Well, it’s a new year and I’m sure we have all set goals and things we wish to accomplish for 2020 both in and out of cosplay. Maybe you want to lose weight or travel more. Others want to create massive cosplays or perfect their cosplay creation skills. Personally, I have decided I really want to focus on my own personal style. I have done tons of shoots and discovered several things that work and do not work. But this year I want to of course focus on the things that work while improving upon the areas that I feel are lacking in my photography.
I really enjoy vibrant photos as well as extremely bright images. My last con of 2019 was Anime Weekend Atlanta and it was at this con that I feel I took some of my best pictures of the year. I chose a style and stuck with it throughout the day. This style basically focuses on darkening the background while brightening the subject with an off-camera flash. To add to this style, I have purchased a brand new NIKON Z6 which should allow me to drop to those low F-stops. Every photographer knows how hard it is to keep subjects in focus at 1.4 and below. With this new camera, I should be able to achieve it a lot easier. So with this topic in mind, let’s check out some ways to help you define your cosplay style.
Develop Your Own Presets
I am extremely guilty of looking at other photos and becoming envious. Feelings of inadequacy take over when I see images from photographers that have been in the game for years. To try and replicate their photos, I either use there free presets or watch their YouTube videos and try to edit my photos the same. There’s nothing wrong with this method but this year I really want to stop imitating and create my own style and brand. I want others to see my photos and instantly know, Oh, that’s a photo by Boundless Perception.
My strategy to begin this process starts with saving my own presets. Now that I know the type of images I am going to be taking, I can hopefully use the presets I define to constantly produce images that fall into my idea of beautiful. Of course, there is no one size fits all and minor tweaks are going to be needed, but they should not be drastic. By having photos edited with the same contrast, shadows, and lights, I should start being able to consistently produce photos that are not only to my liking but recognizable by everyone in the cosplay community.
Set Your White Balance
Ok this was a really big one for me. I always prefer to let the camera set my white balance. Or if I am not in automatic white balance mode, I simply choose one of the settings that correspond to my environment. Such as cloudy day, incandescent lighting or direct sunlight. These settings are great at achieving a much better picture but if you want to develop your own style, then you really want to look at setting your own white balance.
Maybe you prefer your pictures to have a bit more yellow or blue in them. Of course, this can be achieved in post but if your white balance is set in auto that means you are going to have to do a different edit on each photo to achieve that same blue or yellow look. I have discussed workflow efficiency in other articles and having to set the temperature of each photo is not efficient. With a consistent white balance setting, the probability of all of your photos looking identical is much higher.
Consistently Use The Same Gear
Most of us are stuck with the same camera body for each shoot unless you are the type that enjoys renting different gear for each shoot. If that’s your thing and it works for you then hey keep up the good work. If you’re like me though, you are usually locked into a specific camera body. The big difference comes with the lenses. Each lens has its own unique attributes and develops a style very different from other lenses in your arsenal. You already know my personal favorite is the Nifty 50.
This was one of the first lenses I acquired as its relatively inexpensive and allows for amazing bokeh. The lens is also fast meaning I can capture tons of images rapidly. But, this lens also produces images that look very different from my Kit Lens. Personally, I struggle with choosing between the two and each has there own unique role and niche. However, I plan to stick with one lens for the entire day moving forward to better increase the chances of replicating my style. This will also help me become a better photographer. If I’m forced to master one tool rather than switching as soon as I encounter a situation I do not like, I will certainly perfect methods of using this tool/lens.
Make Photo Sets On the Same Day
This ties into being consistent with your gear but its slightly different. When walking around taking pictures of cosplayers, try and set a goal and make sure you are actively working towards shooting that goal. For example, if you’re agenda for the day is upper body portraits then stick to it. Make sure you capture 3 to 5 portraits of each cosplayer in this style. They can change their poses and even the location but aim to make sure each photo is an upper-body photo.
Alternatively, you can aim to capture a specific angle. Such as shooting every cosplayer from the ground or a very low angle. No matter what style you choose, just make sure your consistent. I know this sounds easy but trust me, its very common to get distracted and realize you’re last 10 shoots have all wavered from your predetermined goal. This will, of course, get easier with time so don’t be too hard on yourself if you are unable to stick to your plans immediately.
Edit Photos The Same
Finally we have Edit Your Photos The Same. This may be the most important or second most important aspect of defining your cosplay photography style. I see literally hundreds of cosplay photos a day and instantly recognize which photos came from which photographer. Occasionally I get it wrong but I still bat a rather high average. This is because famous photographers usually edit all of their photos the same. They may remove greens from their photos or always enhance shadows no matter the photo.
Some common methods that I have seen in the editing process are applying one tone curve to all of the images, setting the same color to stand out across all of the images and cropping in a very specific manner. It really pains me to crop images and not show the entire photo. But I have learned that sometimes it’s not what you show but what you do not show that tells more of a story. This year I will definitely try to work on being ok with showing less in my photos. Man, this is going to be one tough journey.
There are so many things you can do to improve upon or develop your own cosplay photography style with this list only containing a few. I plan to further explore this topic in 2020 and will let you know what other points I discover and develop. Thank you so much for checking out my first post of 2020 and as always feel free to leave a comment below. As a bonus, I will also be starting a YouTube channel this year so be on the lookout to not only see your images in picture format but also in video. As soon as it’s up I will let you all know. And for more awesome cosplay posts click HERE! Until next time, Stay BOUNDLESS!!!