Hall Photo 101: How to Treat Cosplayers

Hall Photography for Beginners
Part 1: Table Manners

I’m glad to do a “How do you do Hallway Photography?” article.  It’s the first thing I had to master when I started out taking cosplay photography seriously and these are things I still have to remember three years later.  And out of all the setups, it’s one with the fewest items you need.

Bare minimum, you need a camera and good manners.  These days, I also have a flash with a diffuser, but the basics are still the same:  “Hi, may I take your photo?”  “Sure”  *CLICK*  Done.

It sounds easy, but I still see people making crucial mistakes that lead to either a) making a bad photo or b) getting one labeled as a “Creepy Photographer”.  In my opinion, the label is worse since sometimes you can’t help but take a bad photo (I still do that to this day, you just don’t see it….usually).  Therefore, I’m going to emphasize the most important part of taking pictures of people:  Manners.

1) The Cosplayer is a HUMAN

This is cosplay photographer, not a shoot out at the O.K. Corral.  Your purpose is to make the best shot you can do.  That means no shooting while they are unprepared.  That means do not take pics while they are eating.  And that means you never shoot at their blind spots without him or her know that YOU are shooting at that angle.

The “Running and Gunning” approach doesn’t work on the battlefield OR the convention floor for two reasons:  1) The cosplayer isn’t looking their best and 2) your not even trying your best.  On the cosplayer side, he or she could be in mid speech with someone or doing maintenance on the cosplay.  For you, the photographer, you can’t take into account pose, angle, cropping, lighting, and a bunch of other variables.  What comes out is a poor quality shot that neither you or the cosplayer will be proud of.  And you post this online as part of your “portfolio”, cosplayers are not going to ask you for photoshoots anytime soon.

Another bad move I’ve seen are photographers who compare the person’s cosplay with someone else who did the same outfit.  It sounds like you talking about your ex, and no one likes to hear about it.  ANY photography should be about the photographer and the cosplayers in front of them.   PERIOD.  You want to shoot with the other person, do it and don’t waste the cosplayer’s time talking about “Oh how I wish you were someone else”.  It’s RUDE.

The biggest way you can anger a cosplay is if you shoot them at perverted angles.  I don’t care if her boobs are showing or she’s wearing just a bikini bottom.  The person you are shooting is a human being, NOT a booth babe (no matter how true that may be).  You want to shoot like that, they are replicas of Botticelli’s Venus somewhere else.  Just because a cosplayer is showing a lot of skin or is only exposing certain parts doesn’t mean she’s automatically a “slut” or “a male fantasy made flesh”.  That in front of you is actually a person, and being told otherwise is a good excuse for them to break something valuable, and you’ll be lucky if it’s just the camera he or she breaks.

The person you want to photograph is a human.  Give them the courtesy, PLEASE.

2) The Greeting.

“Hi, may I take your photo?”

If yes:  You may take the photo.  Remember, you only got one minute at most for a hall shot.  Make it count.  The cosplayer will pose and you shoot the picture.  If you’re polite, he or she may allow you to request certain pose or poses and/or allow you to suggest a near-by spot for better lighting or a less crowded area.  Either way, you gotta make it quick.

Here’s a big tip, and it is something I am guilty of from time to time.  Another photographer asked to take a photo first and he or she poses for the shot.  You pull out your camera and take the shot too.  I have to caution you on this because some cosplayers might take it the wrong way and some photographers do not like it when another photographer is “stealing their shot”.  It is especially rude when you are blocking the person who asked politely first.  Flash-mobs aren’t rare in the hallways, but it is something people on both sides complain about.

I know it can be nerve wreaking to do this the first couple of times, but it’s like learning to swim in a pool.  The first few steps are the hardest.  (except for me, who is frequently given bodily harm by cosplayers on a daily basis).

Just ask.  Other photographers are people too (Innocent until proven guilty).

3) How cosplayers can find your photos:

I’m guilty of this one, but basically have a way for cosplayers to find your photos.  Tag properly for DeviantArt and Flickr (use series, con, character names as keywords).  ACP also allows people to do the tagging for you at major cons.  Facebook is iffy since (theoretically) only friends can find them, but it is doable if you have a fanpage (but good luck tagging from your fanpage to another person’s fanpage).

Whichever site(s) you use, make sure the cosplayer knows.  They love it when they find pictures of themselves, whether they are hall shot or photoshoot.

Remember, the key to hallway photographer is being polite.  It doesn’t have anything to do with how expensive your camera is.  A person who is nice but only has an iPhone is always better than a photographer with a DSLR who makes perverted and condescending remarks about the cosplayer.

Comments?  Concerns?  Let me know in the comments section.


~ by BlizzardTerrak on October 18, 2012.

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