10 Years After – Show Me the Money

10 Years After series – #3) Show Me the Money

After 10 years of doing cosplay photography, here’s a question gives me indigestion:

What is your opinion about charging for photoshoots?


Note: For this article, “charging for photoshoots” will be defined as payment for the shoot itself. It does not also include ones where there is a contract and the ownership of the photos will be transferred to someone else (such as purchasing Raw files), printing rights, or other post-shoot talks.  This is only about the actual shoot where X amount of dollars are paid in order for photos to be taken at all.


It was only recently and more frequently with the newer generation of cosplayers and cosplay photographers that monetization became more normalized.  With digital cameras becoming better and easier to procure, the barrier of entry has dropped significantly. And with the explosion of subscription-model websites like Patreon, it does seem to be a good time for photographers like me to make the jump.

It makes a lot of sense for photographers to charge money for their work.  While it’s true that a decent computer and camera body has gotten cheaper, camera lenses rarely go on sale and plenty of lighting gear still come at a high cost, even in the used market.  There is also the physical toll it can take to store, pack, and carry the gear to and from photoshoots, especially at conventions where one is constantly on the move and space is limited. It would definitely be great if I could offset these costs by being paid for shoots, but the switch isn’t easy for me to commit to due to how I started in this community.

When I started 10 years ago, most of the photographers in the NorCal area did not do paid shoots at events or conventions.  Cosplayers typically avoided for-pay photographers either due to finances or other reasons. Because of that, many photographers either stopped doing cosplay photography or shot free of charge.  A common theory that was given was the grey area that cosplay occupies in corporate copyright laws, especially with how fanart being sold was treated at the time, but it could also be due to how cosplay is supposed to be a hobby, so the photographers should also treat it as such.  Rarely, photographers may be able to purchase prints, commercial usage rights, higher resolution files, or even the exact Raw file from the camera to edit and use as they saw fit on their own. That was the order of things for years.

The problem is that this would be a major change in my modus operandi, which will guarantee a huge loss in clientele and even friendships.  This loss goes against why I invested tens of thousands of work hours and my personal funds into this community. Many have pointed out there I would still have a solid core of clients to draw from, but…honestly, this has always been a hobby for me and it is my judgement that it should remain as such.  A hobby can easily become even more drama-filled (that I already have more than enough of) when large sums of money are exchanged. I’ll have to do a lot more soul searching before I decide to make the change.





~ by BlizzardTerrak on May 8, 2018.

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