Ask a Cosplayer!

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#1 Jia Jem on 8 years ago

Since the "Ask a Photographer!" thread has been going along famously, I thought the photographers might enjoy a place to ask their subjects some questions. Directing photoshoots, public and private shoots, etiquette, distribution of photos, etc. etc. :)

#2 Saru-chan on 8 years ago

hi! I'm a cosplayer, and I love when I work with photographers who know what their doing. I love when photographers give directions for general posing, but leave my facial expressions and the mood of the picture up to me. I'm a semi-model, so it's fun having a "professional" photographer rather than my mom or my friends who go "okay! One...two...three..Cheese!!"

I'd be glad to answer any questions photographers may ask.

#3 Complex42 on 8 years ago

As a photographer (unfortunately not professional) I've been finding my biggest flaw currently seems to be not working with cosplayers on poses. I'm actually quite glad to find people like when the photographer helps (from this thread and saw it another one...)! As an extremely shy individual, I've previously been rather nervous and hesitant to suggest poses, especially since I'm not always right about what would look good. I fear the solution is much more practice, and in the meantime mistakes will be made; any problem working with photographers who may be offering both good and bad suggestions?

#4 PaperRedemption on 8 years ago

As a cosplayer, I love it when the photographer directs what kind of pose. After all, you guys can see us better from all angles. I like to even take cues for emotion.

I also like it when the photographer helps my costume appear better, helping me tuck in unsightly waist bulges, or fixing the random stray hair.

I look at this way. The photographer is the artist, and I am a tool on a canvas.

#5 DespairedPheonix on 8 years ago

[QUOTE=PaperRedemption;3338834]As a cosplayer, I love it when the photographer directs what kind of pose. After all, you guys can see us better from all angles. I like to even take cues for emotion.

I also like it when the photographer helps my costume appear better, helping me tuck in unsightly waist bulges, or fixing the random stray hair.

I look at this way. The photographer is the artist, and I am a tool on a canvas.[/QUOTE]

I agree with you, however if the photographer has never seen the character you're posing as, it can be hard for them. So sometimes, I like to pose and have the photographer perfect the pose.

But I do agree with you. Photographer is the artist, and I'm merely a tool on a canvas. :)

#6 Syagria on 8 years ago

I've worked with several photographers of all experience levels, so here's a few things I've found helpful...

Cosplayers: if you are going to a scheduled or private shoot with a professional or near professional, it helps to bring along a few screen caps or images of your character. Don't automatically expect a photographer to be familiar with your character, unless you're cosplaying Superman. It can be fun to try to create a real-life version of an artbook image, but even aside from that, it will help the photographer understand the mood and mannerisms of the character and the artistic style of the anime/manga/comic/whatever, and they'll be much more able to suggest poses. Practice a few poses in a mirror before hand, and remember that the most comfortable poses usually look awful on film, and poses that look good in a photo may require holding some awkward and uncomfortable poses.

Photographers: Don't be afraid of posing your subject. Even if the cosplayer insists that this pose is "just like the comic," if that pose looks lousy on film, no one will be happy with it. If a cosplayer is paying you for a photoshoot, they are your client and they want to walk away with at least 3-5 excellent photos - plus, you'll want to have excellent photos for your portfolio, too. If you have sought out cosplayers on your own to try to build your portfolio or experience, be gracious enough to provide the cosplayer with an opportunity to get copies of the photos (either emailed or downloaded from a website), and bring at least a basic critical eye to your photography: don't post or release photos that are out-of-focus, badly exposed, poorly lit, or don't show the cosplayer at their most flattering - it makes the cosplayer upset and makes you look unprofessional (yes, this has happened to me. I should never have agreed to the photoshoot, but I was doing a favor for a friend... you know how it is!).

Having a photographer's assistant is awesome! My favorite shoots have been with a wife-and-husband team who pass the camera back and forth. Whoever is not handling the camera is shifting the lights, arranging props, fixing the set, suggesting other camera angles, checking my costume for wrinkles or bunches, smoothing my wig, shifting my pose, adjusting the position of my hands, and requesting different facial expressions. Often, I'll come up with a pose (many times it'll be the result of joking around) and my two photographer friends will say, "Ooooh! That was cute! Do that again!" at which point they then fine-tune the pose - "Keep your feet in place, but shift your weight and pop your hip. Turn your face towards the light a little more. Eyes at that picture on the wall... now eyes at me... now at the camera... now at the floor..." and so on. Basically, I let them pose me like a doll, since I have seen their work, and trust them to produce good results.

As for emotion and facial expressions, here's where an assistant can really be helpful - it can be tough holding a specific facial expression for longer than a few seconds. The expression becomes gradually more forced and wooden, and the whole demeanor starts to sag as the facial muscles get tired. Unless you're working with a cosplayer who is also a skilled actor, to get a genuine smile on camera, the smile has to be... well, genuine. Photographers have to be focused on the artistic merits of the scene, which means that job of emotion coach goes to the assistant: if you want your subject grinning, then assistants, start making bunny ears behind the photographer's head. Stick out your tongue. Make little farty noises using your armpit. Anything to get your subject to give an authentic laugh. Go ahead and tell your subject if their facial expression is looking flat, or that though the cosplayer might think they are giving a look of "loving adoration," they in fact look like they look like they are somewhere between "asleep" and "completely high."

For photographers who are nervous or uncertain about suggesting poses, or worried that the poses they suggest won't look good: Don't be, and yes, sometimes poses you suggest won't translate to looking well on film. The way to get around that is, yes, to practice a lot - keep in mind that a pose might look awful from one camera angle but look fantastic from another, so get shots of each pose from multiple camera angles; and also, have your subject do multiple poses. I've had shoots with as few as 3 poses; I've had shoots where I've done as many as 30 poses. The more poses you shoot, the more you've got to work with, and the more you'll learn what works and what doesn't. If you're shooting with digital, who cares if you burn some crappy shots? Memory cards are pretty cheap these days. In my last photoshoot, my friends took 268 photos. On the initial cull, we pulled out perhaps 40 photos that we considered "decent," and discarded the remaining 228 for various reasons (my expression was off, the lighting was too harsh, my pose made me look chunky, the camera angle was poor...), and then cut it down to about the 15-20 that we considered "pretty good." Get rid of the idea that you'll shoot a great photo every time you press the shutter button - instead, experiment: try odd angles and different points of view. You'll end up with a lot you'll throw out, but you'll also get some very cool and unique shots.

#7 Saru-chan on 8 years ago

[QUOTE=Complex42;3338772]As a photographer (unfortunately not professional) I've been finding my biggest flaw currently seems to be not working with cosplayers on poses. I'm actually quite glad to find people like when the photographer helps (from this thread and saw it another one...)! As an extremely shy individual, I've previously been rather nervous and hesitant to suggest poses, especially since I'm not always right about what would look good. I fear the solution is much more practice, and in the meantime mistakes will be made; any problem working with photographers who may be offering both good and bad suggestions?[/QUOTE]

I usually tend to pose myself and then ask the photographer. Granted, I've worked with one semi-professional photographer in my career, and i've just started cosplaying. I've been given bad poses before by friends taking pictures, and when the pose doesn't feel right for me or for the character, I usually state my opinion and give a suggestion as to how to modify the pose.

#8 mrgetalife on 8 years ago

I dunno. I really don't plan shoots regularly. But one thing in common I see photographer's I shoot the breeze with. A cosplayer picks a time and both parties have a phone and numbers. If they are extremely late or going to scrub a shoot they never call or pick up a phone. What's up with that? (ok not every cosplayer is like this)

#9 tfcreate on 8 years ago

[QUOTE=mrgetalife;3339188]I dunno. I really don't plan shoots regularly. But one thing in common I see photographer's I shoot the breeze with. A cosplayer picks a time and both parties have a phone and numbers. If they are extremely late or going to scrub a shoot they never call or pick up a phone. What's up with that? (ok not every cosplayer is like this)[/QUOTE]

Things like this are more a case of a lack of common courtesy.
Granted, it may not be high priority, but someone has set aside some time. Time that we never get back and could be spent doing other things.

If they commit to a time then don't show, then you've fulfilled your side of the agreement.
As you pointed out, we do talk to one another, so we know what to expect from which cosplayers. I know that things like this is part of the reason I tend to avoid personal shoots.
It's just more productive to just roam about for subjects.
TFC

#10 sephygoth on 8 years ago

[QUOTE=Jia Jem;3338339]Since the "Ask a Photographer!" thread has been going along famously, I thought the photographers might enjoy a place to ask their subjects some questions. Directing photoshoots, public and private shoots, etiquette, distribution of photos, etc. etc. :)[/QUOTE]

This thread should be forwarded to every fan in existance. Too little respect for the model nowdays. I thought it was getting better in 2005! but...
1) Let the cosplayer post their pics first,IF AT ALL. IE don't take pics n run, get contacts and particular permissions, even if you're a driveby photog.
2) Give model the choice to keep it private even if in semi public place. Inversly, if you see pics being taken by seemingly one person, check to make sure it's NOT a photoshoot, and CHECK to see if there is in fact one person comfortably taking pics of the model. Someone mentioned assistant, great idea.
3)IF you claim to be a cosplayer and photog, have proof of either, card on hand or in cosplay yourself.
4) Random photog doing a book on cosplay was very cool and very accomodating, but didn't know a licky split of the characters he took pics of. How is that possible? Rule 4? yeah, know the character you're taking a pic of helps. "I've seen you before" doesn't cut it when you're talking to an original character.
5)Face it, you're interested in whats under there, fight the panty shots unless you have an outspoken model who literally requests said juiceyness.
6)Some are a lot of work, respect the space and DO NOT ASK TO TAKE IN MIDDLE OF HALLS! if anything request off to the side,perhaps along their route ^^
7)don't insult the model if they say no. You're not awsome for grumbling something loud enough specifically so they hear it.
I'm not saying treat cosplayers as gods either, but remember, without them, you're just working out your neck muscles with a pricey weight :p
8)don't sneak up and take pics in groups of ppl that ASKED, I kill you dead.
*loves this thread*
9) respect the group you are stalling/dividing for a pic, they may have each other's things. Thats how ppl get split up in halls. Best requests are made by someone asking you while at your side, not by grabbing your arm or shouting from behind you.
Do help pose the model if private shoot, suggest poses if not. They like being posed since many times [we] are unsure how our balance is without a mirror, our good side at the time, focus,etc. Photogs should know what they want to see in a model right? ^^(see rule#4). Hot to the cam is also hot to person behind it.
love this thread....
Photoshoots: keep to agenda at hand, get the good shots and if time is skwenchie, thats it, move to next person. If I get rushed I'd feel liek the shoot was not worth it, if not rushed and only a few key pics taken, good. At Katsucon, I had a GREAT shoot of like 90 pics, then a 575pic shoot which was mediocre, photog was great, settings were tough. of the 90pics, like 80 were during daylight, camera's strong point. Make sure you know your cam's weak points if any. As someone said, help cosplayer with what may be an eyesoar, tucks, pull up your top to cover,zip your fly,whatever. Photog WILL find it hard to say, but I find they let you know even if its akwardly :D
Also, not a fan of that "eye light" flash, it doesn't work well. Anime Boston 2 years in a row, did not work on me or my gf(my eyes are darker than blackhole but her's = quite not! ^^), others remarked how it blinded them and they got no "eye shine" anyway :blubber:
yummy thread

#11 Bekalou on 8 years ago

I don't necessarily think that cosplayers need to be the first to post pictures. While it is true that it's nice that some photographers give their cosplayers all the pictures they take of them with the permission to post them, I think it's perfectly fine, and expected, for photographers to process and post the photos they most like and which show off their best artistry.

This comes with a few exceptions, such as shots that are borderline (or beyond borderline) revealing; if the photo gets a little too far up the skirt or down the shirt but isn't necessarily a markedly "ecchi" shot, it's nice when a photographer shows the photo to the cosplayer and checks whether she's okay with it before posting it.

Another thing I've appreciated about the photographers I've worked with before, is when they're polite about fixing my hair or my costume to make the picture look better. I can't necessarily keep track of everything that's going on with my outfit, so if my shirt's untucked or my hair is in my face or something, I like them to let me know - I don't think it's rude, I'd rather have nice photos where my costume isn't wonky. Sometimes it's easier for the photographer to adjust something about the costume, like part bangs or straighten a collar, so the cosplayer doesn't have to break a pose, but if you're going to do that, warn your model first. If you just come out and tug on stuff it's pretty forward, especially if you're not on familiar terms with your model, and will probably make the cosplayer uncomfortable.

Another reason for this is - cosplayers who make their own costumes generally know what its weak spots are, and know how to take care of them. If you pull on something with the intention of "fixing" it without warning your model, you might damage the outfit even worse. So just saying "Hey, should I fix that?" leaves room for the cosplayer to deal with the issues in his/her outfit in the way that they know how.

Also, don't pressure a cosplayer to do something they're uncomfortable with. This goes for either sexually suggestive poses or just something they don't feel like they can do. Some cosplayers are afraid of heights; don't ask them to stand on the edge of a roof, or stand by a fountain when their outfit isn't waterproof. If for any reason they're hesitant about doing a pose you suggest, drop it and move on.

#12 SpookyElectric on 8 years ago

So this is a "tell a photographer" thread now?

On topic of asking cosplayers, reciprocating from the ask a photographer thread, [b]what is your take on things like ultra-closeup shots, like eyes-only?[/b]
As a cosplayer, I'm fine with photographers doing whatever they feel inspired to do. The whole costume does matter, but conveying the character matters more. I personally don't care if a specific photographer take no full-body shots as long as I have at least one from someone. (In which case, I may specifically request something full-body if I have none yet.)

[b]If they are extremely late or going to scrub a shoot they never call or pick up a phone. What's up with that? (ok not every cosplayer is like this)[/b]
As photographer - really! I'd like to at least know what's up. I gave my number for a reason. If we have to cancel or postpone, that may be disappointing, but at least I want to not waste my time waiting. (And to those who have called to cancel / delay, thank you!)

#13 Jia Jem on 8 years ago

[QUOTE=SpookyElectric;3345243]So this is a "tell a photographer" thread now?
[/QUOTE]
...yeah, I was thinking the same thing...

maybe I should rename this thread "COSPLAYERS LAY THE SMACK DOWN ON YOU PHOTOGS, WE'RE UP IN YUR BIZNESS INVADING YUR FORUM TELLING YOU HOW IT'S DONE - YOUR JOB, THAT IS."

........ >_____>

I'm kidding. ...kinda.

#14 SvK on 8 years ago

The cosplayers are just being proactive. The photographers weren't asking many questions.

#15 Fremen on 8 years ago

I'm seeing responses that don't seem to be in answer to any question....kind of confusing to have one thread full of so many different questions and answers.