If you’re looking to do your first cosplay photoshoot, you might be a little intimidated.
How do you go about finding one, and what should you expect? If you’re feeling this way, then you’ve come to the right place!
In this article, I will show you how to find and choose a cosplay photographer, how to get ready for a cosplay photoshoot and what to expect during and after the shoot. I will also go over the costs of hiring a cosplay photographer and useful tips before, during and after the photoshoot.
Thanks to Neffy Avese Creative for providing me their perspective as a cosplay photographer.
Step 1: Finding a photographer
Your first question might be, “How do I find a cosplay photographer?”
Honestly, the best place to find a cosplay photographer is through Facebook. The majority of them actively use Facebook to advertise their work. While photographers also post on other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, it’s generally much easier to schedule a cosplay photoshoot through Facebook.
You can find photographers through Facebook in 2 ways:
1. On Facebook, search for “(your town/city) cosplay photographer.”
You’ll come up with a list of photographers in your area. For example, if I was looking for a cosplay photographer in Toronto, I would search for “Toronto cosplay photographer“
NOTE: If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can still browse as a guest and contact the photographer through their email/website listed on their page.
2. Find a photographer through Facebook event pages.
In other words, if you’re going to a convention, hop on Facebook and find the event page for that particular. Because there will always be photographers looking to book a cosplay photoshoot with someone. They’ll post their availability and their rates on the event page. On Facebook you’ll likely see posts from cosplay photographers offering their services at a convention.
Doing cosplay photoshoots at a convention is by far the easiest because shooting at a convention is much more convenient. Most cons are very lax about photographers doing photoshoots in their venue, as long as they’re not impeding or disrupting traffic in any way. In fact, this is a huge reason why both cosplayers and photographers go to cons.
In a way, it kills two birds with one stone – you get to attend a cool convention while getting your photos taken at the same time.
Don’t wait until the last minute to find a cosplay photographer!
Be sure to book your cosplay photoshoot in advance though; I wouldn’t recommend looking for a cosplay photographer at the convention. It’ll be insanely difficult to find one in a place full of thousands of attendees. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack! And most of the time, cosplay photographers are already booked full of clients by then and probably won’t have room to book another cosplay photoshoot. So you’re better off booking in advance by finding them on Facebook.
You can also book a shoot outside of a cosplay convention.
You can get really good photos in scenic places in your area! However, it is more difficult to setup since you need to get the logistics down. You may have to pay for a permit to shoot in a particular spot (e.g. park, botanic garden). And the weather can be a nuisance as well.
Step 2: Choosing a photographer for your cosplay photoshoot
There are so many good photographers! How do you find one that best suits you? Here are some ways to narrow down your choices for you:
Every cosplay photographer is different, especially when it comes to photography style.
If you were to do a cosplay photoshoot with the same cosplay and location BUT with 2 different photographers, I guarantee that you’ll get completely different photos…even if the photographers were the same skill level. That’s because every photographer is different and has their own unique method of shooting.
Some like to use the “Dutch Angle,” while others love to shoot straight on. Some photographers love to brighten their exposure while others have darker tones. Some photographers heavily rely on Photoshop while others don’t use it at all.
Some even have unique setups with their camera! For example, I worked with a photographer who had a “mirror” on top of his camera, showing how I look like in the photo. I found this VERY useful when it came to adjusting my poses and facial expressions properly. So every photographer is different.
Choose a photographer based on the character you’re cosplaying.
For example, if you’re cosplaying from Love Live!, you probably don’t want to work with a photographer who uses a lot of dark backgrounds. I certainly don’t want to pigeon-hole photographers, but it makes sense to shoot a certain cosplay that complements their photographic strengths.
Which leads me to my next point…
Do your research
Facebook is great because not only can you view a photographer’s previous work, but you can also see reviews of the photographer as well. So go through their photography portfolio and see if their photography style is something you’d like and would pay for. As for the reviews, take a look and see what past cosplayers have said about the photographer. Are they positive? Negative? The reviews will give you a good indicator of how the photographer will be like.
How much will it cost to do a cosplay photoshoot? And for how long?
On average, I find that the cost to do a cosplay photoshoot at a convention ranges from $30-$100. It’s not an easy question to answer since prices can fluctuate with every photographer. But having that amount of money should be more than enough for a photoshoot.
From my experience, most photoshoots take about 30-60 minutes. However, I wouldn’t worry about the amount of time you spend during your photography session. Getting a variety of great photos taken in different settings is far more important. So whether that takes only half an hour, or as long as an hour to get everything right, getting good photos taken is a better indicator of your money’s worth than the amount of time you spend doing so.
Are cosplay photographers worth the money?
You might be thinking, “Why am I paying this much money when I can just get my friend or my selfie stick to shoot me for free?” Well, remember that you’re paying for time and convenience when you setup a photoshoot with a photographer. It could take you HOURS to edit your own photos. And unless you’re a photographer yourself, you probably don’t know much about things like lighting, angles and using camera settings other than Auto mode. On top of that, when you work with a good photographer, you’re not only getting great photos but also great experience. They will teach you how to pose and make the right facial expressions, which are skills that you can carry over for future shoots.
And besides, you don’t want your entire Instagram feed to be all selfies. Here’s a more detailed post why cosplay photographers are awesome!
To summarize, here are some things you can do to narrow your choice for a photographer:
- Finding one based on their photography style
- Price (do you want a low-cost photography? Or are you willing to pay more for a more experienced photographer?)
- Reading reviews of photographers
One point I want to make though…
Not all photographers will want to shoot with you.
If there’s one or more cosplay photoshoot tips that will save you heartache, it’s that not all photographers will want to work with you. It’s the hard truth. If you try to message them for a photoshoot and they don’t reply back and you see them doing other shoots, then they’re politely rejecting you. Don’t take it personally though; there’s many reasons why photographers are selective of who they shoot with. Read my post for more information why this happens. But if a photographer doesn’t want to shoot with you, just move on and find another photographer who is more than willing to take your money and shoot great photos of you! And if you have multiple cosplays you want to shoot, don’t feel obligated to stick with just one photographer.
Step 3: Setting up a cosplay photoshoot with a photographer
So once you found a photographer you’d like to work with, just shoot them a message on Facebook or email them. Here’s an example of a message I would send a photographer:
“Hi there, my name is Roger and I was interested in doing a photoshoot with you at Fan Expo! I saw your post in the group. I am cosplaying Roy Mustang and wanted to shoot my costume indoors in the second floor lobby of the building. I’d like to shoot with you on Saturday at 3 p.m. If that doesn’t work then let me know which other times you are available. Let me know what your rates are and when I can expect to receive photos returned. Thank you!”An example message you can send to a photographer.
Wait for a day or two until the photographer replies back to you to confirm.
Honestly, you don’t even have to be that formal. Especially if you see their ad on Facebook. Just say, “Hey, I saw your ad. Wanna shoot?”
Step 4: How to get ready for the cosplay photoshoot
Now that you found a photographer and scheduled a date and time, what are some things you can do to prepare for the shoot?
I made a post before regarding how to get ready for a photoshoot, but I’ll copy it here:
- 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!
One important thing to do is to show up on time. Photographers generally have several shoots scheduled during a convention. Showing up late either pushes them all back, or shortens your own photoshoot time. If anything, the best thing to do is show up 10-15 minutes early, especially during a convention. There are so many distractions at a con, such as attendees asking for your photos, people stopping you in the middle of the hallway, or random lineups that get in your way. So keep this in mind and be sure to keep your con schedule empty during your photoshoot time.
Also, if your plans change and you cannot make it then let your photographer know in advance. Most photographers are totally cool with you cancelling; it gives them some extra breathing room during the convention to prepare for their next shoot. Or to relax and have fun at the convention. What you don’t want to do however is not show up at all (i.e. standing up the photographer). That is VERY disrespectful to the photographer and their time. Don’t ever not show up for a shoot if you scheduled one. If you have to cancel, let them know.
Step 5: Things you can do to make your cosplay photoshoot better
Overall, photoshoots are pretty fun so don’t stress out too much about it. Here are just a few tips to keep in mind:
- Before you start posing for a shot, ask your photographer if anything about your costume looks off. For example before the photographer takes a photo I ask, “How do I look? Is my costume alright?” That way, the photographer will check 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 a photo. 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.
- Bring a friend with you 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. My friend wrote a nice guide on makeup.
- It’s okay to say no to photos you’re not comfortable with. If at any point the photographer asks you to do a pose you don’t want or feel comfortable with, then 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.
Step 6: What to expact after the photoshoot
Now that you finished your photoshoot, what can you expect now?
Pay your photographer – Pretty straightforward. I usually pay my photographer immediately after the photoshoot is done. The only exception is if you already paid in advance online.
Be patient with the photos – Many photographers will give you a rough timeline of when you’ll receive your edited and completed photos, but in my experience you won’t always get them back in time. That’s okay though; photographers are human as well and they have other priorities in their life like their day job or career. So if it’s been a few days after the deadline, just send them a friendly reminder and they’ll get working on it. On a side note, if the photographer is shooting you for free, don’t expect to get your photos back right away. They shot free for you, and they have to prioritize their paying clients first.
Step 7: How to post your cosplay photos
When you post your photos on your social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram), be sure to tag the photographer’s page – Almost all cosplay photos online include the photographer that took the picture. So when you decide to post your photos, tag your photographer. It’s a good way to promote their work and give them proper credit.
Be careful what you do with the photo, especially online!
Don’t edit a photographer’s photo without permission – It’s considered bad etiquette if you edit a photographer’s photo without asking them. After all, they spent hours taking and editing your photo. For you to add a filter or special effect takes away the effort they put into your photo. If you absolutely want to edit their photo after you receive them, always ask first.Some photographers are okay with it, others not so much.
I want to mention posting on Instagram, since the app always crops out photos and lets you use several filters/effects. Some photographers do not like seeing their photos cropped on IG, so be aware of that. But more importantly, do NOT use the filters if you’re using a photographer’s photo. Again, it defeats the purpose of the photographer editing your photo. My general rule of thumb: if it’s my own photo, I can use a filter. If a photographer took the photo, NO IG FILTERS WHATSOEVER.
You are free to share the photo on social media but there are limitations – This is a complicated topic since it involves photography rights. Basically, if you’re only sharing your photos on Facebook or Instagram, then you have nothing to worry about. Again, be sure to credit/tag the photographer, and don’t edit the photo.
However, if you want to use the pictures from the cosplay photoshoot for other purposes such as commercial use or in a publication, then that’s a different story. You’ll need to get a photography release form BEFORE you decide to shoot with your photographer. If you’re looking to do this, be sure to your photographer about that. You could get in a lot of trouble if you don’t.
Last but certainly not least…
Step 8: Develop a relationship with your photographer.
If you had a great experience with your photographer during the cosplay photoshoot then leave a positive review on their page. It’ll help them out when other cosplayers are looking for a photographer like the one you just shot with. Similarly, if you had a negative experience, you’re more than welcome to leave one as well. But I suggest trying to work out the problem that you have with the photographer first before leaving a negative review.
I believe this is one of the best cosplay photoshoot tips, especially if you’re trying to get better doing photoshoots; 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.
I know that was a lot, so let me summarize everything we discussed about this cosplay photoshoot guide:
- How to find a photographer.
- Choosing a photographer for your cosplay photoshoot.
- Setting up a date and time for your photoshoot.
- Getting ready for a photoshoot.
- Things you can do to make your cosplay photoshoot better.
- What to expect after the photoshoot.
- How to post your cosplay photos.
- Develop a relationship with your photographer.
And that’s about it; a cosplay photoshoot guide from A to Z!
If you want even more helpful articles about cosplay photoshoots and photography, check out these other articles:
- Cosplay Photoshoot Ideas
- Cosplay Photoshoot Ideas – Toronto edition!
- Why Cosplay Photographers Are Awesome
Hope you find this useful. Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!