Not sure why, but I decided to make a blog post on my photographer situation. Nothing special or anything but I figured "hey maybe this'll give people some ideas on how to go about getting photos of their own cosplay (or whatever)!"
There's a couple different ways shoots can happen. You can be paid to do the shoot or pay someone to shoot it. I guess it depends on who contacts who. There's also one where it's free on both ends; the photographer takes photos therefore gaining more experience and shots for their gallery and you get photos of your cosplay ~there's an actual word for this but I forget.
Most people seem to try out different photographers and usually settle with one or two or something ~do your research, don't go alone and check references. Personally, I'm not exactly sure on how these things work out, who pays who or if it's a swap/free thing. I don't work with "actual" photographers, so none of these things ever come up.
How do you go about shooting cosplays if you don't work with photographers?
I don't work with "actual" photographers. I just have friends take the photos! And no I don't mean, photographers who are friends or vise versa. I literally just mean I ask someone "hey will you basically be my tripod and help me take photos of my cosplay". So usually and most recently, I just ask my boyfriend.
I don't call them "actual" photographers because they aren't. None of them have had an interest in photography really or are pursuing it as any type of career, the most experience they've had before is a photography class to fill an elective spot back in high school, they haven't done any photoshoot type things before this and I don't even think they own a camera ~we use my equipment for shoots. Honestly, I'm not really sure they even slightly enjoy shooting my cosplays, but they're super nice and helpful so they don't mind :) .
So how do I get at least decent quality photos with people who don't know much about photography?
1. It'll be up to you to do your research! If your friend isn't interested the slightest in photography, then they'll probably look to you as to what they should be doing. So it'll be up to you to learn something about photography.
-Figure out angles. Find what angles look best and flatter both you and the costume.
-Poses. It won't work like a professional shoot, they wont be
instructing you on what to do and where to look, in fact they'll probably be asking you where they should stand! So research your character and look up what poses fit them.
-Instruct! As I was saying, your friends my be asking you where they should stand. So give them these instructions. Everyone's different though so some may go off and do their own thing, but if there are specific photos you would like at certain angles, tell them "hey also get some shots of this ___".
-Take many photos! Ask your friends to snap a few photos of them same shot. This way when going through them you have a few options to choose from in case you blink in one, or don't like your expression in another, or they shot was a little blurry.
-Take your time. Mention to your friend, especially if working a camera isn't their thing, that they may wanna just hold the camera still a few seconds before and after taking a photo and take slight pauses in between each snap of the camera. This is especially good advice if your equipment & setup isn't super amazing! It sucks to have a pose or photo you really like be unusable because it's too blurry. So don't try to rush through it.
-Work as a team. Especially if both of you know very little and are new to photography. Work as a team, give each other input and advice and help set each other up I guess. Share ideas for poses and angles.
2. Have a good camera. Something other than your phone! If this is something you're really interested in then invest in a fancier camera. I use a Canon Rebel T3 ~which was "top of the line" at the time I bought it, just under the Canon Rebel T3i. I've also recently invested in lighting and backdrop setups -they're in the mail!- and will be getting a around 5-foot tripod. Now this is mostly for YouTube purposes but I'll be using it for other small "shoots" as well.
3. Good lighting! I try to shoot in the morning and/or mid-day and outside. Natural lighting is great and makes photos look so much better. Shoot on bright and sunny days. If you're shooting inside try and get as much natural lighting into the room as possible -if you have lighting equipment that works too. Note: Pay attention to shadows and the shadows of the photographer! Try not to have the sun directly behind you as well because that may throw off the lighting and shadow your face.
What about editing?
I edit all my photos. At the end of the "shoot" I just pack up my camera and stuff and later on, at home, upload them all to my computer and start going through them. This may be the tricky part about just having friends take photos. It means you'll have to learn how to edit, and if you're not super computer-savvy it may be a problem. Keep in mind photos don't NEED to be edited. It's all personal preference. I like to edit mine just because I feel like it helps give it a nice finished look.
What do you do when editing?
I mostly just mess with the lighting, contrast, hue and saturation. I'll also clear up blemishes and if need be change my eye color. I recently learned (and am still working on better it) glowing effects. I'll black out the background sometimes as well or shadow it over. I'll also blur the background if I feel it pulls too much focus away from the subject. I'm also working on swapping out the background (I still need a lot of work on this but there's been some photos I'm really happy with the result) and fire-y smoke effects. I use Photoshop Elements 8 by the way.
For background swapping I'll use either photos I've taken or search for stock-photos (giving credit to the creator and letting them know-or follow whatever their guidelines for use were- whenever used).
I've learned most of these from friends who were good with Photoshop (they draw a lot) or from tutorials online (YouTube is a great place to look!).
Why don't you search for local photographers?
There's a few reasons.
1. I'm incredibly weary of online people. So I'd only be willing to work with someone if they already had some sort of gallery and references to look through and contact. Of course I'd bring one or two people to come with me -so they'd need to be okay with that because I won't go alone- and I'd only really want to go if it was either at an actual business place (like how some photographers have a studio) or public (outdoors someplace like a park/forest-y area or beach or whatever's fitting -probably prefer this).
2. Playing into the weariness, social anxiety. It already takes me a LONG time to get into the zone and comfortable taking photos with just friends -my boyfriend even- that working with professionals would end in chaos -,- . In other-words, I'd be really awkward, tense, and uncomfortable working with people I barely know. Now I have done a spontaneous shoot at a convention before, so it's not like I'm never up for it -I prefer not to let anxieties stop me from living & will just bare through it xD. I guess it just makes it harder for me to actually just say "sure I'd totally love to shoot with you!"
3. Control. Control issues? Insecurities? It's just weird and out of my comfort zone to not be in control of the poses or angles or shooting, nor the photo choices and editing. If I'm being honest here, I already have an extreme distaste for my appearance, so it'd be really hard to just trust someone else to take and choose photos in which I'd actually feel I looked okay.
4. Money & Travel. I don't have the money to pay for photoshoots, and I'm not really looking into doing so any time soon. I'd much rather put my money towards bettering my cosplays and have photos taken for free by super awesome friends! And anything that requires much traveling would be difficult-once again gas fair, and I don't have a vehicle. It's not 100% out of the question though, if a really good opportunity ever presented itself then maybe.
Well I hope this may have helped some of you looking to shoot some of your cosplays (or even if you're trying to get into modeling or whatever). I'm sure if you ask nicely friends would be willing to help you out and if neither of you know much about photography well then hopefully I gave you some helpful tips or ways to find more helpful tips (seriously, YouTube and Google will lead you to tutorials and forums-so helpful!). Practice makes perfect! So as you get more experience with it your photos will improve (you may even want to revisit some old cosplay and reshoot). Good luck :)
~Positive outcomes only! :)
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