Are you a cosplayer that tried to book a photoshoot with a photographer, but they kept saying they’re busy? And then a month or two later, you see them release a photoshoot of another cosplayer from a recent con, even though they said they were “busy.” WTF!

Or you’re a photographer who LOVES the costume that a certain cosplayer puts out, and you want to shoot them so badly. But they never answer your emails or messages for a photoshoot. And yet you keep seeing new photos of that cosplayer from many different photographers BUT you. What’s going on!!!

In both cases, the cosplayer and photographer didn’t want to shoot with you. But they didn’t have the heart to tell you.

In this post I’m not trying to be mean or be an asshole, but I rather people be honest to someone than to lead someone on (It’s good relationship advice BTW!).

So why do cosplayers/photographers refuse to shoot with some?

Before I begin, there are always legitimate reasons why photoshoots don’t happen. Maybe the photographer or cosplayer is super busy or backlogged. Or they just can’t pinpoint a date and time. Those do happen, but I’m talking about situations where it’s painfully obvious the cosplayer is avoiding the photographer’s request, or vice versa. When they don’t WANT to shoot with you, it usually comes in the form of “radio silence.” Meaning they never get back to you about it. Because if they really were busy or couldn’t do the shoot, they would have said so in the first place.

So if you’re scratching your head wondering why that cosplayer or photographer won’t want to shoot with you, here are a few reasons why:

Skill level: In the modelling world, you have models who are beginners and then you have top level models. Same with the photographers – you have ones that are just starting out and then you have the super amazing photographers out there. So the problem is usually when an amateur photographer wants to shoot with an experienced cosplayer model. Or a newbie cosplayer wants to shoot with a professional cosplay photographer.

From the cosplayer’s perspective, it makes total sense. If they’re used to getting high-end, professional quality photos, why would they want to waste time with a photographer who will give them subpar photos? They’re already experienced with photoshoots and care about the results and less about practicing, unlike a newbie cosplayer who will likely shoot with anyone to get practice modelling. Also, nobody wants bad photos. Let’s face it – if the photographer sucks at taking photos, why would anyone want to shoot with them?

From the photographer’s perspective in terms of skill it makes sense as well, but it’s not so obvious. You might ask, “If the photographer is getting paid, why would they care how good a cosplayer is?” Well, some photographers take their work seriously, and if the cosplayer model’s skill level is not up to par, the photographer just may not be interested in shooting them.  When I say skill level, I’m talking about how good the cosplayer can do his/her poses, knowing their best angles and of course, how good their costume actually looks. Because no matter how amazing the photographer is, the photos won’t turn out good if the cosplayer doesn’t do their part in the shoot. So if a photographer can sense the photoshoot is gonna turn out bad from the get-go, of course they won’t bother shooting them.

Attractiveness: This is for photographers. It’s controversial for sure, but facts are facts – some photographers only want to shoot attractive cosplayers. So if you’re not a cute or hot girl, you won’t get a chance to shoot with them. It’s pretty obvious when you look at some of the photographers and their portfolio only contains hot chicks. I’ve heard of one photographer who refuses to do photoshoots with plus-size models! Is it shallow? Definitely. But it’s reality.

Popularity: This applies to both cosplayers and photographers. Some cosplayers will only shoot with photographers who are super-popular and have a bunch of likes and followers on Facebook and Instagram. They only want the most popular photographers and won’t settle for any less. It makes sense because a photographer usually becomes popular for being good at what they do. However, judging a photographer by the amount of likes and followers can be misleading; anyone can buy a bunch of likes/followers, and it’s no indication of skill level.

Popularity also applies to photographers as well. Some only will shoot with popular cosplayers because it elevates their own popularity too. Think of how great your portfolio will look if you did a photoshoot with Jessica Nigri or Yaya Han! But on the other hand, if a photographer does a photoshoot with a cosplayer who’s unattractive or unknown, it may lower their social status. It shows that they don’t have standards. By being picky and shooting only the more popular cosplayers, the photographer is elevating their own social status. Some care a lot about how they’re judged, and picking only the popular cosplayer and photographers is way to keep their social status in the cosplay community.

Cliques: Simply enough, some cosplayers and photographers will only shoot their friends and acquaintances. They don’t want to shoot with someone they are not familiar with. Either they want a model or photographer who they can rely and trust to produce good photos, or they’re too uncomfortable being someone outside of their circle. I know a few photographers AND cosplayers who only shoot with the same person each time.

The Right Way to turn down a photoshoot offer by a cosplayer or photographer

If you got silently rejected by a cosplayer or photographer, don’t feel bad. I’ve had it happen to me as well.

Last year, I needed a photographer for a group Fire Emblem shoot. So I decided to message a photographer who takes pretty damn good photos, and asked if he was interested in shooting us. He never replied back to me. I messaged him a couple more times to get an answer, but no response. So instead of waiting for a damn reply, I decided to ask another friend photographer and he accepted the offer.

The day of the photoshoot, everything was going good. Until the photographer who never got back to me, decided to interrupt our damn shoot for his video blog. In my head I was thinking, “Oh we’re good enough to be in his video blog, but not good enough to do a photoshoot with him.”

A few months later, I posted a commission on Facebook I wanted done. What do you know? The photographer, who ignored my photoshoot request, completely bypassed all my messages about the photoshoot and instantly replied back to me about my commission! Damn. For ignoring me the way he did, I adamantly refused his services and offered my commission to another person instead.

Why did he reject me? I’m not 100% sure. But I looked at his portfolio and noticed a pattern in his clientele. I definitely wasn’t in his portfolio demographic. And although my cosplay “skills” are getting better, I’m still improving my cosplay quality and how my posing in photoshoots. So it could have been that I wasn’t a good enough cosplayer model, as well as not being the kind of cosplayer he wanted to shoot. In any case, I wasn’t annoyed about him rejecting my photoshoot. I was annoyed because he wasn’t being upfront and honest enough to tell me he didn’t want to shoot us.

And this happens all too often – cosplayers and photographers getting the silent treatment, only for them to see a bunch of photoshoots being posted of other cosplayers and photographers. It’s not the right way to approach things in my opinion – it hurts their feelings and makes them feel insecure because they have no idea what’s going on.

What’s the solution?

Tell the photographer or cosplayer along the lines of, Thank you for messaging me but I am not interested at this time. However, I do know of a (cosplayer/photographer) that would love to work with you.”

What does this do?

First off, being honest about not wanting to shoot with them is important. It may hurt their feelings a bit, but it’s better to be honest than to lead them on. Also, when you say “not interested at this time” you are just saying for now. You know, until your cosplay level gets better. Or when your photography skills improve. It’s a bit of motivation for them to get better at their hobby. Okay if you really don’t want to work with them EVER, you can take that part out. But if you don’t mind in the future, leave it in. It helps.

When you say, “However, I do know of a similar (cosplayer/photographer) that would love to work with you,” you’re showing that you’re trying to HELP them out. That you’re on their side. By giving them another option to work with, you’re softening the blow of turning them down.

Notice how you’re NOT telling them WHY you’re turning them down. The reason can be very superficial and shallow if you wanted. Maybe she’s not good-looking enough for your portfolio. Maybe you don’t like shooting guys. Maybe their photography isn’t so good. Or it’s painfully obvious they bought their cosplay on eBay for $5 and it looks like shit. Whatever. You don’t have to tell them that! All you have to do is turn down their offer and show that you’re willing to help them out. And all will be well in this world.

For those who have gotten rejected for a photoshoot, know that some things are out of your control. You can’t control how shy or cliquey someone may be. But you definitely control how good your cosplays look on you, and you can always improve your photography skills. And once you do, you’ll have more cosplayers and photographers wanting to shoot with you. More than you can handle. 🙂

What have been your experiences when it comes to not being able to land a photoshoot with a cosplayer or photographer you wanted? Were there other reasons than the ones I wrote about in this post? Let me know in the comments!

Being Honest with a Cosplayer or Photographer You Don't Want to Shoot With
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