Photoshoot basics - tips and tricks!
Good photographs are really important for cosplayers to present their work - online, or by selling prints. However, some newcomers can be confused about how to get photoshoot, or how to act, what to expect. In this article, I am trying to get together some tips, from the view as a cosplayer and also as a photographer.
1. Getting a photographer
Let's be honest - a good photo of your costume does a good bunch of work. If you want to have some nice media presentation, good photographs of your work are the key! So - how do I get a photographer?
Probably the most common and easier way is to look for cosplay pictures of your friends you like and get the page of the photographer from their tags. That way, you have some idea of photographer's style. And if you like it - then it's settled! 🙂 Of course, you can find photographers also in different Facebook groups focused on cosplay, modeling or TFP (Trade for prints / Time for pics - Posing for photographer in exchange for photos) groups. You can also ask your friend about his experiences with his photographers. But this is the easy part - contact the photographer!
Don't be shy - you wont know anything if you wont ask! 🙂 Some photographers shoot cosplayers for free, just for pure fun. Some take money for each photo and that is okay too. It just depends on you, if you love his work so much that you want to pay him or will look for another photographer. Definitely DON'T attack the photographer just because he asked for money - it is not only your time, but also his. And since your part of photoshoot ends with the day and getting out of the costume, he is just half way done.
2. Preparing for photoshoot
Be sure to prepare in time for the day! The best is few days ahead, to check your costume and if it has any damage, you have time to repair or remake the part. In case you will discover some damage evening before - do as much as you can. Photographer can always retouch some cracks, but never whole part of costume. It is always better to have the costume in the state as you want to present it and never 100% count on photoshop magic.
Do a research of your character's poses and scenes you want to make.
A good photographer will talk with you and discuss the shooting place and will definitely take your opinion and suggestions on what you want to make. The most important thing is, that you both need to have fun and create something you both are happy with. I can recommend Pinterest as a good tool for inspiration - creating a collection of pictures, portraits or poses you like and sharing them with your photographer, where he can also add what he likes. In my experience, I was always happy when not only me, but also photographer made some research and found what he likes, described me his ideas.
But never, never forget that it is mainly on you - when you will have clearer idea of what you want or practiced posing, the whole photoshoot will get so much easier! And also, you can't count that your photographer knows the character. He can have different reason he is shooting the costume (it is interesting to him in some way, you are getting payed photoshoot, or he just simply likes it), so he can research some basics or poses, but if you have a specific scene in your head you want to portray, definitely tell him or show him! Also, you can train the poses or your face expressions in front of the mirror.
3. Day "Ph"!
The day of the photoshoot is here! If you are planning to shoot whole day, or start before noon - be sure to go to sleep soon the day before, so you are well rested! Photoshoot is not an easy thing as it may seem. Prepare yourself in no-stress environment. Does your makeup usually takes an hour and a half to put on? Well, be sure to add a bit more time to that, so you have enough time to also check if you have everything you need with you and also to manage to eat something. Definitely take glue, mastix or ducktape with you - you never know! If you are shooting in winter and have not-really-friendly winter costume, be ABSOLUTELY SURE to take some blanket (or talk to your photographer and maybe he will take some blankets!), or big coat with you! I shot one of my summer costumes in -15 degree celcius and let me tell you something - you don't really want to do that without any blanket to cover yourself between the shots! 🙂
Also, if you have bigger armor or more complicated costume, it is always good to have a helper with you - someone, who helps you into costume, carry armor parts with you (especially if you don't have a car - like me 🙂 ) and checks during the photoshoot if everything is on place.
4. Planned photoshoot vs. convention photoshoot
In this article, I am in general more focusing on planned photoshoot, because well, it is obviously - planned 🙂 You have time to prepare, discuss ideas etc. But what about sudden convention photoshoot? Well, you are probably in your costume anyway, so that is a plus! 🙂 Be sure to have some poses prepared - not every photographer can tell you how to stand from the spot. If you do some pose, which suits the character, he can adjust it so it looks good in the camera. But definitely please don't ask for the photoshoot and then just stand there, silently. Be confident and enjoy the attention! Or sure, if your character is shy, tell your photographer and get into the role! Also, it is always good to have a card with your name and contact on it, so you can give it to the photographer and he can then find you online and send you pictures.
5. The aftermath
Photoshoot is finished, you finally took off the costume and had a nice bath and now... you just can't wait to see the pics!!! But be patient. Don't write your photographer right next day - give him some time to rest too. If you had a free photoshoot, be aware that all shooting and editing does in his free time. So of course, you definitely can ask him and remind him about the photos, but don't be too eager! 🙂
If you paid for the photos, be sure to discuss with photographer in person, or on set, when he will be able to finish them. In general, if you are getting a paid photoshoot - be sure to ask about EVERYTHING you want to know about - what is in the price? How long does finishing the photos usually take? Here, you are practically paying for some service, so be sure to be well informed (but that still does not mean you and photographer can't have both fun! 🙂 ).
The day is here, photos are finally in your mail! But... what to do, if you don't like something on them? Do you feel like you know you don't especially like the color gradient, or some retouch, but you are afraid to tell the photographer? That you will look ungrateful? Honestly, that is the feeling I fight everytime I find something small, that just bugs me (and I have to say, I am especially picky since I love taking pictures myself, lol!). But, in the end, those are the pictures you are going to be representing yourself. It is completely okay to nicely tell to photographer your suggestions or asking about certain edits on the photo. As I said - everything is about discussion. The important thing is that you BOTH are satisfied with the result.
Happy photoshooting! 🙂
People on photographs -
Cosplayer: Zendr Cosplay
Helpers: Kaliend and Zoidy