Cosplay =/= Consent: A Photographer’s Perspective

If you’ve been watching the cosplay social media networks lately, you may have heard about the Cosplay =/= Consent, a project by cosplayers to spread awareness about how harassment should never be tolerated.  The majority of cosplayers have voiced their support for this movement.  So as a photographer, I hope to add a different perspective.

View From the Gallery

Cosplayer:  Constantine in Tokyo

Cosplayer: Constantine in Tokyo

Why photographers should be concerned about convention creepers is that they look exactly like us:  they have a camera and are dressed in normal or comfortable clothing.  Through the eyes of a cosplayer, creepers can be anyone and everyone.  It’s hard for cosplayers to look at their best if they have the mindset of a soldier in a war zone.  Trust is paramount between a cosplayer and a photographer.  Without trust, getting good photos becomes impossible.

When I started out back in Fanime 2009, convention creepers were not as pervasive in the con scene.  Because of this, it was relatively easy for Newbies like me to ask cosplayer for photos.  Soon after, I was even invited to several cosplay gatherings and have met maybe hundreds of people since.  However more and more people are going up to cosplayers not to treat them as a fellow fan  but as a thing to be touched and to practice their bad pick-up lines.  For cosplayers, being mobbed by photographers is an occupational hazard.  Being mobbed by strangers asking them to show more boobs makes them fear for their safety.

Stories From the Field

Cosplayers:  Wren and KittyCatChi

Cosplayers: Wren and KittyCatChi

At many conventions from Anime Expo to WonderCon, convention creepers have made photoshoots either short or downright impossible.  Several times at WonderCon, I have had to move my shoots away from nice locations because the cosplayer sees someone that has hit on them or treated them poorly in the past.  If they get too close, both the cosplayer and myself would ask them to move away.  Sometimes that is good enough, but I have had to make threatening gestures before, coming very close to violence.  Normally, I prefer to use works and be diplomatic.  However, despite all the delicate gear I carry and the weight and bulk of everything, I will not hesitate.

Some of the worst examples of this happened during Anime Expo 2012.  During that convention, the X-Games were right outside the convention so it was hard not to encounter a random stranger.  However, none of them had any respect for the cosplayers and would constantly cat call and make sexual gestures.  The worst experience came from the two night shoots I did, one with a Catherine (from ATLUS’s Catherine) and one Blue Rose (from Tiger and Bunny).  In both cases, I’ve had random strangers get behind the cosplayer, making obscene gestures and gang signs.  I would gesture them to politely move out of the shot, and then ask them to please step out of the picture.  This was not a random person who is minding his or her own business; these were purposeful and outright rude attempts in an effort to get some kicks and high fives from their “bros”.  Couple of times, I actually had to raise my voice and stare them down.  Most of the time, they would leave, still very pleased with themselves.  While I still got great shots from the shoot and it was not directly due to the creepers that we ended the shoot early, creepers have definitely given me bad memories.

The worst ones came during the Blue Rose shoot.  Back in 2011, I did multiple cosplay photoshoots at the nearby Nokia Center in the dark with the crowds in the background.  This time, a lot of men came up and asked for pictures.  I tried to give them not-so-subtle hints and the cosplayer was obviously nervous since her outfit was both revealing and restricted her movement.  Sometimes I had to wave my light stand to get them to back off, but I have had people take photos regardless (the flashes and beeping were a dead give away).  I had to end the shoot early and escorted her back to the hotel.  When I came out to head back to my hotel, a group of four men jumped me.  I was not sure if they were one of the ones who I told to go away of if they targeted me at random seeing me as an easy target.  Luckily, the only thing that was damaged was my vest and my light stand.  I did not stop to check on their injuries and quickly ran the 2 blocks to my hotel.

Cosplayer: Sylpharios Cosplay

Cosplayer: Sylpharios Cosplay

For the Future

So do us photographers a favor:

If they say no, leave it.  No Insults and No Crying.
Stop hitting on cosplayers.
Stop posting sexual comments.
Stop insulting cosplayers.
Ruin our fun, and we will not hesitate the ruin your day.




~ by BlizzardTerrak on April 22, 2013.

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