10 Tips for Taking Photos at Comic Cons

Comic Con season is in full swing, and with it comes cosplay and opportunities for cosplay photography. Our Guest Geek post this week is by @albutler01, who is a fan of both cosplay and photography. He credits cons with allowing him to indulge in both, and he’s going to share his top 10 tips for taking photos of cosplayers at comic cons.

doc oc cosplayer

10 Tips for Taking Photos at Comic Cons

Photography and cosplay go hand in hand at conventions. Cosplayers want photos of their outfits, and photographers want good photos. Comic Cons are a good place for photographers to work as most cosplayers do not charge to model there. At cons, you can divide photographers into two types: ones who get paid for their work and ones who walk around casually. I have been both, but I am going to focus on the casual photographer.

Being a casual photographer means you get to walk around the convention and see all the marvelous costumes on display. You can ask any cosplayer for their photo, participate in group shoots, and do not have a schedule to focus on. Not that the pros can’t walk around, but usually they have agreed to photograph models at certain times, so they have a schedule.

Here are 10 things I have learned walking around conventions:
1) Ask for photos.

If you ask for photos, most cosplayers will say yes. They want their picture taken. They spent time and money on the costume and want to see it in pictures. And yes, some will say no. The last time it happened, I asked a Scarlet Witch cosplayer for a photo. She looked me up and down before saying “No, I don’t think so.” That is part of it. People will say no. Just move on.

2) Say thank you.

Bo polite. Be pleasant. Sometimes, models will ask you to take their photos. Say yes and do it.

3) Let other people take their photos too.

When you are setting up a photo, other people with cameras will magically appear. It even happens when you are in isolated areas. If need be, let them take their photos (with the model’s permission) and then go back to your work

4) Hand out business cards.

Hand out your cards and collect cosplayer’s business cards. Tag them on social media. This is a good way to get your work recognized.

5) Respect cosplayer’s personal space/time.

If a cosplayer is eating, talking on the phone, or going to the bathroom, don’t ask for a photo. Seriously, this happens a lot. Cosplayers need breaks too.

Editor’s Note: Please re-read the above advice one more time so it sinks in! I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked for pics in the bathroom line. And one time a guy started taking pics of me dressed as Slave Leia and eating a cheeseburger. Without asking! Give cosplayers some personal space.

Lucy cosplayer

6) Keep things appropriate.

Ask the model to pose but know where you are. Is it crowded? Are you blocking people’s way? Is it family friendly? Don’t make the model uncomfortable. The cosplayer also may already have poses planned.

7) Shoot outside the con area.

Areas outside the main convention hall are usually not as crowded and better photos can be taken without interruption.

8) Don’t take creeper photos.

I was at a con with a friend that was dressed as Ms. Marvel (leotard and tights) and she was leaning slightly over an artist’s table. I happened to turn around and see two guys with their cameras raised, pointing at her. I stepped between her and those two, ending their chance. Don’t be that guy.

9) Let them see the photos.

After taking the photo, show it to the model. Let them see how they look. They may like the picture, or they may not and will request you retake it. If so, do it. Keep them happy. You might even get a better photo.

velma scooby doo cosplay

10) You are not going to get every photograph you want.

I have looked at social media accounts after events and wondered how I missed some of these cosplayers. That is okay. Be happy with what you get. Yes, when it is all said and done, you might have sore legs. You should have some great photos. You will have met many people who may become followers on whatever social media you post to. Learn from each con you attend. If you do this properly, you will meet the same people over and over and they will want you to take their photos.

Editor’s Note: Just wanted to add my personal note to this, as someone on the other side of the camera. Everything Al has mentioned is correct. Most of the time, cosplayers will be happy to have their photo taken. We don’t spend all that time getting ready to not have it fully documented from every angle. But there are times when we don’t want to smile for the camera, and usually that has nothing to do with the person asking. So ask, and if they say no, just move on. There’s always somebody willing to get a pic at a convention! Because if a cosplayer dresses up and nobody takes a pic…did it really happen? lol

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