You’re at an Anime convention. You see an AMAZING cosplayer you HAVE to take a photo of. Maybe their costume is from a video game no one has ever heard of. Or the costume design and detailing is unlike any other. Or admit it – you find that guy or girl cute, and you just want an excuse to talk to them :).
Alright! So you finally muster up the courage to ask for their photo. (Deep breath)…so you go up and say,
“Excuse me…can I take your photo?”
And they say…
You’re shocked. You’re heartbroken. Your self-esteem drops to 0. All these thoughts are going through your head:
“Why didn’t they let me take their photo?
“Am I not good enough for this cosplayer? Am I not worthy enough to take their picture?”
“Did I do something wrong?”
“Did he/she think I’m a creep or something?”
Okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic. But it certainly doesn’t feel very pleasant when someone rejects you when you ask for a photo. Especially when 99% of the time, most people say “yes.”
Why didn’t they let me take their photo?
First off, I want to clarify that if someone refuses to let you take their photo, most of the time it’s not your fault. That being said, the biggest reason why they turn it down is because of bad timing. So let’s get into that.
If you’re new to the convention scene, you probably don’t know that there are times where you shouldn’t ask for a cosplayer’s photo. In fact, it’s considered rude if you ask for a photo in the following situations:
While they’re eating lunch/dinner: This is probably the worst time I see people asking for a photo. I’m sure you’d be pissed if someone interrupted you while you’re having food at a restaurant or cafeteria. Well, the same applies at an Anime convention. Don’t ask for a photo while they’re eating. This is a time when they don’t want to be disturbed. Wait until they’re finished their food and back at the convention area for their photo. After all, do you really want a picture of them with their mouth stuffed with food?!
I’m sure of us have done this. In fact, I’ll admit that I did this once. At Otakuthon, I saw a really cool Frieza cosplayer in the café. I asked for her photo and I forgot what she said, but it was pretty much a “No.” And she looked pretty pissed that I asked. At the time I was fairly upset because it was my very first time ever getting rejected for a cosplay photo. But looking back, it was definitely an inappropriate time to ask because she wanted to have her food and not be disturbed by someone like me. Lesson learned.
During a photoshoot: This happens pretty often, and I’m surprised a lot of people do this. If a cosplayer is doing a photoshoot at the convention, don’t interrupt them by asking for a photo while they’re doing a photoshoot! Think about it; the photographer is probably strapped for time, trying to get this damn photoshoot finished so they move on to the next one. The cosplayer is doing their best, fully concentrated on getting that perfect pose. The last thing they want is someone interrupting them (Like that time when a videographer interrupted my Fire Emblem photoshoot). Even if you just wanted a quick snap, it’s still considered rude to do so. So if you see a bunch of photography equipment such as strobe lights, or if you see the cosplayer doing an elaborate pose, they’re probably in the middle of a photoshoot.
While they’re changing out of their cosplay: There comes a time when the con is almost over, or the cosplayer has to get going. And that’s when they start taking off their cosplay. So when a cosplayer decides to change back into normal clothes, that’s generally when they do not want any more photos taken of them. In general, you shouldn’t ask for a photo when you see a cosplayer with no wig on. Or you start seeing them take off parts of their costume.
If you come early enough, maybe they’ll be nice enough to put the wig back on for a quick photo. But if it’s clear that their cosplay is almost already off, then don’t bother asking because no one wants to put their costume back on again.
Don’t be like that guy who harassed my friend for not putting her costume back on for him. This is an extreme example of someone going WAAYYY too far for a damn photo:
“Everyone has dealt with a creep before…. but I have NEVER dealt with a demanding one.
I was in cosplay earlier in the afternoon and took it off early due to my eyes hurting from the lashes (so I felt naked wearing the cosplay without them and took it off). I packed up my cosplay in a baggie and walked around in peasant comfy clothing AKA MY PJS and holding my staff.
Some guy decides to grab my shoulder and asked if I had a friend with me cosplaying from the series I was wearing because he noticed my staff. And I said, “No I was”…. and he’s like, “So where is your cosplay?” I informed him I took it off. He asks me to put it back on and I tell him I wasn’t cosplaying for the rest of the day.
He says “I will wait so you can put it back on…. I’m asking you NICELY” and I’m like, “NOOOO,” so he gets mad and in front of people started yelling at me, “WHY ARE
YOU EVEN HERE THEN WHY ARE YOU COSPLAYING WHY R U HOLDING THE STAFF I DONT UNDERSTAND IM ASKING FOR YOUR PICTURE….”
(Afterwards) Security came over and dealt with it, as the photographer informs me that he is there all weekend and will “find” me.”
I feel bad for what happened to my friend. Fortunately, I know most of you guys aren’t that stupid to do something like that.
Their cosplay is falling apart!: It’s bound to happen. Every cosplayer has experienced their costume malfunctioning or breaking apart during a convention. The paint on your armor chipping away. A strap broke apart. Your prop is torn in half. It’s part of the convention experience, and it’s why we have cosplay repair stations at convention.
But it’s also a time where you don’t want to be asking for a cosplayer’s photo. Everyone wants to look their best when the photos are posted online after the convention is over. In fact, some cosplayers are SO self-conscious about their appearances, any minor flaw or inaccuracy they would definitely freak out if shown to the public or online.
If you see a cosplayer and their costume looks like it just broke down, just ask if it’s okay for their photo. Or at the very least, give them a chance to try to fix it. If they decline, you now understand why.
They need to be somewhere else: Many cosplayers have jam-packed schedules during a convention: guests they want to see, panels they want to attend, photoshoots they want to get done, friends they want to meet up with, etc. Most of them are nice enough to stop for a quick photo. But if they’re in a rush or really need to be somewhere, let them go. Telltale signs include walking very fast (i.e. faster than everyone else in the hallway), or looking down or away from people to avoid eye contact. Those are sure signs they need to be somewhere else, and they don’t want to take a photo with anyone at the moment.
They’re having a bad day: We’re all human. Everyone has a bad day more often than not, and sometimes a cosplayer has a bad con experience. It happens. So if you see a cosplayer looking sad or distressed and they don’t want to take a photo, just put yourself in their shoes. If anything, ask if they’re okay and offer them some help. It’s what the cosplay community is about. 🙂
They’ve been asked 1000x times for a photo already: If a cosplayer is wearing an amazing costume, you can definitely tell. They are being stopped by everyone. I mean, they probably walked a total of 10 steps for the past 20 minutes because they can’t move – literally everyone is asking for their picture (I’m serious)!
For example, I usually see this group of mech-Eeveelution cosplayers at a large convention. Their costumes look amazing! And they probably move as much as a Snorlax would, because they constantly get stopped and swarmed by attendees for photos.
At some point, they’ll get tired of posing for a photo and will stop taking requests. I mean, wouldn’t you get tired if you couldn’t move because everyone is taking pictures of you like a celebrity? If you weren’t able to get a photo, don’t worry. The other 999 people who took a photo before you did will have them online.
They genuinely don’t want their picture taken: In the odd occasion, there will be a few cosplayers who decide to cosplay, but don’t actually want their photos taken! This is a tricky one. If they’re wearing a cosplay, you ask for their photo and they say, “No,” isn’t that strange? Why would they wear a costume then?
Let’s make it clear that Cosplay is Not Consent. Just because you’re wearing a cosplay, doesn’t give anyone the right to have your photo taken or being bothered by someone. A good example is what happened to my friend. That guy had no right to harass and insult my friend. When someone says “No” to a photo, you move on.
That being said if you’re going to an Anime convention wearing a cosplay, and you’re upset that people are asking for your cosplay photo, I think that’s being unreasonable. Uhh, what else did you think was going to happen? To put things in perspective, the majority of cosplayers are VERY happy when someone asks for their photo. It verifies that their costume is photo-worthy or beautiful.
Before you guys scream your head off about how that’s unfair, let me use another analogy.
I work for a company that gave me a very nice and beautiful winter jacket – for free! I’m sure it’s worth at least $200 CDN. Because it’s made out of expensive material and it keeps me warm even when it’s like -30C outside. It’s so handy and very comfortable when I have to work outside.
However, I also know to NOT wear the jacket in public. You see, my company is one of the most HATED companies out there. And the jacket is plastered with the company’s logo on it. So if I go out in public and wear the jacket, at best I’ll get dirty looks from people. At worst, I might get verbally assaulted or even physically assaulted. Even though it would make an awesome winter jacket, I know not to wear it in public. Is that fair? No. Should I be treated like that because I’m wearing a stupid logo? No. But hey, life is not fair. I pick and choose my battles.
Anyways, I kind of went off on a tangent. Back to my point. If you don’t want anyone taking your photos and you’re wearing a cosplay, don’t be surprised if people ask for your photo. You can’t blame them for asking, especially if your cosplay is good!
When are the best times to ask for a cosplay photo?
Any other time really. In my opinion, the best place to ask is in the hallway of the hotel lobby or convention centre. It’s pretty customary to ask for photos in these locations and unless the cosplayer is busy, then they’ll be more than happy to pose for a photo.
If there’s a bunch of cosplayers lounging outside of the convention centre or main hotel, then that’s also a good place to find costumes to add to your photo album.
I said taking pictures during a cosplayer’s private photoshoot is a no-no. But scheduled group cosplay photoshoots are different, and completely allowed! Feel free to take as many photos during that photoshoot. You can also ask individual cosplayers as well. For example, if there’s a planned Fire Emblem photoshoot but you only wanted a picture of that exceptional Tharja cosplayer, go ahead and ask the Tharja for their photo when they’re done.
I’m on the fence when it comes to taking pictures in the dealer’s room. Most cosplayers are okay posing for a photo inside there. But it’s not the greatest area for a photo. For one, people are trying to shop for stuff inside the dealer’s room. I’m not sure if they want to be bothered while they’re browsing around. Secondly, the dealer’s room is usually crowded with people walking around everywhere. So not only will you block the hallway when you ask for a photo, the picture won’t turn out good anyway; you’ll have so many people in the background obstructing the cosplayer(s) in the photo.
Which brings me to another point – don’t ask for a photo in a spot where lots of foot traffic needs to go by! This includes the bottom and top of an escalator, as well as narrow hallways. I get so annoyed when somebody asks for a cosplay photo and ends up blocking the way for everyone. Not only is it hazardous for others (especially beside an escalator), it’s a huge inconvenience for people trying to get through. At the very least, use your brain and pull the cosplayer aside to an area where you’re not blocking everyone!
(P.S. I’m glad Sakuracon puts black and yellow tape in areas where people are not allowed to stand around and have to keep moving. Very smart idea – more conventions should do this!)
What to do if you can’t get their photo?
Don’t feel bad: No, the cosplayer doesn’t think you’re a loser or creeper. Again, it usually has nothing to do with you PERSONALLY. Most likely you just asked for the photo in one of the following situations above.
If you don’t get their photo, more than likely you will see that same cosplayer online anyway: Put it simply, if you asked for a photo, someone else likely asked for a photo as well. And again, part of the reason why they don’t want to take any more pics with people is because of the amount of times they’ve been asked already. With that in mind, you’ll likely see pictures of them online on Facebook or Instagram. And don’t worry if their cosplay is “obscure”. There will be photos of them as well, because a cosplayer will be so happy with someone asking for a pic of their character that he/she thought no one knew!
You’ll probably run into them again: If the timing is bad to ask for a photo, more than likely you will run into them again at the convention. So don’t stress if you aren’t able to get a pic the first time.
There are many great cosplays at the convention: Don’t get hung up on not being able to take that one cosplayer’s photo. There are LOTS of great costumes being worn at the convention. So don’t get fixated on the one you weren’t able to get a photo of.
Are you a cosplayer that’s been asked for a photo at a horribly inappropriate time? Or did you try to take a cosplayer’s photo, got rejected, and felt really bad about it? I want to hear your experiences; let me know in the comments!