A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a fellow convention and cosplay photographer. We talked about how we were disturbed that too many in the cosplay community wanted photos without paying for them. There are other cosplay photographers who have noted that conventions are "oversaturated" with cosplay photographers. Taken together I believe the real issue is much more important. I have to question whether or not the bar on the quality of work produced by cosplay photographers has affected the entire cosplay community.
When I first started in photography, I was working for the Eastern Echo(Eastern Michigan University student paper). I became frustrated because it was only a few times where I was able to get my work published by the paper. What I didn't understand at the time was that the editor-in-chief was trying to protect the quality of each issue that was produced. Without this the reputation of the paper would suffer and those who work for it their reputation would suffer. This is one of the critical elements that are missing from too many cosplay photographers. Quality of a photographer's work is more important than the quantity.
Photographers involved in sports, weddings, professional portraits and modeling all understand that clients expect a very high quality result. And many of them are prepared to put their money where the expectations are. Unfortunately, this is not something that is seen in the cosplay community. Cosplayers have unfortunately interacted with too many photographers who emphasize the quantity over quality. I have literally worked with too many people who have expected me to dump my memory card of every image. This is something that I am just unwilling to do. Not every image that I take is something I want others in the wider world to see. As Jared Polin aka "Fro knows photo " has noted that you should display your photos that are "the best of the best of the best with honors".
When this is not done it lowest expectation of what a cosplayer should expect from a photographer. I don't know about anyone else but I know that when I'm spending my hard-earned money on something or a service that I expect the highest quality that I'm able to pay for. So if you are planning on going to a convention I wonder why you can't book more paying clients it's either one of two things: your own work is not a level where people can justify paying you or cosplayers don't expect that they will receive high-quality images from photographers.
Now this is not to say that there are not skilled photographers out there. The difference is that a skilled photographer will do everything within their power to maintain a high level of quality. Take for example one of the best cosplay photographer that I have seen Martin Wong. (facebook.com/MartinWongPhoto). Every time I view his post, his photos demonstrate a commitment to high quality. Shot after shot has excellent color, contrast and sharpness. His composition and mood in his images I think our class leading.
He's not only one. Bananzers (facebook.com/bnnzrs) is a cosplayers and photographer. She does a very good job at being in the front and behind the camera. In her shots, she delivers a very consistent feel among all of her images. Her images of very bright and colorful.
You do not achieve results like Martin and Bananzers without constantly trying to improve your work. There has to be a willingness on the part of all cosplay photographers whether you are new or seasoned to only want to improve with every time to hit the shutter.
Every cosplay photographer should commit themselves to improving skills like framing, lighting, posing, shooting technique and post-processing.
If all cosplay photographers improve the quality of their work we together can raise the bar on what good cosplay photography looks like. I believe that people not wanting to pay for photography services will be less of an issue.
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