In this debate over whether or not photographers should charge cosplayers for photo shoots, there seems to be one important fact that people fail to even talk about and that is that this is simply a business. Now I know lots of people want to look at cosplay as a hobby. And if that's what the individual wants to do that is certainly fine. There are still many out there who understand that they are trying to build a cosplay related business.
Now the first question would obviously be how can cosplay be a business or industry. Well here's your answer, many film companies and game developers hire promotional models who cosplay as characters from their movie or game series. Cosplayers who make their own costumes often try to get work as a prop or wardrobe designers for different film production companies. The best way to show off your work is to make it it, then display it. Oftentimes these individuals will have photographers photograph them in their cosplay to help build up their portfolio. There are many cosplayers who take commissions jobs. If you do not have a photograph of you wearing your own costume or someone else then you will be rather difficult to convince someone else to request a commission or to buy your costumes. There also cosplayers who sell their prints of them in their costumes.
Now these are just some of the ways in which cosplay has become a business. The question you have to ask yourself is that if you are selling commissions or prints of yourself in cosplay, then why is it not fair for your photographer charged for their service. If you are trying to publish a book ,which some cosplayers are doing a you want to use in image or multiple images in that book you would have to purchase the rights of the image from the photographer. If you take commissions, your potential clients would need to see examples of your past work. That will make those images 10 times more important.
I recently came across a photo that I took a few years ago. The image was used to help sell a costume that they were trying to get rid of. I was not told that the image will be used for commercial purposes. Now, I did not make a fuss over this because the image had my watermark on it. The point of this little story is that the image is being used for a business purpose. Photographers are well within their legal right to ask for compensation for the use of their images. Just as it is important for a photographer to seek the permission of a cosplayer before they try to sell an image of that individual.
These are basic business transactions. Charging for a photo shoot is more than justified especially when a cosplayer plans to use those images for a business purpose such as advertising, selling commissions and selling prints of yourself.
One of the biggest problems most photographers struggle with this poor communication with their clients. Most of the time it is a failure to find out critical information that will help you set up a successful photo shoot. The information that any photographer should be asking for is the name of the character and show, times that the client like their photo shoot and asking for a phone number to contact the client at a convention if plans change.
2. Check your gear
While sometimes it may not be your fault if something went wrong for your equipment, usually equipment problems are a result of overlooking something. I try to double check my camera bag, the night before a photo shoot. It can be simple as making sure all the batteries are in their proper place and fully charge. It is not too much to go through your camera bodies and lenses to check for scratches and other malfunctions that can make your photo shoots more difficult.
One of the most difficult aspects of cosplay photography is achieving the proper pose. Not just to match the character but also to be able to sue the body type of the cosplayer you may be working with. It is important to balance both of these aspects during any photo shoot. Good research on your client and the character are critically important in being able to design a pose that will properly represent the character and flatter the body type of client that you may be working with.
4. Study the light
I have seen too many photographers walked into a convention without taking a moment to study the lighting conditions of the area that they may be in. What happens is that they will take our images into lightroom or Photoshop an attempt to clean up the image. This is one of the mistakes that I made for a long while. In a attempt to fix this problem I decided to pick up a handheld light meter to help me determine and correct exposure. I'm not suggesting that everyone has to go and pick up a light meter. Taking the time to examine the light before you start shooting will help you in getting better exposures which will cut the time you have to spend in post-processing.
5. Be understanding
Stuff happens. I cannot tell you how many times that a cosplayers have gotten some sort of dirt or other substance one their costumes. It is practically routine for some sort of malfunction on a costumes to take place. Even if the cosplayers has taken every precaution, there is always a possibility that something with the costume could go wrong. In this case you should contact your client to see if there is anything you can do to help. Don't get frustrated because it is very likely that they could not have foreseen the issues that may have taken place with their costume. Trying keep extra time on your schedule for makeup photo shoots.
it is up to you to communicate to your photographer what your expectations are for your shoot. Your photographer cannot read your mind as to what it is you are looking for. The best they can do is make a intelligent guess based on their own experience and whatever character you are cosplaying.
2. Location, Location
Many photographers at conventions will very likely have a list of places that they won't like to shoot. They will use factors such as lighting and how this thing looks in deciding which locations they will choose at a convention. If you are paying a photographer, you should communicate what locations you would like to shoot at. Obviously some locations may not have the best light, but that is something that your photographer should know how to deal with.
3. Make- up
Regardless of if you are a male or female cosplayer, makeup is a key ingredient in your costume. It is up to you to make sure that it looks spectacular before you step in front of a camera. I usually recommend to my clients that they take 20 to 30 min. before they head to their photo shoot to freshen up their makeup. It makes sense since many times you may be walking around a convention and someone may accidentally smudge your makeup or it starts to run because of sweat or some other liquid got on it. Fixing makeup mistakes in Photoshop can be difficult tasks for photographers of any level. The better the makeup looks before the shoot begins, the better the final product will be.
After you book your shoot with your photographer is very likely your photographer will look up the character you are cosplaying. This will give them an idea of the type of poses that you are likely going to want . It is a good idea to make sure that you will your photographer on the same page. It's a good idea to send in pictures of the poses that you want to do. I have seen photographers have printouts of different poses that they would do with their clients. These days. The photos can be accessed from a smart phone or tablet. Do not be afraid to put your own variation on poses that you or your photographer bring to shoot.
5. Areas of concern
Let's be honest everybody has a part of their body that they wish to be different. I have not met one person who is not expressed a desire to have one or more parts of their body to be changed. If you have a area of concern your body it is a good idea to discuss that with your photographer. There are different techniques that your photographer can use address those concerns . This will help you to feel more comfortable which will make the final images that much more spectacular.
6. Fine-tune your costume/wig or hair
It is very likely that your photographer has set a specific amount of time for your photo shoot. If it is taking you a lot of time to straighten up your costume or wig, you and your photographer are losing time. Fine-tune all of these things around the same time that you're fixing makeup will find that the photo shoot will be more productive.
7. Be understating
Stuff happens. I have had many experiences where the batteries in my speed lights have died on me and my camera has some time aside to give me a hard time. These little things can make your photographer you really frustrated. Their frustration is not with you but was their equipment. Even the best prepared photographers will very likely experienced something like this. Try to give your photographer the benefit of the doubt if they get frustrated.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.