Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cosplay 101: How to Get Professional Photos

When I began cosplaying in 2006, I was amazed by all of the professional photos I found on the internet of outstanding cosplayers from around the world. Photography was one of the things that drew me into cosplay. The art of taking photos not only captures a fictional character come to life but helps tell a story. It takes someone with a creative eye and true talent to capture a shot (not just someone with an expensive camera). My first cosplay was Aerith Gainsborough from Final Fantasy VII. I started out taking pictures with a standard point and shoot camera. I didn't know anything about photography or modeling and wished there was a how-to guide to getting professional photos done. Now that I have several years experience both as a cosplayer and a professional model, I want to take this opprotunity to helps others with three easy tips.

Tip #1: Create an Account on Model Mayhem. This site will get you connected with photographers in your area by searching through the casting/travel section. Model Mayhem is a community for models, photographers, makeup artists and other professionals in the industry. I have to stress how careful you have to be on this site. There are creepers who are anything but professional. I highly recommend immediately blocking anyone who gives you any trouble. NEVER go to a photo shoot alone. Always bring someone with you (say that your companion is your assistant) and don't buy into the "I work better alone" excuse. A real photographer won't have issues with other people on set. Don't give out your phone number until you confirm everything in writing via email (date, location of the shoot, theme and compensation). Be sure to work out the details on what compensation you will both be receiving whether you are paying the photographer or doing a trade. I have met some wonderful photographers through Model Mayhem and have even been hired for modeling assignments. But there have also been major disappointments . Be sure to ask and sign a Model Release Form. If they don't provide one,  create your own. Search Google for tips and feel free to email me:  Remember to be fair; both parties who are coming together for a creative project must be satisfied.

Tip #2: Network in the Convention Community.  There are plenty of online communities for conventions where you can connect with other cosplayers and photographers. Do a search for a show you want to attend through Facebook and see what's going on. Many shows have group gathering photo shoots organized by attendees. They sometimes
include special guests such as comic creators or actors. Photographers sometimes set up a booth or have a meeting place at a show where they offer sessions with cosplayers.

Tip #3: Buy a Professional Camera. It costs a pretty penny but it's worth it. If you own a professional camera then you can take high quality photos at your will. You can use a tripod or have someone you know and trust operate the camera for you. If you can't afford one, purchase the highest quality point and shoot camera available on the market. I've had photos taken with a point and shoot camera such as my Red Riding Hood collection that I'm pleased with.  I would also advise in investing in some sort of Photo Shop program. You never know what you can accomplish while experimenting with the program. It also comes in handy when you have to do something quick and easy like removing a blemish.

I hope you found my quick guide helpful. Have fun and Happy Cosplaying!

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