Guest Written by Matthew Hunt’s Photography
Cosplay photography is an interesting thing. When compared to traditional glamour or fashion photography, it is both more restrictive, and more open at the same time. It’s more restrictive in that at conventions, there’s really not such thing as a “controlled” setting. Crowds, signs, awful lighting, and just about everything else can make it difficult to grab the shot you’re looking for.
At the same time, it’s also more free & open to unconventional techniques. Angles you wouldn’t dare try with a fashion model suddenly become the coolest looking shots in Cosplay. The creativity of your subjects opens up new doors to try shots that just wouldn’t work in any other medium. It’s really awesome, and it’s really liberating as a photographer.
Because it’s so very different from most other types of photography, we want to point out a couple really cool ideas. If you haven’t tried these yet, you absolutely have to give them a shot at your next convention.
1. Mood Lighting Can Make a Picture
There are a lot of lighting techniques that are nearly off-limits in traditional photography, but work wonderfully in cosplay. Get yourself a couple of lights & color inserts, and make a point to play with them at least a little during each shoot. Even in the middle of a convention, they can take a pretty boring location and make it way more interesting.
Don’t just use them on your subject, either. Light your background, create shadows that set the tone of the picture. Use different colors to bring out different emotions.
2. Use the Background to Your Advantage
Finding a background you are happy with at a con is no easy task. There’s almost always some sort of crowd, or cars, or displays that you’re just not able to get rid of.
In these situations, the easiest trick is to find a shady spot for your cosplayer – Under heavy trees, or an overhang, etc. But angle your shot so that the background behind them is in the sun. Tweaking the settings on your camera a bit can create a scene where the entire background is so washed out that you can’t see what’s behind the cosplayer anymore. It’s very effective, especially for those characters that aren’t supposed to be from Earth at all.
3. If You Want an Action Shot, Do the Action
Your followers can generally tell the difference between someone who is actually running, jumping, or swinging, vs. someone who is just posing. It’s all in the way a person balances, how they distribute their weight. If you want your photos to look truly authentic, capturing the action as it happens will always give you an image you are happier with.
Just make sure you’re not pushing the limits of what the cosplayer is comfortable with, or what they can perform in their costume. Not all costumes are very mobile. Be polite when you ask, and be understanding if they refuse.
4. Tell a Story
Cosplayers choose the costumes they do for many different reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is just how much they love their character. Not just how the character looks, but their whole story. How they act, how they grow as a person… These details matter a lot.
Being able to capture that essence is a huge deal. The best way to start is to look up reference photos; comic book covers, scenes from the movie they’re in, whatever you can find. Work with the cosplayer to try to recreate that image, and watch the character come to life in your viewfinder.
5. Go For the Unique Angles
Every cosplayer will want a couple head-on shots of their costume to show off their craftsmanship. This is important and shouldn’t be forgotten. Just as important, however, is to go for the angles that catch a viewers attention. It’s not always important to catch 100% of the costume in a single shot.
As long as your entire shoot catches all of it through one image or another, you can go for more interesting angles and piece the costume together one picture at a time. Playing with this style is a unique way to set yourself apart from the crowd and keep cosplayers coming back to you for more photos.
Featured Image: Left: Wayward Cosplay | Right: KeiraSera Cosplay
Tip 1: Predator: Weston Berry | Batman: Allen Hood
Tip 2: Mandalorian: Sinister Ordo | Barriss Offee: Ricochet | Red Twi’lek: Courtney Leigh | Blue Twi’lek: Amber Brite | Sith: Xander D.
Tip 3: Jackolantern: Heath Joslin | Cyclops: Jaymz Gambrell
Tip 4: Gaige: Amber Brite | Psycho: Sinister Ordo | Krieg: Jose Vaca
Tip 5: Salem: Amber Brite