Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cosplay Photography Etiquette

 Last weekend I was over at Anime Los Angeles, a great smaller convention with lots of energetic cosplayers and equally enthusiastic photographers. In my experience in the convention, I noticed that in general the photographers displayed proper etiquette when photographing cosplayers.  After all, a cosplayer put lots of time and effort into making an outfit and it is our duty as the cosplay photographer to make their outfit shine beautifully through the lens. While most photographers are good with etiquette, it is always good to brush up on proper etiquette so that everyone will have a great time in Anime Conventions.

Etiquette Towards Cosplayers

Tip #1: Always ask gently for a photograph
They work hard for the outfit, be nice.
A cosplayer put lots of time and effort into an outfit. When they go to an anime convention they are expecting that someone will take a picture of them. As a photographer you need to ask them gently for a photograph because in a convention they are also there to have fun and enjoy the convention experience. The cosplayer may be busy socializing, moving to a convention panel they are interested it, or eating lunch. As a photographer it is your duty to respect the space of cosplayer. When asking a cosplayer, ask them "may I take your picture?" If they refuse, respect their space and move onwards. A photographer who is rude will not get a good picture and you ruin the experience of a cosplayer.

Tip #2: Show them the picture after taking a cosplayer's picture
I will admit that for 8 years of photographing cosplayers, I have only started doing this recently based on observations of other cosplay photographers. Showing the picture you have taken of the cosplayer works for both the photographer and the cosplayer.

Cosplayer feedback is great in photography
It works on the cosplayer's end because they get to see their picture, and if the shot is not to their liking, they can request more pictures. I have had several instances where a cosplayer didn't like the pose that they had, so they asked me to take more shots of them in different poses. The cosplayer also has the comfort in knowing that the person behind the lens is not a creepy perverted person just looking to take dirty pictures. If they like the photographer's style, the cosplayer can also request an extended photo shoot with the photographer to get a set of pictures that they may find visually pleasing. During Anime Los Angeles, some of my best cosplay pictures were impromptu photo shoots

For the photographer you have a couple of advantages by showing the cosplayer their picture after taking it. Those advantages are instant feedback, the ability to network with cosplayers, and the chance to go into an extended photo shoot. When it comes to cosplay photography, instant feedback from the cosplayers are great because it makes you feel good and it allows you to improve your personal technique. As a photographer, you also start noticing what kind of pictures make the cosplayers the most happy and from there you can start honing your skills and perfecting your craft. The ability to network with cosplayers is very important because we are part of one big community. I have been going to anime conventions for the past 8 years and I have been seeing the same faces for the past 8 years, I might as well start making friends with them since they have similar hobbies and interests. When you show the cosplayer a picture, you also open the window for extended photo shoots because the cosplayer knows that you are serious about your craft of photography.

Tip #3: Bring Business Cards
If you are a good enough photographer, a cosplayer will ask you if you have a website, deviantArt, or are registered in a cosplay community like It will do you good to have a batch of business cards. This will do a world of good because the cosplayer can contact you after the convention and ask you about the pictures you have taken of them. Not only that, they also have your card as reference so that they can contact you if they want to do a future photo shoot in an upcoming convention. A great website for business cards is a site like Vista Print.

Etiquette towards other Cosplay Photographers
As long as you respect the photographer, you can jump in.
When interacting with others it is important, as a cosplay photographer you will also interact with other cosplay photographers. The cosplay photography community is a great community, with a great group of people to interact with, you also need to know your boundaries so that you wont step on the toes of other cosplay photographers.

Tip #1: Ask a photographer during a photo shoot
During conventions a photographer may move a cosplayer away from the insanity of the convention and take pictures in a more obscure area. It is rude to go up to a photographer doing a photo shoot with a cosplayer and start snapping pictures away. The correct way to do it is to ask the photographer if you can join in the shoot. The photographer who is doing the official shoot has the right to refuse or to ask you to wait a moment. If they say yes, please respect the photographer who is doing the main shot. If they need the space, respect them and give them space. The last thing you need to do is to stop the photographer from getting the "perfect shot" they need.

Tip #2: Brand loyalty means nothing, it is all about the picture
When interacting with other cosplay photographers, there is no need to show your loyalty to one brand by poo-pooing on others. Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, Sony and the others are all good cameras whose purpose is to take a good picture. Having thousands of dollars of equipment doesn't mean anything if your picture is bad. A good photographer is a good photographer regardless of what brand they are using, so don't inject something silly into the conversation like brand fanaticism in conversation with other cosplay photographer.

Tip #3: Don't be afraid to talk to fellow photographers
There are lots of talented photographers in an Anime Conventions. Don't be afraid to ask a cosplay photographer tips and tricks in improving the composition of your picture or how to take advantage of a feature in your camera. While they are in the Anime Convention taking pictures of cosplayers, remember that many of them are also professional photographers (or at least amateurs with amazing talent). Stopping a moment and getting help from them or getting feedback on a picture helps everyone.

If you have any more tips and tricks on cosplay photography etiquette, please feel free to contact me and let me know


Kim Long Vo said...

I responded in my own blog post. read here:

KrisZ said...

Thanks Kim Long, that is actually a very good complimentary piece to my post.

Fancy India said...

I absolutely loved this article! As a cosplayer, I have run into so many rude photographers, and I appreciate this post. All con photographers should read this! I linked this on my site as an example of good advice (compared to some bad advice given at a convention panel recently). I hope that's ok. :)

KrisZ said...

That is perfectly fine, I am happy that my advice is sound

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