Cosplay Lighting


Photography is a game of lights and cosplay photography is no different. Directing your subjects on poses and standing locations is pretty much pointless if you are not able to get light to shine on them in a photogenic manner. When it comes to lighting there are several choices but they can basically be broken down into artificial and natural. Natural of course is light from the sun while artificial can be light from strobes or indoor lighting. No matter which type of light you prefer or choose, it really all comes down to how you illuminate the subject. I want to discuss this topic a bit today, specifically, cosplay lighting for your next photoshoot.

Let me start by saying im a bit biased because I love using my orlit rovelights. But I have taken a few pictures that turned out great with natural lighting. I really believe it all comes down to personal preference. Anyways, whether you choose natural or artificial light, theres some simple steps you can take to make every photo better.

Do Not Face The Sun

First up is a tip for outdoor shots. Conventions offer cosplayers the convenience of being either indoor or outdoor for shoots and if you choose outdoors you can get some great natural lighting. But you want to make sure your subject is not looking directly into the sun. Why you ask? Because taking photos were the cosplayer is looking into the sun causes them to squint. This of course looks terrible for photos and usually causes the subject to make a non-photogenic face.

Switch From Auto

I know not everyone has taken a photography class or really played with their camera but if you get the chance too, take a look at aperture priority mode (brightness of image passing through the lens). Aperture priority mode will automatically set the best shutter speed for the image. This means your settings will change with the movement of the sun along with any shade from trees or clouds. Manual settings require you to dial in every setting yourself and for a non-experienced photographer, this can be a bit overwhelming.

Broaden The Light Source

Do you ever see photographers with massive softboxes on their lights? Well that’s because these massive softboxes diffuse the light. They scatter the light essentially making the light source broader. This means that they should not have a single spot on their face or body that is more illuminated than the other. I personally use Godox 32 Inch Octagon Softboxes. Generally, light spread out across subjects is way more appealing than a direct point. If you are a natural light photographer, you do not have to worry about this problem as much. As clouds can act as softboxes for you.

Offer Camera Flash


This one is an absolute game-changer. Being able to direct your cameras light source means you can take some crazy pictures. You can create dramatic looking images as well as backlit images. Removing the flash from you camera simply opens so many allies of photography that were previously locked. Some great examples are gel photography. A few examples of this type of cosplay photography can be seen HERE. You also now have the option of lighting subjects from the top or bottom which once again makes for some amazing images.

Keep The Light Source Close


Another tip for photographers that prefer artificial light, make sure the light source isn’t too far from the subject. The further your light is from the subject the less light actually hitting the subject and the less illuminated the cosplayer will look. A general rule to consider is that light falls off as the square of the distance. This means that if you move a light twice as far from a cosplayer, the cosplayer will only receive one-quarter of the original light source.

Use Reflectors

Cosplay Couples

The use of reflectors allows natural light photographers to reflect the light surrounding the cosplayer directly onto the cosplayer. Unfortunately, this means you will likely need an assistant and cannot complete these types of shoots on your own. Personally, I would really like to start using reflectors with my natural light photos but I have yet to find anyone willing to accompany me on shoots. Anyone looking to fill this role send me a message, I need help lol.

Magic Hour

Magic hour or the golden hour is great for all types of photographers. Magic hour creates great lighting making sure your images pop even before post. This time is usually just before sunset or right before sunrise. The amazing thing about golden hour is it makes the background of your images look amazing. Golden hour of course also makes the subject look amazing and is an overall excellent choice for photography.

Balance Natural Light an Flash

By balancing your cameras flash and the natural light in the room your images will look much better in my opinion that if you only went with one source. On camera, flashes tend to light one subject while leaving the background and surrounding area dark. To avoid this problem, you need to balance both the flash and the rooms ambient light. This is very useful when shooting indoors at cons since you often do not have a lot of free space. If the shutter speed is slow, it will cause the ambient light and the flash to appear in the image. Opposite to that if it’s fast, neither will show. Balancing the two can be a bit tricky but with some practice and a few test shots, you will have it down in no time.


I hope you enjoyed this post about cosplay lighting tips. Hopefully, you can institute them into your next shoot. I plan to do a write up on the 85mm lens but that has yet to come. For now, check out why I love the 50mm lens post for shoots HERE. Well, that’s everything for today, thanks so much for reading my post and make sure you leave a comment below. I would love to get more engagement and feedback and your comments are always welcomed. That’s it for today, until next time, stay Boundless!!!


If you got this far in your reading that congratulations, ill offer one more tip for your next shoot. That is, shoot in the shade. Shooting in the shade allows you to control the light in your image a lot more than if you shoot in the open. This greatly affects photographers using flash or off-camera strobes. You can completely change the amount of light hitting the subject while dialing up your shutter speed to decrease the background lights. Definitely give it a shot.

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