I have had the pleasure of doing tons of shoots this year but I just now realized that I do not have any images that show the behind the scenes work. I will definitely be changing this in 2020! Each of these shoots took place in different locations and required a different thought process as well as set up. This was because of the lighting, character and of course the location. But a great cosplay photographer can produce stunning images regardless of the location. Well since I am not at that level yet, let’s check out some of the images I was able to produce LOL. I truly enjoyed each of these shoots and can hopefully give you an idea about my thought processes along with the equipment I used for each shoot!
First up we have my shoot with @wakandamooncosplay. This shoot was conducted at BLERDCON and a little bit of information about these amazing cosplayers can be found in my previous post HERE! To begin this shoot I decided natural light was not an option. We were on the bottom floor of the hotel were artificial light from the various lamps illuminating the floor were the only sources of light. These lights produce a very nasty orange color that really doesn’t mesh well with skin. Of course, you can try to balance this with your cameras white balance settings but that’s way more work than needed.
Instead I opted to use my 3 Orlit Rovelights. I always write about these lights because I absolutely love them. Next up I examined the background. Since the background was a typical hotel setting, I decided I did not want this either for my images. That means I had to run to the car and grab my BACKDROP Setup along with my Black Muslin Cloth. I have since opted to toss the old multiple pole backdrop in favor of the Telescopic Pole Design. It’s far easier to use and a lot more compact. Back to the lights, I then placed my large GODOX Softboxes on the monolights followed by placing the Orlit Rovelights on there 9 Foot Aluminum Stands.
My main camera is a Nikon D7000 but I will be using my new Nikon Z6 for photos and videos this year! Now that we got the equipment out of the way, let’s look into some poses and thought processes behind the shoot. I have found that as long as you know a few basic poses, cosplayers eventually develop into their own posing style. Instead of trying to micromanage the shoot and every element of posing, I tell models to simply move every time the flash goes off. Sometimes you can get very creative images that are 100% born from spontaneity and personality. Poses are then created that you would have never considered trying had you been following a very strict posing regimen.
I then simply decided to switch the angles. I wrote an entire post about changing angles which can be found HERE! By shooting above, straight on and below the cosplayer, you can drastically change the image’s overall appearance and outcome. This was also necessary as some of the props were too large to capture head-on. Once we had exhausted all of the poses we could think of and each angle was thoroughly explored, I decided to add in my GELS. These once again add an entirely new element to the shoot and can make the previous poses look very different. By matching the gels with each cosplayers outfit, you are able to create very vibrant images that are sure to pause scrolling eyes peering through hundreds of photos on Instagram.
Confined Space Shoot with @Trinityroze
Having your creativity stifled is never any fun. But you work with what you have. For this shoot, I had the pleasure of taking pictures with @Trinityroze cosplay. Similar to my wakandamoon shoot, you can find a post all about these pictures HERE! The real difference between this shoot and the previous is that we were outside. Of course the space was a limiting factor but shooting outside changes everything. Since the lighting is not consistent and you have to deal with changing backgrounds along with clouds, you are constantly having to change your settings.
Fortunately, there was a nearby bridge that had orange lights being displayed on it. This was a godsend as the lights naturally complimented Mercys costume. Aside from instituting our regular poses along with changing angles strategy, we added two new elements to this shoot. The first is a silhouette shot. This shot always sparks wonder and is actually very easy to duplicate. Usually, you would have the cosplayer stand directly in front of the light. This blocks the light from reaching the camera and creates a shadowy outline of the cosplayer. I opted for creating this type of image as I really liked the texture of the brick in the background. By brightening the background you can’t help but notice the brick while also being drawn to the cosplayer.
Both are simultaneously drawing attention overall creating a greater viewing experience. Following this technique, we opted to further include the wall in our shots. This was once again not an option for the Wakndamoon shoot as the wallpaper background of the hotel was hideous for shoots. By laying the camera flat against the wall, we were basically able to align the cosplayer and background into the same plane of focus. I know you have seen these images across the net with models but its rarely seen in cosplay shoots. At least I rarely see it. It’s a very simple way to create a different image while not changing your entire setup. As far Monolight positioning. We placed one of the lights directly to the side and in front of the cosplayer to illuminate all areas of the shoot. You can play with the lighting setup to produce the results you want.
Shoot With @Shaucatcosplay
This may have been my favorite shoot of the year as I have mentioned several times, I got to do it AWAY from a convention. Being able to shoot outside of conventions changes everything. We were also in a secluded area meaning you could literally do any and everything you wanted. Fire, smoke, and fireworks are all up for grabs. Unfortunately, I was unable to use these elements but for anyone shooting in secluded locations, definitely consider adding in these elements to your shoot. It cuts your post-work in half.
For this shoot, I wanted to use as much of the destroyed building as possible. I really wanted people to wonder where this shoot had been conducted. The ruins were amazing, and I really wish we had gotten there a bit early so I could show you how phenomenal this area was. Nature was slowly reclaiming it so it was an amazing mesh between ruins and nature’s continuous struggle to reclaim lands lost. I actually switched from my 50 MM lens to the Kit lens for this shoot. This allowed me to include much more in the shots than my 50 MM would allow.
This shoot was basically the opposite of the first two. I wanted to include as much of the background in the shot as possible so this of course required a different strategy. Two of my Monolights were used for this shoot. This just shows how versatile you can be with your equipment. The model was placed in between the lights. With one facing her and the other pointed at the background. Imagine making a cosplay model sandwich with your lights. The cosplayer is the meat and the lights are the bread. Obviously offset the second light so it’s not in the shoot or have the model stand in front of it to block it. This means you will not have to erase it in photoshop later! It’s all about where you position your lights, the model and what your trying to achieve
In accordance with using your environment to its fullest. We placed @shaucatcosplay in a large open window several feet off the ground. This is one of my favorite images from the entire shoot as so much went into it. We were using an Orange Gel to enhance the background, changed the angle, elevated the cosplayer and once again made a sandwich with the model. Next time I shoot at this location, I plan to bring several other props and photography accessories with me. My mind was racing with ideas and I cant wait to see what we create next time.
I hope you enjoyed this look at three of my shoots from this year. This was a small glance into a few of the thoughts going through my head as I take pictures. We, of course, didn’t discuss camera settings but they play a HUGE part in both the immediate images appearance but also how much work you will have to do in post. If you like this post feel free to leave a comment below. And as always for more cosplay news, feel free to click HERE! Thanks so much again to @shaucatcosplay, @Wakandamooncsplay and @trinityroze cosplay for letting me take their pictures. Until next time, stay BOUNDLESS!!!