So you got a camera, you’re going to conventions, meeting people, and taking photos of cosplayers! Awesome! Regardless of whether you just picked up a camera or you’re just looking to improve your craft, here are a few very simple tips that will kick your cosplay photography up a notch or two. :]
1. Clean up your backgrounds!
A cosplay can look great but a messy background can be distracting. Watch out for things such as pedestrians, garbage cans, air vents, fire alarms, or light poles. Either move to a different location or angle yourself so your subject blocks those distractions. Look out for everything that might be a little “thorn” in your otherwise perfect photo. Sure you can edit it post, but why not get it right in camera? :]
2. Find the light!
I very much love shooting using my flashes, but sometimes you can’t use all that gear for whatever reason. Love the light that you have and use it to your advantage. A good background is nothing if your subject is underexposed. Learn to identify your light source: Is it hard or soft? Is it warm or cool? Don’t settle for “just getting a shot”.
3. Play with props!
Props are a great way to get dramatic, compelling shots. Having props gives you an arsenal of poses to work with. If the costume has a staff, point the staff past the camera, have the subject assume a battle stance, or just put it across his/her shoulder. This works with all sorts of weapons! Small props can be useful, as well: something as simple as a book or a pair of glasses can be used to change the composition and feel of a photograph! Play with what you’ve got!
4. Watch your camera angles!
You know this shot: cosplayer standing tall on a ledge looking into the sky. It would be a great shot except that photo is definitely shooting straight up their nose. Watch what angles you’re using! Look out for double chins, awkwardly posed arms, and anything else that might be unflattering to the cosplayer. Get closer to your subject: they are the focus of your photo, so don’t worry so much about getting all the background in there as well. Don’t just shoot straight on either. Get on the ground, or climb up on things! Level your horizons and lines, or apply the Dutch angle appropriately! Your photos will come out better and your cosplayer will love you for making them look awesome. :]
5. Be Friendly and Have Fun!
This might sounds like a cop out or maybe just common sense, but being polite and friendly really does make a difference. A comfortable cosplayer is a relaxed cosplayer. A relaxed cosplayer is a better posing cosplayer. Mutual chemistry and vision is so very important to getting a great photo. Joke around, play with random derp poses while your testing light. Anything to lighten the mood is a great icebreaker for both photographer and cosplayer. Do work but have fun doing it!
Now, what are some ways you feel like would improve your photos? What have you done that you feel has drastically improved your photos? Share in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
Zippy - Great write-up! Love the pictures included too as they’re not only awesome on their own but they perfectly represent what you’re talking about. Of course that’s usually the point but I just wanted to say you achieved that marvelously.
L.A. - Thanks so much, Zippy! :]
Jason Linetsky - Love these tips and I’ve learned all of them along the way as well. I still need to be more persistent finding backgrounds with the least distractions for my pictures but working on that.
One thing I started to do at this year’s Katsucon in Maryland was asking every cosplayer I scheduled shoots with who their characters were, what they did for the storylines of the series they’re from, and their personalities. It gave me many many more ideas for poses and angles plus added a bit more fun to the shoots. Example (Spoiler alert?): Two Homestuck trolls. One female one was against the male one in the storyline then eventually joined forces to kill quite a bit of the other characters. I had a few shots of her looking repulsed by him, a few shots of them relaxing against the bannister ignoring each other, and finally cackling together (I had them actually laugh to get the genuine look). I also had them battling each other. If I wouldn’t have asked then it would’ve been a few solo shots and a few together and that’s it. But a little knowledge went a long way. Even if you know a LOT about a series and/or characters, the cosplayer may give you insight you didn’t know or think of to get better shots as well.
L.A. - Thanks for your comment Jason! I definitely agree with you! Knowing about the characters you’re shooting is part of the battle! :]
Ah I went to KatsuCon, too this year! Are you going to be back again next year?