What the Bleep Am I Doing?! Rebel’s Guide to: Cosplay Photography

Hey everyone! Welcome to another What the Bleep am I Doing?! This time I’m going to be following up on last Wednesday’s subject of Cosplay Posing. But, instead of talking about posing, I will be talking about the art of photography for cosplay itself. Because not only is it important to know what to do in front of the camera but behind it as well! Plus, it can be pretty fun to be able to know how to do both. So let’s get started, shall we?

What is cosplay Photography and how is different than regular photography?

There’s quite the difference between nature photography, portraiture, and our awesome cosplay photography. Yes, the main difference is the subject of your photo but there’s so much more to it. The lens you choose, the type of editing you have to approach the pictures with, just everything. You also need a bigger and more in-depth conversation with your subject to get a variety of poses and tell an interesting story.

With portraitures and nature, heck even food or just photography for other artistic outlets you don’t necessarily need your subject to pose a certain way or convey a type of “presence”. With that photography, you just need good shots, lighting, and willing subjects. It’s a much more difficult process with Cosplayers seeing that you won’t always have bookings to photograph them. You will have opportunities at different events and conventions to take photos. Just make sure you ask first. But this can also be a big pressure for cosplay photographers seeing that it can be at times mentally taxing and you can constantly be on yourself about whether or not the pictures you took are good.

Phone vs. DSLR

Ah yes, the age-old debate on what takes better photos. In all honesty, when you’re trying to get really professional photos or really good shots in general go with the DSLR, my friend. It may take you a while to save up for a really good one, considering the lowest you’ll find one is at least $400 if you’re lucky. But saving up for a DSLR even a cheaper level one will help you out in the long run.

Now, using your phone camera will serve you well at times too. I, myself am a big phone camera user. Especially when it comes to simple work in progress pictures or at-home shoots when you don’t have someone to help take your photo—which I’ve done multiple times and the pictures have come out quite nicely if I do say so myself.

All in all, it comes down to the quality of the photos and what exactly you intend to do with them. If they are just going to be work-in-progress photos, sure a DSLR will take really good pictures at a good pixel rate and you won’t have to do much editing—I definitely recommend this for when you are shooting at a convention or at cosplay shoot. But, when it comes to those work-in-progress pictures or just simple shoots at home like I mentioned above, your phone camera will do just fine. Especially since nowadays there are phone picture editing apps that you can edit those phone pictures so you don’t have to worry about pixel loss when you upload it to photoshop to edit.

Editing—Your new best friend

This is something that you will either love or hate when it comes to any type of photography. It can either be one of the most fun things to do after a shoot, or one of the most tedious. And whichever program you choose to use—be it a phone editing app or the all-powerful Photoshop, you’re going to be doing relatively the same thing: Exposure fixing, changing the lighting ever so slightly, fixing the color levels if need be, and fiddling with the sharpening and blurring tools. The main difference though, when dealing with cosplay photography you will be adding all kinds of effects to the photo. Whether it be changing the color of your subject’s eyes, putting fire or the look of water bending in the background, or heck even adding a few cool effects to your work in progress pictures while you’re at it as well. (I mean, if you have the ability, why not you know?)

Location Location Location

This is probably my favorite subject when it comes to cosplay photography. Finding the right location to shoot your subject or even have yourself shot in means so much. I talked a bit about this in my Posing for Cosplay article and how it can change a cosplayer’s picture completely. Especially if you can use objects or anything of any kind in your location.

The reason why I say choosing the location is important—yes even when it comes to finding the right places to take pictures in a convention, is because and I can’t stress this enough, it really helps tell the story of your subject or even you, yourself if you are both the photographer and the subject.

For example, if you are say, cosplaying as Hikaru Hitachiin from Ouran Highschool Host Club you will want to take your pictures somewhere where it has a lot of light, looks at least somewhat fancy, or even a ballroom or school. Now, you don’t have to find these exact spots to take your pictures because sometimes these things aren’t exactly available. That’s where being crafty with your locations and editing comes in.

For example, if you do it yourself, placing yourself by a door and maybe placing some cutesy and light objects around will make it feel like you are shooting in a magnificent school. Or if you are doing a shoot you can perhaps track down a really pretty public park seeing that there were a few park scenes here and there. Even better if the park has fields of flowers because that will really make the character come to life in the photo. Plus, who doesn’t love taking pictures with flowers? Well, unless you’re allergic that is.

Tips and tricks

Now that I’ve gone through the different terminology and ways of cosplay photography, I’m gonna give you guys some tips to making your photos amazing. Whether you’re behind the camera or in front of it.

               Using a DSLR—Whether you’re a beginner or a pro

Working with a DSLR can be a bit intimidating. It has a lot of different buttons and ways of taking pictures. So, anyone who is new to it can and will feel really overwhelmed. Luckily yours truly has taken her fair share of classes on this wonderful complex camera so I can help with at least some confusion.

First off, read the manual. That sucker will teach you all the basics you need to know since it was written for that camera. It will make trying to hunt down information on what button does a whole lot easier for you.

Next experiment with all of the features you can by taking a whole slew of pictures. Whether it’s of cosplay or other subjects. Taking a mass amount of pictures using all the different features that your camera contains will give you a prime experience with your camera so you can become familiar with it really fast. And it’ll help you take those awesome cosplay pictures faster and even better.

               Using your phone

Now, when you use your phone, the pixels are no doubt going to go down and also be stretched out slightly if you try to edit them on photoshop.But, using your phone does have a lot of its upsides for example taking quick pictures. Like I said constantly above it’s amazing for work in progress pictures seeing that not always will you be able to take out your camera and have it next to you while working on your projects. Plus with your phone, you can use it to take those in-home shoots when you have to be your own photographer. Granted you can use a camera for both options but the cell phone is always one of my favorite go-to’s when one, you don’t currently have enough money to get a DSLR, and two you’re just not in the mood to get your camera and go through the whole process of putting it on it stands on the tripod, attaching it so it doesn’t fall off, the whole shablang.

Something I’ve come to learn through using the phone camera though is to try to use your hand motion sensor or a Bluetooth button to take the shot so selfies are easy and you don’t have to continually go back and forth with clicking the phone button and waiting for the timer to go off. Because believe me, it makes life a lot easier.

Also, work with a ring light when using your phone camera. It will improve the light situation greatly. I’m a big proponent of using a ring light.

               Create with what ya got

When you don’t have much, whether you’re just starting out or you just don’t have much to work with, you have a lot to use. That was definitely the case for me when I first started out. I didn’t have any of the tech-y green screens, really cool ring lights, etc., etc. So, therefore, DIY was my best friend. And I can definitely recommend making things you need when you can’t get the higher-level stuff. For example, I’ve made a ring light out of electrical tubbing and some cheap LEDs. I’ve created different backgrounds from all of the various blankets and leftover fabric. It’s amazing what you can do just by creating what you need. Even when you can afford to get the high-tech stuff, try making what you need first to see if you can save an extra buck or two.

                Well, that’s it for this week’s What the Bleep am I Doing?! I hope you guys enjoyed this article and found it helpful whether you are a newbie at cosplay photography or a vet. And of course, if you have any questions feel free to ask ‘em! I love chatting and helping out any way I can.

And lastly, if you wanna support The Rebel Fae and my writing and cosplay ventures feel free to drop a Ko-fi my way! This time’s goal is getting my Harley Quinn cosplay up and running once more. It means a lot to me to re-try this cosplay after having some emotional struggles with it a while back. So any help is amazing! Just click here!

Well, that’s all for now…

Rebel Fae out!

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