Friday, February 18, 2011

Candid Photography in Conventions

Candid photography elicits strong emotion. In CosCom there was a heated debate on the subject of candid shots of cosplay photography. The strong emotion from both sides of the argument gets people really riled up, which is why I really avoid the subject with a ten foot pole. I will not lie, I enjoy doing candid photography in busy public areas like Las Vegas and Hollywood, but I stay away from candid photography in Anime Conventions unless it is large crowd shots or cosplay gatherings.

Candid photography can be really awesome if done right
I don't do candid photography in Anime Conventions for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that a cosplayer dresses up like a character and when they pose they try to be like the character. Doing a candid shot of a person who is not aware of getting photographed is when they break character and be themselves. By doing a candid shot, you as a photographer are doing them a disservice because they spent lots of time making a costume to present a character, and the short time they can do it in the public you take a picture of them out of character. Candid photography is amazing because it captures natural emotions that can be very powerful, the problem is that when doing cosplay photography, you don't want natural emotions. The second reason is that it can come off as very creepy. Let's be honest here, thanks to people like paparazzi and perverts, photographers in general can be seen the wrong way. Taking a shot of someone, not saying a word, and then walking away can be misinterpreted by anyone. In this world of social media, where a single picture can ruin someone's life, people have every right to be very defensive about candid photography, especially if the photographer has ill intent or malice. The third and the most important reason why I don't do candid photography in Anime Conventions is because as a photographer, you have to uphold certain rules of etiquette. One of the rules of photography etiquette is to treat your subject the same way you like to be treated. If a photographer hates candid photos of themselves, then they should extend the same courtesy to the cosplayer.

Candid shots are great when there is involvement with the subject
There are times when candid shots are welcome in conventions:
  • Large general shots of the environment
  • Cosplay gatherings
  • Personal photoshoots
Candid shots are okay for the first two because in general a cosplayer is a small piece of a larger environment. When you do a shot of massive crowds of West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center during Anime Expo it isn't a bad thing to do a candid shot of it. The same thing applies to cosplay gatherings, since the cosplayer is not the sole purpose of the photographer. The complete extreme opposite end is personal photoshoots where a cosplayer is with a photographer doing a photo shoot. By virtue of having a photo shoot, the cosplayer acknowledges the photographer's presence and welcomes it. They know that the photographer's intent is to capture their best images, even if they are not looking at the photographer. Not only that, a photographer can capture the emotion by instructing a cosplayer to convey a certain emotion. To be honest, I only had a handful of photo shoots in my many years of attending anime conventions, so I can't really go in depth on this part until I get more experience.

Some may agree with me, some may disagree with me, but those are more two cents on this touchy issue

2 comments:

Kim Long Vo said...

"The first reason is that a cosplayer dresses up like a character and when they pose they try to be like the character. Doing a candid shot of a person who is not aware of getting photographed is when they break character and be themselves. By doing a candid shot, you as a photographer are doing them a disservice because they spent lots of time making a costume to present a character, and the short time they can do it in the public you take a picture of them out of character."

Solution: Cosplayer should always be in character. =]

Ok, in all seriousness, that would be really hard to do. But kudos to anyone who does actually take it that far.


I make a living off of candid shots and no one thinks I'm creepy. =] But then again, I'm not a cosplay photographer.

KrisZ said...

I know you are being facetious, but staying in character is tough. When I took acting classes, it was already draining taking on a character for 1 hour, forget doing it all day.

I am not saying that all candid shots are bad, I admit in the thread that I do lots of candid photography, the difference is that in a convention venue the rules differ a little bit compared to "real life"