How to Work With a Photographer for Cosplay

How to work with a cosplay photographer (for better pictures)

If you’re only recently getting into cosplay, you might not have had the chance to work with a photographer yet. Maybe you want to find a cosplay photographer to get better photos, or maybe you’re getting nervous about your first real photoshoot that’s upcoming. 

Taking the time to understand your character and practicing poses before the photoshoot are the two steps you can take that will give you immediate improvement when working with a cosplay photographer. Otherwise, simply being prepared and on time, while trusting your photographer will help you get the best photos and the best photoshoot experience.

How to work with a cosplay photographer to get better photos

Getting good photos of your cosplay takes a team effort. You need to find a good cosplay photographer whose style you like, but you also need to put in the work to make sure you are prepared for the photoshoot and ready to act in-character. In the end, communication with your photographer and preparation are the keys to excellent cosplay photography.

1. Be prepared

The one thing that you can do that will make every photographer love you is to be prepared for your scheduled photoshoot. Make sure your costume and wig are ready and give yourself enough time to apply makeup before the photoshoot. Do some research on your character so you know what kind of poses are good and what kind of photos you want to achieve.

Here are some tips to help you be prepared for your photoshoot:

  • Schedule ahead of time. Always schedule a time and place for your photoshoot ahead of time. If you try to just meet up when you’re ready, the photoshoot might never even happen.
  • Make sure your costume is finished. Don’t wait until the last minute to finish your cosplay. You don’t want to get to the photoshoot with the costume held together with hot glue and safety pins. It will not look good in the pictures.
  • Practice posing in your costume. It’s always best to come to a photoshoot with a few poses in mind. Make sure you practice with your costume on so that you can make sure your movement is not restricted.
  • Find photos of your character. If your photographer is not so familiar with the source material, you can help them out by finding photos of your character that show the personality you’re trying to emulate.
  • Be on time! This is more important than you think. Not only will it mean your photographer isn’t grumpy about the lost time, but they might also be planning on natural lighting or pre-crowd conditions when choosing a location. 
Ty Lee posing
Practicing poses for your character ahead of time can help you look more natural and dynamic in photos.

2. Talk with your photographer before and during the photoshoot

While it’s great to trust your photographer to get excellent pictures of your cosplay, it’s even better if you can keep the lines of communication open. You want to both be on the same page so that you both know what the expectations are. Maybe you wanted to get full-body photos, while your photographer was thinking of close-up, detailed compositions.

Talking to your photographer both before and during the photoshoot will help you get the types of photos that you want to get. You can make suggestions and listen to the ideas of your photographer while you work together to make the photos even better.

3. Review the photos periodically

During the photoshoot, it’s okay to ask your photographer if you can look through the photos they’ve taken. This is actually pretty common. Once you’ve finished a set of similar poses, you might look through the images and see what you liked and what you didn’t. You might try to retake a specific pose, or you can see what’s working and brainstorm some new poses.

4. Let the photographer know if a pose makes you uncomfortable

Sometimes, there is a pose that makes you feel uncomfortable for whatever reason. Maybe you’re just not flexible, maybe you’re afraid your costume will break, or maybe the pose just feels indecent to you. There is never anything wrong with letting your photographer know and moving on to a different pose.

helping Static Shock with the cloak
If you bring a friend along, they can help with costume touch-ups during a photoshoot.

5. Bring a friend with you 

It’s an excellent idea to bring a friend with you who can help to spot costume malfunctions. The photographer is often focused on composition and getting the lighting right. They might not notice if your wig has flyaways, your makeup is smudged a little, or a piece of your costume is falling off. Your friend can be focused on these things so that you don’t have any surprises when you get the pictures back later.

Your friend can also help the photographer with action-oriented poses and lighting fixes. For example, they can toss a cape up for an epic hero pose.  If the sun is too bright, your friend can also hold light reflectors and diffusers in the rights spots to correct any weird lighting situations.

How to find a cosplay photographer to work with

If you’re just getting started in the cosplay world, you might not have a photographer who you can work with yet. While it’s perfectly fine to rely on hall photos at conventions and selfies before heading to an event, there will come a time when you’re going to want to bring your cosplay to the next level by working with a photographer. Use these tips to help you connect with someone you can work with in and out of the convention setting. It helps if you have photos of your costume you can share to get the photographer interested.

  1. Get someone’s contact information at a convention. If a cosplay photographer took your photo at a convention, try to get their contact information or business card so that you can get in touch with them later.
  2. Join a cosplay group on social media. Facebook and Reddit cosplay groups will also have chances for cosplayers to get in touch with photographers in their areas.
  3. Contact your favorite Instagram photographer. If you really like a photographer’s portfolio, try sending them a message letting them know you’re interested. 
  4. Check the event forums or listings. Sometimes conventions and cosplay events will have forums on their website that include listings for photographers to get connected with cosplayers. Make a post and see if you can find anyone.
  5. Work with a friend who likes photography. There’s nothing wrong with working with a friend who simply likes photography. While it may take them a bit before they get the hang of cosplay portraiture, you can usually get free photoshoots while your friend gets excited about learning a new skill. (This is how I became a cosplay photographer!)
legendary pokemon group cosplay
If you want a group photoshoot, you might need to be the one to herd all the cats so everyone will be there on time.

Do you need to pay a cosplay photographer?

Many cosplay photographers will be willing to work with people for free, but it’s also not uncommon for them to charge a fee for a half-hour or hour photoshoot. Make sure to communicate with your photographer ahead of time so that there are no surprises. Typically, the more well-known and professional photographers will charge a fee, but it really depends on who you work with and your personal relationship with them.

When I work with cosplayers, I prefer not to charge anything. Personally, I feel that it gives me the freedom to be more creative because if a composition doesn’t work out, I don’t have to feel bad. I also don’t feel the need to rush the editing process since no one is paying for the photos. So, keep that in mind too. If you’re not paying for the photoshoot, it will probably take longer for you to get any photos back.

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

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