HOWTO: get together a studio photoshoot?

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#1 fioraaeterna on 2 years ago

I've reached that point in my cosplay career where I'd like to try to bodge together something more than a "shoot at a park near the convention", but I'm still new to this and have absolutely no idea how to go about it -- that is, who do I contact, where do I find X resource, etc, etc. I know some people find studio space and such through their university, but I no longer have the luxury/curse of being in college ;)

I know plenty of other people do this, given how many cosplay photos I see going around that are clearly arranged studio shoots!

Things I have (to some degree):
[*]Some rough sketches for shot arrangements
[*]A fairly passable photo editor (me)
[*]A variety of appropriate props
[*]Friends to help with wigs, makeup, etc
[*]Minions to help on-location
[*]Basic camera supplies (APS-C, flash, diffuser, etc)

Things I definitely don't have:

[*]Studio space! Where the heck do I find one? How do I arrange using it? Are there photo studios that specialize in cosplay work in the West?
[*]Knowledge, a clue! How do I put all this together? Are there guides? etc
[*]Equipment! Do studios have it? Do I rent it from shops? etc

If you're in the Bay Area and have specific resources to recommend I'm happy to accept that too (hecka awesome!), but I'm also interested in the more general knowledge and connections of.... how do people do this?

#2 walkerofdarknes on 2 years ago

WELL, if I'm reading this right, you want to be a studio doing cosplay shoots, or you want to have a studio session?

If the former, then a studio isn't necessarily essential. You could do it all in ANY large enough space as long as you have a couple of drop cloths to give you a blank setup behind the character (you need multiples depending on your character's majority color, like my Shiro from Log Horizon has a dominant white/brown, so a blue-ish backdrop would be best). You could even do it entirely in your garage if you have the space for it. After the shoot, you could photoshop the desired background in. If you're going to go that route, I'd strongly suggest having a computer that can both edit the pics and then burn a CD. I had one "professional" photo shoot..back in 2015. The studio was from out of town and came in for the con. It took me 4 months to get my one print back. When I could have just as easily taken a photo CD to the drugstore and printed it in 15 minutes.

If you want to have a professional cosplay shoot, almost any photo studio will do that for you as long as you're willing to bring your kit with you. I was working for the Sears Photo studio, and we had someone come in for a family set of shots. The teen girl had a hang bag with her cosplay, and we had time, so we shot a couple of strings of her in her costume after the family pics. We used an in-house editing software, made it sparkle some (we couldn't add major effects like "magic rays" but it did wonders for tones) and they all loved it. So I'd suggest calling any of the photo studios you have listed in your phonebook/see driving around and see what a studio session will cost you.

#3 nathancarter on 2 years ago

IMO, the first step would be to find a skilled photographer whose style you like, and ask them if they're interested in working with you. Many experienced photographers will either have a home studio space, or a handful of professional studio spaces that they can rent by the hour or day.

Since you list "Basic camera supplies (APS-C, flash, diffuser, etc)" in your first post, I'm assuming you don't have a photographer picked out already.

#4 Black Blossom on 2 years ago

I can shed some light on this as well, since I also did some studio photography, though only through a learning experience (and granted not cosplay, but still.)
You don't really need a studio unless you're planning on something that really needs to be done in studio. Most if not all backgrounds usually depict the real world in some way or another, so usually you'd be outside anyways.
When I did photography I gained access to the studio because of how my art program ran, so I got access to 'real life' tools you would end up using once you're working [in photography]. I see you have a base to start from, so that's good, now you gotta make it stronger.
Lets say you really want to work in the studio, there should be equipment in the studio depending one you find that's in your price range, such as strobe lights, umbrellas etc.
You probably might need to pay for renting the equipment and the studio.
I highly doubt that there is a studio that specializes in cosplay exactly in the Bay Area let alone near me, maybe some studios will accept shoots in costume, but because of the photography part, not cosplay (hey, I could be wrong.)
Well I think if I were a pro photographer, I may have my own site and use social media to let people what services I offer - so on Facebook for example, if I'm accepting shoots for New York Comic Con for example, I'd make a post giving general info such as prices, where to find me etc.
Another thing you would have to be proficient in is software editing. What kind of 'style' is your photography too? Do you like minimalist? Do you have a theme? What kinda mood do your photographs have; are they dark, or light etc.
Your focus is on the person/persons in costume, but you would use those skills to give the final product, in this case the photographs your own flavor to it.
You are also essentially doing full-body and portraiture, which is a lot harder than landscapes for example (trust me). You also don't want to go crazy on photo shop of course, but making those rich blacks and nice whites for good contrast to make the overall photo, well pop.

#5 fioraaeterna on 2 years ago

So you're recommending we find a place to set up the scene *outside* and just bring all the lights/etc there?

A lot of my question just boils down to the basics: how do I find a studio space for rent? What are all these other people doing? Because I see tons of studio photography of cosplay, including behind the scenes photos demonstrating that people are [i]clearly[/i] inside in a studio. But I don't know how or where people are going to do it.

In short: how do I set up my dream photoshoot? ;-)

#6 nathancarter on 2 years ago

[QUOTE=fioraaeterna;5062947]So you're recommending we find a place to set up the scene *outside* and just bring all the lights/etc there?[/QUOTE]

Often, yes.

If the finished photo requires it, then yes. I lug my photo gear around quite a bit, and I'm usually pretty good at setting up studio-style equipment and getting studio-style results in whatever space is available. When I model for my photo clubs, those photographers carry a lot of gear around too. A couple of lightstands don't necessarily mean the shoot is taking place inside a dedicated studio. Sometimes I'll even drag a backdrop along.

Here's a case where I set up in a friend's living room to do promo portraits for our variety show - we were supposed to have a studio space but we got bumped at the last minute.
behind the scenes: [url][/url]
result: [url][/url]

Here's where I set up on the stage at a performance venue to take pre-show portraits of the performers - I used that black plywood in the middle as my "backdrop."
behind the scenes: [url][/url]
result: [url][/url]

[QUOTE=fioraaeterna;5062947]A lot of my question just boils down to the basics: how do I find a studio space for rent? What are all these other people doing? Because I see tons of studio photography of cosplay, including behind the scenes photos demonstrating that people are [i]clearly[/i] inside in a studio. But I don't know how or where people are going to do it.[/QUOTE]

Google search, social media search, or simply ask some experienced photographers in your area.

Check out photo clubs in your area; many of them have events held at studios, at other private locations, or in public locations. Look on Facebook or Meetup. Most photo clubs are often very happy to have new models - though, some clubs are better than others, some clubs are fantastic, some are a waste of time, some don't screen out creeps very well.

When you rent studio space, they sometimes offer lighting gear, either included with the studio rental or at an extra charge. I usually bring my own because I prefer working with familiar gear instead of just using whatever's available - I'd rather spend my energy working with the model instead of trying to figure out unfamiliar photographic equipment.

#7 DanArt on 2 years ago

Your in the biggest state ( next to Texas ) in the USA. With Hollywood land there should be a bunch of photo studio's from family friendly to the kind of stuff that gets banned over time. I would look for a person renting the space for a limited time. For me in my area we have people transforming store spaces into lofts like conditions. It is sad and amazing how they do that.

I myself have a living room I move around the chairs and setup when people are at work or when I do not see them and then I use funature as extra light stands since the able-bodied person in my area does not want to budge:snoring:. This way I can have like

2 x physical light stands with power outlets ( or two speedlites )
etc for speedlites or other lighting sources. That is if you plan to do it by yourself.

Usually outside you need at least one speedlight/strobe to aniliate:angry: the excess shadows for that I have one with a telephoto range and just by increasing the stop of light I am able to get that cream look on there faces with the sacrifice of speed itself.

By only one I am talking about vs. the sunlight rather then generating your own light source.


The reason why you need a studio is usually for usage of furniture or privacy, or something else in the actual studio. Like a big studio you can build a set or have like ten sets on at the same time. Even a waiting room area, etc.

I would start small and invest in a house, co-op or rental. They have those for sale you know. Another thing is that you have this thing called a registered artist. Usually you need to have articles written about you in order to purchase these proverty stricken prices to buying houses itself. They are meant as space fillers for registered artists. However this was an old practice.

#8 monodistortion on 2 years ago

First things first. Can you post or link some example photos of the style or look that you're going for? If you want a very clean background with fancy lighting you may want to use a photo studio. On the other hand you may be able to achieve what you want in a home studio or in some other location, indoors or outdoors. A clean background might require seamless paper but there are other types of clean backgrounds too.

Many photographers have their own lighting equipment, background stands, and backdrops that can be set up anywhere, as long as there's enough room. I've seen people with very involved lighting setups at conventions here in LA.

If you want a specific environment it can be easier to find that location and do your shoot there. Ideally, your environment should fit your character.

Talk to an experienced photographer friend that you trust. If you don't need a studio don't waste your money on a studio.