widely. Most experienced photographers and pros will not deliver every shot they take - they'll pick the best shot from each look/pose to process, finish, and deliver. Six to twelve per session is generally enough to cover most of the looks of a particular cosplay, unless you have a lot of props and armor that warrant many detail shots.

As a final thought, I would advise you to practice your poses and facial expressions in a mirror before the shoot, and maybe even bring some reference character images on your phone (or print). Dramatic pose and facial expressions make for interesting photos. An experienced portrait photographer will be able to help you with posing, but they might not know the character.
Thanks a lot! I appreciate all the advice
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Unread 11-19-2012, 09:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Access View Post
Ask around, it's down to word of mouth and who you already know.
If you don't know anyone, check meetup and see if there are any photo clubs in your area. Go to one of their meetings and ask. If you just know where and how to ask, you can likely find plenty of portrait photographers who will work with you just for the experience.

I honestly don't know any cosplayer who has paid for a photoshoot from anyone. Maybe it's just regional but the best cosplay photographers I know of (in my area) don't charge for shoots.
Wow really? So far I've only been offered paid photography. That's crazy
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Unread 11-19-2012, 09:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashurachan View Post
Just like Access suggested, quite a lot of good photographers do not charge, it's just a matter of getting to know them (I don't live in the US, and where I live, no cosplay photographer ever charges).
I think the most important is not to have an experienced photographer ; the most important is to have a photographer you're comfortable with. If you're not used to pose, it's a lot easier to relax (and thus look natural) when the photographer is someone you know and trust.
I've done shoots with strangers before, and I while I learnt a lot doing them, I don't think the photos were as good as the ones I do with friends. With strangers, a lot of my energy goes into communication, in order to build the necessary trust as the shoot goes ; with friends, I can use all said energy for creativity.
Yea I wish I knew someone whose a good photographer. That would be awesome
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Unread 11-19-2012, 03:31 PM   #8
djlemma
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Originally Posted by Jordan0012 View Post
Wow really? So far I've only been offered paid photography. That's crazy
If you're not paying for the shoot, then you're (most likely) not working with a professional photographer. If you're making your living off something, it's no good to give it away for free. You might get lucky if you happen to have contacts or if you find a pro that wants to expand their own portfolio...

However there are a ton of amateur folks like myself that just like to shoot and can sometimes (albeit less reliably) get quite good results. Paying somebody like me a fee of $15-$30 for a short shoot is more or less a gratuity- it'd be nowhere near enough to cover the costs of equipment and time if it were my livelihood. I don't care because I have a day job and I just like to take purdy pictures.
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Unread 11-19-2012, 07:25 PM   #9
Hcoregamer00
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashurachan View Post
Just like Access suggested, quite a lot of good photographers do not charge, it's just a matter of getting to know them (I don't live in the US, and where I live, no cosplay photographer ever charges).
I think the most important is not to have an experienced photographer ; the most important is to have a photographer you're comfortable with. If you're not used to pose, it's a lot easier to relax (and thus look natural) when the photographer is someone you know and trust.
I've done shoots with strangers before, and I while I learnt a lot doing them, I don't think the photos were as good as the ones I do with friends. With strangers, a lot of my energy goes into communication, in order to build the necessary trust as the shoot goes ; with friends, I can use all said energy for creativity.
I agree, trust and rapport with the photographer will improve your shoot experience.

It is my personal preference to do shoots with cosplayers I am friends with first, since there is a level of familiarity between them and I. It makes the photoshoots flow faster and there is more comfort which allows both of us to reach creative highs.

I do shoots for free in and out of cons, the most I charge for an out of con shoot is gas and (probably) lunch or dinner. Of course, I do shoots at cons with no strings attached since it was something already on my schedule. As Access said, here in Southern California, there is no shortage of amazing photographers that are willing to do shoots for little to no money, so there is very little incentive to charge for a shoot since there is always someone who will always offer a lower price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by djlemma View Post
If you're not paying for the shoot, then you're (most likely) not working with a professional photographer. If you're making your living off something, it's no good to give it away for free. You might get lucky if you happen to have contacts or if you find a pro that wants to expand their own portfolio...

However there are a ton of amateur folks like myself that just like to shoot and can sometimes (albeit less reliably) get quite good results. Paying somebody like me a fee of $15-$30 for a short shoot is more or less a gratuity- it'd be nowhere near enough to cover the costs of equipment and time if it were my livelihood. I don't care because I have a day job and I just like to take purdy pictures.
Agreed, we do it because we love the hobby of photography and the art of cosplay. Don't expect exceptional-level work across the board for the "free" cosplay photographers, but it doesn't mean that the photo quality is not worth your time.

I have quite a reputation as a good photographer among many cosplayers, but I would never put myself on a pro-level, charging $150 an hour.
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Last edited by Hcoregamer00 : 11-19-2012 at 07:28 PM.
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