Happy Thursday everyone. We’re back again with another awesome cosplay blog post and today I want to take a look at cosplay photography. I feel my photography has made a substantial jump in terms of quality. It’s so easy to get lost in the idea of not being as great as others or even having as many clients. But, becoming an expert takes time along with tons of practice. The more shoots a cosplay photographer does the better a photographer he becomes. Knowing which environment best matches a cosplayer and most importantly knowing you’re equipment will certainly lead to the recognition you are seeking.
“I want to use this post to show my cosplay photography progress. The above image is one of the first I ever took while the final is very recent“. My first pictures were completely over or underexposed and I did not understand TTL, aperture, or shutter. Like many, I had my camera set in auto mode and it wasn’t until after a solid 4 or 5 months of being disappointed with my photography that I realize auto was not the way to grow. That’s right, I had to get my hands dirty and learn the ins and outs of my camera. At this time, I was using a Nikon D3500 camera which is certainly a beginner camera. The kit lens was my best friend and I had no idea what the difference between this and a $1000 camera was.
Well, eventually I upgraded to a Nikon d7000 which I still use to this day as I love this camera. As you can see, I stuck with Nikons brand as I had become familiar with its layout and images. I have since used several other cameras ranging from Olympus to Sony but Nikon is just the company for me. But anyway, I noticed that there were tons of differences between my photos and professionals but the main were posing, editing, lighting and location. I had no idea how to combine all three of these elements but to create great images I would have to.
First up was posing. Commonly, I would ask cosplayers for a photo and simply snap them looking directly at the camera without engaging in any movements. These images looked so bland and did not have any type of flare. In addition to posing, learning to change the angle from which the camera was snapping the pictures was necessary. Going low or high was used by so many photographers to create amazing images and in learning to do this I was able to “level up”.
Once I switched up the angle, I started looking into the characters once the shoot began and naturally found tons of images with google. Since I now had an understanding of who the character was and how they moved, I could ask for certain poses. Usually, the cosplayer instantly remembered their character making that pose or face and the entire atmosphere of the shoot changed.
Along with my understanding of posing came the processes of selecting a location. Sure, you cant always pull a cosplayer to an outside or secluded location but the middle of the convention floor definitely doesn’t make for the best of photos. I feel a great cosplay photographer will select an area that compliments the cosplayers attire. For example, a Batman cosplay doesn’t look extremely well in the middle of a flower field. The same can be said for a character such as Aang from avatar the last airbender. Throughout the series, you never really saw him in industrialized areas and he was commonly drawn into more natural areas.
Cosplay photography can be described as many things but I personally prefer to call it a game of lights. Becoming a light bender is essential to creating great photos. Knowing exactly where to place each light along with setting your white balance makes a huge difference. I personally use Rovelit Orlights and have yet to have a complaint with them. Well maybe their size is a bit annoying and I may upgrade to the Godox AD200 lighting system but until then I will stick with what I have and no.
Of course, Soft Boxes also plays a big parting in your lighting but I don’t want to get into all of that now. I wrote an article all about it that can be found HERE! Just know that Off Camera lights completely change the photo experience and will likely help you get to the dreamy photo images you see on Instagram.
I saved the best element of my cosplay photography journey for last and that is editing. My god is editing a rabbit hole that one could spend hundreds of years exploring. There are so many programs to choose from and so many methods to achieve the same results. I am just now venturing into the composition field and I have a much greater appreciation for photographers that do this. Some of those awesome cosplay edits surely took several hours to create and I can only dream of getting to this point. No one ever told me that snapping the camera was actually the easy part. All of the real magic really happens with post-processing. As you can see, with my early cosplay photos I did not do any editing and uploaded them straight from the camera.
I eventually decided to invest in photoshop and lightroom and man did it take my photography to a new level. Those unusable photos which were too dark or light now became potential candidates for clients again. If you are planning to become a cosplay photographer I would say spend a good 75% of your time on the editing process. You can change every aspect of a photo in photoshop thus completely correcting any mistakes made while snapping the photo. Wait, before you run off and take some photos and simply expect to make them great in post, do no there is a limit to what you can do. Sometimes a photo is just unsavable so try to stay away from that area of cosplay photography.
I still have so much to learn in the world of photography but definitely have seen growth in my work. I still dream of the day when I get to work with some of the large names in the cosplay world. Until then, I have to simply keep improving my skills and knowledge. If you are just beginning the cosplay photography journey, I would say don’t give up and just know that this is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a while to find your own unique style along with the best practices that will lead to your own and client’s satisfaction. Hopefully, you can see my growth and know that anyone can venture down the cosplay photography path. You just have to be willing to accept disappointment for eventually achieving that master title.
I really enjoyed writing this post and just wanted to show a bit of where I came from to where I am now. If you have had a similar cosplay photography journey or just care to share your experiences feel free to leave a message below. Thanks so much for taking the time to check out my post as I greatly appreciate it. If you would like more cosplay news feel free to click HERE. Also, check out my cosplay YOUTUBE channel as I release new videos weekly. That’s going to do it for today. Until next time, stay BOUNDLESS!!!