Cosplay photoshoot tips!

It’s the bread and butter of the cosplay community; the photoshoot. Without photographers, we wouldn’t be able to share our cosplays online to the rest of the world! That’s why it’s important to get the cosplay photoshoot right and make sure you look as best as possible for it.

So in this post, I’ll give you 30 cosplay photoshoot tips that will help you get the best cosplay photos. These tips are for both cosplayers and photographers. So whether you’re the cosplay model, or the photographer, I’m sure you’ll find these tips incredibly useful.

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I’ve also included quotes from cosplayers I’ve spoken to, and how they felt about certain things when it comes to cosplay photoshoots.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

For Cosplayers

1. Give yourself lots of time to prepare!

My friend helping me with my Marth before a shoot.
My friend helping me with my Marth cosplay before a shoot!

Of all the cosplay photoshoot tips I’m about to share with you, this one is the easiest one to do. Giving yourself lots of time to get ready for a shoot is essential. If you have a photoshoot at 2 p.m., you want to give yourself an hour or so to prepare. You don’t want to basically walk into a shoot; you want to be ready to go well in advance.

Having that extra time to prepare yourself, you can do things such as:

  • Put on your makeup and freshen up your face
  • Check yourself out in the mirror and see if your cosplay has any issues
  • Being mentally relaxed and ready to have fun for the shoot!

I made a cosplay photoshoot table for you to use. It includes all the essential things you need for the shoot, that way you don’t forget anything!

2. Utilize cosplay makeup.

Cosplay makeup can make you look a LOT better on camera!

One of the most important cosplay photoshoot tips!

If you didn’t already know, makeup is a huge thing when it comes to cosplay. For many cosplayers, makeup is an essential tool to making yourself look as best as possible. And when it comes to cosplay photoshoots, makeup can make you look a LOT better on camera. Without it, you may not look as flattering. Or the lighting will not look the same on your face without makeup.

While it’s not mandatory to use makeup for a cosplay photoshoot, you’ll definitely look a lot better with it. I know a lot of my friends would never been seen in a cosplay without their makeup on, so take it as you will!

Cosplay makeup is a huge topic on its own. If you wanted to learn more on how to get started with cosplay makeup basics, click here to read my guide on it!

3. Practice your poses before the photoshoot.

Chances are, you own a smartphone. And one notable feature of a smartphone is the ability to take selfies.

To get some practice in before the big cosplay photoshoot, practice taking some selfies! It’s a simple way to practice your posing and facial expressions. You’ll know your most flattering angles and poses by just taking photos of yourself. Take me for example, I find myself looking better when I smile.

When I don’t have a facial expression at all, my face looks flat and unflattering on camera! So I learned to have some sort of facial expression when I’m doing a photoshoot. These things you learn by taking photos of yourself!

4. Bring “reference” photos of your character for the photoshoot.

Deku Cosplay
Deku likes using his fists! That’s how we got the idea to do this photo. Photo by istofuuuu.

While some cosplay photographers will do research on your character to think of poses you can do, generally speaking, you want to research this on your own as a cosplayer. You want to have some ideas of poses you can do. So all you have to do is search online for some photos of your character, and save them on your phone. You don’t want to head into a photoshoot and hope you can “wing it.”

So think of at least 3 different poses you can do for your cosplay photographer. And when it’s time for the photoshoot, just pull up your phone and show the photographer the reference photos! So if you’re cosplaying Junko from Danganonronpa, you definitely gotta do her signature pose where she sticks her tongue and crosses her forearms!

5. “Test” out your cosplay the day before the shoot.

Joker Cosplay
Me testing out my friend’s Persona 5 cosplay!

One of the easiest cosplay photoshoot tips, but definitely overlooked.

If possible, put on your costume at home and see how you look in the mirror. If you see something is off, now is the perfect time fix it up. It may have been days or weeks since you put on your cosplay; you don’t want to find out that something is broken on the day of the shoot! So I highly recommend “testing” out your cosplay, wearing it and walking around the home with it to ensure the costume is perfectly fine. It’ll be nice to have that peace of mind. 🙂

6. Get all your cleansing and shaving done the night before.

If you have any facial hair you don’t want showing up in your photos, then it’s best to wait the night before to shave it off. So if you’re a guy like me cosplaying a Husbando with a clean face, you probably don’t want that moustache on you. So be sure to take care all of that a day before the shoot.

As for cleaning your face, everyone has their own skincare routine (or should, in my opinion). You’ll want your face to look as good as possible, so be sure to follow a regiment and have it ready the day before. There are lots of routines out there, for example my friend has their own routine here.

7. Try to schedule your photoshoot during “Golden Hour.”

golden hour (cosplay photoshoot tips)
Imagine taking cosplay photos in this BEAUTIFUL lighting. The magic of “Golden Hour.” Image by Aritha from Pixabay.

This is one of the cosplay photoshoot tips that I don’t see a lot of people doing, and I’m not sure why!

When I used to do practice photoshoots with my photographer friend, he would always schedule them really late in the day; literally right before sunset. At the time, I didn’t know any better and asked him why he wanted to shoot so late?

He told me about the concept of “Golden Hour.” This is basically one hour after sunrise OR one hour before sunset, the sun is at a perfect lighting to take outdoor photography. And it showed; my photos looked so much better while taking photos right before sunset!

So if you and your cosplay photographer have a flexible schedule and planning to shoot outdoors, then try to schedule it either one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset. That way, you’ll get the best lighting possible during Golden Hour! The Sun will provide you with perfect lighting 🙂 (Assuming it’s not raining)

During the cosplay photoshoot

8. Have a cosplay repair kit with you during the shoot.

Bring some extra thread and needle in case your cosplay decides to conveniently fail on you right during the shoot. Image by Gabriele Lässer from Pixabay.

Hey, stuff happens. Your wig gets blown off by the wind outside. The glue is coming off your costume. An accessory falls off right before the shoot. That’s when a cosplay emergency kit will come in handy! It’ll help you quickly fix these problems.

Here are a few items you want to have on hand with you during a shoot:

  • Safety pins to hold something together in a pinch if it falls off
  • Superglue
  • Thread and needle to quickly sew things back together

9. Bring a friend with you!

“Avoid creeps!! Always make sure someone accompany you for shoots. Not really a tip but a friendly reminder especially to those who just started.”

Cosplayer

A friend doesn’t have to be part of the shoot, but to help you during the shoot. Your friend can be there not only to help out, but to make you feel comfortable as well. This is totally optional, but having a friend with you during the photoshoot is always helpful. They can assist you with putting makeup on, help you put on a cosplay, throw your cape during the shoot and make you feel comfortable during the shoot.

10. Bring props with you to add some flavor and fun!

Shield Hero cosplay
It wouldn’t be the same without Naofumi’s shield!

I mentioned in a previous post about how cosplay props can definitely improve how you look on camera overall. (If you want to learn how to improve your cosplay in general, click here to read about it).

If your character wields a sword or a wand, I recommend bringing one with you to the shoot. You’ll look so much cooler and awesome with it! Of course, I understand if it’s not budget-friendly to shell out an extra $100-$200 to commission a weapon, so only do it if you can afford it.

On the lighter side of things, I would also bring random stuff to a photoshoot, just for fun! You never know how things can turn out.

11. It’s okay to say “No” to photos you’re not comfortable with.

“During some shoots I’ve done, people ask for weird poses and stuff, and that bothers me a LOT. Don’t keep pushing the boundaries when models are uncomfortable.”

~cosplayer

As someone that’s been in the cosplay community for a long time, I’ve heard so many stories from cosplayers about how their photographer made them feel uncomfortable doing poses they didn’t want. This is definitely unfortunate.

If at any point the photographer asks you to do some sort of pose you don’t want or you don’t feel comfortable with, let them know (E.g. taking your shoes off or climbing up a wall). Most photographers have good intentions and want to get the best photos out of you. So they may not know you’re not comfortable shooting with. So all you have to speak up and let them know.

12. Be sure to take some breaks during the photoshoot

“Cosplayers, if you need a break, tell the photographer instead of walking off.”

~cosplayer

Remember that cosplay photoshoots are not a marathon or a workout! Posing still on camera and trying to get the right angles and facial expressions can be EXHAUSTING. So don’t be afraid to ask the photographer to take a break once in a while to let yourself get hydrated and physcially rest.

13. Once in a while, ask your photographer to let you see the photos.

Photo of me taking a photo of the photo!
Be sure to ask your photographer to see some photos from time to time during the shoot. That way you’ll know how you’re looking. And it makes for a good preview shot to share with your followers on social media. 🙂

Sometimes the photographer may feel they’re taking good photos, but YOU may not be happy with them. So it’s good to check and let your photographer know if you’re unhappy. That way, you guys can adjust and retake the photos.

14. Also ask your photographer if anything about your costume looks off.

“Photographers, please keep an eye out for flipped collars and messy wigs, as it makes it easier to edit later.”

~cosplayer

Before I start taking photos with my photographers, I always ask, “How do I look? Is my costume alright?” That way, my photographer can see if something is not in place, such as a necklace facing the wrong way, real hair sticking out of the wig, etc. This is especially helpful if you’re shooting outside; the wind can easily mess up your costume. So it helps to have your photographer find anything off on your costume.

15. Develop connections with photographers.

Develop a good relationship with a cosplay photographer you enjoy working with. Once you shoot with a photographer with a few times, you’ll likely develop a good relationship with them. You might even become friends with each other! Not only do they know your strengths and weaknesses when taking photos, they’ll likely be more comfortable shooting with you as well (and vice versa). They may even offer you a discount for future shoots.

For cosplay photographers

16. Anime and Comic cons are the best places to do cosplay photoshoots.

The Palais des Congres convention centre for Otakuthon
The Palais des Congres convention centre for Otakuthon. Conventions are by far the easiest and most economical way to do cosplay photoshoots.

If you’re talking logistically and financially, Anime/Comic conventions are by far the best place to hold cosplay photoshoots. With a private photoshoot, you have to coordinate a date/time with the cosplayers, which is fine but takes more effort. With a cosplay convention, you probably were planning to attend the con anyway. So why not do your photoshoot AND attend the con at the same time! Not only that, when you’re at the con, you already paid to get in, so you can do your photoshoot for free! No need to book a spot or anything; you’ll have lots of quieter spaces around the convention area to take photos!

It’s no wonder why a bunch of cosplay photographers advertise their services right before the weekend of a big convention. For me personally, I notice a huge increase in cosplay photographers posting in my group, offering to do photoshoots at the convention a week or two before it happens.

While almost every con allows photographers to do photoshoots at the con for free, some are starting to charge money in order to have that privilege (I wrote an article about it, click here if you want to read).

17. Scout out the convention venue before committing to a photoshoot location.

Anime North Review
A view of Anime North from my hotel room. By doing some exploring, you can find some good spots to do your cosplay photoshoot during a convention.

If you’re unfamiliar with the areas of a particular Anime/Comic convention, then you should definitely do a walk around and see which places would be good to take photos.

Some ideas include:

  • Any grassy area right next to the convention center
  • Courtyard of the convention area (lots of open space to take photos, easy to access)
  • Anywhere with big windows inside (great for lighting)

You’ll also want to find out if a particular area gets busy or not. For example, Katsucon is one of the largest Anime conventions in the United States and in the venue where it takes place, there’s a famous gazebo inside. EVERYONE tries to take photos inside this gazebo, so either you’d have to get a very quick photo, or do the photoshoot very early in the morning or very late at night when it’s quieter. People would just attend MAGFest instead to get the gazebo cause less cosplayers, but I think the secret is out already!

18. Know a little bit about the character that the model is cosplaying as.

“Sometimes you wish photographers can do a simple look up bout the character?”

~cosplayer

Generally speaking, the onus is on the cosplayer to do the research and find poses that work for their character. But as a cosplay photographer, it doesn’t hurt to have a few poses in mind for your cosplay subject. There is a cosplay photographer in my area that has a good reception not only for her photography skills, but the fact that she does research into the cosplayer’s character and comes up with her photo ideas for them! So it’s definitely a bonus for you if you can take the extra step and do some research. 🙂

All you really have to do is Google the character and find a few photos of the character, save it on your phone and have it ready for the shoot. You’ll get extra brownie points!

19. Cater to your cosplayer’s needs and adjust your shoots accordingly.

Fire Emblem group photo
For this photo, our photographer did an amazing job positioning us based on our height differences.

While everyone may cosplay Harley Quinn, no two Harley Quinn cosplayers are truly the same!

What I mean by this is that each and every cosplayer is unique in their own way. One cosplayer may have a physical disability that might prevent them from shooting for prolonged periods of time, while another may be very tall or very short. So you definitely want to take that into account and adjust your photoshoot accordingly.

For example, my cosplayer friend from Latin America is very short. While she embraces her Chibi height, she does mention to me how it’s pretty inconvenient when it comes to cosplay photoshoots. They have to coordinate group shots in a way that caters to her height, especially when she’s with other taller cosplayers.

So what I’m trying to say is; don’t make every photoshoot the same thing! If your cosplayer is tall and their character needs to look cute, you’ll want to find a place where you can stand above them to get camera angles of them looking Kawaii.

Are you a high-tech photographer with instant wireless transmission that can preview the shots instantly? Is the cosplayer blind? Is your shoot accessible? These are all key factors that are often overlooked.

-Shaded Lenz

20. Group photoshoots are generally more difficult to do.

Mahou Dreamers Love Live! Cosplay Group
Mahou Dreamers Love Live! Cosplay Group. To coordinate this group shot is not easy!

For me as a cosplayer, I always find it fun doing a photoshoot with a group of people! However, it may not be the same for the photographer. At least one of my photographer friend has mentioned that coordinating group photoshoots is difficult. Think about how hard it is to get great photos for just one cosplayer. Now if you add 2-3 more cosplayers to the mix, and that difficulty just increases even further.

So if you’re a cosplay photographer that’s just starting out, I would recommend keeping your photoshoots to just one cosplayer if you’re looking to get better at your hobby.

21. Make sure you have permission to take photos at your location (especially in public areas).

This cosplay photoshoot tip is often overlooked, but definitely important. You want to make sure you have permission to take cosplay photos at the location you’re planning to shoot. While this isn’t a big issue at Anime or Comic conventions (unless you’re shooting right in the middle of a busy lobby), it can be an issue if you’re in a public space like a park or city square. DON’T assume just because the area is public, that you’re allowed to setup your camera equipment and start shooting.

One time, my photographer friend decided to setup his tripod and lights at a city center public square. Things were going fine, until a city worker came up to them and warned that because he did not have a permit to take photography, he would be fined for doing so! Fortunately, they only gave him a warning and he immediately put away the photography stuff.

So before you decide to take photos, make sure the area does not require a permit for photography. If it does, then you can choose to buy a permit so you have permission take photos there.

22. Consider renting out an indoor venue.

You don’t need to worry about the weather when you rent out your own private studio! Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

Cons are the most economical and convenient way to do photoshoots. With that said, if you prefer to try something different and don’t mind spending a bit of money, then why not try renting out an indoor venue to do your photoshoot. There are numerous benefits to renting out a studio or room for a cosplay photoshoot. You’ll have access to cool settings and backdrops you normally can’t find at a convention. The weather won’t be a factor, so you won’t need to worry about it raining or being too sunny. And you can control the lighting inside the room to your liking.

If you want some indoor cosplay photoshoot ideas, click here to read my list of places you should try!

23. No touching the cosplayer (unless you get permission).

“Photographers shouldn’t touch the cosplayer without asking first.”

~cosplayer

This is one of those cosplay photoshoot tips you definitely need to know as a photographer.

At times, you may need to help the cosplayer out with holding something, or holding their hand for a pose for example. But make sure you ask for permission first! So while helping your model with a specific pose or setting up something is great, just ask the cosplayer first if it’s okay to touch them first. As long as you ask beforehand, then everything should be fine.

24. Communication is essential! 

Just like how I mentioned that cosplayers need to communicate with the photographer during the shoot, photographers should always do the same!

For example, if a cosplayer is tired, unsure or doesn’t feel comfortable with a particular pose, don’t be afraid to ask and voice your concern. Having a fun cosplay photoshoot is the most ideal situation for both parties, and communicating with each other is the best way to do so.

25. Have fun!

Gotta have fun at your shoots!

Last but definitely not the least of the cosplay photoshoot tips here…just have fun!

This might sound like trivial advice, but really. Make it a priority to have FUN at your photoshoots! Do silly poses with your friends. Have a good conversation with the photographer (or the cosplayer if you’re a photographer). If a pose or photo idea isn’t coming out the way you want, try to change things up.

If you’re having fun at the cosplay photoshoot, then it’ll definitely show in the photos, and that’s a good thing.

Summary

To summarize, here are the 25 cosplay photoshoot tips you should know:

  1. Give yourself lots of time to prepare!
  2. Utilize cosplay makeup.
  3. Practice your poses before the photoshoot.
  4. Bring “reference” photos of your character for the photoshoot.
  5. “Test” out your cosplay the day before the shoot.
  6. Get all your cleansing and shaving done the night before.
  7. Try to schedule your photoshoot during “Golden Hour.”
  8. Have a cosplay repair kit with you during the shoot.
  9. Bring a friend with you!
  10. Bring props with you to add some flavor and fun!
  11. It’s okay to say “No” to photos you’re not comfortable with.
  12. Be sure to take some breaks during the photoshoot
  13. Once in a while, ask your photographer to let you see the photos.
  14. Also ask your photographer if anything about your costume looks off.
  15. Develop connections with photographers.
  16. Anime and Comic cons are the best places to do cosplay photoshoots.
  17. Scout out the convention venue before committing to a photoshoot location.
  18. Know a little bit about the character that the model is cosplaying as.
  19. Cater to your cosplayer’s needs and adjust your shoots accordingly.
  20. Group photoshoots are generally more difficult to do.
  21. Make sure you have permission to take photos at your location (especially in public areas).
  22. Consider renting out an indoor venue.
  23. No touching the cosplayer (unless you get permission).
  24. Communication is essential!
  25. Have fun!

And there you have it; 25 cosplay photoshoot tips for you! I hope you’ll find these tips useful for your next cosplay photoshoot, whether you’re the cosplayer or photographer.

Which cosplay photoshoot tips surprised you the most? Let me know in the comments below!