A cosplay photoshoot checklist….something every cosplayer definitely needs. Why?

As a cosplayer, have you ever looked at your finished product of a photoshoot and thought,

“Damn if only I did this instead!”

“If my hair wasn’t that off, the picture would have been perfect.”

“Oh no, I didn’t see that my prop was broken.”

If only I opened my eyes a bit more in this shot!”

I mean, no one expects perfection when posing for a photo. But when you spend time and money taking pictures and they don’t come out the way you’d like, it’s pretty damn annoying.

Either you’ll have to settle with the photos you got or do the shoot again, or you’ll have to spend a lot of time on Photoshop editing out the mistake that happened. A small cosplay photoshoot checklist would have definitely helped.

So many things can go wrong in a photoshoot!

A True Story!

Once, I did a photoshoot at a convention. My photographer was awesome as usual and at the time, it felt like I got many, many great photos at this shoot. I was hyped!

But when I got my photos back, I was not happy! The photographer did nothing wrong. It was ME that messed up. I had so many setbacks that made the photos less appealing:

  • I did not shave my facial hair before the shoot. And my character does not have facial hair, so if anyone zoomed up on my face, I’d look like a peasant.
  • My wig was slightly tangled and frizzy
  • One of my props was clearly falling apart
  • I forgot to fix one of the buttons on my costumes (I’m a busy guy)
  • The glue was getting dry on one of my costume pieces, so part of the lining was loose

How To View Cosplay Photoshoots

I like to think of a photoshoot like a driving test: you start off with 100 points, and for everything you don’t do (or do wrong), you lose points. A few mistakes won’t make a difference, but a bunch will definitely affect your score.

Same with a photoshoot. The more mistakes, the less appealing the photos will be. Luckily my photographer was good at what he does, so I still looked pretty good in the photo. But all these little errors dropped what would have been an A+ photo to more like B or B- photo.

Not only that, I spent a couple of hours on Photoshop trying to edit out these mistakes.* If I had spent 5-10 minutes fixing these problems (e.g. combing my wig, gluing back my costume and props, grooming), I wouldn’t have had to spend an hour or 2 getting rid of them later.

An Important Note

*(NOTE: A photographer notified me about the issue of editing their photos when you receive them. In general, unless you get permission, you shouldn’t edit their photos. In my case, I got permission from my photographer to edit them myself in order to save him time.

They were only cosmetic changes and nothing drastic. Because like many photographers, they are swamped with other photoshoots to edit!

But in general, always ask for permission because photographers spend HOURS upon hours editing your photos, and the last thing they want to see is you editing their photos and wasting their time removing those edits.)

To be fair, I had to go to work the same day. And I hadn’t cosplayed in months prior to that shoot, so I didn’t give myself much time to prepare.  But from now on, I will definitely prepare and get ready for the next photoshoot. And that’s what a cosplay photoshoot checklist is for.

So I decided to make a small checklist of items to help you prepare for a PERFECT photoshoot. Note I tried not to get too technical about the details of a photoshoot, but general ideas to help you get better photos.

Cosplay Photoshoot Checklist #1: Before the Photoshoot (the day before)

  • Grooming (Be sure to do stuff like shave and cut your nails the day before so you’ll look as good/clean the next day)
  • If you haven’t worn your cosplay for a while, be sure to iron it and clean it so it looks fresh and brand new.
  • Any considerable of wig styling should be done now, so you don’t waste time doing so at the photoshoot
  • 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.
  • Download reference photos and practice posing – You don’t want to head into a photoshoot and hope you can “wing it.” Think of at least 3 different poses you can do for your photographer. I personally believe less than 5% of all the photos taking during a photoshoot will be excellent quality (e.g. if 100 photos are taken, fewer than 5 will be 10/10, or even 9/10). Therefore, doing different poses will increase your odds of landing that “perfect” photo!

Cosplay Photoshoot Checklist #2: During the Photoshoot

  • Before you leave the house, make sure you have all your items and cosplay gear with you. Nothing is worse than having to do a photoshoot and forgetting parts of your costume (I’ve had that happen to me)
  • BE ON TIME! Nothing sours the mood of a photographer than your photographer having to wait for you. They more than likely have other photoshoots to do, so do not hold them back. Arrive early on location.
  • Ask your photographer if anything about your costume looks off – 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.
  • Once in a while, ask your photographer to let you see the photos. 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.

Cosplay Photoshoot Checklist #3: After the Photoshoot

  • Once you get your photos back, you can use Photoshop to fix some of the issues with your photos.
  • You can also look at your pics and see how you can improve for next time. Didn’t like the pose you were doing? Try another pose next time. Does it look you’re squinting in the photos? Try practicing opening your eyes wider in the mirror! Most of us were bad during our first photoshoots, but with practice you ALWAYS get better and improve with each one.
  • If you find a photo you REALLY like and it turned out well, be sure to tell your photographer. That way, they have a better idea how to shoot your cosplay next time.
  • If the photoshoot didn’t go as planned, don’t feel bad about it. Sometimes things are out of your control. Perhaps the weather wasn’t cooperating. Maybe your photographer really did suck. Or you didn’t get a good sleep the night before. Or maybe you’re too much of a perfectionist (like me). Just know that you still have your costume, and you can always try next time. Now with more experience under your belt. 🙂
  • Take a picture of yourself or a picture of the camera of the photographer showing one of your photos. An extra “preview” pic you can post on IG. 🙂
  • As you can, a cosplay photoshoot checklist is insanely handy for a photoshoot. It’ll ensure your photos will turn out 100%!